§ 3.20 p.m.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Elwyn-Jones)
My Lords, I beg to move that the draft Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 (Continuation) Order 1978, which was laid before this House on 24th October, be approved. I should like in the first place to make clear what exactly it is that the House is now asked to do. The draft order, which is identical to those that have been laid before this House by successive Governments on previous occasions, seeks to renew Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965. That section enables Her Majesty, by Order in Council, to make 424 such provision in relation to Southern Rhodesia, or persons or things in any way connected with Southern Rhodesia, as appears necessary or expedient in consequence of any unconstitutional action taken therein, including provisions in relation to the 1961 Constitution; for modifying laws in relation to Southern Rhodesia or persons or things connected with Southern Rhodesia; and for controlling transactions relating to Southern Rhodesia. Your Lordships will note that, although the annual orders renewing Section 2 are often referred to as orders "renewing sanctions", they in fact go much wider than that, and I shall be discussing the other important implications of the section later on.
So far as sanctions are concerned, the Government have a solemn obligation, as a member of the United Nations and as an original signatory of the Charter and a Permanent Member of the Security Council, to comply with mandatory resolutions passed by the Security Council. We are bound in international law to maintain sanctions until there is a return to legality in Rhodesia. This is a treaty obligation, and in a world in which it is not only our duty but also our interest to strengthen the observance of international law, we should not flout it or give any appearance of doing so. Moreover, as the Power which is legally responsible for Rhodesia constitutionally and on the international plane, we have a special duty in relation to that country, both to comply with our United Nations obligations and to seek a settlement. It is important to bear in mind that to act in defiance of United Nations mandatory resolutions relating to sanctions would have the most serious repercussions on our political and economic interests throughout Africa, and possibly in other parts of the Third World. Most particularly, our failure at this point of time to maintain sanctions in force would destroy once and for all our ability to contribute towards a negotiated settlement of the Rhodesia issue.
I shall explain later the reasons why the Government have not been prepared to give support to the transitional administration set up following the signature of the Salisbury agreement of 3rd March. Briefly, the agreement has proved itself to be inadequate as a basis for a settlement. The deteriorating security situation is tragic evidence of this. For us to support
425 the present Administration, or indeed to lift sanctions, would not remedy the basic defects of the Salisbury agreement, under which effective power remains in the hands of the minority and there is no guarantee that a genuine transfer of power will ever take place. If we were at this stage to cease to apply sanctions, the régime would undoubtedly draw encouragement from it, but it would not enable them to bring an end to the fighting or, by bringing in the nationalists who are outside the country, to lay the basis for a cease-fire and a satisfactory and lasting solution to the problem. On the contrary, the effect would be to prolong and intensify the war, since the Patriotic Front leaders might not unreasonably take the view that we were siding with Mr. Smith and that there was no point in further negotiations.
It was asserted in another place yesterday that sanctions have been a waste of time or unenforceable. That I believe to be wrong. I accept that the early belief, that sanctions would rapidly compel the illegal régime to accept the authority of the British Government, proved to be unfounded. That was because of the unwillingness of the South African Government, and earlier the Portuguese colonial administration, to comply with them. But that does not mean that they have been totally ineffective. It is clear that since UDI sanctions have had a slow but debilitating effect on Rhodesia, and indeed it is significant that the lifting of sanctions has become one of Mr. Smith's priority aims.
I have already indicated that Section 2 has substantial significance quite apart from the fact that it provides the powers on which some, but not all, domestic sanctions are based. Among other things, Section 2 of the Act gives the Government powers to make new constitutional provision for Rhodesia speedily, by Order in Council—pending, of course, the establishment of a full Independence Constitution, for which the authority of a new Act of Parliament would be required. If, as we hope, we are successful in our efforts to bring about all-party talks and agreement can be reached on a settlement, we shall require to be in a position to act very quickly in setting up a new transitional Administration. If the draft renewal order now before the House were not approved, the power to do that would be 426 lost, and its loss would be an impediment to the smooth implementation of an agreed settlement.
Section 2 also provides the statutory authority for humanitarian instruments whose purpose is to relieve the hardship which the unconstitutional position in Rhodesia would otherwise cause to innocent private persons in this country and elsewhere. One such instrument is the Southern Rhodesia (Marriages, Matrimonial Causes and Adoptions) Order, which legalises marriages, divorces and adoptions which have taken place in Rhodesia since 1965. Other useful measures made under the section include the Reserve Bank of Rhodesia Orders 1965 and 1967, which enable the Government to exercise effective stewardship of the external assets of the Bank, so that they are kept intact for the ultimate benefit of the people of Rhodesia as a whole when a settlement is reached.
If we are to fulfil our obligations in relation to Rhodesia it is vital that Section 2 of the Act should be renewed. In brief—and I say "in brief" because there is a very long list of speakers, and no doubt noble Lords will bear this in mind in their speeches, as I shall endeavour to do in mine—the section enables us to discharge our solemn international obligations, deriving from United Nations mandatory resolutions to which we, with our ultimate constitutional responsibility, are bound in a special sense, morally as well as legally. Secondly, Section 2 is linked with our special obligation to make every effort to bring about a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia. Lastly, it is the basis for the humanitarian measures I have mentioned, the loss of which would cause hardship to individuals. The case for renewal of Section 2 is in the Government's view overwhelming. It would be a serious blow to our standing, not only in the Commonwealth but in the United Nations, if we rejected it. Accordingly, I hope that the House will approve the draft order.
My Lords, as a background to our consideration of renewal of the order, we are today also debating the report by Mr. Bingham, Q.C., and Mr. Gray on the supply of oil and oil products to Rhodesia. The Government are deeply indebted to the authors of the report for the scrupulous care which they have 427 brought to their task. The report raises many difficult and serious issues.
We should be clear at the outset about the scope and purpose of the report. Its terms of reference required the investigators to establish the facts concerning the supply of oil to Rhodesia and to investigate evidence relating to possible breaches of our sanctions legislation by British nationals or companies subject to British law. They were not asked to consider the political, diplomatic and economic events of the time; although they took the view that the facts set out in their report must be considered against this wider background. It is for noble Lords to set the report in its wider context, to consider its implications and to determine how it should influence our policies in the future.
To assist noble Lords in this task, I propose to relate briefly some of the political and economic factors which had to be faced by past Governments in their framing of policies towards Rhodesia, in particular where these related to oil sanctions. No doubt other noble Lords with great authority in this field who will be speaking in the debate will give their own assessment of these factors, in some cases on the basis of their own personal connections with the events in question.
Oil sanctions were imposed by the then British Government in December 1965, only one month after—despite all our efforts to avert it—Mr. Smith made his illegal declaration of independence, and thus ignored the clear warnings we gave to him in Salisbury of the grave consequences which would result from his act of rebellion against the Crown. It was by no means clear at first that there would be international co-operation in an oil embargo. In particular, Portuguese and South African co-operation was essential if oil sanctions were to be fully applied. It was, however, hoped and believed at the time that the closure of the principal route for the supply of oil to Rhodesia, namely, the Umtali pipeline, could deal a major blow to the Rhodesian economy and bring about an early return to legality. Oil sanctions were imposed by us unilaterally in recognition of our primary responsibility for tackling the Rhodesian problem, and as a means of securing the maximum co-operation of foreign Gov- 428 ernments and the compliance of the oil companies. No oil entered Beira in Mozambique after 17th December 1965, and none reach Rhodesia's only refinery after 31st December. "Pirate" tankers bound for Beira were intercepted, first with the authority of the flag States concerned and then of the Security Council resolution of April 1966.
I think it is important to bear in mind that the Government of the time, and, indeed, successive Governments, were confronted with a number of complex factors. Sanctions policy could never be divorced from wider questions of policy towards Rhodesia, or considered in isolation from the Government's other political and economic responsibilities. They had to weigh the implications of every step they took, for the prospects of successful talks with the Rhodesian régime, for our relations with African and other Commonwealth countries and the United Nations, for our own economy, which was often under severe strain during those years, for the protection of our extensive commercial and investment interests built over many years in South Africa, and for the prospects of inducing South Africa to exercise a moderating influence on the régime. Some of our major allies were not keen to implement the existing sanctions, let alone to reinforce them. This was the international climate then. Critics of the effectiveness of our sanctions policies should perhaps bear these factors in mind.
It soon became obvious that sanctions had not stopped oil flowing to Rhodesia. It was clear that the supply came first direct from South Africa and later through Lourenço Marques in Mozambique. The only certain way in which these routes could have been closed was by the use of force, and no Government from 1966 onwards could contemplate that. But it was always hoped that diplomatic pressure and considerations of self-interest would bring the South African and Portugese Governments to reconsider their attitude towards sanctions or to use their political influence on the Rhodesian régime to achieve a settlement.
It was a fundamental consideration from the start—and one which has remained valid to this day—that the risks which economic confrontation with South Africa would entail could not, and should not,
429 be borne by Britain alone among Western nations. As my noble friend Lord Caradon made clear to the United Nations in 1969, economic confrontation with South Africa at that time would have done us irreparable economic harm.
My Lords, at the end of 1966 the Government arranged the "Tiger" talks in an attempt to promote a settlement. If the proposals put forward by the Government at those Mediterranean talks, which I, myself, attended, had been accepted by Mr. Smith, there would have been a peaceful and gradual attainment of majority rule in Rhodesia. That opportunity was wantonly thrown overboard by Mr. Smith and his colleagues, as indeed, later on, were the opportunities presented by the "Fearless" talks, and on a number of other occasions. After the failure of the "Tiger" talks, the British Government proposed the resolution which was adopted by the Security Council in December 1966, imposing mandatory sanctions on Rhodesia's major exports and on certain key imports including oil.
The difficulties of making oil sanctions against Rhodesia effective only became fully apparent to the Government in the course of 1967, which Mr. Bingham describes as a yeardominated by a series of initiatives taken by Her Majesty's Government to make the oil embargo against Rhodesia effective ".Many schemes were advanced by the Government but reluctantly dismissed as unworkable on one or more of the following grounds. First, the refusal of Portugal and South Africa to apply sanctions left a wide gap in the blockade of Rhodesia. Secondly, economic confrontation with South Africa had, as I have explained, been ruled out. Thirdly, the reluctance of certain Western Governments at that time to put pressure on their oil companies reinforced the Government's not unreasonable unwillingness to act alone. Fourthly, the South African and other overseas subsidiaries of the oil companies in South Africa were not subject to our legal control.
It was generally recognised that the flow of oil through Lourenço Marques was at the heart of the problem. More than once the Government actively considered the possibility of extending the Beira blockade to Lourenço Marques. After close analysis, this was rejected as 430 impracticable. Quite apart from the enormous logistical and financial problems, it was in any event clear that South Africa would have allowed alternative supplies of oil to reach Rhodesia through her territory. The American and French Governments of the time were judged most unwilling to agree to any blockade. The alternative course of rationing supplies to Lourenço Marques, which traditionally served also Swaziland, Botswana and the Transvaal as well as Mozambique and Rhodesia, would have been almost impossible to adminster. There seemed, moreover, no possibility of getting cooperation from the oil companies of other countries, which would have been essential for any rationing scheme. All these proposals were rejected as impracticable.
By the end of 1967, the Government was confronted with the economic crisis which followed the devaluation of sterling. The Rhodesian authorities seemed more intransigent than ever. Support in many countries for the maintenance of sanctions seemed to be wavering, and the introduction of new sanctions would certainly have caused difficulties with our partners. In these circumstances, as the Bingham Report records, Ministers decided to defer further consideration of proposals to intensify sanctions unilaterally. The Government turned their attention instead towards the possibility of comprehensive mandatory sanctions under the authority of the United Nations.
It is important to stress, as the report does, that it was only towards the end of 1967 that the Government began to suspect that subsidiaries of the British oil companies were involved in the supply of oil to Rhodesia. The facts concerning the source and precise mechanics of oil supplies to Rhodesia were matters of the greatest secrecy in Lourenço Marques. The Portuguese authorities had indeed alleged the involvement of British oil companies in the trade but they did not provide firm evidence; and, when the allegations were taken up by the Government with the oil companies, they were firmly rejected by them. Towards the end of 1967, however, the Government came to suspect that some of the oil companies' customers might be re-selling oil to Rhodesia. It was at this point that the Commonwealth Secretary of the time decided to meet with 431 senior executives of Shell and BP. The course of these meetings and the information which over the months emerged from them are described in the report itself. This of course includes the information about the previous role of Shell Mozambique, a British registered company, and the setting up of the swap arrangements that took it out of the direct line of supply.
It is gratifying to know that my noble friend Lord Thomson of Monifieth will be speaking in this debate, and I am sure that the whole House will be anxious to hear him. Others concerned have already described their part in the events that occurred. As Attorney-General, I myself was at times closely concerned in Rhodesian affairs. My own clear recollection of the Rhodesian story, so far as I was involved in it, is that all my colleagues acted throughout with the essential objective of securing a peaceful and honourable settlement in Rhodesia.
Members of both Houses will make their own judgments on these matters in the light of the debates that are taking place this week and of the Bingham report itself. Parliament will then be able to consider whether or not a further inquiry is called for, and, if so, what form it should take. Some of the salient considerations on these issues were spelt out by my right honourable friend the Attorney-General in another place yesterday, and no doubt noble Lords will have read the report of the debate. The Government will consider the matter with great care in the light of the debate in the two Houses and of the report.
From 1969 until the beginning of the present Administration, there was little change in the oil position except in one important respect, namely, the discontinuance in 1971 of the swap arrangement. The Conservative Government of 1970 to 1974 maintained virtually unchanged all the existing sanctions including the Beira patrol. But, in 1971, according to Mr. Bingham, the swap arrangements came to an end and Shell Mozambique, a British registered company, was re-introduced into the direct line of supply to Rhodesia. I do not wish today to discuss the actions of the oil companies in this connection since it is a matter which has been referred to and is being 432 examined by the Director of Public Prosecutions. So far as the knowledge of Government is concerned, the Bingham Report found that the changed situation was not notified to the Government either in 1971 when it occurred, or in 1974 when it apparently came to the attention of oil company executives in London for the first time.
When in 1974 a Labour Government returned to office particular efforts were made—with some succes—to encourage a more determined application of sanctions by our international partners. The number of prosecutions for breaches of our own sanctions orders also increased. In 1976, the Government received information giving fresh cause for concern about the supply of oil to Rhodesia. The Bingham inquiry was set up, and we were anxious that all the facts should be brought to light, however unpalatable some of them might be. The Government gave every assistance to the inquiry. Our action in publishing the Bingham Report virtually in its entirety demonstrates our determination that there should be no cover-up.
Since the Government were put on inquiry in 1976 we have done our utmost to ensure that British oil companies and their subsidiaries are taking no part in the supply of oil to Rhodesia. Last year we made it clear to the British oil companies that they should take firm action to close any loopholes. The Bingham Report traces the efforts which the companies then made to ensure that they and their subsidiaries were no longer directly or indirectly involved in the supply of oil products to Rhodesia, and describes the assurances subsequently given to the Government. Since then, we have taken up urgently with the oil companies further matters, some of which have been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
It is, of course, South Africa that supplies the oil which Rhodesia needs. It can be argued that oil supplies to Rhodesia can only be cut off by cutting off all oil to South Africa. We cannot say that an embargo against South Africa, with its extremely serious international and domestic implications, will never be contemplated. But we should not underestimate those implications, nor the practical difficulty of bringing about quick results, given South Africa's substantial oil stocks 433 and her expanding ability to produce oil from her own coal. An embargo could only be contemplated in full agreement with our Western partners and with the wholehearted co-operation of the international community. It could be justified only by a situation of the utmost gravity. At present, it is our earnest hope that the South African Government will recognise that it is in their own interest to follow a path of co-operation with the West in the search for a peaceful solution to the problems of Southern Africa.
As to events in Rhodesia itself, the Government stand, as successive Governments have done, for a settlement that is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Nothing less can possibly bring peace to that country. There is no doubt in my mind that, if Mr. Smith had been more mindful of that fundamental principle, held by successive British Governments, and less intent upon preserving the privileged position of the white minority, that community could by now have been assured of a bright future in a peaceful and independent Zimbabwe.
There has been some criticism of the Government for failing to support the agreement signed in Salisbury on 3rd March setting up the interim Administration. The genesis of that agreement was this: it was launched several months after the publication of the Anglo-American proposals, involving a genuine transfer of power to the majority, which Mr. Smith found unacceptable. The régime persisted in pursuing a settlement to the exclusion of two of the major parties to the fighting. It was a gamble which now seems likely to prove to be a misguided and tragic failure. Once again, Mr. Smith seems to have conceded too little, too late. However, when the Salisbury agreement was signed, we acknowledged that it was a step forward and contained positive elements, though we also made our misgivings clear. We believed—and believe—that, to bring about an end to the fighting, a settlement has to include all the parties. But my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary did say that, faced with a continuation of the fighting, if we were satisfied that power had been transferred to a freely elected Government, genuinely representative of the majority, Parliament 434 would be bound to honour the commitment to the Fifth Principle, and to recognise the result.
So it is not the case that we have failed to give the Salisbury agreement a fair chance. The agreement, unhappily, has failed to bring an end to the fighting; the ending of racial discrimination is promised but legislation (which must be passed by the white dominated Parliament under the illegal 1969 constitution) still has to be made; and now Mr. Smith has publicly cast doubt on prospects for elections and independence at the end of the year. Positive change has been all too slow to come.
I wish we could believe with confidence that Mr. Smith and his colleagues were beginning to view the situation more realistically. But his statement in Washington that the Executive Council were now at last prepared to attend an all-party conference without pre-conditions was, then and subsequently, hedged around with qualifications which in effect amounted to pre-conditions. These cast serious doubts on his willingness to negotiate constructively at such a meeting.
We believe that the basic principles of the Anglo-American proposals remain valid: a genuine cease-fire will be achieved only as a result of agreement between all the parties, and agreement between all the parties must be reached on the basis of arrangements that are fair and impartial as between all sides. We believe in, as does the American Government, and we are committed to, the achievement of a settlement by negotiation. We think that the proposals we put to the parties last year were an acceptable and fair package. I am sure that noble Lords share the Government's aim of achieving a settlement which will bring peace and stability to an independent Zimbabwe. We believe that to achieve this the continuation of the powers we have under Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 is indispensable. I hope therefore that the House will accordingly approve the draft renewal order. I beg to move.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, the House will have listened with great attention to the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, who speaks with all the authority of his office; and we are grateful to him for the speech that he has made. I hope, however, that we shall not confine ourselves in the debate this afternoon wholly to sanctions and the Bingham Report because I think that, however important those two things are, more importantly we ought to look at the way ahead in Rhodesia and at what can be done to avert what increasingly looks likely to become a catastrophe.
It must be with a very heavy heart that all of us observe the deteriorating situation, the growing casualty lists and the injudicious things that are said and done which make settlement more difficult and the problem facing any British Government more acute. There is nobody, wherever they sit in this House, who does not recognise that Britain has a special responsibility, though to some extent it has been decided to share it with the United Nations, and the fact is that over the last 13 years of UDI we have had no control over events in Rhodesia itself. But we have a special responsibility because of the country's history, the fact that many of those who live there are British and that those of us who know it know it to be a country not just of great natural beauty but one with a potential unrivalled in that part of Africa, and indeed with an economy far more sophisticated than its neighbours, giving its entire population a much higher standard of life and education. There can be nobody who does not wish to see a peaceful outcome, and what really ought to concern us this afternoon is how best, at this very late stage, we can achieve that.
I have no particular wish to spend a large part of what I have to say in recrimination, but I must say this—and I must say it because it has a bearing on what is happening and what we ought to do. I must say that I do not think the actions of Her Majesty's Government, on the two specific occasions when it might have been possible to reach an agreed settlement, were either wise or helpful; and perhaps in a different forum I would have put it a good deal more trenchantly than that. I think the Government 436 bungled the Geneva Conference. Dr. Kissinger managed to get the parties round the table and made it clear to Mr. Smith what he could expect. Indeed, it was and is, in my judgment, wholly due to Dr. Kissinger that Mr. Smith was prepared to reach an internal settlement on the basis of the Five Principles. But the British Government at Geneva backed away from those undertakings, and no objective person could blame Mr. Smith for the breakdown of the talks in Geneva.
Subsequently, when the internal settlement was reached—and here I must, I am afraid, disagree with the noble and learned Lord—the attitude of this country, far from being encouraging was positively discouraging to a settlement which, although it may not have been perfect and it had its defects, could surely have been the basis of an agreement and something upon which we could all have built. I must be frank. It seems to us on this side of the House that the Government's attitude towards Rhodesia and the internal settlement has all along been one-sided. There was, for example, instant condemnation of the Rhodesian raids on Zambia and Mozambique, from which two countries Rhodesia is invaded and blacks and whites alike are murdered. But I have not read of any condemnation of the guerrilla camps themselves, and no representations seem to be made to the Presidents of those countries who allow those camps in their countries.
Is it really very surprising that the internal Government, whose existence is at stake, should be forced, as the guerrilla war intensifies, to attack their enemies at their source? As the Dean of Salisbury said the other day, there was a deafening silence after the shooting down after the Viscount airliner; and the same is true, if I may say so, of the Government's handling of the arms sent to Zambia. Why on earth did not the Government announce their decision to give arms to Zambia immediately after the Kano meeting, when it was in point of fact taken? They delayed the announcement, so that it looked as if it was directly connected with the raids, with the protection of the guerrilla camps—an indication of support for the Patriotic Front against the internal settlement. It seems to confirm the belief among Rhodesians, rightly or wrongly—and 437 indeed among others—that the present Government are biased against the internal settlement.
The Government, by never giving one word of encouragement, led Mr. Nkomo, Mr. Mugabe and the Patriotic Front to believe that they had only to wait and events and circumstances would sweep them into power, perhaps with a little help from their friends and with the blessing of the British Government. The absence of any commendation of the remarkable step forward contained in the internal settlement was, in my judgment, disastrous.
Here Mr. Smith had agreed to majority rule; here he had agreed to free elections; here he had agreed to one man, one vote —all those things which over the years we had been pressing him to do and which he had refused to do—and the reaction of Her Majesty's Government seemed to be one of barely concealed disbelief, disapproval and discouragement. Why then should Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe associate themselves with an agreement which did not seem to have the blessing of either the British or the American Government? Somewhat naturally, they took the view that if they held out sooner or later they would find that events had gone their way, which appeared to be what the British Government wanted. I believe this was a cardinal error; and much that has followed flows from that one mistake.
There was no British presence in Salisbury to advise the internal leaders how to proceed and how perhaps to adjust some of their decisions to take account of the other African leaders; and, though much progress has been made, the African leaders of the internal settlement, inexperienced in government, have been far too dilatory in changing the complexion of the Government, in making it appear in style and fact a black majority Government led by moderate and sensible people. Months elapsed before there was any action on the question of racial discrimination or the Land Tenure Act. Even now, neither of those two measures has passed through the Rhodesian Parliament, and the impetus which the British Government could have given died away until we are now faced by an inevitable postponement of the elections, if indeed 438 credible elections can be held at this moment. We have not yet had a white referendum, which Mr. Smith promised. That cannot be done until we have had the constitution and the constitution has not yet been published. And we are faced with the lack of success of the internal black leaders in recruiting to their side the guerrillas of Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe.
I would not, of course, blame all this on the Government. That would be neither fair nor would it be right. But it seems fairly clear, at any rate at the outset, that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe were by no means sufficiently convinced of their electoral popularity to put the matter to the test by associating themselves with the settlement, and they felt that fighting was a more likely way of getting their own ends. It is also true that the interim Government has made its own mistakes. But the fact remains that we are now faced with a situation infinitely graver and more difficult than was the case in March this year. Sad to say, we are where we are, and not where we would want to be.
What, then, do we do and what are the essentials of a settlement? It seems to me that a settlement which is going to stand up to world opinion and world recognition must have the acceptance of the people of Rhodesia, and their acceptance of a constitution and a Government and a leader in a test of public opinion. For that to happen, two things are required: first, a cessation, or at any rate a considerable diminution, of guerrilla activity; and, secondly, the presence of impartial observers at that election. I understand that this is acceptable to Mr. Smith and the African leaders of the internal settlement—though no doubt the modalities would have to be pursued—and are open to discussion. At any rate, they are prepared to come to a conference to discuss it. I do not know whether Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe would be prepared to come to such a conference, though I hope very much that they would.
But one point, at any rate, is clear. The constant reiteration by the Government of the Anglo-American proposals, which, if the Government will forgive me for saying so, seems to be the total sum of their activity over Rhodesia in these last few months, is not likely to prove 439 successful or attractive to the parties concerned, though some of the provisions contained in those proposals are both sensible and desirable. I think what is needed is something different. I do not believe that there is any likelihood of an agreement in the full glare of publicity, with the positions taken up beforehand, television interviews at the end of each session and all the rest of it. Nothing is going to be achieved that way, and it may well be that at this particular moment a face to face meeting between the six protagonists would not only be unsuccessful, but would lead to worse confrontation.
I think that there is another way of approaching it. The Western members of the Security Council decided to appoint a contact group, consisting of the ambassadors of their respective countries, to negotiate with the South Africans and with SWAPO to narrow the differences between the two parties and to make proposals for the elections and the eventual independence of Namibia. During that period, at no time did the South Africans ever meet SWAPO, nor would it have been a very profitable meeting, frankly, if they had done so. But what did happen was that by dint of extremely assiduous and ingenious diplomacy—and Sir David Scott, our ambassador, must take great credit for this—the differences were reduced and an agreed package arrived at.
It is true that subsequently things have gone wrong, though I hope not irretrievably so, but skilful, secret and patient diplomacy made that agreement possible. Is there not something here, some experience here, which we could use in the Rhodesian context? Why should not the Security Council appoint a contact group, consisting not just of the Western members of the Security Council as it was in the Namibian situation, but also others from other parts of the world to try to narrow the differences and achieve what we seek, meeting the parties separately, acting as a go-between; honest brokers, without anything to gain but a peaceful solution?
This, I think, should be the prelude to a summit. I accept what the Prime Minister said in another place the other day, that a summit is, so to speak, the last throw. But it would have to be a 440 summit of quite a different style, a summit on the Camp David style, at Chequers or Leeds or somewhere, presided over by the Prime Minister himself, for it would be absolutely essential that the Prime Minister was there, since it is his authority which would be needed to get a settlement. This conference would take place with no publicity, no communiqués, no interviews, behind closed walls and doors. I do not know what might come out of it, but there is, I suppose, a chance of success. Time is running out, and drastic remedies are needed for drastic solutions.
Of course, I accept that the Government must decide upon the timing of such a conference. Those of us in Opposition cannot possibly know enough of the situation behind the scenes to make a judgment about that. But the Government really must say something further than a constant reiteration of the Anglo-American proposals. I think that the parties would come to a conference of that kind. But I think that if, at the end of it, it was abundantly plain that there was one individual or one party holding out and making a peaceful settlement with elections impossible, then a situation would be created whereby Britain and America, and indeed the United Nations, would radically have to rethink their attitude to the problem.
So, my Lords, I come to sanctions, but before I do so perhaps I ought to say one word about the Bingham Report. I was asked a Question in January, 1971, which I looked up the other day, about the efficacy of the Beira patrol and I told your Lordships that, as a result of the Beira patrol, no oil was being pumped from Beira to Umtali. Lord Salisbury, my noble friend's father, then asked a supplementary question in which he said:My Lords, is it the view of the Government that the Beira patrol is absolutely preventing the Rhodesians from getting all the oil that they want?I replied,No, my Lords. I do not think it is the view of the Government that the Bera patrol has been successful in preventing oil from reaching Rhodesia ".The truth of the matter is that nobody supposed that oil and other goods were not getting through to Rhodesia through both Mozambique and South Africa. The 441 reason we all knew it was happening was that once the decision was made, and very sensibly made, not to have sanctions against South Africa and Portugal, there was no conceivable way in which an economic blockade could be made effective against Rhodesia. Indeed, visitors coming back from Rhodesia at that time bore witness to the inefficacy of sanctions. For my part, I recollect that when we came to Government in 1970 what we concentrated on, and what my noble friend Lord Home concentrated on, was a solution of the political problem and he lent all his energies in that direction. But that is not to say that we did not accept, though we had voted against it, the mandatory resolution of the Security Council on sanctions, and we continued the arrangements made by the previous Government for their support.
But it is the continuation of the sanctions order against Rhodesia which is concerning the House this afternoon, and I recognise very much the force of the arguments which have been deployed in another place and which, no doubt, will be deployed here. Mr. Smith is prepared, the internal settlement is prepared, to do all those things which over these years we have asked him to do. It is true that not all of them have been accomplished, but that is not entirely his fault. The fact that there is no election is very largely the fault of the guerrillas. Why then, the argument goes, should sanctions be continued when the purpose for which these sanctions were imposed has largely been achieved—and that argument is made stronger by the attitude of the Government in these last few months towards the internal settlement.
I think that these are powerful arguments, but I also believe that there are other considerations than that argument which any British Government and any responsible politician should take into account. If I differ with some of my noble friends—and I am always reluctant to do this—I hope they will accept it from me that I do not do so because I am opposed to a solution on the lines of the internal settlement, or that I have any feeling about the illegality of Mr. Smith's régime, or anything of that kind, but because it seems to me that the other considerations are, at the moment, overriding.
442 I think that the test of whether or not the sanctions order should be extended is solely this: whether or not sanctions removal will be more or less likely to make a peaceful settlement attainable. Nobody with any knowledge of the situation believes that the Rhodesian economy is the crucial factor and that sanctions in themselves are critical. I do not think even Mr. Smith would claim that. In the debate in the other place we saw how ineffective sanctions have been. I think that the issue of sanctions is perhaps more symbolic than anything else. If that is so, the judgment of whether or not to continue them must depend upon whether it will further the prospect of a settlement.
When the Labour Government referred the Rhodesian issue to the United Nations, we in my Party opposed it, not just because we believed—and believe—that, as a weapon, economic sanctions are never successful and should not be used, but because we realised that once sanctions were imposed by a mandatory resolution of the Security Council it would, in the nature of things, be extremely difficult to get them removed. Any resolution to abandon sanctions would, of course, have to be agreed by the Security Council and be subject to the veto of its permanent members.
I remember, as my noble friend will remember, that in the period 1970 to 1974 the Conservative Government of the day, as unconvinced about the efficacy of sanctions as all of us are now, had an inquiry made into how sanctions could be removed. That inquiry confirmed the difficulties which we had forecast in the middle 1960s and showed clearly the consequences which would flow, some of which your Lordships have heard this afternoon from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. I think, if I may say so, that it would be a grave mistake to underestimate the consequences to this country of a unilateral breach by Britain of our international obligations. The rule of law and the acceptance of international law by the countries of the world is not without its importance far outside Rhodesia—or the issue of sanctions which we are discussing today. I have no doubt that my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone will have something to say about that later on in the debate.
443 If the issue of sanctions is largely symbolic, it must be remembered that sanctions are symbolic to both parties and not just to the internal settlement. They are symbolic to the black African world and to the Third World. They are a test of whether we are serious about a settlement in Rhodesia which is in accordance with the Five Principles to which both Parties in this House have long subscribed. An abandonment of that position before the Five Principles were achieved would, in my view, bring down upon our heads a universal condemnation which would spread far beyond what we are talking about this afternoon. Nor could we, in all honesty, say that the Five Principles have been fulfilled.
As I said to your Lordships earlier, there has not been a test of public opinion; nor has there been a white referendum; nor have the Acts on racial discrimination and land tenure enacted by Parliament been repealed. If we were to say—as some of my noble friends, I think, would—that intentions were good enough, I do not believe that in the light of the history of the last 13 years we would seem to be either convincing or consistent in our policy. Let us make no mistake about it. A repeal of sanctions by this country would bring great hostility upon us and would make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for Britain to act as a mediator or catalyst in the settlement of the problem, for the problem is a political one in the last analysis.
I noticed, for example, that General Peter Walls, for whom I have a great respect, said in Salisbury the other day that there was no military solution; it had to be political. Of course he is quite right. It must be a political solution, and to achieve it Britain has an important role to play. If by our actions now we place ourselves in a position where we cannot play a constructive role, we are not only making a difficult situation more difficult but we are in no sense helping the internal settlement upon which we on this side would like a solution to be built. I think that at this stage the rejection of the order would be harmful, would polarise the two sides, would certainly unite the opposition against the internal Government, might very well escalate the fighting and might perhaps remove the last opportunity that the British 444 Government have for constructive mediation. There is one other—
Lord PAGET of NORTHAMPTON
My Lords, this seems to me to be the all-important point and one which I find so difficult to follow. How can one be an arbitrator or a mediator when one is applying a sanction against one of the parties, and only one of the parties, between whom one is purporting to mediate? After all, we in this House are a great tribunal. I am quite certain that our Judicial Committee would upset any arbitration award upon evidence that the arbitrator was exercising unilateral sanctions against one of the parties.
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Peart)
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord appreciates that this is a very important debate. I understand that he does, and I am glad about that. I hope the noble Lord will keep down.
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, I wonder whether I could have a go. Of course, we have been trying to mediate under those circumstances for the last 13 years—not very successfully. But let us hope very much that we can in the future.
There is one other reason that I must put before your Lordships. I think that this House is in a very particular position. If in another place the whole of the Conservative Party voted against the order, however many of them went into the Lobby that order would not be defeated. That is not the case here. Because of the composition of this House, if the Conservative Party united against the Government the order would undoubtedly be defeated. No doubt that would be the intention of those who would vote against the order, for, knowing them as I do, they would not be likely to vote against the order in the hope that sufficient of their colleagues would abstain so that it would not be defeated. Their intention would be to defeat the order.
I hope the consequences of that action will be considered. We know that the Parliament Act does not apply to orders. We also know—certainly the noble Lord, 445 Lord Shackleton, and I know, because we have experienced it—that if the Government so wish they can introduce another order later on, in slightly different terms, in the hope that the House will then pass it. But why should this House pass it a second time if it is their intention now to defeat the order? Why should they change their mind, unless their vote today is just a demonstration? The consequences of that action would be that your Lordships' House, with its distinguished membership on an hereditary and nominated basis, would make the ultimate decision as to whether or not this order should or should not be continued, in the knowledge that last night it was passed by a fairly large majority in another place and that nearly two-thirds of the Conservative Party abstained from voting against it. I think the responsibility for doing that would be heavy upon this House. I disregard the constitutional crisis in the sense that there will be a Lords v. Commons issue and your Lordships' House will be abolished. After all, we know that we are going to be abolished if there is another Labour Government. But I do question—and I ask my noble friends to question—whether in these circumstances the rejection of this order in the way that I have described would be very wise.
I believe that the wider considerations which I have put before your Lordships are of extreme importance to this country and go far beyond the issue of sanctions which we are debating this afternoon. But I confess that I should be tempted to disregard that if I felt that by removing sanctions we should actively take a positive step forward to the solution of the problem. But I do not feel that. I do not think that in themselves sanctions are significant, except symbolically. I believe that the consequences of their removal would lead not only to an intensification of the dispute but would remove Britain's ability to play a useful role.
If I am right, what then constructively can we do to help the morale of the parties to the internal settlement, who feel very ill-used? The fighting has got to be stopped. Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo have got to be made to understand that they will not succeed in their wish for power unless they make significant compromises, not least that they are 446 prepared to take part in free and fair and internationally supervised elections. They must be made to understand that force will not solve the problem, except perhaps in the last resort somebody may inherit a Rhodesia bankrupt, ruined, devastated, without a white or a black population capable of reviving its economy or restoring its prosperity. Neither Mr. Nkomo nor Mr. Mugabe could want that.
Let us have one more attempt: First by my contact group to try to talk some sense into the Patriotic Front, then a summit conference, presided over by the Prime Minister and I hope with Mr. Vance, the Secretary of State at present, in which the Prime Minister must use all his skills. If that conference fails, and if it fails because of the intransigence of those who are not prepared to accept a solution based on the Five Principles, then the West—not just Britain but the West—must rethink its policies, for no party can be allowed to have a veto over a fair settlement.
I do not know what chance of success my proposals have; if there are any better ideas, let us by all means examine them. An Opposition can only make suggestions, but one thing I beg the Government to understand: They cannot continue on the path that they have been pursuing over these last months, expecting that the Anglo-American proposals at this late stage will be acceptable to anybody. It is up to them to take the initiative, and the sands are running out.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, I should like to start from two premises which I believe to be valid. The first is that the country which up to now has been called Rhodesia, even if re-christened "Zimbabwe", is, like most emergent black African States, in reality a collection of tribes held together during the last century by white leadership or, if you will, by white domination. As elsewhere, it is therefore difficult to imagine that, even if it will not necessarily become totalitarian or communist, it will ever be a democracy in the Western sense of the word.
The second premise is this: we have in any case now reached the point, long regarded by many as inevitable, when the 447 remaining 200,000-odd white settlers who have so far held the country together, in spite of their recent successful raids on rebel centres outside the country, will be able to remain only if they agree that, as in Kenya, power should pass, and should be seen to pass, after an agreed interval, from their hands into the hands of the local indigenous population. What exactly will happen then must be left to that population to decide. We may or may not approve, but they must work out their salvation in their own way. There is no long-term alternative.
Some, while accepting the first of my premises, may still reject the second, preferring, in effect, a continuing recourse to arms to preserve white leadership, at any rate for many years ahead. Others will regard recent events as the final and irreversible phase of the retreat from Empire which began, as we all know, over 30 years ago with the independence of India. But in any case the second premise is evidently not yet accepted by the majority of the white settlers, or indeed by their sympathisers in this country. They seem to feel that if sanctions are now lifted unilaterally, which as I think the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, pointed out would inevitably imply the immediate recognition of the Government based on the internal settlement made last March, the special position of the settlers would be safeguarded, especially perhaps if a new Government were to receive assistance from outside, and notably from the United Kingdom, in their efforts to eliminate any remaining rebels or terrorists.
I think few in this country would reject out of hand any solution based on the application of the internal settlement, provided only that it was likely to end the war and gain general approval. But the real question surely is whether, in default of willingness on the part of the whites to go further towards acceptance of rule by the black majority, such a solution is now practicable, and more particularly, of course, whether a refusal by your Lordships to renew the sanctions order, which as I understand it is the only decision in front of us today, would do anything to bring it about. Unfortunately, the answer to both these questions must inevitably be, "No". For in the first place the willingness of the settlers—and here I think my analysis must differ 448 somewhat from that put forward just now by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—as exemplified in the internal settlement itself, to accept black majority rule is tempered by their proposed retention, as I understand it, for at least 10 years of control over the Civil Service, the armed forces and the police.
I do not want to go on too long, my Lords, but for instance paragraph 5 of the internal settlement lays down that the armed forces must be "free from political interference". And, as I understand it, the whole Administration will in any case come under an executive council consisting of Mr. Smith and his three black colleagues who will take decisions by what is called consensus; in other words, presumably, decisions will have to be concurred in by Mr. Smith. I should have thought it was obvious that under such a régime, although admittedly at the moment it is backed up by a powerful Mashona leader, namely, Bishop Muzorewa, the black Ministers who are going to be installed, duplicating as it were the white ones, will have very little real power and I am afraid will be regarded by most of the educated blacks as what are known as "Uncle Toms".
I could develop further arguments to this effect in an analysis of the internal settlement but I have not the time to do so. All I would assert, therefore, is that, with the best will in the world, it is difficult to see how a settlement based on the present internal settlement can possibly produce stability and result in an enduring peace. Moreover, the proposed large blocking minority of the whites in the proposed new legislative Assembly, however justifiable to some, is obviously unacceptable to the exiled nationalist leaders, who now seem, after all, to control considerable areas of the country, and who—we must face the fact—rightly or wrongly have the sympathy of nearly all the so-called developing nations of the world.
Quite apart from this, the unilateral lifting of sanctions by us, in the absence of any real change of heart in Salisbury or of some agreement with the Patriotic Front, together with the official recognition of the new régime which such a move would necessarily imply, could only be a gesture, as I think Lord Carrington rightly said, without any 449 practical result on the outcome of the war. All that this gesture could have by way of practical effect would be to prejudice our relations with the whole of black Africa, including Nigeria, with whom our trade is now extremely important, to say nothing of the whole Commonwealth, to the maintenance of which I believe most noble Lords on my left still attach considerable importance; to place a severe strain on our relations with America, our greatest ally, and to subject us to the perfectly valid accusation of having violated our obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, thus playing into the hands of the Russians and their Cuban friends. Whatever our emotions, my Lords, I cannot think that this would be a very sensible thing to do. Even less sensible, I suggest, would it be for us in this House to reverse a decision taken last night by no less than a three-to-one majority in another place.
My Lords, I do not want to be simply destructive. So what should we do? It would be quite wrong, I think, to sit back and say this is all the fault of Mr. Smith and all we can do is to let nature take its course. After all, Mr. Smith has over recent years made concessions. His enemies might say that he was forced to make them. His friends would say, no doubt, that he thought sincerely that only slow progress towards majority rule was in the real interests of the blacks. The latest concession is apparently the repeal of all laws giving any special privileges to the white minority, though we have still to learn what the real impact of this may be. If we may believe some reports it will only in reality mean more equality for the better off blacks, the remainder remaining unequal by virtue of economic necessity.
Still, as the situation becomes worse, Mr. Smith and his friends may even get around to explaining how they would be prepared to modify the internal settlement so as to bring it, I will not say absolutely into line with the Anglo-American proposals of 1977, but in some way to approximate it to them. At that point we might conceivably have some success in selling this revised scheme, or a modified version of it, to the Patriotic Front, or at long last inducing them, or some of them, to talk about it. It is quite true that the prospect of such a meeting or conference with the Patriotic Front has been put back, if indeed it has not been made 450 impossible, by the recent heavy attacks, however justified they may have been on strategic grounds, by the Rhodesian forces on the nucleus of Mr. Nkomo's potential invasion force of Matabeles in Zambia. And we can hardly fail to note that these attacks followed almost immediately on Mr. Smith's declaration in America that he was now prepared to attend such a conference without preconditions.
What, then, are we to make of the immediate future? If the armed struggle goes on, as I think it must, the position of the settlers and their black associates, unrecognised by the international community and still subject to sanctions, can hardly fail, even with some South African support, to get worse over the years. Their small, though no doubt highly efficient, army, now incorporating, I believe, quite a number of very tough mercenaries, may hold the rebels at bay for quite a long time yet, but only at the cost of real and increasing economic distress and social disruption. All this will be intensified by the steadily increasing departure of whites, even now running, as I understand it, at something like one thousand a month. For their part the rebels will continue to operate from bases outside the country, and the Rhodesian forces, though they may carry out raids, can hardly occupy whole areas of Zambia and Mozambique. Besides, there is always the likelihood that before long they may be challenged in the air by fighters coming from Communist countries, and more especially by the deployment of Sams, as they are called, and other antiaircraft weapons, which will presumably make raids no longer practicable. Probably what will happen to start with is the acquisition by the rebels of hardly detectable weapons, which can now be fired by one man and are very effective against low flying aircraft and helicopters. Short of an occupation by the settlers of Zambia, Mozambique and Angola, I fail to see how over the years such deployment could be prevented.
If the war, therefore, goes on and no move to end it by peaceful means succeeds, it seems likely that the existing régime in Salisbury will be eroded to the point at which Mr. Smith will find himself without major black associates, and then I fear there may well be a massive exodus of settlers, some 70,000 of whom, I believe, 451 have British passports and might want to come to this country; in other words, at the most under one-tenth of the number of refugees from Algeria accommodated in France when General de Gaulle, the hero, I believe, of many British admirers of Mr. Smith, decided to make peace with the rebels in 1962. We need not, I suppose, shed too many tears over the fate of such refugees if indeed there should be an exodus. They will have had a good life while it lasted, and most of them should be fully capable, as the French refugees in Algeria were, of earning their living. What would be terrible would be the likely effect of this particular solution of the Rhodesian problem on the blacks who had either been in the army or had acted in close co-operation with the whites. Indeed, this is probably the main reason for avoiding such a solution if we possibly can.
So surely, my Lords, what it comes down to is this—and I approach my conclusion: the war will doubtless go on, but after at the most a year or two the probability is that either the settlers will have to call it a day, leaving behind, I am afraid, a country rent by civil war and probably occupied by Cubans and other Communist sympathisers, or they and their black associates will have of their own volition to accept something more like the Anglo-American plan. This in its turn would presumably mean that the whites would have to renounce any blocking minority in the legislative Assembly, in any case possessing, shall we say, 20 and not 28 Members on a separate list, who would not be able to veto any fundamental reforms desired by the majority. For their protection they would, therefore, have, as in Kenya, to rely on suitable provisions in the eventual constitution regarding expropriation and compensation, and they would not, of course, have any control over the army or the police. There would likewise necessarily have to be an interim period, perhaps lasting for a year or more, during which the country, before elections or perhaps before a referendum, would effectively be run by some United Nations nominee, unless, of course, a British subject were preferred.
No doubt such developments would result in a number of settlers leaving, but some might well remain. This really is a settlement worth working and waiting 452 for, and I suggest that it is by no means out of the question: it is attainable still. Moreover, the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for what I think he called a "contact group" is very constructive and might well be accepted by the Government. I hope that they will respond to the noble Lord's suggestion. For if we could still not persuade the leaders of the Patriotic Front to come in on such a deal, call off their fighters and submit themselves to some kind of election in a supervised vote, we ought to have no hesitation in recommending its acceptance to the United Nations and in proceeding to lift sanctions together with the grant of substantial aid. That, indeed, would be the moment when, with the goodwill of the international community, we might and should with profit be able to take an independent and constructive line, not too much influenced by Mr. Andrew Young, and I hope that the Government will not exclude it in their forward thinking. Of course, if at the right moment Mr. Smith were to retire and be succeeded by some other white leader of more moderate or progressive views, the prospects of such an outcome would be very much greater.
I certainly would not expect the settlers to agree to such a solution for some time yet. The danger, of course, is that they will never agree, preferring to go on fighting to the end in the hope that something will turn up, or that the world situation will somehow change or be changed to their advantage. In other words, the danger may be that they will hang on until the Cubans arrive on the frontiers with aircraft and tanks, and then make a strong bid for Western, and more especially, American help, on the grounds that they alone are standing up against an obvious Communist drive to dominate not only Zimbabwe but the whole of South Africa. It would, as the French say, be politique du pire, but I would certainly not regard it as impossible.
Those who believe with Mr. Julian Amery, for instance, that we shall one day be forced to help South Africa against attack from the North, no doubt encouraged by the Soviet Union, may sympathise with such a plan, which would admittedly be the logical consequence of an immediate lifting of sanctions, coupled with recognition of and physical support for the Smith régime. I say 453 that it would be logical and it would, admittedly, be a policy rather than a gesture, which is something. But I confess that I personally cannot imagine the circumstances in which what would probably end up in all-out war against the so-called black "Front Line" countries, would be supported by the majority of people in this country.
As I see it, however, it is still possible for us to induce Salisbury to come out in favour of what I would call a genuine hand-over of power to blacks, clearly representing a majority in a country, in a system approved by the United Nations or at least by a majority in the international community. That, as we on these Benches at any rate see it, is the best way to prevent Communists, no doubt with Cuban support, from taking over both in Zimbabwe and in the various surrounding States, and I hope and believe that, as a policy, it will in a general way still commend itself to the majority of your Lordships, irrespective of Party affiliations.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ The Marquess of SALISBURY
My Lords, I declare an interest in the subject which is being debated. Inevitably on these occasions each year we have to cover much of the same ground as we have covered in the past. However, I shall endeavour to avoid doing so as far as possible because since I have been in the House I have addressed your Lordships on almost every occasion that this particular subject has arisen. The renewal of the sanctions order is bound, inevitably, to produce the same arguments. We have already heard many of them today: we must not rock the boat at the critical moment; we must be careful of our United Nations obligations, and many other similar ones. At the same time I believe that there are now other considerations which somewhat alter the situation and which should affect our thinking but many of them are not directly connected with the situation of Rhodesia. However, one of the international complications that does affect us is that the United Nations has imposed sanctions and to that extent, as members of the organisation, we are party to an international agreement. Apart from that the internal aspect seems to have been very much pushed into the background.
454 I wonder why Her Majesty's Government are so anxious to support the Patriotic Front whose aims are admittedly Marxist by nature. Surely that is not consistent with their frequently reiterated demands for agreement to be reached under the Five Principles which have been laid down for so many years. If control did pass to the Patriotic Front, how are we to know that they would carry it out on the basis of majority rule, which is what I understand the Five Principles seek? At present, they would appear to have at the most some 30 per cent. of the electorate in their support. I should be interested to know where, on this point Her Majesty's Government stand and what they now seek to achieve. For, after all, they accepted the Kissinger proposals, as did the Rhodesian Government, and surely that should have been the beginning of the setting up of a democratic Rhodesian State. However, unfortunately they ratted on it, possibly because the so-called Front-Line Presidents objected, although I suspect that they had previously agreed to the terms. So long as Her Majesty's Government continue to go along with these gentlemen they will surely go on asking for more just as they have done over the past year, and that will continue until they have obtained all their demands leading to their control of Rhodesia.
In spite of the rejection of the Kissinger terms, the Rhodesian Government, on the other hand, have gone a long way towards implementing what was agreed. They now have a multiracial Government, they are arranging to hold elections on the basis of one man one vote, and they are taking steps to abolish the Land Apportionment Act. Those actions, in my view at least, meet most of the requirements laid down by the Five Principles.
It could, of course, be said at present that the Fifth Principle—the test of acceptance—has not as yet been met, but presumably your Lordships will feel that if the proposals of the internal settlement were supported in an election, that condition also would have been met. It has been delayed for what have been called technical reasons and I believe that there are certain suspicions that those reasons have been put forward to avoid coming to the point. I do not believe that that is so, because difficulties are involved. We 455 might take as an example what has happened in this country. We are due to hold a referendum on devolution to Scotland and Wales. That has had to be delayed until some time next year when a new electoral roll has been introduced so as to ensure that a fair test of opinion is achieved. In Rhodesia there is no such thing as a roll in existence; it has to be created and it is not easy to compile in the jungle and distant areas. Moreover, it is very difficult to compute the number of women and there is no accurate record at present. Also—and perhaps this is equally important—there is the need, in some of the distant areas, to explain to the inhabitants exactly what an election is and how it operates because it is an entirely new concept to those people, and very different from any form of decision-making they have been called upon to make in the past. They have always operated on a consensus basis under the Indaba system.
However, by far the most important problem which Rhodesia has to face today is the question of intimidation, which has been referred to on more than one occasion. By the most brutal methods—including murder, torture, burning alive, the prevention of the growing of crops in order to disrupt local authority, the prevention of such essential steps as the dipping of cattle against disease and of spraying against Bilharzia, and by closing the schools through intimidating the children who attend them—they have made life in the tribal areas hazardous in the extreme. Her Majesty's Government's allies—the terrorists of the Patriotic Front—are doing this and doing all in their power to disrupt life in Rhodesia. Clearly, their object is to make the operations of the interim Government as difficult as possible and to prevent the holding of elections, which they know they would lose.
In the meantime, if life is to continue on any reasonable basis, certain things need doing, and need doing quickly. Law and order must be re-established throughout the country before, in my view at least, it is even possible to consider holding elections. An effective Administration must also be maintained so as to enable the 6 million-plus people who live in Rhodesia to be fed and to find employment. These are difficult objectives for 456 them to achieve, but I do not think that they have a chance of achieving them unless they are able to retain a certain number of the white population, who would have to take part in the administration so that effective armed forces could be retained, an efficient Administration kept in operation and, equally important, so that adequate food could be produced to feed those large numbers of mouths.
However, the internal situation in Rhodesia cannot be dealt with in isolation. I should like to say a few words about the operation of sanctions, which have already been mentioned this evening. On many occasions in this House—not least tonight —we have been told that we have international obligations to maintain sanctions. It now appears that we have broken them throughout the period during which they have been in operation by allowing the supply of oil. If I understood the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor correctly, two reasons have now been given for this. One is that we could not effectively stop them, and the second is that it would have been embarrassing for us to have quarrelled with the Republic of South Africa. But, if that is so, I find it very hard to understand why we still have obligations to maintain sanctions.
Let us also consider the position of other countries. At the moment Rhodesia is full of French and Japanese cars. Zambia is taking as much food as she can transport over the Victoria Falls railway bridge, and has been doing so for years. The Soviet Republic has bought chrome from Rhodesia and has sold some of it to the United States. Surely both those countries have broken sanctions.
In the case of chrome, when Russia asked too much money of the United States, quite unilaterally the United States Congress authorised the official breaking of sanctions through the passing of the Byrd Amendment. As late as July this year, Congress has decided that:The Government of the United States shall not enforce sanctions against Rhodesia after 31st December 1978 provided that the President determinescertain things. The point surely is that once again Congress has instructed the President that he may break sanctions if he so wishes, or if certain requirements are met, without any reference whatever to the 457 United Nations. Under those circumstances it seems to me that the argument that we should continue with sanctions, or even support them, falls to the ground. There have been too many loopholes and the gaps are too wide.
Why then are we retaining sanctions? The argument that has been advanced today—once again—is that they will bring the Rhodesian Administration to the conference table. I find this hard to sustain after 12 years; we have heard it every year. We are still waiting for this result. If we agree to continue with sanctions tonight, I wonder how many more years we shall be hearing it in the future.
Therefore, we must look for other reasons why sanctions are being retained. They seem to be somewhat disconnected with the situation within Rhodesia. Possibly one is the internal politics in the United States, where the negro vote plays a large part. Trade with Nigeria has already been mentioned this evening, but if the article published in last Saturday's edition of the Daily Telegraph is to be believed, this is no longer a valid argument. Perhaps a more important problem is the inability of the United States to undertake another foreign operation after its lamentable failure in Vietnam. Therefore, it is necessary for the United States to avoid confrontation with Russia in Africa. Surely Russia will take this as a confession of weakness, which indeed it is, and so will the Front-Line Presidents and the Patriotic Front. Therefore, they will continue to press for more and more concessions from us in the West. So I would suggest to your Lordships that sanctions are counter-productive to the effecting of a settlement.
In this context we must also examine the Russian aims in Africa. I believe that they have two. First, they wish to have the ability to deny the West supplies of essential raw materials, or at least they wish to so increase the price that it reaches an unacceptable level. Secondly, they wish to control the trade routes of the West round Africa. In order to achieve this, it is immaterial at this stage whether chaos develops in the area or whether Southern Africa as a whole falls within the Soviet sphere of influence. Rhodesia is now the first step in this operation; South Africa is the ultimate prize. Therefore, 458 sanctions against Rhodesia are essentially a pawn in the struggle between East and West. As Lieutenant-General Daniel Graham, former head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, writing in the Washington Post on 18th May, said:The essence of the situation in Rhodesia today is this: A coalition of black Rhodesian moderates and the white Rhodesian minority are confronting a coalition of Marxist black terrorists supported by the Soviet Union and, incredible as it may seem, the United States and Great Britain! This situation is made even more grotesque by the atrocities committed against defenseless black tribesmen by the US-UK supported side in the struggle for control of Rhodesia.Meanwhile, the impact of sanctions on Rhodesia seems to have fallen to a secondary position. But let us note that, as has been mentioned already, the principal suffers are the blacks, who I think the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said in his opening speech sanctions were intended to help. If Her Majesty's Government's present policy is pursued they must surely face a very bleak future indeed, for without support from the West the whites will leave. It is better from their point of view to leave with a whole skin for them and their families even if they leave all their assets behind than to face murder in Rhodesia. For the unfortunate blacks this alternative does not exist.
Finally, I would say that there are two possible courses facing us in our dealings with Rhodesia. The first is to support the internal settlement. In turn, this has the support at the moment of the majority of both blacks and whites. It provides for democratic government. It will enable the whites to stay, and this is essential for economic survival, at least for the present. The alternative is to back the Patriotic Front, as Her Majesty's Government appear to be doing now, which would be a minority Government, perhaps under the influence of Russia, and would attract all the consequences I have mentioned this evening. Also it is likely to lead to an open-ended financial commitment for the British taxpayer on a massive scale for the foreseeable future. Of the two alternatives I prefer the former, and therefore, my Lords, I shall vote against the order this evening.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Lord GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, I deeply regret the compression, I under- 459 stand by some agreement between the Front Benches, into one half of a day and a night, of three totally separate matters. There are 46 would-be speakers, all of whom have a right to and should be heard. In consideration, therefore, of others and to reduce my own natural tendency towards the garrulous, I shall, for the first time since I joined your Lordships' House, read what I have to say and I shall resist any temptation, I give warning, to be drawn into argument.
May I begin with Bingham, the report we have here. On this I shall not detain the House for long but should like to state my own position very clearly. I was not personally, or departmentally, closely involved in the period up to my resignation from the Government in March 1968. First, because the DEA had only very limited interests. I seem only to have been drawn in when it was necessary to read the riot act to Mr. Berkin of Shell, which Mr. Bingham finds I did more than successfully—which is my normal habit in such matters. Secondly, because, as Foreign Secretary, it was again only of limited concern since it was the major responsibility of the Commonwealth Relations Department, which had not then been amalgamated into the one external affairs department. In any case, it was, as my colleagues of that time will know, very much a No. 10 spectacular from the beginning.
I did of course share and accept my part as Deputy to the Prime Minister and as First Secretary of State in the collective responsibility of the Cabinet for all the actions taken by the Cabinet during that period. I still accept that responsibility for the policy decisions that were made during my period, whatever the hindsight judgment, ten or 13 years later, may be made by others who did not carry responsibility then.
Therefore, I do not propose today—and I wish to make it quite clear—nor will I at any other time respond to any call to disclose whether I agreed or disagreed with my then colleagues on any particular issue affecting Rhodesia during that period. To do so, in my view, would destroy the whole basis of British Cabinet constitutional government; and it was indeed, may I remind the House, breaches of that principal, as I thought them to be, that were part of my reasons (stated 460 at the time) for resigning from the Government of 1968. I did not, as I said endorse or approve the way it was being run and this was one of the examples I gave.
I hope noble Lords will allow me to say that I regard as both distasteful and unseemly the present engagement of some of my ex-colleagues in debating among themselves who knew what, who misled whom, and who failed to understand which issue. For the reasons I gave earlier none of us then in office could claim ignorance on the position, and so far as I am concerned that applies right up to the time that I left the Government in March 1968. I should be most surprised to learn—and I am choosing my words carefully—that the position changed in any material respect after that. I would therefore, if he will permit me, like most firmly to say that I place myself unreservedly alongside the assertions already made by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth.
I would also deplore—and will strongly oppose—any proposal to publish Cabinet or Cabinet Committee papers relating to that time. In my view this is precisely the kind of case and the area that the 30 years rule, as I believe it now is, is made to cover, and in my view should be persisted in. The demand for such action, the publication of Cabinet and Cabinet Committee papers on a matter affecting defence and foreign policy, I regard as an insidious, a sinister, and a malicious attempt to create a precedent which would make Cabinet Government, as we have known it for centuries, impossible in this country. I think it is our duty, if I may suggest it to my colleagues, to sustain the Government in opposition to any demand that they should publish.
That is all I propose to say on Bingham, save this one thing: unsupported as we were at the time by other countries who persisted in trading in vital strategic areas with Rhodesia, and faced with the consequent responsibility to decide about the blockade of the entire coast of Southern Africa, all our decisions had to be at all times a choice between courses of greater or lesser difficulty and unattractiveness. There was nothing else open to us. We made our decisions, my Lords, at the time as we were guided, and in my view we must stand up for them.
461 I turn to the Rhodesian internal political situation, the second of the three matters we are discussing, and I shall try to be equally brief but, again, to do so will mean assertion replacing argument. It is my view that the propositions agreed upon by Mr. Smith, Bishop Muzorewa, the Reverend Sithole and Chief and Senator Chirau, and on which the interim Government have been formed, accord sufficiently completely with the principles laid down by the Governments of 1964 to 1970—of which I was a Member for the major part of the time—for us to accept them and, in accepting them, to encourage the interim Government to proceed to the free elections which alone will answer, as the noble Marquess said, the Fifth Principle.
I assert that I am as sure as I can be of anything that had such an agreement been available, and entered into at the time of the "Tiger" and "Fearless" talks, or during any other of the talks and meetings with Mr. Smith, they would have been accepted by the Government of which I was a Member and would have been recommended to Parliament and the country. Other Members of that Government are in this House; other Members must answer to themselves, if not to the House, for what they think would have happened, but I feel I know enough about it to be very assertive indeed.
That Mr. Smith delayed for so long does not make me feel any better about him, but neither by the same token does it make me feel any worse about an agreement I wish we had got before or any less glad to have it now. I merely regret—I wish the noble Marquess, with whom I am delighted to be engaged in an exercise on this, would say this himself more often—that so much suffering and misery has been caused to so many black and white Rhodesians largely as a consequence of Mr. Smith's equivocation and delay.
That, however, does not in my view justify the present Government, the Secretary of State or the American Administration and Mr. Andrew Young in continuing to impose or connive at further murder and suffering by themselves in their turn procrastinating and delaying acceptance of the internal agreement. In my view, for what it is worth, we should already have given and most 462 certainly should now give support to the maximum of our ability to the interim Government of Rhodesia which that internal agreement brought into being. That, again, is why I and other noble Lords have sought in correspondence, and have unceasingly requested interviews, to urge on the Secretary of State that the members of the interim Government, including Mr. Smith, should be allowed to enter this country—should even be invited to enter this country—for discussions and to put their case. I believe the Secretary of State, if it is indeed he who is responsible—I enter that caveat for specific reasons—has accepted a very heavy burden by not arranging for that to happen.
Let me make it quite clear if it needs to be made clear: I understand and endorse what so many Members of this House, particularly in the Labour Party, feel about the past behaviour of Mr. Smith. What I find impossible to understand, on the other hand, is their equivocal attitude to the behaviour of Mr. Nkomo. I distinguish between Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe because at least I can respect as consistent and clear the position of the latter, while condemning it all the more forcibly because I understand it. In the case of Mr. Nkomo, I feel a totally different reaction. He comes frequently to this country—invited, fêted, almost suffocated by the attention and admiration lavished on him by Liberal and Labour opinion. When I have seen him at a Government reception for Commonwealth Prime Ministers, for example, and watched the throng around him like flies around a honeypot, I have been unable to get out of my mind the fact that, however he is thought of here, this man is no less a leader of murderers and thugs in Rhodesia and one who has refused to submit himself to the discipline of democratic action inside Rhodesia.
I cannot, with all the best will in the world, understand how the Secretary of State justifies admitting this man and making no difficulties about him coming while refusing to do the same for the interim Government, which is at least seeking peacefully the transition of Rhodesia from the illegal régime that has existed to a democratically chosen constitutional Government. I have yet to learn how that attitude can be squared 463 with social democracy, with liberalism or with any recognisable radical stand.
That brings me, naturally enough, to the issue of sanctions, which is the third of the three items before the House today. It is arguable with hindsight whether the 1964 Government should in fact have hastened into a policy of sanctions as they did, having rejected force. It is arguable equally with hindsight whether, when calling on the United Nations collectively to impose sanctions, we should not also to have sought to place the dispute in their hands. It is certainly arguable—and most certainly was indeed argued—that when other nations failed to deliver their pledged vote on the imposition of sanctions, we should then have insisted that the United Nations take the responsibility from us, since they were preventing it being carried out, and they alone could assume that responsibility.
However, I have no doubt—I repeat this again—that had we achieved the agreement I have referred to in those earlier negotiations that were held, and had the steps which have now been taken been taken then, we should most certainly have proposed to the United Nations that sanctions should be withdrawn and support give to the interim Government which would have emerged then, as now, in its steps towards free elections.
I can see no reason at all why we should take a different view today from that which we and the whole House would gladly have taken then. If sanctions were no more than a gesture and as irrelevant as has been said from the two main Opposition Front Benches today, then, by definition, the case for keeping them must be as weak as they say is the case for getting rid of them. But they are not so irrelevant, nor am I persuaded that anybody making that charge believes it. They are not so irrelevant either to the morale of the black and white Rhodesians whose willingness to face frightful risks for peace is essential, nor are they irrelevant to their economic and military ability to do so. In no other way until after the removal of sanctions and the according of that support can free elections be organised.
That is why, despite the arguments so far put to the contrary, despite the admitted consequential risks, and despite the distance that it puts between me and 464 some of my friends on the Government Benches, it is still my firm view—taken perhaps from a very different position than that of the noble Marquess—that we should immediately, as the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and I sought to argue to the House a short while ago, proceed to propose to the United Nations the raising of sanctions and supporting the interim Government. Furthermore, while doing so we should notify them that because of the lateness of the hour so far as the sustenance and achievement of a democratically elected, free multiracial Government is concerned, and because of the urgency of the situation, we are, from whatever is the very earliest convenient date, withdrawing sanctions ourselves and proceeding to accord all assistance and all support to the interim Government (the Bishop, the Reverend Sithole, Mr. Chirau, and Mr. Smith) in their early moves to organise and to be able to hold free elections. That is why I humbly recommend to the House that we should tonight vote in any Division to end sanctions.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Lord THOMSON of MONIFIETH
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord George-Brown for the personal remarks he has just made. As he has said, this is a debate that deals both with the future of Rhodesian policy and with the past. I should have preferred to follow him and speak about the future of Rhodesia, gloomy and foreboding though it is, but the House will understand if in my case I concentrate my remarks almost entirely upon the past and upon the issues raised about oil sanctions in the Bingham report—in particular the issues raised concerning my own period of office as Commonwealth Secretary. I think that Mr. Bingham and his colleague Mr. Gray have produced an impressive report, searching in its analysis, balanced and judicious in its conclusions. I believe that it deals with most of the major anxieties that have been raised about the conduct of oil sanctions policy since UDI.
On a purely personal aspect of the report, I am glad that it makes it clear in Annex 2 that the full records of my own talks with the oil companies in February 1968 and again in February 1969 were sent to the offices of the Ministers 465 most directly concerned. I hope that this will dispose once and for all of the improbable proposition that as one of the newer Members of the Cabinet at the time I was conducting some private Rhodesian policy of my own with the oil companies. I noticed that in the other place yesterday the Leader of the Liberal Party, Mr. David Steel, continued to ask what collective discussion there was following my meeting in 1968 when it was decided to take action to stop British oil reaching Rhodesia from Lourenço Marques. Therefore, I should like to make it clear that, when it was discovered that British oil was being diverted into Rhodesia at Lourenço Marques, this fact was reported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary to the main Overseas Policy Committee of the Cabinet under the Prime Minister's chairmanship. It was accepted that the oil companies were acting in good faith at that time when they denied responsibility for this. It was agreed that fresh efforts should be made diplomatically with the French to try to get a more comprehensive international arrangement. Therefore, the main lines of our policy in the face of the very real dilemmas put before us by the oil situation (to which I shall come) were decided collectively at the highest level, and it was these main lines which determined the shape of policy for some time afterwards, including the issue which flowed from that; namely, the attitude towards the so-called swap arrangements to which I shall come in a few moments.
However, the real question is not about my own personal position in this matter. The real question on which I think there is legitimate concern, and legitimate room for differences of opinion about the past, is whether successive Governments from 1966 until the Bingham inquiry was set up in 1976, acted wisely or unwisely, prudently or negligently over the difficult issues raised by the Rhodesian oil sanctions. I can speak only of the period of the Wilson Government of 1966 to 1970. I share the distaste of my noble friend Lord George-Brown for the fact that there seems to be an argument going on as to who was there at the time decisions were taken, who has the responsibility for them, and who said what, when.
For my part, although I have had to defend myself against some of these criticisms, I take the view that the Govern- 466 ment's record during that period was a creditable and honourable one. We gave the highest priority throughout to Rhodesian policy and to bringing about a principled and peaceful settlement. I remain firmly of the view that, in the circumstances of the time, we struck the best balance possible between conflicting considerations such as Governments have to face all the time—in this case the desire to make sanctions work as a means of bringing about a peaceful settlement and, on the other hand, the necessity of avoiding economic confrontation with South Africa. We did everything in our power to make sanctions work as widely as possible. When we found that British oil was being diverted into Rhodesia, we stopped that diversion. We tried our best to get other Governments to do the same with their own national oil companies, and in our attitude to our companies the Government as a whole, I believe, acted in the best interests of the British economy and the continued pursuit of a peaceful settlement.
I am bound to say that the Bingham report makes it clear that no subsequent Government up until the closing of the Mozambique frontier in 1976 has been able to say as much as I have just said. The report makes it plain that between 1970 and 1976, whatever the reasons, the arrangements which the Government of which I was a part made to stop British oil being diverted into Rhodesia fell into disuse. From 1968 to 1970 at least, no British oil went knowingly into Rhodesia. At least British oil companies observed British sanctions. It is said, curiously enough, both by the oil companies on the one side and by their critics on the other, that this does not really matter because of the swap arrangements to which I shall come. All I wish to say at this point is that, in a long time in public life, I have not managed to become so sophisticated that I think we can disregard the letter of the law because of differences of view about the practicability of implementing the spirit of the law.
I want to turn to, and deal in some detail with, the so-called swap arrangements which have understandably attracted so much attention and concern—and I well understand the concern. The first point to bear in mind in trying to arrive at a fair judgment about this infinitely 467 complex issue is that an elaborate network of exchange arrangements is part of normal international oil traffic. When I was European Commissioner in Brussels and Community Governments stood helpless in the face of the total Arab oil boycott of Holland, it was the oil companies with their swap arrangements which swiftly kept the Netherlands supplied when national Governments appeared powerless. I mention this because I think it important to record as the starting point for making a judgment that the swap was not invented as a sinister device of big business to bust sanctions. It is in fact a normal part of the apparently seamless web of international oil trade which made the analysis of Mr. Bingham and his colleagues so difficult and makes the reading of it such a complex matter for all of us.
According to the records described in the Bingham Report, the particular swap arrangement that we are concerned with here was entered into by the oil companies probably in February 1968—certainly at the beginning of that year; perhaps a little earlier than February 1968—at the time when the Government arranged, as I have mentioned, for the stopping of any further diversion of British oil from Lourenço Marques into Rhodesia by insisting that all British oil delivered to Lourenço Marques should be shipped directly into the Republic of South Africa. But I think the first confirmation of it to Ministers that is recorded was at the meeting over which I presided in February 1969.
Yesterday, the Leader of the Liberal Party in another place professed himself puzzled about that February 1969 meeting. He noted that I had become Minister without Portfolio, and speculated that this meant that the Government had downgraded consideration of sanctions. I should like to reassure him about that matter. Sanctions continued to be the responsibility of the new combined Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and were therefore dealt with at a high level within the Administration, as they always had been. At that time I was personally completely outside that Department because the Commonwealth Office, of which I had been head, had been merged with the Foreign Office; and the simple explanation of what happened there was 468 that I was simply deputising for the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Michael Stewart, who I think was away at the time, and because I had had a past involvement in these matters, I suppose, I was asked to take the chair.
Consequently—and this is why I have laboured this—this meeting remained a most important meeting at a high level. Therefore, it is deeply disturbing to hear Sir Harold Wilson in another place state that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office record of this meeting, which was sent to him, was never seen by him. Given the fact that he saw the record of the earlier talks a year before, in February, 1968; given the fact that he himself, as Prime Minister, generated the very important correspondence between our offices of March 15th, to which he referred in the debate in another place; and given the importance of the consideration by the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee of the Cabinet that I have already mentioned, the record of this particular meeting certainly ought to have been regarded as a most important paper. Sir Harold Wilson suggests that I may not have realised the implications of what was said in that record. I think the record itself, which is published in the Bingham Report, shows that I was in no doubt about its importance. To the best of my recollection—it is a frightfully difficult matter, I find, to recollect accurately after 10 years, but to the best of my recollection—I looked on the swap as it was described to me at that meeting as something outside our control but as a repugnant necessity; and so, I gather from his speech on Tuesday, did Mr. Michael Stewart, with whose characteristically straight-forward account of these matters I wholly agree.
The swap was an arrangement between two South African companies operating under South African law. It was outside the British legal jurisdiction, and we had no power to stop it. What we did have power to do was to bring diplomatic pressure to bear on the French Government to try to persuade them to stop the flow of French oil into Rhodesia, and internationalise the matter more fairly. This we did on a number of occasions and in a number of ways, but it had no effect. In the oil companies' view the justification for the exchange agreement was the fear of sequestration of their South African subsidiaries if they failed 469 to fulfil their contractual obligations under South African law; and that undoubtedly affected our attitude to the swap when we became aware of it. It may be said now—indeed, it has been said, so I deal with the point—that we were wrong to be influenced by these views of the oil companies in view of the fact that today all swap arrangements are apparently at an end and yet no action has overtly been taken in South Africa against British oil companies.
Mr. Bingham himself deals with this point on pages 160 and 161 of his report, and sums up—and I quote him:We would not ourselves conclude that the companies consciously exaggerated the risks of confrontation;that is, with the South African Government.
In any case, the Government of the day had to determine their attitude in 1969, and I am not at all sure that the circumstances in 1978, on which so many people are basing their judgments, in fact have very much relevance. I think one of the lessons of this whole episode is how dangerous it is to judge the political issues of one period by the standards of another a decade later.
§ Lord ORR-EWING
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him before he leaves the point about the French supplies and the swap arrangements? Does he not think it a surprising reflection of the different attitudes as between France and this country that none of this has been criticised in the French Press; that there have been no discussions in their Parliament; and that I am told by the French Embassy that they have no knowledge that they are in any way asking Totale or any of the French companies to explain why, under exactly the same sanctions, they continued and have not questioned them?
§ Lord THOMSON of MONIFIETH
Yes, my Lords, I think it is an interesting point on which it is worth meditating. I think we have to remember that we in this country have a special degree of responsibility for the Rhodesian problem which does not apply to other countries, even those close to us. Nevertheless, I am inclined to feel that we have a degree of masochism in these matters that we might do better to look at a little more 470 closely. What I wanted to argue on my main theme is that the South African Government today is in a significantly different situation from that in which it was in 1968. It now faces the Namibian crisis and its own internal, mounting crisis, and it is very much in the international front line to a degree it was not back in 1968. In 1968 they might well have carried out their takeover threats; and I am bound to say—and I say it with the utmost consideration after having gone over this in my own mind again and again during the last few months—that even with hindsight I cannot believe that the Government would have been right to risk the loss of these major British assets for no practical purpose so far as making oil sanctions more effective was concerned. I think what the critics of the swap arrangement have to face today—that is, if they are concerned with seeking more effective sanctions results and not merely with striking emotional political attitudes—is that if there had been no swap it would not have reduced by a barrel the flow of oil into Rhodesia. The gap left by stopping British oil going into Rhodesia, from being diverted into Rhodesia from Lourenço Marques, would have been quickly taken up with South African and Portuguese support by other companies. All that would have happened is that major British economic interests would have been put in jeopardy for, I repeat, absolutely no results at all in terms of reducing the flow of oil to Rhodesia.
The proof of that—and the proof is there before our eyes—is that Rhodesia continued to get her oil after the Mozambique border was closed, and everyone knows that she will continue to do so now that the last vestiges of BP's swap arrangement with SASOL have apparently vanished, only a few weeks ago. The truth is that short of an international blockade of South Africa there was no chance of depriving Rhodesia of her supplies, and there is no chance of depriving Rhodesia of her oil supplies. Such a blockade was inconceivable for Britain in 1968 for the reasons that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has given in his opening speech; and even if we had sought such a course we would never have gained the necessary international support. That was the reality then, and it remains the 471 reality today. As King Canute discovered a number of centuries ago, as a political leader it is always better to accept reality when you come across it, however disagreeable and upsetting it may be.
But I would say to noble Lords opposite who are tempted to vote against the sanctions order tonight that it does not follow that, because oil sanctions cannot be made to bite, therefore sanctions as a whole are an ineffective humbug and do not have a role to play. That was not true in 1968, and, although circumstances are sadly different in 1978, it is not true today, either. That is why I support the Government in seeking the renewal of the sanctions order tonight. The period 1967–68 was the period when the Government had to come to terms with the fact that sanctions could not bring a swift end to the rebellion by bringing a halt to the Rhodesian economy. Force had been ruled out from the beginning; and, as I have said, a blockade of South Africa and Portugal was not possible.
The only alternatives—and critics have to face up to what the alternatives were—were either to give up trying to end the rebellion or to go for what became known as the long haul: that was, applying sanctions with all their obvious leakages, including oil, and facing Rhodesia with the choice between long-term economic stagnation and political isolation or a peaceful transition to majority rule. The Rhodesian tragedy that we are debating tonight is that Mr. Smith's intransigence, until it was too late to prevent bloodshed, prevented the Rhodesian whites from enjoying the peaceful alternative that for a long time successive Governments in Britain by their patience with sanctions kept open to them. Both the Wilson Government of 1960 to 1970 (in which I took some part in these efforts with my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor) and the subsequent Government when the noble Lord, Lord Home, was Foreign Secretary, came very close on separate occasions to producing a Rhodesian settlement in which the continuing pressure of sanctions was undoubtedly part of the situation. On each occasion Mr. Smith flunked facing up to majority rule; and so the violence has mounted as we had prophesied that it 472 would. Sanctions, for all their unavoidable inadequacy contributed decisively to these two near misses by the Wilson Government and by Lord Home. The ironical thing is that if either had succeeded —either that of Mr. Wilson or that of Lord Home—sanctions would have been acclaimed nation-wide and world-wide as an instrument of peaceful change; and the Government of the day which achieved the settlement would have had a major political triumph instead of facing grave and, I believe, unjust accusations made against them of condoning sanctions busting.
Some of these accusations arise, understandably, out of the feeling that because something is secret in Government or in business, it must also be sinister. It is quite true that much of the detail of what was taking place remained secret for reasons of confidentiality, of diplomatic exchanges between Governments or of commercial contracts between companies, especially as we were in a state of economic warfare with Rhodesia. Perhaps, by contemporary standards of open government, that was a reprehensible position; but I am old-fashioned enough to believe that these considerations remain a necessary limitation on the freedom of information. Be that as it may, on the great public issues involved which are the proper concern of Parliament and the Press there was certainly no secrecy. There was certainly no secrecy, as has been said, about the fact that Rhodesia was getting oil. That was highly visible. In fact, it was flaunted on our television screens on various programmes and reported back by every visitor who went to Rhodesia at that time. Nor was there anything secret about the refusal of Portugal and South Africa to co-operate in applying sanctions. I find that I first reported this to Parliament as far back as February, 1966. Nor did the Government make any secret of their developing awareness of the inadequacy of sanctions or the limitations that were imposed on the British policy. I used the same words to the House of Commons on 11th November, 1967, as I had used to the Commonwealth leaders during that winter. I said that our policy was summed up as no sell out to UDI; no use of force to end UDI; and, thirdly, that:We [the Government] are not prepared to embark on an economic confrontation with South Africa".473 Again and again during the following year I told the House of Commons that the consequences of our not being prepared to blockade Southern Africa meant that there was "no short cut to 100 per cent. effectiveness with sanctions." Along with other Ministers we spelt out the alternatives I have mentioned of using sanctions to face Rhodesia with the longer-term choice of stagnation or peace. No concerned Member of Parliament in either House, no Commonwealth leader, could have been other than conscious of the overall reality and changes that had been imposed on British policy. In fact, looking over Hansard for the period 1966 to 1970 the remarkable thing is how seldom Parliamentary Questions about oil were asked. Before politicians in another place become too self-righteous about the reticence of Government they might well ask themselves whether they did not have a greater grasp on the realities ten years ago than they appear to have now.
My Lords, Ministers of successive Governments over the period of 1966 to 1976 are now being accused of hypocrisy, of deceit and of betrayal of our friends in Africa. I quote some of the typical charges made in the Press and in Parliament. I must say that I genuinely do not see any need for any of the Governments concerned to accept these charges. Despite the inability to make international oil sanctions work, Britain has done more than any other country to produce the heaviest practicable pressure from sanctions—as indeed it was our duty to do. I recall Harold Wilson remarking with impatience at one Commonwealth Heads of Government conference that if the length of the speeches were to be related to the effectiveness of the sanctions efforts of some of the countries making the speeches, it would considerably shorten the proceedings.
Successive Governments have, in fact, done their best in the face of the limitations imposed on them by South Africa's non-co-operation to use sanctions to offer Rhodesia a peaceful path to majority rule. Sanctions, for all their problems and despite the mounting violence, still have, in my view, a part to play in influencing the Rhodesian régime, on the one hand, to come to the negotiating table and in persuading the Africans outside Rhodesia to retain faith in Britian 474 and the West, on the other. That is why I hope that the sanctions policy which has been pursued since 1965 by both Labour and Conservative Governments will be sustained tonight for the critical months that lie ahead. Indeed, I might say that over the whole decade if ever there was an inappropriate moment to abandon the sanctions policy this is it.
I apologise for speaking longer than I normally would; but you will perhaps appreciate that this is a matter in which I have been very much in the centre and I now conclude by asking whether, in the light of the Bingham Report and the debates in both Houses of Parliament, any further inquiry is really necessary and in the national interest. I know that in asking this question I lay myself open to the accusation of self-interest. All that I can say is that I willingly gave evidence to the Bingham Commission and am equally ready to help to the best of my recollection any other inquiry if it is decided to hold one. I have nothing to hide, nothing to fear, from any further inquiry that is held or from any formal publication of papers which may be decided. Indeed, in some ways it might be of help personally. But, surely, the important matter is whether a further inquiry will do our country any good at home or abroad.
It seems to have become a standard reflex action these days to deal with problems by setting up an inquiry and then to establish a further tribunal to investigate the original inquiry; and so on ad infinitum. This is in danger of becoming a national neurosis—a turning away from reality and the problems of the present by endless recriminations about imaginary conspiracies in the past. In this case the Government have set up a thorough investigation. They have immediately published its results in full. They have sent its findings to the appropriate prosecuting authorities. As my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has said, nobody can seriously accuse the Government of a cover-up in this case. Would it not be now much better for Britain to let the inquest into the past rest there and to concentrate our energies and efforts, as we ought to be doing whole-mindedly in this debate, on facing the future in Rhodesia and trying to avert the final catastrophe that may be so near?
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Lord GARNER
My Lords, I feel honoured at being sandwiched between two of my former political masters this evening and, as two Secretaries of State went before me and one comes after me, I suppose it was a double-decker sandwich. I am sure that the House would wish me to say to my noble friend Lord Thomson of Monifieth how much we have been looking forward to his statement and how much we appreciate his full, frank and forthright discourse this evening. Speaking for myself, as will appear from some of the remarks which will follow, I would strongly support his concluding remarks that the inquest ought to be concluded.
I want to say only a few brief words and to limit myself to some comments about the origin of sanctions in the hope of putting into perspective some of the things which appear in the report and in what I fear is almost the near-hysterical reaction in some of the media, and sometimes perhaps in the other place, about the conclusions of that report. When sanctions were first initiated—and this was done with the agreement of all Parties at the time—there was never any thought that they were going to bring Rhodesia to her knees and destroy the economy of the country. This was not the intention. The aim was a psychological one. It was psychological, not economic warfare in which we were engaging; and certainly there was the hope that it was supported by very solid opinion in Rhodesia itself, and that the effect of our combined actions would be to bring a change of heart in Rhodesia quite quickly. As we know, alas! this did not happen. We were totally wrong about that.
Early in 1966 it was clear that there was going to be no swift change, and so sanctions imperceptibly changed into what was then known as "the long haul". The objective was slightly different: it was to effect the economy of Rhodesia to such an extent that it was hoped that Mr. Smith would be brought to the negotiating table and would make concessions. As Lord Thomson of Monifieth said, this almost succeeded on a number of occasions. But of course it was always known, as has already been made clear in this debate, that South Africa and Portugal would not apply sanctions and would continue to send some supplies. It was not, therefore, a question of whether supplies would be 476 sent; it was solely a question of how much would be sent.
Right at the beginning the South African Government gave us to understand that supplies would be limited to what they called "normal"—that is to say, supplies based on those sent in previous years—and that took place. As the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor made clear when he was speaking, the oil sanction was effective in the early months. The pipeline was closed; no crude went through Beira. The refinery has ceased to operate. The only oil that reached Rhodesia—and is still reaching Rhodesia—did so through circuitous and more expensive and less convenient routes.
As the Bingham Report itself made clear, it was not until 1970—five years after UDI—that Rhodesia was receiving greater quantities than she received in oil before the occurrence of UDI. In any case, as other speakers have affirmed, oil was only a part of the sanctions. It was an extremely important part but not all. Other sanctions were extremely effective, particularly the sanction on the export of tobacco. Rhodesia has had a continuing and acute problem of foreign exchange which undoubtedly has been one of the major factors in inducing a slow change of mind.
Before I come to the present, there is one other aspect that I should like to mention. It is not on the report itself, but some of the comments that have been made on it. These I must confess I find gravely disturbing. Relations between Ministers and officials are a subtle matter. They are based on frankness and complete confidence between them. In my own experience they can be highly rewarding and they are a most important feature of the machinery of Government. I am appalled by the way that civil servants have been bandied about in recent discussions in the media and indeed in the other place. Some of them have been mentioned by name but, what is even worse, some of them have been accused by a blanket, anonymous accusation with no evidence at all and therefore no possibility of refuting the charges. Some of these accusations have been made under privilege by eminent people.
The innuendoes are that they indulged in collusion with the régime and that they 477 concealed information from the Ministers. This is totally unfair to individuals. I believe it to be untrue in practice and highly damaging to the conduct of public business in the future. From 1962 until early 1968 I was Permanent Undersecretary at the Commonwealth Relations Office. I was responsible—and I accept the responsibility—for the conduct of members of the staff. Of course we misled Ministers. I am bound to say that, my Lords, because I can see at least half a dozen of them in front of me at this moment. We were human; we made mistakes. Often our advice was bad and turned out not to be fulfilled in practice. Of course that happened. But we never did it deliberately. I can state quite categorically to my certain knowledge that, in the Commonwealth Relations Office, the accusations of connivance with the régime or of any concealment from Ministers arc totally untrue.
Now, I come to today. We are presented with a tragic picture in which none of us can take particular pride or comfort. It has been questioned—and this was the burden of what the noble Lords, Lord Carrington, Lord George-Brown, and others had to say—whether the Government have shown sufficient bigness of mind, flexibility and imaginativeness in their dealings in recent months. Personally, I was very attracted by the suggestion from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about a contact group, possibly leading to a Chequers meeting. I was certainly very encouraged to read the Prime Minister's intervention in another place to say that this was something that he would certainly consider. I hope that we can build on that.
There is one area in which I think that the Government have failed. Though I understand the difficulties, I find it very hard to understand why no means have been found of establishing any British presence at all in Rhodesia itself in recent months. There is so much there to be done. We need to know exactly what is going on. A high level diplomat could at least report what the situation is so that we keep in touch with changes. Perhaps he could keep in touch with the various parties concerned and conceivably talk to them and influence the course of events. It seems to me a major card that we are 478 throwing away from our hand in not having anybody there at all.
Whether or not the Government's actions bend impartiality in favour of the militants and against internal settlement—and from time to time they certainly give me that appearance—I have no doubt that the rejection of the order this evening would tilt the bias quite unjustifiably and wrongly far too much the other way. I recognise the importance of the internal settlement and the tremendous step this involves for the white régime. I cannot in my heart find that the events since March have really justified one in putting full confidence in that internal settlement alone. A vote against the continuation of the order would be tantamount to a vote of confidence in Smith and would destroy Britain's credibility and effectiveness with her friends and allies. The only hope for Rhodesia is that Smith could cease to prevaricate as he has done so successfully over so many years and accept in deeds as well as in words the realities of majority rule. If this order is rejected, I fear that that day may be postponed. So with no lightness of heart, and in the hope that this is the last time that we shall be asked to do it, I support the continuance of the order.
§ 5.59 p.m.
Lord HOME of the HIRSEL
My Lords, I am glad that my noble friend Lord Garner has stressed the importance of continuing confidence between Ministers of the day in whatever Government they served and the continuing civil servant. It is the essence of the political situation in our country that this should continue, and he has said it and said it well so I need not repeat it. It would be for the convenience of the House if I divide what I have to say into two parts—both I hope will be short. The first relates to the actions of oil companies and Governments in the context of Bingham. Then I will say something about the present Government's policies in Rhodesia and their relevance to this order.
In relation to the activities of the oil companies, I think I must make one matter clear: it is a matter of which Mr. Heath spoke yesterday in another place. He made it quite clear that Ministers in the Conservative Government in 479 1970 had no information about, and therefore did not know of, the discussions of the previous Administration over oil companies and sanction breaking. I do not make that statement in any sense of comparison with what might be done by the Government before or in any sense of self-righteousness, but because words such as "deceit", "guilt", and "betrayal" have been bandied about, and they simply do not apply either to the Conservative Government or to the Socialist Government before them. I should like to say immediately how much I agreed with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson about the realities of politics during all this difficult period. As the House expected, I am sure that everybody, including myself, found his statement of his own position totally authentic.
I suppose a hypothetical question could be asked: Ought Ministers in the Conservative Government to have initiated probes to try and discover possible sanction breaking? The facts of life were these, my Lords, and they have been stated in one way or another this afternoon. South Africa had been deliberately omitted from the United Nations resolution which applied sanctions to Rhodesia. There was a host of companies, national and international, trading perfectly legally with South Africa and the consumption of a wide range of commodities and goods by South Africa was very large while the consumption of the same goods by Rhodesia was very small. If I take, for example, oil, it was a tiny fraction—something under 6 per cent., I should think—of that consumed by South Africa and, as my noble friend Lord Carrington said and as the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, has repeated, everybody recognised that some goods surplus to South Africa's requirements would seep through into Rhodesia. That was the reality of the situation; and to identify and pinpoint such leaks out of South Africa into Rhodesia would have entailed detailed investigation into the books of many companies, both national and international.
The critics, I am bound to say, have proceeded as though nothing was done either by the Socialist Government or ours. They seem not to have recalled that a committee was set up which sat, if my recollection is right, about twice a 480 month in the Commonwealth Relations Office—a committee on which were representatives from all the Commonwealth countries, including those of Africa. Each fortnight they examined the situation about sanctions and considered whether any sanctions ought to be tightened up or not. Never once, in my recollection, and I doubt if it is in the recollection of anybody else, did they come forward and make any criticism at all of the oil situation. It was not once, I think, debated by them at all. Then again, there was the United Nations body which, from time to time, if there were suspected breaches of sanctions, had these cases referred to them. I do not remember a single case in which they ever brought home anything to anybody. So things were done to try and keep control of the sanctions situation.
Lately, the critics have had a field day; but, given the South Africa gap, what would they have done? Would they have included South Africa in sanctions, against every economic interest of Britain? Of course, they would not have done. Would they have removed the frigates from Beira and thus left any enterprising Greek owner of a tanker to pour oil straight through the pipeline and into the refinery at Umtali and therefore straight down the throat of Rhodesian industry? Of course they would not have done that. Or, because some supplies were leaking through, would they have lifted sanctions altogether, thus breaching a treaty signed with the United Nations by Her Majesty's Government and thus bringing down on the neck of Britain all the Third World and every African country, removing at the same time, as has been said, any incentive to Mr. Smith to come to any settlement at all? I agree with the two noble Lords, Lord Garner and Lord Thomson, that although sanctions were not decisive, they did prevent economic growth in Rhodesia and they had some, if not much, bargaining value.
I believe the critics are now jobbing backwards with 10 years of hindsight. I believe that at that time they would have done exactly what was done by the noble Lord and by the Conservative Government which followed the Socialist Administration. They would have tried to make the best of a frustrating and difficult job. They would have set out, as we all did, to 481 try to end sanctions concurrently with a constitutional settlement of the Rhodesian problem.
So, should there be an inquiry? My opinion is that it would be Bingham over again. I do not know what the Prime Minister will decide, but I have three fairly strong points of view on this. The rule that Governments should not be told of the Cabinet discussions of their predecessors should be maintained. except in the most exceptional circumstances where the Ministers of one Government agree that the facts should be told to another. Except, too, in the most exceptional and critical case, Cabinet minutes should not become public property before the 30 years are up and I hope in this case they will not be made public property.
I feel this even more strongly. No tribunal should be asked to pass judgment on policy decisions—as, for example, whether sanctions should be put on, kept on, or taken off. Such decisions can only be made in the circumstances of the day by Ministers who have taken into account, first, the British interest—which so many seem to ignore—and, secondly, every international factor bearing on the British interest. The ultimate decision in such cases will very often turn on a very nice balance of considerations, which cannot possibly be judged long after the time. There are only two judges of policy: one is the electorate and one is the historian—and both can sometimes be wrong.
I turn shortly to the Business of the House: Should Parliament end sanctions on Rhodesia now? That is what we are talking about. There is one consideration at the core of this matter. Britain can only bring Rhodesia back into a legal relationship with the Crown by an Act of Parliament passed by both Houses. Britain can only gain independence for Rhodesia by using that Act, when it is passed, as the authority to go to the United Nations and say that sanctions should be lifted. We should never take our eye off those two things: they are the very guts of the matter, if we are to do what we want to do for Rhodesia, in Rhodesia's interests. The key, therefore, to the future which all of us wish to open for Rhodesia is a political settlement endorsed by 482 Parliament. The lifting of sanctions alone would not achieve those objectives.
In a political settlement, it is common ground that we should all like to see all representative Rhodesians taking part in and being partners of the settlement. So why are we in trouble? The answer must be, I am afraid, that the British Government failed to take advantage of the setting up of a provisional Government of black and white Africans in Salisbury, who were pledged to a policy of pursuing the Six Principles, to end racial discrimination and to establish a Parliament resting its authority on majority rule. The Government failed to recognise that that was a revolutionary change of which any Government ought to have taken advantage. If, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor implied, the Government gave it a welcome, it was just about as warm as a block of ice.
It is the failure at that time—I agree with my noble friend Lord Carrington—to help that provisional Government to establish a timetable for constitutional change, for multiracial legislation and for the staging of elections which has led us into our trouble now, and has, I am afraid, meant that that provisional Government, that coalition of black and white for the first time, has not been able to carry conviction in Rhodesia itself. Instead, the Government kept on selling, hawking around, an Anglo-American plan which found favour, let us face it, with no one. The result has been no encouragement at all to the black and white coalition, no movement in the situation, and that has had direct consequences for it has given to Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe a virtual veto on all progress towards a multiracial Rhodesia. Nothing has happened for months.
I made a proposal in July—the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, recalled it just now—that a time limit should have been given to Mr. Nkomo to come into the settlement. Three long months have been lost and nothing has been done. No progress in the processes of democracy, primitive democracy, could be made, because Mr. Nkomo has held the veto. The way to change this situation is to get the provisional settlement, the act of legal recognition and the international recognition by going ahead now urgently with the following proposals, one made by 483 Mr. Francis Pym in the House of Commons for a Camp David summit, and another made today by my noble friend Lord Carrington, who would like to see a Camp David summit preceded by a contact group on the pattern of Namibia. I believe that one more thing should be done. It should have been done long ago, but it ought to be done even now. A Minister of Cabinet rank should be sent to Salisbury, to help the provisional Government put into effect the plans to which they have pledged themselves to agree, which conform with the Six Principles.
Why, if I feel so strongly, am I not going to vote that sanctions should be removed today? It is partly—and the importance of this cannot be underrated—because of the international consequences of which my noble friend Lord Carrington spoke, which could be much more serious than some believe. But I do not do it for another reason. A long time ago in the House of Commons, when there was a large Liberal majority, there was a proposal to give independence to the Transvaal. The Liberal Benches were much as your Lordships' Benches are now, in the sense that there was a huge majority which could have granted that independence. We have a huge majority on the Conservative Benches which could insist that sanctions are dropped. But I remember Sir Winston Churchill at that time turning to the Liberal majority and saying "We can give to the Transvaal independence from our Party, but we can also give it independence from England." I want the Government to give Rhodesia independence from England, and only they can do it now. We cannot do it, and if we did remove sanctions that would not have the constitutional results which I and so many others want to see. But I must say to the Government—
§ Lord ORR-EWING
My Lords, may I intervene? I am most grateful. If it was decided at the end of this debate to refer this matter back to the House of Commons and it then came round again, would that not give the Government an opportunity to consider these very constructive suggestions made by my noble friends Lord Carrington and Lord Home, as well as by senior statesmen in the other 484 place? Would it not give them time to say that they are sincere in trying to get a peaceful settlement along these lines?
Lord HOME of the HIRSEL
My Lords, I think that when my noble friend Lord Carrington spoke earlier he gave the right advice on this. If your Lordships now vote against sanctions, you are not going to drop that vote if it comes back again tomorrow or the next day. I would rather take up again the suggestion that I made in July, which was not followed then but which I hope will be followed now, that a Minister of Cabinet rank should go out to Salisbury, sit with the provisional Government and get the timetable complete for the constitutional reform, for the multiracial legislation and for the elections.
That would be an inducement, at any rate, for Mr. Nkomo to come in, and if he did not do so within a reasonable time, such as the end of March—I am not talking about a year; I am not talking about November next when this order comes up again—and if the objective is still being frustrated, then the British Government should go to the United Nations, as the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, said, put the situation before them and say that the provisional Government in Salisbury has fulfilled all the conditions for which successive Governments have asked, and that they therefore require the dropping of sanctions. But not today, my Lords. I want to give this Government one more chance, a few more months. As I have put it in Sir Winston Churchill's words on a rather different situation—and no historical parallel is exact—will the Government please now begin with urgency to try to get the political settlement off to a new start, for they alone can make this the gift from England.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Lord GOODMAN
My Lords, with 37 speakers still to come, if behoves one not merely on grounds of humanity but on grounds of all common sense to be exceptionally brief. I doubt whether anything new will be said in this debate, after the number of exceptionally responsible speeches that we have already heard. My contribution can be brief and I do not think that it is of any special significance or importance. I speak with some little knowledge and involvement in the Rhodesian affair, but I speak now as an 485 entirely private person. What I want to say is that I believe that what has happened in Rhodesia to date, since the internal settlement was evolved, has been tragic in the extreme. I believe that a golden opportunity has been lost. I do not attribute any malign intention to anyone who has lost it. I think the reason why it has been lost is the simple one that has already been referred to, that we lack reliable information.
The Government have acted on the basis of information that they believed to be accurate. Others have acted on the basis of information that they believed to be accurate. My view is that a great deal too much importance has been assigned to certain reports and rumours, and particularly reports and rumours arising from people who have an ulterior motive in passing them around, about the strength of the guerrillas. Only today, a letter in The Times referred to the fact that the Bishop has the support of only 5 per cent. of the people of Rhodesia. If you analyse that statement, it means that he is enjoying the support of something like half a million people; that is, half a million people who are apparently identified as his supporters. That is a very considerable degree of support.
The information we need and the intelligence we need emphasises, and brings into relief, what has already been said, that we ought to have in Rhodesia a mission capable of transmitting back information that would be at least sufficiently reliable on which to arrive at valid judgments. The absence of that mission has been responsible for much that has happened. The internal settlement has been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, as an outstanding achievement. I go further and say that the internal settlement was a near miracle. If anyone, in the days when I was visiting Rhodesia, had said that people seemingly representative of the great majority of Africans in Rhodesia and Mr. Smith would have come together in concord to establish a common policy, nobody would have believed it to be a possibility.
That we have not opened our arms widely and enthusiastically to this settlement is due to a number of pure misunderstandings. I do not blame the Foreign Secretary or any individual. 486 This is a tragic affair and it is a tragedy which, if it is possible, should be repaired. What we have to decide today is what course is least likely to lead to disaster. I wholly endorse the wise recommendations made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. I believe that to vote against this order would be a grievous mistake.
May I say that nobody can be particularly positive on this matter. Some years ago, if I may be a little egotistical, I read a History of the Arts Council which referred briefly to my own chairmanship and which said that on one occasion I had said of myself that I was frequently wrong but never in doubt. This, if I may say so, is an occasion when I may well be wrong, and I am in grave doubt. It is possible to hold another view, but it would be a grievous mistake and I think that the results that it would bring would be counterproductive in relation to what it is hoped to achieve.
Whatever motivation I may have had in relation to Rhodesia, it has always been simply to try to procure a peaceful settlement for all the peoples of Rhodesia. What is it that we seek? We do not seek to have a Rhodesia which is totally black. We do not seek a Rhodesia in which white domination, white dictation takes place. We seek a multiracial Rhodesia in which there is a proper representation of the white presence, consistent with the numbers concerned and consistent with the contribution that they have made. That is the solution which we seek. If that solution can still be achieved, it will be a boon and a blessing. It will not be achieved, I think, by making the Africans today conscious of the fact that we are taking a step that will be seen as simply naked support for Mr. Smith.
I do not wish to discuss Mr. Smith or to criticise him. I have said in the past that I think that Mr. Smith is not the villain that many people believe, and that in the light of history he may emerge in a more respectable role. But that does not mean that I believe in his policies, or that I think he has proceeded with wisdom, or that one can forget that it was Mr. Smith who declared UDI. This is something one must always have in mind. If today we were to vote against sanctions, 487 there is no doubt that in Africa at this moment a great number of Rhodesian Africans would believe that we were showing support for Mr. Smith which they would not regard as justified.
May I say that I found myself almost wholly in agreement with what was said by my noble friend Lord George-Brown. I did not find myself in agreement with him in relation to the question of sanctions, because I think that there are factors which he has overlooked. One factor is that it was Mr. Smith who declared the cancellation of the election. One must not forget this. It is bound to have aroused suspicion, and that suspicion needs to be allayed. It will not be allayed if we vote against sanctions today. We must remember this also. To whom would we be sending the supplies if sanctions were raised? Let us suppose that it was possible to send armaments. To whom would they be sent in the present situation of the Rhodesian Government? They would be sent solely to Mr. Smith and his supporters. Is that likely to improve the prospects of achieving a settlement? I think not.
May I conclude—and I hope that I have kept my pledge of brevity—by saying this and this alone. There is still a chance that the internal settlement could be saved. I do not think that it hangs by a string, but it hangs by a very slender cord. The internal settlement could be saved if we proceed to give the appropriate support to the internal settlement, try to obtain accurate and reliable information on the situation in Rhodesia and give a word of encouragement to those people in Rhodesia who have to bear the brunt of the horrors that are now being perpetrated. That is the decision which we are required to make today. It is a decision as to whether we are going to send a message of support and encouragement to all Rhodesians, or whether we are going to send a message of support and encouragement only to the white element in Rhodesia, a message which undoubtedly will jeopardise and impair the prospect of a future settlement.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Lord GARDINER
My Lords, my primary duty at this moment is to be as brief as possible. Perhaps I can shorten 488 what I have to say if I say that I disagree with everything which my noble friend Lord George-Brown has said. First, I should not oppose an inquiry into the subject matter of the Bingham Report. It raised very serious issues. To some extent it is perhaps only fair to those who have been Ministers in appropriate Departments under different Administrations and who, therefore, are assumed to know about things to have an opportunity to have allegations inquired into. However, that is a matter for the Government and for Parliament. Or, if there is to be an inquiry, what form should it take? If there is to be an inquiry, I am sure that Parliament would be well advised to take into account the different considerations for and against the different forms of inquiry adumbrated in the other place last night by my right honourable friend the Attorney General. I agree with his objections to a tribunal under the Act, because when I was at the Bar I took part in some of those tribunals and I never knew one which ended without a general feeling among some people—not always unjustified—that they had not been fairly treated. There were some very short ones. There was one about a fire engine which got lost in Scotland. Under the Act, the tribunal found the fire engine and that was satisfactory. I am speaking, however, about the major tribunals.
May I come next to a point on which there has been a certain amount of mis-understanding about sanctions. I never believed that oil sanctions would be effective. Nor did I ever lead anybody to think that I thought so. I remember that in one of the late Mr. Crossman's diaries he purports to record a committee meeting of the Cabinet on sanctions. In his view, the then Prime Minister was being very optimistic about oil sanctions. Mr. Crossman then observed that the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General, who usually supported the Prime Minister, sat there in embarrassed silence. I do not recollect, and I do not think that my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack recollects that we were embarrassed in any way. However, I could never see how, so long as South Africa got all the oil she wanted, Rhodesia would not get all the oil that she wanted.
I was to some extent fortified in this view, because when I went out originally 489 to try to dissuade Mr. Smith from making an illegal Declaration of Independence, whenever I asked him, "What have you got to gain by this? You are the legal Government of Rhodesia; all the power is in your own hands. With a change of Constitution you would not have any more power. Her Majesty, quite rightly, constitutionally acts in relation to Rhodesia not on the advice of her United Kingdom Ministers but on the advice of her Rhodesian Ministers. So what on earth have you got to gain by it?" Mr. Smith always said the same thing—which was a general habit of his, I found. He always said—because I asked him more than once —"It's the awful uncertainty about independence which is preventing us from getting money for capital development, and I have been promised"—he did not say by whom he had been promised, but I could not doubt that it was South Africa—"that if I make a Declaration of Independence and our Government is still there after six months, I can then have all the money that I want for capital development, and everything else, except troops". As I say, Mr. Smith said that more than once. It seemed to me to be obvious that if she were backed by South Africa, Rhodesia must always, of course, have all the oil that she wanted.
The other part of the misunderstanding, judging from the articles which I have read in the national Press and also from what I have heard on television, relates to the general assumption that the only sanction which mattered was oil. But this was never so at all. It was not the import sanctions which really mattered. It was the export sanctions which mattered. Rhodesia, like our country, is one which has to export in order to live—in order to import—and her two major exports are tobacco and chrome ore, and to a very much lesser extent, of course, meat and a little sugar; and if they could not have exported their tobacco and their chrome ore they would not have had the money to buy the petrol.
At first sanctions seemed to be going at least sufficiently well to enable one to hope that they would lead Mr. Smith to think it wise to come back to legality. I think I myself reported to the House more than a year after the imposition of sanctions that they had only been able to sell about one-third of their first year's 490 tobacco crop, the rest having to be stored in enormous warehouses which had to be built to hold it, Mr. Smith's Government telling the farmers that they must not grow as much tobacco next year because there was no point in growing tobacco which they could not sell. Also, the factories in which they used to assemble motor cars from kits were all closed and the men were dismissed because they had used up all the kits and they could not get any others.
Undoubtedly the business sectors in Rhodesia were increasingly telling Mr. Smith that the future would be very difficult indeed if he would not make his peace with Britain and come back to legality. Of course afterwards, as events showed, the main difficulties of this were, first, that the American Government went on buying their chrome, saying that it was indispensable to their arms industry, otherwise they would have to rely on Russia, which would be an absurd position. Also, as time went on the Rhodesian authorities found that if they sent their tobacco to South Africa it would be disposed of under false certificates of origin as South African tobacco. I do not believe that any British tobacco company ever bought any of it at all but, unhappily, many other countries did.
On the main question that we have to decide as to the resolution I could say a good deal. I am afraid I must dissent from the view of my noble friend Lord George-Brown, that if we simply back up the internal settlement and do virtually nothing else, that is the only solution. I have had some very long experience of Mr. Smith, not only in Rhodesia but also when he was in London. I gravely doubt whether there will ever be black majority rule in Rhodesia during Mr. Smith's time there. After all, at the moment he has a complete veto among the Four, who must all conform to any decision. Nobody suggests that anybody else controls the armed forces. He has not even produced a draft of the constitution. It does not look as though for at least ten years there will be real majority rule, and while he is always in favour of decreasing racial discrimination he has never actually done so. But my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and indeed others, have already spoken strongly as to the reason why we should support the 491 order that we are asked to approve, and as the legal side is going to be dealt with by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, who will deal with it so much better than I should, I propose to say no more except that I have the greatest sympathy with the views which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, expressed looking to the future as to the sort of diplomatic steps which really ought to be taken and, if I may say so respectfully, I agree with everything he said about that.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Lord TRANMIRE
My Lords, after a fairly long experience of political life, I have come to the conclusion that economic sanctions are not an effective political weapon; they are a mixture of hypocrisy and cowardice and I do not believe that for a Christian nation they are a worthy expedient to adopt. If we take the aim of sanctions, it is to lower the standard of living of the people of the country and to create unemployment. That must mean that those who suffer are the poorest sections of the community. Sanctions are not used against Soviet Russia or South Africa, Soviet Russia because she is too strong and South Africa for the reason that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, is reported to have said to the United Nations on 1st December 1965 that a trade boycott of South Africa would create extensive unemployment in Great Britain and would cost us £300 million a year on our balance of payments.
I was not surprised, and I cannot think that anybody was surprised, by what was contained in the Bingham Report. All of us in political life knew at that time that when we had sanctions against Rhodesia without a blockade against South Africa they would be quite ineffective and, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, explained, they had to cut down their tobacco crop but they had to replace it by the production of maize to export to Zambia. That is the position in Rhodesia at the present time.
I do not want to take up too much time on the past. The position is now radically changed. The internal agreement of 3rd March, made a completely different picture. At the beginning of sanctions, I remember Mr. Harold Wilson (as he then was) saying in the House of Commons on 23rd November 1965: 492The position here, however, is that as soon as the people of Rhodesia are prepared to return to constitutional paths, as soon as the Governor feels that there is an opportunity of, perhaps, forming a government among those who will act in a constitutional manner, we would want to deal with those people, without any recrimination or any rancour about the past ".—[Official Report (Commons) 23/11/65; col. 258.)On 3rd March the opportunity was provided but the Government spurned that settlement. I do not think anybody in this House has analysed how the settlement is constituted at the present time. After all, Bishop Muzorewa was the first Shona bishop in Rhodesia. He was from 1971 to 1974 the chairman of the ANC and after 1974 he was the president of ANC. He is a commanding figure who in the past has helped the youth movement in Rhodesia. Chief Chirau has been the President of the Council of Chiefs from 1973 to 1978 and he is the leader of the ZUPA Party. Mr. Sithole has been—and still is—the president of ZANU and has been a leading figure in Rhodesia. These men carry weight; they are responsible people, but unfortunately the internal settlement with that Government has been spurned by the British Government.
The sanctions are therefore being directed not against Mr. Smith's Government but against a multiracial Government that is preparatory to a transitional Government which should follow the elections, and it seems to me that some greater support ought to have been given by the present Foreign Secretary to that transitional Government. What he has done, of course, has been to describe Mr. Nkomo as the leader of his people. Now, Mr. Nkomo could command at the most 14 per cent. of the population—the Matabele. That is all. He must be a minority leader. Of course the effect of that description by Dr. Owen of Mr. Nkomo as being the leader of his people has gravely displeased Mr. Mugabe, who claims that he is the leader of the majority, and it also runs counter to Bishop Muzorewa who, within Rhodesia, is regarded as the leader of the Shona population. When it is suggested by my noble friend that a Minister should go out, I do pray that the Minister sent out is not the Foreign Secretary. I cannot but think that his reception would be anything but warm there.
Meanwhile, what I think the House is forgetting in discussing all the legalities 493 about sanctions is that murder, rape and torture are going on all the time and the position is getting graver every day. I feel that the first object of all of us in Parliament should be to get those elections for the transitional Government in train as quickly as possible. I believe that to be a greater priority than the very wise suggestions of my noble friend Lord Carrington and others. Camp David may have come off —summitry, yes, but first you have got to get those elections. On that hangs, I believe, the whole strength of the internal settlement. I wish I could believe that Dr. Owen the Foreign Secretary now has the opportunity, the ability, to display initiative in this matter. I fear he has so antagonised the Shona and the Matabele who are inside Rhodesia that he cannot do very much on the election. That is my view.
Cannot we use our influence, though? Some who know my background may be rather surprised at this suggestion, but I should have thought we could have gone to our Western partners in Europe and asked for their help in organising the policing and supervision of elections. The reason why you cannot have elections now is because there is so much intimidation that you cannot get the elections going. Therefore, somebody has got to provide policing to secure absence of fear when they give their vote, with all the difficulties, which I appreciate, about the roll.
Baroness WARD of NORTH TYNE-SIDE
My Lords, if my noble friend will allow me to intervene for one moment, would he think it a good idea to see if Mr Malcolm Macdonald could go out and look after the work necessary for the election?
§ Lord TRANMIRE
My Lords, I am sure that would be excellent, but I really think it probably wants some greater strength than even Mr. Malcolm Macdonald with all his wisdom, possesses. I believe that this is a matter where the French, the Germans and the Italians, the whole of the Community, can help in securing a peaceful atmosphere just for the election of the transitional Government.
Of course, to send sophisticated weapons to neighbouring countries already provided with weapons from the Soviet bloc is really nothing else but a very foolhardy 494 action and is not likely to help our consultation with our Western allies. They realise it is in the interests of Western Europe that Russian and Cuban infiltration into Africa be stopped. Therefore, I fear that is again another mistake made by the present Foreign Secretary. I do believe that the logical outcome of what was said by Sir Harold Wilson when sanctions were first put on is that we should now suspend sanctions for six months so that elections can take place. For that reason, I shall vote against the order tonight.
§ 6.45 p.m.
The LORD BISHOP of WINCHESTER
My Lords, I should like to take up the point the noble Lord has just made referring to the danger of Russian infiltration. We are all very much aware that this is one of the hideous features with which we are faced at the present time and which so enormously complicates and makes harder the decisions we take and the actions that follow them. But I think we must not lose our nerve at this moment and panic; we must try to remind ourselves that the threat of international communism in Africa is not the cause of disaffection but it feeds on disaffection. That has almost always and in every part of Africa been the order of events. It is frustrated people who reach for the more violent methods of redressing their ills. It is people who have been left by their friends, who disagree with the policies they are pursuing, who look elsewhere for other friends. It is those who cannot find their old masters and colleagues to build railways for them who look elsewhere for the railway builders. One has seen this steady encroachment going on as a kind of terrible tragic unfolding —and I speak as one who has lived for some time, as many other noble Lords have, in parts of Africa and visited many others.
This is true even at the personal level as well. I hold no brief at all for Mr. Mugabe's irresponsible control, or possibly, even worse, his responsibility for atrocities that have been committed; but Mr. Mugabe was an emergent leader of an African cause trying to get Africans to have greater self-respect and to learn how to stand up for themselves and take matters into their own hands. At that time he was a devout Catholic. I am told 495 he still is, but I should not like to vouch for that. He was imprisoned for 12 years without trial. He has emerged as the very embittered man that undoubtedly he is today. This is the way in which we make would-be Communists. We must not always assume that they have travelled to the ultimate point of no return down that road. They can often be won back if they find that they are treated with respect and that people also respect the new power that they have gained.
So I believe that not a withdrawal of relations but an inclusion of even the most awkward people is absolutely necessary if we are to have any success in a new settlement in Rhodesia. It has got to be one in which the combatants are drawn together. It is going to be a peace settlement because there is a war on; it is quite futile to think you can get some other people together and leave out the major combatants in a war and arrive at a peace settlement. It is going to be extremely hard, but this is precisely where the difficulty of our task lies, and it lies in no other hands. We must have the courage and the determination and the decisiveness now to take up this issue and do this long patient diplomacy, but that diplomacy must not omit either Nkomo or Mugabe.
I recall very well being in East Africa at the time of the Kapenguria trial when Mr. Jomo Kenyatta was on trial. I can remember very well how almost all of us—and I include myself—wrote him off as a convinced Marxist, and yet somehow, after the horrors of Mau Mau, he took over the leadership. Very grudgingly maybe in some cases, all of us credited him with that and we have been thankful for the firmness with which Kenya has developed and for the miracle that after his death it did not fall into the chaos that many people predicted. That is the sort of thing that can happen to a person who at the present moment may look like the hopeless case of somebody sucked into the Marxist machine. We must not lose faith or hope over such people.
I should like to return to the question of the internal settlement which has been in the forefront of our minds and so many of the speeches of noble Lords. Ought Britain to have backed the internal settlement? It sounded very promising 496 when the Salisbury Agreement was signed on 3rd March last, but its promise has not been kept. It was heralded as offering the principle of one man, one vote, and had that been substantiated it would have represented a very striking shift from Mr. Smith's former position. But it soon became clear that the Salisbury Agreement was not going to guarantee that unimpeded progress to majority rule that has always been the first of the Five Principles—or the Six Principles—which successive British Governments have required as the basis of any settlement.
Under the proposed constitution there would effectively be two voters' rolls, because although all voters may vote for the 72 black seats, only whites can vote for the 20 white seats, and only candidates appointed by the Rhodesian Front can be nominated for the remaining eight white seats. Even allowing for a reasonable built-in protection of minority rights—for which we have always said we must ask—the reservation of 28 per cent. of the seats to represent less than 5 per cent. of the electorate is a far cry from one man, one vote. However, more was to be discovered as the meaning of the constitution emerged.
Mr. George Smith, the chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Committee, revealed that there was to be a senate with power to amend any Bill, other than financial, or to delay it for 180 days. Of the 30 members of that senate 10 are to be black, voted from the House of Assembly members; 10 are to be white, elected by the 28 white members; and 10 will be chiefs—that is, paid civil servants elected by the Council of Chiefs.
Finally, Mr. Smith's recent statement that the very principle of holding an election would be subject to a white referendum was quite contrary to the original terms of the agreement of 3rd March. Within a short time it was being widely reported that the terms of the agreement gave no confidence to the majority of the Africans, both in the towns and in the tribal trust lands. That is partly because the terms of the internal settlement leave virtually untouched the web of emergency legislation under which the security forces operate, including what Sir Robert Tredgold has called the profoundly shocking Indemnity and Compensation Act.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, would the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester give way for a moment? He has said that this agreement was widely disapproved of by the Africans, both in the towns and in the countryside. Has he counted them? How does he know? Is this just another of these bland assertions which have been coming forth from bodies like the World Council of Churches?
The Lord Bishop of WINCHESTER
My Lords, it is very difficult to get information from Rhodesia because only those who are in contact with people operating in all the various areas, and can bring together the evidence from that web of contacts, are in a position to know the full facts. Most people are so isolated in a particular area that even the better-informed find it very difficult to know what is going on elsewhere. Therefore, presumably the Government of Rhodesia are in a very good position to know the facts in general. So, also, are such organisations as what remains of the missions. One of the most numerous of those missions is the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholics have missions —with both white and black priests—in almost all the areas of Rhodesia. They are in a position to know what people are saying in the townships and in the countryside, and they obviously have a network for co-ordinating the information that comes to them along those lines. I do not think that even now anyone could accuse the Roman Catholic Church of being a victim of Marxist propaganda. However, what I have just said is the evidence that has come and it is based mainly on rather carefully sorted evidence produced by Roman Catholic organisations. Obviously their information, like every other bit of information that comes from Rhodesia, is open to an element of doubt and noble Lords must make up their own minds about what they feel they can and cannot believe.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred to the total lack of progress towards the elections and the feebleness of the land reform, and with respect I am not sure that I wholly agree that this dilatoriness can be laid at the door of our Government's lack of enthusiasm for the settlement in the first place. So much integrity could have been proved by 498 pursing any one of the promised reforms that it would surely have been worth forwarding the due processes, in the face of any difficulty, had there been a wholehearted will to do so.
The maintaining of sanctions is a symbol of our seriousness, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, without which we cannot hope to exercise any influence upon the negotiation of a more effective settlement. But something else is just as necessary for us. We must recover a genuine bipartisanship here and in another place, with regard to the part that this nation should play and the policy for which it stands. That bipartisanship has been allowed to collapse in recent months, and it must at all costs be restored however deeply individual persons may feel one way or the other over the issue of the internal settlement. Mr. Smith will certainly not agree to terms suggested or supported by a Labour Government if he is given cause to believe that there is any chance of negotiating on different lines if he can hold out until the next British Election.
I have no doubt that the two Parties are a great deal more disposed to think alike than the Brighton Conference, for example, might have led anyone to believe. For anyone with eyes to see must know that the United Kingdom now has a good deal more trade with black Africa than with white, and also that the Nigerian Government have funds deposited in this country such as no British Government will wish to lose. But I wish to appeal to something more than our self-interest. The welfare of all the citizens of Rhodesia is still our responsibility. If we repudiate UDI then we are still, ourselves, ultimately answerable for the wellbeing of those citizens—black and white—and for that skilled and patient diplomacy that must prepare the way for new and more inclusive negotiations.
The world certainly expects us to keep in step over sanctions. But the world is looking to us for a less easy intervention and a more determined initiative than that. With 100 victims dying in this war daily, and a young and promising nation falling into anarchy, it is morally indefensible to weaken the stance we must take by appearing to deal with these issues on Party lines.
§ Lord CHESHAM
My Lords, I did not want to interrupt the right reverend Prelate during his speech, but he said that Mr. Mugabe had been in prison without trial for 12 years. Could he say in what country and by whom he was put in prison for 12 years without trial?
The Lord Bishop of WINCHESTER
My Lords, I am informed that he was kept in detention in Rhodesia and spent a good deal of that time in prison. By the time he was released he had been there for 12 years.
§ Lord CHESHAM
My Lords, from that it follows that in view of his recent activities he must have been inside well before UDI?
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Lord BUXTON of ALSA
My Lords, I shall be brief but I want to refer particularly to the impression on the subjects of this country. There has been little reference, if any, to public opinion. However, working in the media and television as I have for 20 years, one develops a sensitivity and instinct about what people are feeling. All that I want to say about Bingham is that most of the British public are frankly becoming bored with the subject of sanctions busting and Bingham and they are in danger of becoming a sort of in-house diversion for politicians and professionals. Naturally journalists in the Press, radio and television love the whiff of a scandal and continue to respond. But the issue is largely a yawn to the ordinary man and woman in the street. Therefore, for the benefit of the nation, I simply want to say that it is my hope that there will be no further inquiry or inquiries and no further actions by the DPP, and that that aspect of this matter will gradually die. Of those who are interested among the public, the majority of people in this country are clearly against sanctions and I believe want to support the internal settlement. Indeed, why would they not? The average person, like myself, would never have believed that he would live to see a British Foreign Secretary openly 500 sceptical about an attempt by Africans and Europeans to get together and form a Government. Surely at any time in history, as several noble Lords have said today, this would have been regarded by the whole nation as a miraculous achievement worthy of universal acclaim.
On Tuesday the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State spoke of the need for compromise by the various parties, but in the eye of the public he remains obstinate and obviously prejudiced himself. Surely the art of politics is to remain flexible and open-minded while holding to the final objective and being determined to get there in the end by one way or another. Because the settlement does not apparently meet every iron condition in the Government's blue-print, the Government obsessively deny it any encouragement and refer, apparently with open relish, to what the Foreign Secretary calls "widespread hostility in Rhodesia to the settlement". Has he forgotten that two-thirds of the British people are openly hostile and do not support his Government here? If the criterion is always to be unanimous support and unanimity among all the parties, there would surely be no Governments in the world at all. Of course, the election date will slip so long as the British Government and others refuse to encourage confidence and the will to pull together.
Why do this Government refuse to encourage the internal settlement? Everyone I speak to in this country wants to know why. Without proper information the only plausible conclusion that I can think of is that undertakings or commitments have already been given to Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe. If so, it is time we are told what those promises were. In the old days when Dr. Owen and Mr. Young were hobnobbing together in Africa with the national front leaders it. is even understandable to me that some assurances were given. But they should be disclosed so that we can all know where we stand. Through obstinacy and inflexibility and an apparent refusal to consider any solution but the Government's own blueprints and options, we are rapidly approaching an era of chaos and bloodshed, and could live to see the day when the Russians might have an unbroken line of hegemony from Moscow 501 to Capetown. Mercifully, the Government, with positively stunning inconsistency, have decided to back the Shah. But once he goes, all the Kremlin has to do is to subvert Kenya, and with a Marxist dictator in Mozambique and not inconceivably in Zimbabwe as well as things are going, the way to the Cape is open, with only South Africa left to dismantle.
Ordinary people in the country, including myself, sometimes wonder how we are supposed to explain to our children and grandchildren that Great Britain is now apparently aligned with Marxist guerrillas and terrorists, Cubans and Russians in opposition to a free alliance of Africans and Europeans. Most people are starting to become anxious. If things reach such a pass that our fellow citizens in Rhodesia—black and white—suffer disaster, humiliation and perhaps exodus or even massacre, then the Government should remember that the British people are not all Left-wing and indifferent and have not all lost their traditional British instincts for kinship. If that happens, there will be a surge of revulsion, shame and consequently anger and bias, and in my view obstinacy will have been the cause of it. But I am an optimist and there may still be hope. As has been suggested by noble Lords—particularly the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—the Prime Minister could convene a summit, playing his last card, as he called it, provided that he could see some prospect of success. My instinct is that if he delays there may soon be no opportunity of playing this card at all, and therefore it is fatal to wait.
However, the Prime Minister must not be fettered by rigid attitudes. That is vital. It is therefore clear to me that there are two prerequisites to the success of such an initiative and it is these which could enable the Prime Minister to perceive the degree of hope that he requires. First, so paranoic has everyone become about Mr. Smith himself as an individual, that his personal involvement is now clouding and confusing the main issues. I believe that the only swift way through the mounting crisis is for Mr. Smith possibly to hand over to one of his colleagues in the internal settlement and opt out himself. In the interests of all his fellow citizens I believe that he might conceivably do that in exchange for a commitment on sanctions, and one day the world may acclaim his statesmanship in doing so.
502 But the other equally important prerequisite, if a new initiative is to have any prospects of success, is that all those attending must be free of bias and known prejudices, and have no commitments—moral or practical—to third parties. Therefore, it would be hopeless if Dr. Owen attended and I would urge him to opt out as well. I am sure that he and the Prime Minister will not allow personal considerations to overwhelm them when the very lives and safety of millions of citizens in Africa—black and white—are poised precariously on a knife-edge.
I do not intend to vote against the renewal of sanctions because the issue at this stage does not have sufficient relevance to the absolute urgency of the situation, which is rapidly worsening. To remove sanctions might conceivably get too many people off the hook from evolving immediately a fresh settlement. Incidentally, I sometimes ask myself what is so distasteful to the Government about "internal". In all history it was surely "external" settlements that were usually regarded as abhorrent. To maintain sanctions for the time being only might give the Prime Minister one more card to play in the vital initiative, which I pray he will take before it is too late.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Baroness GAITSKELL
My Lords, first I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for his introduction to this debate. As he is not in his place, I should like this to put on record the graceful introduction which he made to this debate; it is always a pleasure to hear him. In this long debate I shall be—as I hope I usually am—brief. First, I turn to a comment made in the other place during the debate on Rhodesia on Tuesday, 7th November. One Member of Parliament described the Government's decision to impose sanctions on Rhodesia unilaterally in 1965, as a "grotesque decision". I thought that it was a pretty fair description in view of the terrific power of South Africa at that time. When we look at the balance of power in Southern Africa in those years, and after reading the Bingham Report which underlines this, it seemed to me that the chances of success were very slim for imposing sanctions. It was not a quarter of a million white rebels in Rhodesia whom we were taking on, but South Africa itself—one of the 503 most powerful, reactionary countries in the world. To me it looked then as though we were engaging in a grossly uneven contest with that country, that the imposition of sanctions was doomed to failure and that we could be left after such an operation crying over spilt oil and even spilt blood.
However, before noble Lords jump to conclusions from my remarks, let me state quite clearly that although it may have been a grotesque decision in 1965, I believe that it would be an even more grotesque decision for the Government today, in 1978, to lift sanctions against Rhodesia. After 13 years the international climate for progress in human rights issues has changed enormously. The continuing relentless attack on apartheid in the United Nations has brought some understanding about the evils of racial discrimination. One can even see the beginning of the end of apartheid.
I shall repeat what I said in a debate we had on Southern Africa; I believe that apartheid is much more dangerous than Communism. In fact, I deplore this phobia about Communism and this continual use of the ridiculous word "Marxism" in political issues today. It really has become ridiculous. I do not know what it means. If there are places, as in Rhodesia and in South Africa, where racial discrimination is rife, then we should look into the reasons for this and not simply say, "This is due to Marxism. This is due to Communism." It is utterly illiterate to do this.
In Rhodesia a national struggle is going on between racial groups, but it is presented as a struggle between two equals: the Rhodesian whites and the African blacks. We must never forget—and let us remind ourselves—that Rhodesia has a quarter of a million whites, Europeans, and 6¼ million black Africans. Over the years this fact does not seem to have been turned over in our minds and digested at all—certainly not in this country.
Reading the Bingham Report, I began to feel less condemnatory about our role in 1965 and about the criticisms which we have heard in recent days of the civil servants who took part in effecting sanctions at that time, the Government 504 Ministers who have been criticised, and even the British oil companies. Therefore, I was particularly heartened to hear my noble friend Lord Thomson, who made a spirited speech. He did not have to defend himself. He got up and spoke the truth and made a spirited defence of what went on at that time. I have always regarded moral indignation by itself leading only to condemnation as the most tranquilising thing in political argument. One feels that one has done something terrific, but one has not done a thing; one has simply made oneself feel better. It makes one ignore the difficulties and, as I say, still feel good.
There are always difficulties resulting from taking measures; there are no magic results from, for example, imposing restrictions on oil companies. This has far-reaching effects. It may be good in some instances, but it still may have a rather troubling effect. For instance, it was said of the British oil companies mentioned in the Bingham Report that there was a great cover up about imposing sanctions. But let us suppose that they had not done anything to cover up, or had tried to do what the Government wanted them to do. Sometimes by imposing sanctions these oil companies did not hurt people in Rhodesia—the people they wanted to hurt—but hurt an unemployed man in the Midlands, let us say, who suffers from this in an indirect way.
I wish that I could feel hopeful about Ian Smith's efforts. He has not shown any real insight over the years into the whole philosophy of racial discrimination. Rhodesia is still a really racist State, whatever anybody says. I wish I could feel confidence in him. There is one aspect of the Rhodesian scene which is unclear to me. Where, for instance, are the younger freedom fighters? The younger men, the lieutenants, of the black leaders? Somehow we do not hear of any younger men who are helping them. Surely there are some that will follow the front line black Rhodesians. I am not unaware of the guerrillas and the fighting but, as I say, in any fighting for freedom there are atrocities. We seem to forget the history about these matters.
I should like to say a word about Dr. David Owen, our Foreign Secretary. Despite the fact that he has had some criticism levelled at him—I think a great 505 deal of it unjustified—I like his plain speaking, his realism. He is one of the first Foreign Secretaries who has spoken really clearly and with great realism about the problems of Africa. We have always been rather genteel about Rhodesia and Southern Africa and about the things that go on there; so I, for one, really commend him. He may occasionally make mistakes —who does not?—or, rather, not mistakes but he can occasionally say something which upsets somebody; but he is absolutely on the right lines. We have to continue now to involve the whole international community in this fight for freedom in Southern Africa, and in Rhodesia in particular.
Viscount MASSEREENE and FER-RARD
My Lords, might I inform the noble Baroness, before she sits down, that she appears to be unaware that the transitional Government in Rhodesia have abolished apartheid and racial discrimination between black and white. I quite agree that between the various tribes it is another matter.
§ Baroness GAITSKELL
My Lords, if the noble Viscount thinks that, it is as though he has just been born. Anybody who has looked into the situation in Rhodesia and can accept what Mr. Ian Smith says at its face value is not living in this world.
Viscount MASSEREENE and FER-RARD
My Lords, the noble Baroness apparently has not been reading the literature.
§ 7.20 p.m.
Lord SAINT OSWALD
My Lords, I shall follow the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, in only one respect, and that is to question strongly something which I understood her to say, namely, that there is no true equality in Rhodesia. Rhodesia, from what I have seen of it, is unlike any other African country in that it is a country in which black and white respect and regard each other as native Africans of that country, and that will make the possibility of democracy in Zimbabwe.
§ Baroness GAITSKELL
My Lords, if the noble Lord will look at the statistics, in particular at what is spent on education 506 for the 6,250,000 black Africans compared with what is spent for about 250,000 white Rhodesians, he will understand why I said that.
Lord SAINT OSWALD
I understand that, my Lords, as I understand the statistics, and I shall be answering some of them. I am talking about self-respect and mutual respect, and that is what will make the possibility of Zimbabwe; and I must tell the noble Baroness and the House what we all know, namely, that Zimbabwe will come into being under black rule. So much is certain and so much is accepted. Today's issue is whether Zimbabwe is to be born through an orderly constitutional process or out of bloodshed and invasion from without. The question is as stark as that. These two alternatives hold out, on the one hand, the valid hope of creating a pattern state for the whole of Africa and, on the other, a near certainty of creating yet another cruel tyranny directed by and dependent on an alien imperial Power, Soviet Russia.
We should be happy indeed that on 3rd March of this year the constitutional process was set in motion. Since then any reference to "the Smith Government" has been a reference to past history. There exists no such Government today. Indeed, what we are now invited to attack, defend or ignore is a Transitional Government formed of black and white Africans, created and pledged to establish unquestioned black rule in a new Zimbabwe. It is already misleading to refer to or think of Mr. Ian Smith as the Prime Minister of this Transitional Government; it is a coalition Government of four Parties, three black and one white, and four leaders, three black and one white.
Is it conceivable, I ask, that sanctions would have been approved or even proposed against such a Government 13 years ago? The objective which the whole of this Government has set itself, without reservation, hidden clauses or escape clauses, is black rule in Zimbabwe, the chosen name which will inevitably and rightly replace the name of Rhodesia as a sovereign and independent country. Anyone who attacks this Government with words or weapons is attacking and perhaps imperilling the peaceful achievement of black rule. They are reinforcing the 507 present invasion of Rhodesia, bent upon destruction and dictatorship. They are in direct and deliberate collision with true black independence for Zimbabwe. That is the considered and stated view of the men who represent the vast majority of present Rhodesians, only a tiny element of whom are white but all of whom love their country and strive for a free and prosperous multiracial future.
It would be an over-dramatisation to suggest that the outcome is in the hands of this House or in those of another place during the debates of these last three days. It would be an evasive under-statement to say that we could not affect the outcome for either good or ill. The sadness lies in the fact that some thinking people in this country have been quietly induced to believe that a wave of killing and eventual defeat by bloodshed is inevitable. I believe the opposite, both from visiting Rhodesia and from speaking and corresponding with Rhodesians, black and white.
There are those who belittle the achievements of 3rd March and there exist some superficial but excusable reasons for with-holding confidence. It has not ended the war. Rather, has it intensified it. That could be foreseen because the terrorist forces besetting Rhodesia's frontiers are directed by men who want power for themselves and they know it will not be placed in their hands willingly, by electoral means, by a people well acquainted with their savage acts and methods. For that very reason, when the opportunity for universal suffrage was promised to the people of Rhodesia for the first time, as it was by the agreement of the 3rd March, those whose goal was and remains a totalitarian Zimbabwe found themselves forced to increase their effort of conquest, which meant increasing their savagery, and that was reflected by increased intimidation within the frontiers in some areas where they operate.
None of us in this Chamber will have any say in the election of Zimbabwe's future individual leaders; we shall have even less of a vote than in our own national elections. Still, if the Foreign Secretary of this country feels qualified to refer to one boastful mass murderer and proclaimed Marxist as "the father of his people", I take leave to express admiration for another and very different Zimbabwian. I have had occasion to meet the Reverend Ndabaning Sithole several times in the past year and I have seen how simply and unforcedly he impresses all who meet him in an unprejudiced mood, myself only one among them. One white Rhodesian said to me recently, "He thinks like a Prime Minister, he feels like a Prime Minister and he acts like a Prime Minister". I have come to recognise a man with certain rare and natural gifts, a man who declares confidently but without ranting, who is articulate, who has humour—anyone who has read his short but charming book which was written in prison will be conscious of that—and he has an innate quality of quiet authority. I have thought of him as one whose commands I would accept with confidence in his judgment. There are others, and the Zimbabwians will choose from among them all, if they are allowed. The choice will not be made by Dr. Owen and Mr. Young, unless they are literally prepared to let force determine the future of this small deserving people and their beautiful land.
In the circumstances, there is a very real peril that Mr. Joshua Nkomo and Mr. Robert Mugabe will enter the country from two sides and fight out a murderous war between the Matabele and the Shona. Let it be emphasised again that neither 509 of them is being excluded from the peaceful solution. Quite the reverse. To be pedantically exact, no fewer than six separate invitations to Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe have been transmitted urging them to join the Transitional Government: on the 6th March from Mr. Smith; on the 8th March from Mr. Sithole; on the 26th April from the Executive Council as a whole; on the 1st August from the Joint Ministers of Foreign Affairs; on the 12th October from Bishop Muzorewa; and on the 12th October from Chief Chirau. What more could be done by the Transitional Government?
When the Reverend Sithole came to visit the European Parliament in Luxembourg in July one of the points he made was:We have continually invited Joshua Nkomo to join us in our decisions, and he has repeatedly made it plain that he will only do so on one non-negotiable condition—that he must be boss! As we are trying to create, for the first time in history, a democratic Zimbabwe, based on universal suffrage, that does not seem to us a very practical way of setting about it!When I spoke to Mr. Sithole last week in London, I asked him whether Mr. Nkomo's attitude had softened since then. He replied "It has hardened".
A week or two ago on British television, together with millions of other watchers, I witnessed Mr. Nkomo, his face contorted with rage, shout:The solution must be by force!Then he said:Let me repeat that: the solution must be by force!My Lords, even so I am not suggesting that we accept those as his final, destructive words. Politicians the world over are given to striking attitudes which they later abandon, and African politicians strike attitudes as readily and as rowdily as most. I was reproached the other night for not taking into account the example of Jomo Kenyatta as a comparable figure to the Nkomo of today, but who became a recognised and respected leader and statesman. Frankly, I doubt whether the two are truly comparable. Jomo Kenyatta in his militant days was a radical intellectual of flamboyant stamp, who made speeches approving of Mau Mau, but I remember no evidence that he ordered atrocities or boasted of them in the manner that Mr. Nkomo boasted recently of the shooting down of a civilian aircraft and the massacre of the helpless survivors of 510 that crash. If we put ourselves in the place of the Rhodesians, black and white, we must appreciate how this incident, and innumerable others, have set their minds against giving any authority over their lives to this man.
I have had described to me by black and white Rhodesians the methods of the terrorists—not simply killing and raping, but cutting off ears, legs, arms, breasts and other parts of the living human anatomy, tearing off lips and noses with pliers, burning innocent people in their huts, and shooting any who seek to escape the consuming blaze. Notwithstanding, let us maximise optimism, make the effort to dare to hope that this leopard will expunge his spots, cleanse the blood from his claws. At present there is no kind of indication that he is so prepared—there is every evidence that he is not. Where, then, is the strength of argument that he should have the prescriptive right to rule absolutely, which he at present demands, which is the only result he is ready to accept, and which some, geographically far removed from the problem and its consequences, are incomprehensibly ready to concede him, assisting his seizure of absolute power, as dictator designate, self-designate?
It is no joy to affirm that some of the chief mischief in this dangerous state of affairs has been created by two men who, as holders of their offices, should know better and act with truer, more responsible judgment. I am referring to Dr. David Owen, of whom I was once a thoughtful and considered admirer, and Mr. Andrew Young, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. The evil that these men are doing now may proverbially live long after them, and it is no less grave because against the experience of history it will count as almost frivolous folly.
These two sibling statesmen are treating the whole of Southern Africa as if it were their own personal trampoline—2 million square miles set aside for their highly publicised antics. Upon this trampoline they bounce, cavort, somersault and pirouette before the eyes of a bewildered world; bewildered by what—by two peculiarities: that with regard to Rhodesia they favour the men of violence in preference to the men of peaceful approach, and they seek to draw Soviet Russia into Southern African affairs, 511 instead of using their skills to keep Russia at a distance for the sake of Africa. It is hard to believe that vanity does not play a harmful, perhaps an unwitting, part in their policies. The internal settlement is a rival to the Anglo-American plan. It is not their plan—therefore it must be mocked and obstructed. If this be not so, I seek in vain some other comprehensible grounds for this attitude. It can hardly be thought that handing nations over to Marxist rule will produce social justice; and the only grounds that I can find are negative grounds, due to disbelief in the present aims or success of the Executive Council. Those I can find fall into more than one category, and all are misconceived or outdated.
First, I was myself increasingly dismayed after the 3rd March to observe no tangible signs of eliminating racial discrimination—in this I am in agreement with the noble Baroness—promised in the Agreement; and the announcement of the long-delayed measures was not made until October, at a time when, by coincidence, Mr. Smith was in the United States, and it was therefore less evident that they bore, as in fact they did, the imprimatur of the white population.
I do not know how many noble Lords have followed as closely as I have the disappointing, and until lately negligible, progress of the Quenet Report and recommendations on electoral law, land reform, social facilities, and education. The Commission was set up within Rhodesia in August 1975, consisting of five black Rhodesians and six white Rhodesians, chaired by Sir Vincent Quenet, a former High Court judge, to investigate ways of removing racial discrimination. The report and recommendations were published on the 14th June 1976.
This report was not referred to in any way by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia, mentioned by the Foreign Secretary this week, either in its statement of 20th October last, or in its document prepared as a background for these debates, and entitled Rhodesia after the Internal Settlement. This is a sadly sceptical and slanted document which completely discounts the good faith and the visible effects of the internal settlement.
The key heading is:The majority of the African population now regard the Salisbury Agreement as fraudulent and worthless.512 Any statement so sweeping as that must be suspect in itself, and is contradicted by the Reverend Sithole, Bishop Muzorewa and Chief Chirau, the three most prominent African leaders within the country, who estimate that 85 per cent. of the population back them. The document bears the date of 1978, but no other indication of when it was prepared or predetermined. The kindest interpretation of its errors is that the whole submission is simply of out of date, and so is the Foreign Secretary.
The recommendations of the Quenet Report were all subsumed by the promises of the Salisbury Agreement last March. These, late though it may seem, are now being implemented, and although, as has been accurately stated, the requisite laws have not yet been passed, I have it on witness from individual Rhodesians—Mr. Sithole included—that the authorities are already putting them into practice. Black Rhodesians are physically taking up ownership and residence in areas formerly denied to them. Hospitals are now open to all races; schools are now open to all races. All are equal. Racial discrimination in Rhodesia is effectively at an end.
Another anxiety has clearly been caused by the predicted postponement of elections beyond the 31st December; but this has not yet been decided, and Mr. Smith neither possessed, nor claimed, the power to decide it on his own. He could give no more than a personal forecast of the prospects as he saw them—which is all he did—and unless there is very recent news from the Executive Council as a whole, there is still no decision, at least no decision made public. Should there be a postponement, it will not be, as the sceptics assert, because the intention was never there, but mainly because, in the consideration of the black and white leaders of the Transitional Government, the invasion of terrorists has increased to such an extent, encouraged from outside, that fair and free elections cannot be held on the appointed and hoped-for date. Both Nkomo and Mugabe have stated that ballot stations will be attacked by their forces. It is in the interest of everyone except the enemies of the Transitional Government that these elections should be held as soon as possible.
A further disturbing factor, though not seemingly so regarded by everyone, was 513 the manner in which Mr. Smith monopolised the limelight during the time that he and the Reverend Sithole were in the United States. It seemed wise and proper to me that Mr. Sithole should have been treated as the main figure and spokesman from the hour they landed together on American soil. He was the man on his way in: Mr. Smith, on his own recognition, was the man on his way out. When I put this to Mr. Sithole last week he said, "Ah!, but Mr. Smith has been a rebel for so long that he was bound to be more newsworthy". Then he grinned and added, "Next time I go I shall not be taking him with me!".
The fourth, and in a sense the most frightening as well as obvious, factor which affects the credibility and authority of the Transitional Government is the increased activity and ferocity of the terrorist forces invading from Zambia and Mozambique, with consequent bloodshed and intimidation. This, depressingly, threatens and could delay the date of elections; but there is more hopeful news to set against it. General Peter Walls, the Commander-in-Chief, has announced within the last few days that 2,000 former terrorists are now volunteers with the Security Forces. These are not merely warriors who dropped out of the battle: they have changed sides in order to defend their country instead of attacking it. They have done this because of their faith in the Transitional Government and its objectives. If this trend continues, as in logic it should, then the internal settlement will be accelerated, whatever the help or hindrance from this country.
My contention is that the discontinuing of sanctions will help and hearten, and for this reason they should be discontinued. I am aware that some of my most valued friends, with whom I am normally in the closest political harmony, make a different judgment. I am bound to respect their judgment: I am not bound to concur. They speak of such a decision as "escalating the conflict." I believe (and so do the black leaders of the Transitional Government, despite the clumsy canard put out yesterday, now formally rebutted by all three) that the maintenance of sanctions is prolonging the conflict, with all its attendant ills—death, torture, hunger, disease and wholesale unemployment. For instance, the removal of sanctions would create 250,000 jobs for 514 black Africans. Under different circumstances, this prospect would cause general joy in your Lordships' House; and I do not consider that circumstances should eclipse it now. Above all, I believe that the purpose of sanctions has lapsed with the formal acceptance of black majority rule.
I repeat, in ending, what I said at the beginning. Is it conceivable to the Government—and this is not a rhetorical question; I expect an answer—that sanctions could have been brought in 13 years ago if such a Government, with such a programme, had been in power? This is far less than what the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, stated. The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, in his speech, stated that if such a Government had existed at the time of the conferences on "Tiger" and "Fearless" sanctions would have been removed. All I am asking is that noble Lords opposite tell me whether they believe that, with such a Government, sanctions would ever have been imposed. I believe that if they answer truthfully they will say "No"—and, because of the totally changed conditions, many of us tonight will say "No" to sanctions in the Lobby.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Lord AYLESTONE
My Lords, I hope not to delay the House too long, but as a former Commonwealth Secretary until I left the Government and the Commonwealth Office in August 1967, I should like to give my recollections of the situation at that time. In those months of 1966–67 it was obvious and, I think, well known that the sanctions order had not stopped or in fact materially affected the supply of oil to Rhodesia. The Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference of 1966, probably the most difficult conference ever, and the special sanctions committees time and time again raised the problem of oil supplies and the question of sanctions-busting generally. Those were tough and extremely difficult meetings which, if I may say so, were handled with great skill and extreme patience by the Prime Minister of the day.
It was thought that most of the oil at that time was reaching Rhodesia from South Africa through Beitbridge and from Lourenço Marques, but what was certainly not known was that the source of some of that oil was British. I certainly 515 did not know; and I am sure that in 1966 and early 1967 the Prime Minister did not know, nor did any of the officials of the Commonwealth Office. However, Bingham has produced the facts. British oil, in one way or another, was getting into Rhodesia; but it did not become known to the British Government until, as my noble friend Lord Thomson has said, many months later. Not the only breaks in the sanctions wall concerned oil. I can recall meetings at which France, the United States and some of our Commonwealth countries were castigated very severely for breaking sanctions; so it was not in fact oil only.
I should like to make one or two general observations about my short period of responsibility after UDI. I certainly had a very genuine hope—and I think it was shared by all my Parliamentary colleagues in all Parties—that an agreement could be reached with the régime on constitutional changes which would end the illegality and bring independence to Rhodesia based upon the Five Principles laid down previously by the noble Lord, Lord Home. I was either too inexperienced or too naive, for my two visits to Mr. Smith in Salisbury and the time I spent on HMS "Tiger" led to precisely nothing except, perhaps—and I speak for myself—a better and deeper knowledge of the man who spoke for and represented the Rhodesian régime, Mr. Smith.
Not having spoken on the Rhodesian problem at all since I left office, I should like first, if I may, to pay tribute to Sir Humphrey Gibbs, the Queen's Governor of Rhodesia for nine years, four of those after UDI. I had the privilege and honour of being Sir Humphrey's guest on my visits to Salisbury. Both the Governor and Lady Gibbs were subject to very many indignities at the hands of Mr. Smith and his Rhodesian Front colleagues, and this is sometimes forgotten. He had his telephone cut off; his official car was removed from him; there were troops at the gates and in the grounds of Government House—the Queen's Government House—and then, of course, there was a "stooge" Governor appointed by Mr. Smith to replace him. During the whole of those years the Governor, Sir Humphrey, showed great courage and a very high sense of duty and loyalty to Britain and to the Crown.
516 At that time, of course, Mr. Nkomo and the Reverend Sithole were in prison, and a former white Prime Minister of Rhodesia was under house arrest. I asked Mr. Smith if I might visit Mr. Nkomo and the Reverend Sithole, but I was refused permission. However, on request I was permitted to visit one of the stipendiary chiefs who were alleged to support Mr. Smith. I visited that chief at his village after lunch on a Sunday afternoon. The memory remains very vivid, because I saw the chief but I doubt very much whether he saw me. Perhaps if I had visited him before lunch it would have been rather different. In fact, the proverbial fiddler's bitch had little on the chief that I saw in the village on that Sunday afternoon.
The "Tiger" talks were hopeful. At least, I thought they were. They were treated very seriously by both sides. There was a great deal of discussion of constitutional detail with a view to returning the legality and subsequent independence; and we even got down to details with Mr. Smith of discussing the names of who might function during a transitional period. The talks went on for many hours over the days that we were aboard the frigate, between the Prime Minister, the present Lord Chancellor and myself on the one side and Mr. Smith and Mr. Howman on the other, for what we thought was something worthwhile being done. Again, Sir Humphrey Gibbs was present the whole time. At the end the working document was signed by both parties and if the outline had been accepted by Mr. Smith and his colleagues then majority rule and independence would have come to Rhodesia in the fullness of time; or, as Sir Harold Wilson has said, by the calendar rather than the clock.
The "Tiger" proposals were rejected in Salisbury. I have always held the view that had they then been accepted, perhaps they might not have been quite so acceptable to some of my Cabinet colleagues at home. But that situation was never tested. The proposals were not to be. I have wondered since how much Mr. Smith must have regretted it. I am sure, if he had accepted it, that the Prime Minister, with his great skill would have been able to carry it through Parliament. But, unfortunately, after every attempt by any Minister of a 517 solution of the Rhodesian problem within a matter of a few days we have had a speech from Mr. Smith in which he has said something rather like, "Never in my lifetime …" or "Never in a hundred years …". That is the sort of declaration that has put us back to square one under both Governments from time to time.
Today we have the war in Rhodesia—and war it is! No one condones the murder of innocent white and black people by the guerrillas; and it is not going to solve anything. On the other hand, the bombing deep into Zambia by the Rhodesian air force will not solve anything either. The Vietnam war proved the complete uselessness of aerial superiority alone. We do not know, when we talk about the future of Rhodesia, who exactly represents Rhodesia as a whole or whether Bishop Muzorewa, the Reverend Sithole, Mr. Nkomo or Mr. Mugabe represents the whole of the black Rhodesians. It is equally difficult, in my view, to know if Mr. Smith still represents the white Rhodesians.
I like to recall that on the first anniversary of the declaration of UDI in 1966 over 3,000 white Rhodesians queued up outside the gates of Government House to sign the Governor's Book—after 12 months of UDI. So, in my view, to end sanctions now would be a great mistake. I am fearful, if we do so and start the restoration of the Rhodesian economy with a somewhat shaky transitional Government in office—and believe me, it is shaky; it was only a matter of days ago that Mr. Smith's three colleagues knew that Mr. Smith had declared that 31st December was off. We understand that now they are discussing that.
Lord SAINT OSWALD
My Lords, if the transitional Government is as shaky as the noble Lord says, how does he suppose that they had the courage, all four of the Executive Council, to be in the United States of America across the Atlantic at one time leaving their seats empty with the enemy on their frontier?
§ Lord AYLESTONE
My Lords, the reason why I think it is shaky is simply because, as the right reverend Prelate pointed out in his speech, the constitution itself is shaky. It is not a constitution which gives black majority rule in time. 518 The whites are still under Mr. Smith. It is a "Mr. Smith's Government". But it is certainly a move forward.
So, my Lords, as I have said, in my view it would be a grave mistake to end sanctions because I am afraid that if we did so and rebuilt the Rhodesian economy, then again within a short while we should have one of these stock declarations: "Never in my life … Never in a hundred years …". I fear that if sanctions go, only guns will remain.
On 11th November, almost exactly 13 years ago to the day, with his illegal Declaration of Independence Mr. Smith and his Rhodesian Front colleagues did their country a great disservice. There is no doubt of the euphoria at the time and in the early years, but it is a very different story now—and not one that anyone is very happy about. In my view, the best hope for a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia is for Mr. Smith to retire from the scene now. Then let the British Government, whose responsibility it is, take the initiative: first, perhaps, by replacing a Queen's Governor in Government House in Salisbury instead of Mr. Dupont—and who would stop us?—and then proceed rather along the lines the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, suggested; I call it a round table conference, composed of black leaders, representatives of the coloured populations and whoever the whites want as their representative and a replacement for what I hope at the time would be a retired Mr. Smith. Elections to follow as soon as possible. Sanctions could be withdrawn immediately the conference felt it safe to do so. Should some of the leaders—and this is a possibility—refuse to attend such a conference, I think that the British Government should go ahead with the conference with the Queen's Governor in Government House and a British presence in Salisbury. I believe and hope that stability would return in the end and a multiracial Rhodesia emerge.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Lord GREENHILL of HARROW
My Lords, there are many in this House who have played a more prominent part in the affairs of Rhodesia than I; but, in fact, in one way or another, I have been officially engaged in Rhodesian matters for nearly 13 years. I thought therefore that your Lordships would expect me to speak and I will be as brief as I can. I want to 519 say, first, why I shall vote for a continuation of sanctions; I want to speak briefly about the suggestions made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and I want also to refer to the Bingham Report.
Perhaps I could take the Bingham Report first. This, I meant to say a good deal about; but the ground has been so adequately covered that I am going to truncate my remarks about the report. But I am anxious to take part in this discussion for the same reasons as the noble Lord, Lord Garner, and that is because allegations and innuendos have been made about officials. I should like to record, as he has, how much I resent and repudiate those allegations.
If I may return to my own part in these affairs, from 1965 until 1973 I held senior posts in the Foreign Office. After 1973 I was appointed by a Conservative Government—and the appointment was renewed by a Labour Government—as the Government director of British Petroleum. Therefore Rhodesia has never been far from my mind over this period. In 1976 I was asked by the then Foreign Secretary—who is now the Prime Minister—to visit Rhodesia shortly for some exploratory talks with Mr. Smith, who I had met several times when I was in Government.
While I was at the Foreign Office, it was my duty with others to offer advice to Ministers of both the Labour and Conservative Administrations, four different Foreign Secretaries and many other Ministers. Happily most of these Ministers are in a position to explain their policies and to recount their knowledge of events, either in this House or in another place, and I will not attempt to perform their task for them. I may add that, unlike these Ministers, I have not had the opportunity or the advantage of consulting past papers and therefore speak solely on the basis of recollection. But my recollection confirms the sequence of events which have been recounted by Mr. Michael Stewart, the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, and other leading Members of the Administration from 1965 to 1968; but particularly I confirm from my own recollections what Mr. Michael Stewart said in another place and what the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, has said here. 520 It goes without saying that I accept responsibility for the advice which I gave while I was an official, advice which was sometimes taken and sometimes not taken. As your Lordships know well, this advice may be given orally or in writing. Recollection of it can sometimes be checked by consulting the documents; at other times reliance must be put on fallible memories. The advice that I gave in writing is in the official archives. All the time I believe that in the Foreign Office we all acted constitutionally and in accordance with established convention. On the matter of Rhodesia, I cannot recall being in serious conflict with Ministers of either Party. But just as important as a recollection of the facts is a recollection of the circumstances and atmosphere in which decisions now so freely criticised had once to be taken.
I am very glad that the Secretary of State, Dr. Owen, in his very fair opening speech in another place, reminded us of the passage in the preface of the report —which is worth repeating—where Mr. Bingham and Mr. Gray have said:We have not attempted, in telling the story which follows, to relate it … to contemporaneous political, diplomatic and economic events … Any judgment upon this story does … require close attention to the context in which it occurred, and such contemporaneous events are an important part of that context.Today's debate, taken in conjunction with what was said in another place, covers the ground very fully and removes many of the doubts which have been sincerely—and sometimes not sincerely—expressed in the Press and in various other places. If you add together the remarks of Mr. Michael Stewart—so characteristically frank and honest—the account which the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, gave of his stewardship, the remarks of Mr. Heath in another place, and what the noble Lords, Lord Home of the Hirsel and Lord George-Brown, have said, it shows clearly that Ministers were well aware of the problems, that they acted in good faith, that they were not the dupes of officials, they were not the dupes of big business. They were well aware of the constraints which were put upon them and they were well aware of what the situation was.
Some people have affected an extraordinary ignorance at this late stage of what was happening and what was 521 known to be happening throughout the period which we are discussing. I was astounded to hear the Member of Parliament for Taunton (who has very great experience in these matters) claiming ignorance of what was going on in Rhodesia at the disputed time. I feel that if people in this country examine what has been said and carefully check the statements which have been made by responsible Ministers, they will come to the conclusion that the country was well served by those who held responsible positions and that they sincerely tried to carry out a policy in the best interests of this country.
I was not invited to give evidence to the Bingham inquiry, and of course if there were a further inquiry I should hope to play some part in it. As a by-product of the controversy on Bingham, I should like to try out once again a favourite hobby horse of my own. Mr. Heath very rightly pointed out in another place that one of the consequences which may flow from an attempt to publish all the papers on this matter is that Ministers and civil servants will start to keep their own records or avoid keeping records in order to protect themselves from witch hunts and post-mortems. This is especially so when one reads of the very vindictive personal attacks which have been made in another place about individual civil servants. I have mentioned that point before.
I should like the following suggestion to be drawn to the attention of Sir Duncan Wilson who is leading a group which are looking into the question of public records. It is this. In the Foreign Office and other departments a confidential running historical record should be kept of events as they occur. This record can reflect the circumstances of the time, the views of the participants and the circumstances which compelled this course or another course. These records should be kept by professional historians of an independent frame of mind, not committed to either Party. If we had had such an account of Rhodesian affairs since 1965 all this grubbing about that has been going on over the past months would have been largely unnecessary because we would have had an account which would have put the situation in its own context. That is a serious suggestion. I hope 522 those considering this problem of public records will give that suggestion the attention it deserves.
There was one other point which was not dealt with in the Bingham Report and which affects me personally. It has been the subject of comment in the Press, periodicals and in another place yesterday. That is regarding the role of Government directors in British Petroleum. The situation there, to which I should like to draw attention, is that the Government directors have, as everybody knows, certain powers of veto; but they also have to perform the role of a normal non-executive director of the company. As such, they have responsibilities not only to the British Government but to the other shareholders.
When I went to BP in 1973 I knew what the situation was—or I thought I did—about oil getting to Rhodesia. It is an extraordinary thing, but it shows the attention which was being given to these matters. From the period of 1973 to 1976 the question of sanctions was not mentioned by the Government to me or to my other Government director colleagues, and although I was in close contact with Whitehall, as I was required to be, this matter was not drawn, in any way, to the attention of the Government directors and the matter was not discussed at the BP board.
As soon as the question of sanctions became active following, first, the publication of the oil conspiracy but, later and more importantly, the publication of the Haslemere Papers, the Government directors took the appropriate action—the action one would expect them to take —with the board, and the minutes of the board were made available to Mr. Bingham. So I do not think there can be any justification for feeling that the Government directors in any way neglected their duty during this period.
To come to the question of the renewal of the sanctions order, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor explained extremely lucidly the obligations which are laid on this country to carry out the treaty which qualified them for membership of the United Nations. Any failure to renew sanctions would, in my view, have a significance and a political impact which, until today's debate, has not been sufficiently emphasised. It was not made much of in another place and, 523 in my opinion, it has not been sufficiently underlined in the comments which have been made in the Press. Such unilateral action by Her Majesty's Government would, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor explained, be a clear breach of the solemn treaty we have signed as a condition of membership; and under Chapter 7 of the Charter we are obliged to carry out the decisions of the Security Council. Not to do so would be an abrogation of a solemn treaty commitment—all the more important, as has been pointed out, because we are members of the Security Council. It would be illegal and it would attract worldwide hostility, which would be very damaging at the moment and would definitely obstruct progress towards an agreement.
Nor, in my opinion, would there be any compensating advantages in Rhodesia itself. I believe that the really hurtful consequences of sanctions on Rhodesia are, first, the denial of investment and, secondly, the denial of international recognition. Removal of sanctions by a refusal to pass the order now would not remove these impediments. There would be no recognition and no investment; but of course it has been argued, and argued here this afternoon, that it would be of immense symbolic importance to Mr. Smith and his internal settlement and would strengthen his hand in negotiating with the Patriotic Front. I suggest that this encouragement to the internal settlement can just as easily be given by a change in attitude by Her Majesty's Government as by taking the illegal action of unilaterally abrogating a mandatory resolution. I shall therefore vote for the continuation of the sanctions.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington—I listened very carefully to what he said—made some very interesting suggestions. He was very critical of the Secretary of State's handling of recent events, and I listened very carefully to that. I believe his criticism was well based, and my instinct tells me that the general feeling in the country is to the effect that it is well based and that mistakes have been made. But, in criticising Dr. Owen, I should like particularly to pay a tribute to him for the fact that since 1974 he has been the first Labour Foreign Secretary who really faced up to tackling the problem of Rhodesia. I 524 believe that two very valuable years were lost between 1974 and 1976 when the Rhodesian problem was put on one side and not fully faced. So I think that Dr. Owen deserves our gratitude and he deserves credit for really tackling the problem. The fact that he has made mistakes, or that people feel he has, is another matter.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, suggested that there should be a contact group followed by a Camp David-type summit. I think this is a suggestion which commends itself very generally. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, commended it, and the Prime Minister's reaction in another place was evidently favourable. I have some doubts about the contact group and whether its composition would permit it to get very far. I would not be against having a summit that failed, so long as it led to a further summit. I think the Rhodesian leaders are in an emotional state where a summit now, even if it did not reach agreement, would have the immense effect of bringing the facts home to them and showing the dangers of where their present courses are leading them. I do not think one need be too careful about trying to make up one's mind as to the right time to hold a summit. I would rather, as I say, have a summit that failed than keep on preparing the way for one that never came off.
People seem to speak about "Camp David-type diplomacy" as if it were a new invention. In fact, it is going back to the original sort of diplomacy—pre-television diplomacy. Mr. Carter did not invent it, but he gave a very vivid demonstration of how, in a very sensitive area such as the Arab-Israeli question, secret diplomacy could be made to work if people accept the discipline of it. I very much favour the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, with the small amendments that I have suggested. I therefore hope that the Government will consider that this in a non-Party way and that the fact that the suggestion has come from the other side of the House will not in any way diminish the attention that is given to it, because manifestly it needs some dramatic action. I believe that the Prime Minister has the qualities which would give a summit-type meeting a very good chance of success.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Lord ALPORT
My Lords, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, I am not in any way qualified to comment on the findings of the Bingham Report. I would merely say that I very much hope that the final words of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, when he said that we should look to the future rather than rake over the embers of the past, will be taken account of.
When the interim Government was formed, I did not feel it right to express the reservations which I personally felt about the circumstances in which it was likely to operate. I hoped that all the parties to it would combine in good faith to find a multiracial solution to Rhodesia's problems within the parameters of contemporary Africa and in accordance with British policy. As I reported to your Lordships after my visits to Salisbury last year, I had been assured by responsible Ministers in Mr. Smith's Government that it would be possible in a matter of weeks to organise elections. After the Kissinger negotiations, Mr. Smith had said that, initially, the intensification of the civil war—for that is what it is—would be inevitable. It was reasonable then to assume that, in agreeing to majority rule by 31st December 1978, Mr. Smith and his colleagues were not only acting in good faith but, whatever might be the hold of his black colleagues over their guerrillas, he, Mr. Smith, could carry out his side of the undertaking.
Since March of this year, there seems to have been evidence that Mr. Smith and the African nationalists in the Executive Council are talking different political languages. The dismissal of Mr. Hove had, for me, sinister undertones. It seems to me incredible that, even today, Bishop Muzorewa's book, is apparently banned in Rhodesia. The dismantling of discriminatory legislation has been dilatory in the extreme. Although I know that my noble friend Lord Saint Oswald has an intimate knowledge of this, the fact of the matter is that no legislation to end discrimination has so far passed through the Rhodesian Parliament.
The certainty of the postponement of the elections and of majority rule beyond 31st December has the most serious 526 implications. It means that, to the African mind, Mr. Smith, already distrusted by most of the blacks in Rhodesia, will be suspected of planning to go back on his promise under the internal settlement to accept majority rule in any form remotely consistent with the expectations of the Africans. This will have the effect of undermining the reputation of the moderate leaders, and will play into the hands of the extremists of the Patriotic Front. To Africans, Mr. Smith's visit to America, and the success of the Rhodesian operations in Zambia, could, they may suspect, give the whites a feeling that to stave off the grant of majority rule for a few more months might save them from ever having to accept it at all.
If the United Kingdom were to fail to renew sanctions, the suspicions of the Africans—and they are widespread and deeply held—would be dangerously fuelled. I do not think that Mr. Sithole's threat of the outbreak of urban violence, if the elections are not held by the end of this year, is an idle one. I have been in Salisbury during a period when there were serious troubles in the townships. I think that today a repetition of those would stretch the security forces beyond breaking point, and then the long-forecast bloodbath would be on.
So far as Great Britain is concerned, to end sanctions unilaterally would be seen all over Africa and further afield as meaning that we are supporting, as I think my noble friend Lord Carrington said, not the interim Government but Mr. Smith and his white collaborators. It would extinguish any chance we would have at a later stage of this fast-moving tragedy, of influencing for the better the evolution of events in Rhodesia. It would not be of any immediate advantage to the economy of Rhodesia, and I am certain that it would encourage the hardliners of the Rhodesian Front to redouble their efforts to sabotage the process of majority rule. Confidence in the black members of the interim Government would be still further undermined, since the mass of the Africans would conclude that they were being fooled by a conspiracy between Britain and the Rhodesian Front to cheat them out of their just aspirations, and the Soviet Union would be handed a major propaganda weapon against us and against Rhodesia, which they would use ruthlessly.
527 There has recently been some suggestion that the British Government should take on an open-ended commitment to supervise a return by Rhodesia to legality. In my mind, nothing could be more dangerous. I thought that the speech of my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel gave conclusive reasons why sanctions should be renewed, but there was one point on which I disagreed with him. He suggested that a Minister should go to Rhodesia to advise the interim Government on the development of their policies. In a very small way, one has had experience of being in that kind of position on terms very much more favourable to this country, and in a very much more tranquil situation in Rhodesia. If any Minister is to go out from this country to try to take control of, or influence effectively, the situation out there, then he must be supported by military forces, and I do not think for one moment that it is within the bounds of possibility that that should be done.
My personal view—and I may, of course, be wrong—is that the situation in Rhodesia has passed beyond the point where a settlement is possible by negotiation at an all-party conference, whether it be at Chequers or anywhere else, or by any unilateral initiative of this country. In my view, the only hope is for an international operation under the United Nations, backed by sufficient forces to get the situation in Rhodesia under control.
When I last addressed your Lordships on this subject, I suggested that as a preliminary to a settlement Mashonaland and Matabeleland should be divided, based on Salisbury and Bulawayo respectively. I pointed out that, from the point of view of population, resources—both industrial and agricultural potentiality—communications and size, such a partition was perfectly feasible. I do not think we should forget that, in trying to solve the problems of not dissimilar situations in the past, and in other parts of the world, partition has always been something that we have fallen back on. Circumstances have not always been very happy, I quite agree, but let us not forget that in India, in Ireland and in Cyprus partition has been a fact, while in Nigeria it could have prevented a terrible civil war.
Yesterday, Chief Kyisa, the senior, the ablest and the most politically experienced 528 chief in Rhodesia, resigned from the interim Government, and called on Mr. Nkomo to return to Zimbabwe. I regard this event as extremely significant. I do not believe that Mr. Nkomo, who is not renowned for his political courage, will return to Zimbabwe unless he is assured that he has a firm base in Matabeleland from which to operate or that, if he returns to a Rhodesia that is Shona controlled, he will ever have any chance of achieving his aspirations.
Noble Lords should not forget that the reason for the delay in completing the constitution is the struggle between the Matabele on the one side and the Shona on the other for political control in the future Rhodesian Parliament. I believe that since the situation in Rhodesia has become so entangled with the personal aspirations of leading African nationalists and with rival tribal aspirations and mutual fears, the first step towards a solution is to simplify that situation by partition. It may be that for Mr. Nkomo, and perhaps for one or other of the Shona leaders, half a loaf will be better than none.
I hope that, if the partition of Rhodesia is taken as a preliminary to a constitutional conference in the presence of a United Nations force, and with international supervision of a subsequent election, it may be possible later to find some means of bringing the two parts of Rhodesia together. I realise that the reaction in Rhodesia to my original speech was one of rejection by Africans but not so much, I think, by Europeans. That was, I feel, predictably the "gut" reaction. I am equally sure that the partition of Rhodesia, either temporarily or permanently, is inevitable and that it is the only solution now.
My noble friend Lord Carrington suggested that the processes of diplomacy employed in Namibia should be tried in Rhodesia, and that suggestion has been supported by many speakers, including those with great experience of diplomacy like the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill. Incidentally, if I may say so, the tribute paid by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, to Sir David Scott, who has great experience of Rhodesia as well as of South Africa as a whole, was very well deserved in relation to his work in Namibia. I believe that my noble friend Lord Carrington was right in his proposal. I would 529 only urge on the Government that one of the themes which such negotiations might include is the possibility of partition.
So far as the present problem ahead of us in the later hours of this debate, the vote on sanctions, is concerned, I have given my views, as I have on many occasions in the past, as to why I personally intend to vote for sanctions. I very sincerely hope that this House will not defeat the order, because I believe that by doing so it will make a terrible error of judgment.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Lord DAVIES of LEEK
My Lords, it is always interesting and worth while to listen to the constructive contribution which is always made by the noble Lord who has just spoken and who is so knowledgeable. Having been there when the negotiations took place, I am quite convinced that every honest effort was made, both on the "Tiger" and on the "Fearless", to get an answer to the problem of a modus vivendi, or a way of living with Mr. Smith.
I have looked up the Daily Telegraph for Tuesday, 22nd October 1968 at the time when we were out of Gibraltar on the "Fearless". The heading of the leading article was "Smith at the Limit". The article read:M.P.s, when they debate Rhodesia today, can be excused if they find themselves in a state of utter confusion about the whole subject. At one time, last Wednesday to be precise, it looked as if Mr. Ian Smith was prepared to accept the Fearless' package if the provision in it for appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, for a period of not less than 15 years after independence, was dropped. Comparison between the terms of the British proposals made on board 'Fearless' and Mr. Wilson's statement in the Commons on Tuesday strongly suggests that the British Government might have been prepared to do this, in return for what really mattered. That was, and is, the provision that enough Africans should be directly elected as to be able to block amendments to the constitution which would be against their interests. If this held, then, by the normal processes of education and material advancement, the theory was that African majority rule could be expected in a period variously estimated at from 7 to 20 years. On Wednesday Mr. Smith"—and I remember this—said there was no objection to the blocking vote provisions. In statements since then he has not only rejected them but also other provisions such as investigation by a Royal Commission and a broad-based interim Government. In his public 530 statements at least, (and it must be remembered that his official comment will reach London only after today's Cabinet meeting in Salisbury), Mr. Smith now appears to have gone out of his way to pick over the whole 'Fearless' applecart. If Mr. Smith accepted 'Fearless' with only the Privy Council dropped and with other less important modifications, Mr. Wilson would be under savage attack from Labour M.P.s for having 'sold out'. He would not have done any such thing but that would not have prevented the attacks. Now it looks as if they are going to be deprived by Mr. Smith of even that satisfaction. It should be made clear in Parliament today"—this was in 1968 when we were in the throes of the Rhodesian problem—that, if Mr. Smith and his Cabinet reject the main voting provisions in 'Fearless', there is nothing more to come. There is a limit to what Parliament will accept, and it has been reached".I found this individual—he was being praised as a great Prime Minister in a contradictory speech, because later on he was denigrated—one of the most difficult people, and I had the pleasure of talking to him for a number of hours, man to man. There was nothing in his mind about any move towards freedom for the Africans for one hundred or more years. The man was not prepared to move in that direction.
Noble Lords who sit in their places tonight and who do not go into the Lobbies to indicate that they are prepared to continue sanctions—I hope for the last time—may be helping to fan a blaze not only in Rhodesia but in the whole of black Africa. As the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, said, the black and white division is a much bigger problem now than uttering the "buzz" word "Marxism" for every problem that one finds in the world. To get rid of a problem by uttering, in completely non-philosophical terms, "This is Marxism" is a mere "buzz" that smells of McCarthyism in America at its worst. We have to go deeper than that, and we can do it.
I regret to say that I am old enough to remember World War I and the "tiger" of France. His famous epigram was,A drop of oil is worth a drop of blood".This is one of the problems which faces us today. The rising tide of human knowledge, the advantages of instantaneous information and the speed of sound and travel get rid of that pompous demand for utter secrecy. We are dealing with a better informed white and black public all over the world because of television and the mass media—I do not like 531 the word—than we have ever had in history. Whether that information is accurate is another issue; whether it is blurred by propaganda is another issue. The fact is that the pompous request that you should have continuous secrecy about the documentation dealing with problems should be eradicated. There are occasions when secrecy in Government and over official papers is needed. The trouble with the world today is that there is too much secrecy and too little confidence in the people who put Members of Parliament in their seats.
Some people say that Mr. Smith was loyal to Great Britain. So were millions of blacks; they were loyal to Great Britain. In Burmah, they gave their blood and their treasure, fighting for what? For what they believed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said—and it was splurged around the world in headlines—that we were fighting for the four freedoms; freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear; and when the noble Lord, Lord Saint Oswald, spoke about there being no racial discrimination he could never have read the Pearce Report.
I am going to cut my speech down; I wish it was not necessary for me to do so but your Lordships do not want to be talked at. I suggest that you should read the Pearce Report in order to see whether there was any racial discrimination in Rhodesia. It is utter rubbish to say that Smith is moving black Africa towards democracy. We were offered four freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear and at the Labour Conference I added the fifth and most important freedom of all—freedom from contempt. That is what black Africa, the yellow races and everybody else want. That fifth freedom comes before the other freedoms, excluding freedom from want.
What are we doing about it? A quarter of a million people are living on the fat of Zimbabwe's land and we are going through a period in history which reminds me that, if people would read Deutscher's famous book on Ironies of History, they would see what happens when man fails to understand his duty to his fellow men. We have had it in England; the Scots Lords tipped the peasants and 532 crofters off their land and treated them as cruelly centuries ago as they are being treated today. We Welsh were pushed up into the hills. We could put up with the suffering; we could live on next to nothing in those days but in black Africa, despite the "Tiger" and all the other talks, there is no honest intention to move quickly towards freedom from contempt for the Rhodesian black man.
Smith has failed in America and when tonight we go into the Lobbies to vote on sanctions, those who do not do so are being disloyal to this country and may help to set the spark of civil war between black and white from the Cape to the Atlas Mountains. Those of you who know America partially, as I do, will know what can happen in the ghettos of America if black people there are dragged into this and are used, possibly by the Communists, to spread the black and white dissension. Noble Lords have come down like noble vagabonds from their moorlands, their mountains and their lovely woods with their autumn leaves which are so glorious to look at; those political vagabonds have come here and I guarantee that not five of them have read that report, and yet they comment on it. I ask of those noble Lords who tonight vote against sanctions being maintained: what do they want? Do they think it will help Smith? Do they really believe they are not being disloyal? Does the noble Lord want me to give way?
§ Lord GRIDLEY
My Lords, when the noble Lord asks the question as to what noble Lords want to achieve when they go into the Lobby against the reimposition of the sanctions order this evening, I think we should like to hear a satisfactory account of the stewardship of Her Majesty's Government which justifies the reimposition of sanctions at this time and not necessarily to hide behind the international obligations to reimpose those sanctions. That is what we should like to hear.
§ Lord DAVIES of LEEK
My Lords, I have done my homework and it is marked from cover to cover, but I should be here for hours if I were to use all this material. There is the Walker statement which is a statement in regard to breaking the oil agreement. I do not want to quote from 533 it or from Ministers who are mixed up with it, but I should like to add one thing. I believe in the honesty of Mr. Heath when he said that he knew nothing about it. I certainly believe that the man with greater integrity than any other noble Lord in this House—the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel—is as honest as anybody can be in his attitude. I will add to that, whether noble Lords like it or not, that Wilson in his intentions was as honest as anybody else on the "Tiger" and on the "Fearless", and it is time that some people who have got into power sometimes paid a tribute to a man. There is nothing worse than man's ingratitude to man.
Since I am being asked this question I would suggest that noble Lords should spend £3 and do their homework. They can get a complete analysis—a review of the Bingham Report by a lawyer called Andrew Phillips. It can be obtained from 9 Poland Street. That will save me quoting masses of material and boring your Lordships, but I will say this. This report teaches us lessons, and one of the lessons from the sanctions story is the ambivalent loyalty of trans-national firms. We have entered a period of economic history when there are trans-national firms. Some noble Lords are smiling but it is a move towards a financial fascism that is delicate and dangerous. Trans-national firms are now more powerful than Parliaments.
I do not know the answer to this and neither does anybody else at the moment. The withholding of important information and who was responsible for it is something that should have been discussed. This debate should have been spread over two days. It is not fair to noble Lords who have done their homework to have to rush through their speeches. This House is meant to take its time and to add a grain of common sense to the mad world in which we are now living. We cannot do it if we are rushed like this.
If noble Lords will turn to the report they will find that the inquiry was held in secret and the names of witnesses were withheld from the report where they so requested. There is no question about the probity of the inquiry and I congratulate the men who so quickly put it together, with one secretary, one oil man and two lawyers. It was a rapid piece of work but further on it is plain that evidence was 534 not given on oath. I am glad that the learned scholar, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, is answering at the end of this debate because this is one of the most difficult reports for any layman to understand. It is not indexed, the chapters are not clearly divided and it has not been clearly defined what all the acronyms mean. It has been rushed before your Lordships 'House and now there is an appeal by Members for a half-baked throwing away of this report because they think that two days' debate in another place and one day's in this House has covered that report. I am on the side of the Prime Minister, who told the House of Commons that he is prepared to look at this matter from another angle.
I have spoken for 16 minutes; one more minute will be enough. It is regrettable that I must curtail all the nice things that I wanted to say about this, but in a way this debate has reminded me of the Welshman trying to explain to an American not, as we usually do, what rugby is but cricket. This is how he tried to explain cricket:You have two sides, Boyo: one out in the field and one in. Each man that is in, goes out to go in, and when he is out he comes in and the next man goes in until he is out. When they are all out the side that is out comes in, and then the side that has been in goes out and gets those who are coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When both sides have been in and out, including the not outs, that is the end of the game".That is how this debate has finished. Ninety per cent. of the people who have spoken today have not read the Report. I am glad I kept my word—17 minutes. I will hope that noble Lords on both sides of the House who had meant to abstain or vote against will consider that the whole of Africa will be wanting to know what has happened in this debate and that we are fighting for the black man, for freedom from contempt.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Lord GRIDLEY
My Lords, you will not expect me to follow the noble Lord, Lord Davies, in everything that he has said in his speech, but I would agree with him that what we are endeavouring to do this evening is to give our consideration to the situation in Africa and to the black people and white people there particularly. Therefore, I do not disagree with the noble Lord that that is where we 535 should bend our energies and thoughts. But there are, of course, as the noble Lord will quite understand, differing views on how we should deal with the situation. I would like to say this: I think it would be correct to say to your Lordships that any of us who speak in this debate on Rhodesia should do so constructively, without emotion, not descending to personalities, and I shall hope to do just that. There is much I should have liked to say, but there is a great deal I propose to cut out of my speech because it has been said by other noble Lords who have spoken before me.
I should like to say this, and it is a matter which I have never raised before in speaking in your Lordships' House. I do not know whether I happen to be, though I believe I am, the only Member of your Lordships' House, one of quite a few, who for over 30 years overseas gave effect, as one of your servants, to the colonial policies of your Parliaments. I would particularly emphasise that the policy which emanated from your Parliaments fired those of us entrusted with the responsibility with a high sense of our calling and duty which in all humility we endeavoured to perform. And, though Rhodesia was never a colony in the colonial sense—it had its own Parliament —and I never served in Rhodesia, I am nevertheless convinced that those feelings, that high purpose, that sense of responsibility which I have endeavoured to describe to you and which emanated from here, spilled over from Britain into Rhodesia and remain with Rhodesia to the present day. I am utterly convinced of that. I would ask that in any future dealings with Rhodesia at the present time Her Majesty's Government would give consideration to that point.
My Lords, let me give you an example of what I mean from my own experience. Today there are in Rhodesia people who are prepared to fight and die for what they believe. It was from this same colonial experience, in this same spirit of high endeavour—and I desire no reflected glory for myself or for others in what I now conceive it my duty to say in this dabete on Rhodesia—that men and women in a federation and a colony where I served overseas, when that colony and federation was overrun by war, conceived it to be their duty to remain among those they 536 had served. They suffered torture, starvation and death, as indeed I suffered torture. I can only say that that sort of spirit remains in Rhodesia and will remain there and has to be taken account of in dealing with Rhodesian problems. That spirit fired the minds of overseas whites wherever they happened to be, and I emphasise that, when we were all incarcerated in the circumstances I have described, we had businessmen in that country who had carried out their duties under private enterprise, which has become a dirty word, and who were prepared to suffer as we did.
I sincerely desire peace in Rhodesia and I can only hope that from now on in any future negotiations Her Majesty's Government will take countenance of that spirit which undoubtedly exists. I plead for an understanding on this point. I am tired of the accusations in a class sense about overseas exploiters. They get us nowhere in our consideration of the now critical Rhodesian problem. We have our own economic problems in industry, if we want an example of this; there has been this kind of class warfare and the charge of "them" and "us" which has almost bankrupted our nation and brought us down on our knees in an economic sense. If we persist in that attitude in the problems which exist and which we must try to overcome in Rhodesia, that country will go down in flames which will spread far beyond the confines of that country.
Another point which I ask Her Majesty's Government to bear in mind in any future negotiations they may have with Rhodesia is one I make from my own experience of terrorist operations in Malaysia, a country to which I returned after recuperating in this country in the circumstances which I described. The point I make is that when you have ideological arguments about race, colour and any future Government, you do not succeed in your goal unless you have the population behind you. As 75 per cent. of the security forces serving in Rhodesia are black and they are prepared to fight the black people of the Patriotic Front, I must assume that they are behind the past policies of Mr. Smith and the present policies of the interim settlement. It does seem to me that Her Majesty's Government must accept that.
However, is there not and has there not been a great dislike of Mr. Smith, which in 537 certain parts of the political spectrum would seem to have come very near to hatred? He is charged with moving too slowly towards the position of one man, one vote, which I understand, but, in the present situation where a number of the principles have already been accepted, can we not be a little humble, can we not exercise a little humility? Would it not be a fair charge to lay against Britain in regard to the bestowal of self-government on Uganda, for example, or on Nigeria, where a civil war followed, that, in granting independence to those countries, where thousands have died and where in many cases death was due to violence, Britain has betrayed a trust towards the indigenous people for whom she was responsible. Therefore, when Her Majesty's Government use the argument that has been adduced that the interim settlement of 3rd March 1978 was agreed belatedly in Rhodesia—that apparently seems to be the view in certain circles—I conceive that to be a completely wrong assumption.
Look at what happened in Nigeria and look at the present situation in Uganda. Can we not say that in those cases Britain was premature in the action she took? So far as I know, the facts are that Her Majesty's Government have at no stage given any encouragement to the interim settlement or any advice or help, even in cases where the signatories to that arrangement—namely, Bishop Muzorewa. the Reverend Sithole and Mr. Smith—although entitled, as I understand the position, to express individual opinions, are required before any decision of importance is made to submit views in each case to an Executive Council. It is the Executive Council that makes the decisions, not the signatories.
As I understand it, the Foreign Secretary expressed a view in another place on 7th November that the establishment of this interim settlement was responsible for the increase of violence and the deterioration of the situation within Rhodesia since its establishment. That is an assumption that I cannot understand. It is what I would have expected to happen. I should have thought that it was not an argument against the establishment of the interim settlement per se, and that the explanation was that Mr. Nkomo of the Patriotic Front, although invited, as I understand it, to join in the settlement had refused to do so. Mr. Nkomo 538 dislikes the interim settlement and has stepped up his attack upon it accordingly and, as far as I know, he has publicly pronounced that he intends to attack the ballot boxes.
There is a similar situation as regards the postponement of elections beyond the end of December. There is a deep suspicion of the interim settlement by Her Majesty's Government on this matter and mistrust of the credibility of Bishop Muzorewa, the Reverend Sithole and Mr. Smith. Yet, it is Mr. Nkomo of the Patriotic Front who has vowed, as I have already explained, that he will attack the ballot boxes with his guerrilla forces. I have seen no denial of that statement by Mr. Nkomo, or any indication of Her Majesty's Government's attitude to the situation.
So far, I have from my own experience covered some of the prejudices, attitudes and wrong assumptions which seem to me to have been adduced by Her Majesty's Government in their dealings with the Rhodesian problem. I consider that we, as the Opposition, are entitled to draw attention to those facts as we see them in the hope that Her Majesty's Government will perhaps listen and read some of the speeches that have been made and at least give the matters which have been raised by your Lordships and to which I have referred some consideration in any further dealings with the Rhodesian authorities.
In the face of all that I have said I now come to the present situation. We are asked to give the authority necessary for the reimposition of the sanctions order. As this is the fourteenth time that this has been requested of us, are we not entitled to ask Her Majesty's Government to give us a satisfactory account of how they have endeavoured so far to seek a solution of the Rhodesian issue? I must say that in my humble opinion and with all humility I am not satisfied that your Lordships—and I speak for myself—have received anything like a satisfactory account in this regard as a justification for the reimposition of the Rhodesian sanctions order.
So far as I can see, we have had no explanation from Her Majesty's Government about how they see the present situation and what they intend to do to meet and overcome the critical situation 539 between this country, Rhodesia and various parts of Africa. I must say that I, for one, am not prepared to accept the argument that Her Majesty's Government can hide behind the justification that sanctions must continue solely because they are mandatory and therefore there is an international obligation that they should continue. However, I emphasise that I shall listen with great care to what my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone has to say on this point in the very difficult brief which lies in his most able hands when, at the end of the debate, he sums up for the opposition. I shall also listen with care to what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, has to say on the subject. However, at present, all my inclinations are to go into the Lobby to vote against the continuation of the Rhodesian order.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Lord BALLANTRAE
My Lords, I am a rather sensitive animal, and I was rather hurt when the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, pointed his long Celtic finger at me over the Celtic shoulder and past the Celtic ear of the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, and spoke about "vagabond Lords coming down from the Lowlands"! I am the first to admit that my qualifications to intervene in this debate are very few. I have never been to Rhodesia, but nor have 99.999 per cent. of the people on whose behalf decisions have been taken, are being taken and will be taken. Most of us have not been to Rhodesia. Therefore, I feel that I have a right to speak up for those people who, like me, do not know it. We are worried about some of the decisions: some of them seem to us not to be compatible with common sense; some seem to us not to be compatible with honour; and some seem to us to have been taken—and are being taken—for reasons of expediency rather than for any more worthy reason.
Although I do not know Rhodesia, I have seen similar situations in the past:—notably 20 years ago in Algeria, where there was a French population like the white Rhodesian population, the difference being that they had been there for 130 to 140 years instead of 50 years; where the rebels, the insurgents, the "freedom-fighters", whatever you call them, were being sup- 540 ported over the frontiers of Morocco and Tunisia. The French were also involved in trouble for following the policy of "hot pursuit" which is now so familiar to us. However, that was a different situation, because those who were seeking independence for Algeria were a far more coherent nation than the very mixed number of tribes seeking independence in the country with which we are now concerned.
I also remember some 15 years ago having as my guest at luncheon, Sir Muhammed Zafrullah Khan, a very distinguished Pakistani statesman. We were talking about Africa and its problems. He said that we must regard Rhodesia as a special case, that we had not been very fortunate in all declarations of independence in Africa, and that we must look at Rhodesia as a possible ideal multiracial State. He said, "Take your time—but do not take too long". We took too long. The blame is not ours; the blame rests largely on those who live there; but I remember that very enlightened Pakistani statesman regarding Rhodesia, as we should, as a very special case.
Looking back over what is now a horribly long life, I see once again a situation which has become worse and worse because people have taken up situations and positions from which they have refused to budge. The situation in Rhodesia is an absolutely classic example of that. Whatever noble Lords may think of the intransigence, the foolishness, the pigheadedness of Mr. Smith, whom I have never met—at least I accord him the courtesy of calling him "Mr. Smith" (why do we have to insult him by calling him Smith, as if his name was Hitler?)—of all the actors in this tragedy which is being enacted in front of us, the one character who has really budged of late is Mr. Smith; and a fat lot of thanks or encouragement we have given him before, during or after that move.
I know that this point has been made before, so I shall repeat it in only one sentence. I am ashamed that people like Mr. Nkomo—and I call him "Mr."—and Mr. Mugabe receive the red carpet treatment, but that all that Mr. Smith gets is a guarantee of arrest as soon as he sets foot in this country. I think that it is disgraceful.
541 The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, raised the matter of terrorists. Terrorists are terrorists, even if we put them between inverted commas and call them "freedom-fighters". Their technique is the same the world over, wherever I have seen them in action. They terrorise, not the occupying power or the Government, but the defenceless and the uncommitted. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, was thinking of Malaya, where terrorists went on to plantations, and tortured Chinese foremen who had failed to persuade their people to subscribe to terrorist funds. That is a pattern which we have seen all over the world, and the pattern that we now see in Rhodesia is exactly the same.
A word that has cropped up a great deal lately in this context is "realistic". I once heard a solider say that we must be "realistic" when he was suggesting that the solution to our then problem was to surrender, and I have never forgotten it. I do not like the word "realistic"; but if we are to be "realistic", let us try to see all the options that are open to us. I saw the letter which was published in The Times two weeks ago from the noble Lord, Lord Boyd, who was sitting here but who has now gone—he must have realised that I was about to speak! He summed up the whole situation as well as possible.
Therefore, as I draw to an end, let me repeat that for all his faults and for all his intransigence, Mr. Smith has made the first move; and for him it is a very big move. We tend to forget to remind ourselves of the atmosphere in which the ordinary white Rhodesian was brought up; it was a world totally divorced from the one we know. To him it seemed to be lastingand permanent; if you like, paternalistic, but not oppressive. The Rhodesians were slow to realise that the world had changed, and was changing at a kaleidoscopic rate. Let us aim from that and try to understand the sad predicament in which they now find themselves. It is up to us to help break the log-jam, and Mr. Smith has made the first move.
I listened with attention and admiration to the speeches made by the noble Lords, Lord Home of the Hirsel, Lord Aylestone and to my former pupil, who does me great credit, Lord Carrington—I taught him French. His French is very good. I have listened with great attention to all 542 the speeches. I came here with my mind not made up and fairly open, and yet I know the arguments that have appealed least to me are those which smack to me of expediency. My mood now, after having heard two-thirds of the debate—at least I hope it is two thirds—
§ Lord BALLANTRAE
—is, Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum (let justice prevail, though the heavens fall); and I find that my head, as well as my heart, is going to propel me into the Lobby which will vote against the renewal of sanctions.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Lord BLAKE
My Lords, I think that there are really three issues before us today: the Bingham Report; the whole constitutional position of this House; and of course the main question of the renewal of the sanctions order against Rhodesia. I shall be very brief on all of them. I have read the Bingham Report. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, made widespread accusations all round the House that nobody had read it at all. I have, but I do not propose to speak at any length about it.
It was quite clear that the oil companies were in an intolerably difficult position because of the conflict of law between South Africa and Britain. It is clear that Her Majesty's Government were aware of the transactions—the French swap in particular—which would have caused a fearful row if they had been revealed at the time, and for that reason the Government decided not to reveal them, and I think they showed good sense in pursuing that policy. The other point which becomes abundantly clear is that none of the sanctions-breaking, if there was breaking, made the slightest difference whatever to supplies.
A little publicised item in the Bingham Report is that in 1970 the Esso Company offered to Rhodesia to supply 100 per cent. of all their future requirements at a very heavily discounted price on the price they were then paying, but the Rhodesian Government preferred to stick to their old suppliers. Is it worth having all this re-examined by an inquiry under the Tribunals 543 Act or by a Select Committee of Parliament? I am against either of those courses. It would be a total waste of time, and I hope that the matter will be dropped from now onwards.
I come to the constitutional question next: that is, the question whether your Lordships really have the constitutional moral right to vote against the sanctions order. In my view we have. I do not think that there can be any question here of opposing a Government that has a popular mandate for anything. This Government have no mandate stemming from 1974 for the continuation of sanctions in circumstances which are very different from those under which sanctions orders have operated during the last three years. It is a very different situation now. It seems to me that your Lordships have the power under the Parliament Act and we are entitled to do this, and we should exercise our judgment freely in that way.
Perhaps I could advert to what my noble friend Lord Carrington said in his opening speech, that the House of Lords is threatened with abolition anyway by the Labour Government if they win the next Election so we cannot lose in any way by exercising our powers. What is more, we shall be doing something which, in the country at large, would be very popular.
§ Lord BYERS
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that point, may I ask him whether he will say a word about our international obligations under the United Nations?
§ Lord BLAKE
My Lords, I was coming to that later, if I may. On the sanctions order I should like to say straight away that I intend to vote against its renewal. I hope it will be defeated. When one looks at the Government's approach to Rhodesia one wonders what on earth they have been up to. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, made a good point when he said that they hate Mr. Ian Smith. That is probably true. Mr. Smith, whom I have met several times, has a capacity for devious procrastination which is extremely irritating. I would freely concede that. But since Dr. Kissinger's demarche in 1976, and later developments which have led to the 544 internal settlement on 3rd March this year, he cannot go back. I do not think that he can get out of this. I realise that many noble Lords are suspicious of him, and perhaps in the past their suspicions have been justified, but I do not think he can get out of it now.
The internal settlement promises to fulfil all the Six Principles which have been the basis of our policies since 1965. The one that is going to be found difficult to fulfil is the fifth principle; that is, acceptability of the settlement to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. But this is just the one that the Patriotic Front is determined to make impossible because it can be done only by an election. As I said, the entire situation has changed since your Lordships last considered the sanctions order. We are in a new world, but the Government are still paralysed in the rigidities of the past.
This is what the Prime Minister, the great grandfather of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, wrote over 100 years ago to the then Viceroy of India:The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcasses of dead policies. When a mast falls overboard, you do not try to save a rope here and a spar there, in memory of their former utility; you cut away the hamper altogether. And it should be the same with a policy. But it is not so. We cling to the shred of an old policy after it has been torn to pieces and to the shadow of the shred after the rag itself has been torn awayThe rag has long been torn away, but the Government cling to the pathetic wreckage of a ruined ship. What purpose is now served by sanctions? Perhaps they have been futile all along, so it does not matter whether or not they are lifted, but the Government can scarcely use that argument for their continuation.
In my view, sanctions still have an effect. As noble Lords have said, oil may have been an exception, but some of the other sanctions are having an effect and I believe the effect they are having, in so far as they are having any at all, is helping the Patriotic Front and damaging the internal settlement. In effect, the Foreign Secretary's impartiality is really partiality; it is a decision, perhaps not in theory or in intention but in practice, to support the Patriotic Front against the internal settlement.
Since the Kissinger proposals, the British Government have dithered, and 545 since the events of 3rd March they have, if possible, dithered even more. I cannot see what sanctions are now intended to do. Are they intended to bring the interim Government to the conference table? They have said they will attend. Are they intended to persuade them to fulfil the Six Principles? They have said they will do so and, as I said, the only one they have not fulfilled, or cannot easily fulfil, is the one which the continuation of sanctions makes it impossible for them to fulfil because it supports the guerrilla forces. When I look at the Government today—and, I am bound to say, to some degree when I look at the Opposition Front Bench as well—I am reminded of Sir Winston Churchill's words in another place in November 1936:So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years—precious, perhaps vital … for the locusts to eat".I entirely disagree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester when he said he thought foreign policy must be bipartisan. I believe there are occasions when it cannot be, and this is one of them, and I feel it right that your Lordships' House should be divided on this matter.
I am sure we shall hear a great deal of argument later of a very learned nature about the legal situation and our international obligations. I am afraid I am not persuaded that we cannot refuse to renew sanctions. I might point out that the American Government were faced with this problem; there was the Byrd Amendment in 1971 which, when carried in Congress, enabled the Americans to purchase chrome from Rhodesia. That must have been in breach of international sanctions, the United Nations and all the rest, yet they did it.
The noble Lords, Lord Carrington and Lord Home of the Hirsel, both urged the Government to encourage the internal settlement and the interim Government. What sort of encouragement is it to continue sanctions? It will get a very hollow laugh in Salisbury. The one effective encouragement we can give is to remove sanctions, and I shall vote against the order even if the vote does not take place until 3 o'clock in the morning.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, in view of the time I propose to read only the headings of my intended speech, and I hope that your Lordships will be able to fill in the sequences. First, I refer to the Bingham Report. I was the first person to raise in Parliament the issue of oil sanction-breaking by a Question which I put in this House in March 1968. Sir Harold Wilson said yesterday in another place that the reply to my Question had been "arranged". It hid the fact that the British oil companies were supplying Rhodesia with oil. For a decade now the British public, and even Ministers, have been denied knowledge of that fact. A public inquiry is therefore necessary, with Cabinet papers, not so much to expose individuals, or to punish them, but to end the system whereby successive Governments do not know what is happening in a major issue of foreign policy.
Now I turn to sanctions. The lifting of sanctions is being advocated in this House on the grounds of the internal settlement. The internal settlement has quite clearly failed. According to Mr. Garfield Todd, ex-Prime Minister resident there, it has not the majority support of the people in Rhodesia. Its council, and the members of its executive, are now hopelessly divided. They are even mobilising private armies. The proposals to end racial discrimination and the withdrawal of the Land Tenure Act remain paper schemes. The military conscription of the African population is being resisted and hundreds of Africans will refuse to enrol. The whites in Rhodesia still control the Civil Service and the armed forces. The internal settlement is dead.
Lastly, I refer to the question of moving towards a settlement in Zimbabwe. The solution must be political, not military. I suggest that the United Nations Secretary-General should be asked to initiate discussions with all the persons involved. This should be followed by a summit conference representing all the parties. There should be a United Nations peacekeeping force to supervise free elections and the conditions for it, headed by Canada or India, with strong African contingents. Finally, only a settlement on these lines can prevent a racial war, which would be disastrous to the whole of Southern Africa.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I do not intend to follow in detail what the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has just said, except to say that there is one curious feature of the debate. In one way the two sides are divided; that is, in their general attitude to sanctions. We voted against them in 1965 and in 1968. We have never liked them. We believe that they can be justified only as a form of economic warfare—a kind of conspiracy of some countries against others. They tend to harm the imposer more than those upon whom they are imposed, and they remind me rather of an aunt who used to preface chastisement to me with the saying, "It hurts me more than it hurts you". In 1965 sanctions seemed to me to be an expression of national impotence. I have always doubted the claim of any country to exercise sovereignty over another if it has not been able to defend that country over which it claims to exercise sovereignty; and where we have not been able to defend even our own rights in that country, as in Rhodesia, that is even more so. The other side of this debate is the general aim, which I believe is shared by everyone in this House, that there should be a peaceful solution to the Rhodesian problem without bloodshed, without war.
I would have voted against the continuance of sanctions had it not been for the two opening speeches, the first by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, the Lord Chancellor, and the second by my noble friend and Leader Lord Carrington. But I was totally convinced that it would be a mistake to try to end sanctions tonight by voting against this Motion for the reasons that the Lord Chancellor gave. One very striking one was that in doing this we would be going beyond, as I understood it, the limits of sanctions; that our action would have other effects on the humanitarian side, and the like. Secondly, I accepted the argument that the unilateral ending of sanctions would be misunderstood and resented, not only in the United Nations but in the Commonwealth, and would make the achievement of a peaceful solution even more difficult than ever. As my noble friend said, the test is whether or not the removal of sanctions would make a settlement easier to attain. Then, of course, thirdly, there is the fact that voting against the Motion would not have the 548 desired effect in itself—a fact which I am bound to say I had not realised until this debate. To end sanctions it would need, as I understand it, an Act of Parliament plus the acceptance by the United Nations of a proposal that they should be ended, and that is a process which would be open to veto by any side.
Both my noble friend Lord Carrington and my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel, in their brilliant and most convincing speeches, outlined the steps that should be taken—and I intend to make my speech entirely looking forward, and not looking back. Personally, I regard the inquest into the supply of oil as entirely sterile. I agree very much with the proposals made to send a Minister of Cabinet rank to Salisbury; for the formation of a multinational contact group, although the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, cast some doubt on that; and, finally, for a Camp David type of summit. I hope that the Government will accept all these proposals, and will act on them as a matter of urgency. May I stress the need for speed? And in this connection may I ask this. Should not immediate steps be taken to ensure that Messrs. Nkomo and Mugabe understand the true reason for the renewal of sanctions and of the intention to end them as soon as elections have taken place?
Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe should be left in no doubt that the intention to hold elections in the next six months has the full support of Her Majesty's Government. I say this because I suspect that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe will be delighted at the renewal of sanctions, with the prospect it holds out of further weakening Rhodesia—if I may put it rather crudely, of weakening their prey. They should be left in no doubt that the sanctions are being continued primarily for the purpose of giving tangible effect to the Six Principles as expressed in whatever agreed plan emerges from the discussions to be held; they should be left in no doubt that none of the contenders for power can expect any support from this country unless they attend the discussions and honestly and sincerely seek to reach agreement; they should be left in no doubt, equally, that Her Majesty's Government are determined that there shall be a peaceful solution and that whatever arrangements may be made to 549 re-settle or absorb the Rhodesian emigres to neighbouring countries who form the regular armies of Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe, the intention must be a peaceful solution and no more fighting.
My noble friend and Leader urged us not to underestimate the effect of Parliament not renewing sanctions. I certainly would not underestimate that. But should we not be starting now to accustom Members of the Commonwealth and the United Nations to the idea of the Rhodesian Government returning to legality? It is a concept that has almost faded away and it is time now to start accustoming them to the imminence, as we hope, of that idea being realised. Let us prepare them for the eventuality that we shall carry, and carry speedily, legislation to give effect to that return. Let us get them to realise as soon as that is done that the Security Council should revoke as a matter of urgency the resolution imposing mandatory sanctions—and when I say that the Security Council should do that, they should be invited to do so without delay; and I hope that they will do it.
My Lords, I believe that every one of your Lordships supports my noble friend's proposal for a conference followed by a summit meeting. He mentioned the possibility of one contender for power standing out against a solution agreed by the others. He said that if that happened the United Nations would have to rethink that position. May I humbly suggest to my noble friend that it might be much too late to start rethinking then? Must not the rethinking, the contingency planning, start now?—otherwise the participant who stood out against the agreement would be likely almost immediately to resort to force when he judged that he had the arms and the trained forces that he needed. It seems to me that plans must be made for armed support to be afforded to the others who had agreed to the settlement.
My Lords, finally, I would draw attention to the high proportion of black Rhodesians in the army and the police and also, I believe, the growing proportion in the Civil Service. Doubt has been cast on the sincerity of Mr. Smith to carry out his intentions. I ask this question: Is not this high and growing proportion, in itself, a guarantee that Mr. Smith will 550 be held to his intentions even if he felt inclined to go back on them? The stronger the black African element in the Rhodesian forces, the more difficult it would be for Mr. Smith to go back on his present intentions.
My Lords, the aim of us all is to reach a peaceful solution of the Rhodesian problem. I have been convinced that that aim is more likely to be achieved if we do not reject this order tonight; but I hope it will not be long before we pass an Instrument to end sanctions—and that without dissent.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Earl of KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I must state that I speak entirely for myself, but I speak for what I believe in. I am only sad that there are many noble Lords in the Chamber tonight whom I regard as my friends and who I know will disagree with me. However, I also believe that the responsibility of the decision that we make tonight should not be a Party one. It should be a free vote just as it should have been a free vote in another place last night, particularly in view of the fact that many thousands of lives are at stake as well as the prosperity of this country and probably others as well.
The choice that we have tonight to retain or lift sanctions is not an easy one. It is controversial and packed full of emotion. Would that I could make a speech like that of the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. I thought he put the situation extremely explicitly. At the risk of being told that I am being repetitive, I am still going to look briefly at one or two salient facts. There is something which I have learned in your Lordships' House in the short time that I have been here; that is, that if one wants to get anything done one has to be persistent, and go on nagging. Sometimes water does wear through a stone.
In the past nine months there have been dramatic changes. The three internal black leaders with Mr. Smith have formed a transitional Government which the so-called self-titled "Patriotic Front" refuses to join. As has been repeated several times today, this internal settlement, instead of being warmly welcomed by the Government, has, if anything, produced 551 the reverse effect. It followed very closely both Dr. Kissinger's proposals and the principles that the Government laid down in 1964. However, for some reason there has been no encouragement from the Government which seemed to be beholden to Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe and the Front-Line Presidents. As a result, fighting has escalated, and more and more innocent Rhodesians, black and white, are being killed.
One of the objects of the transitional Government to my way of thinking is to try to convince the terrorists that majority rule can be achieved through the ballot box peacefully and not by force. One of the major stumbling blocks over this object is no doubt that many guerrillas think that today they have the backing of the United States, Britain or Russia. They also fear that, if they support the internal settlement now and by chance—God forbid that it should happen!—Mr. Nkomo or Mr. Mugabe should win by force, the reprisals on them would be too terrible to contemplate.
The transitional Government have agreed to full majority rule, solid guarantees for minorities and the abolition of racial discrimination. So all the concessions that were originally requested by the Government have been made. The three black leaders in the transitional Government will have to stand for election, but not Mr. Nkomo or Mr. Mugabe because they want to win by force. They have demanded unconditional surrender. So who on this subject of sanctions has suffered most? The black Rhodesians, my Lords. Poverty and unemployment has been aggravated because of the Rhodesian Government having to spend so much money on security forces to protect Rhodesians of all races from the most atrocious brutality of the Patriotic Front. Yet now we send arms to Zambia because Mr. Kaunda says he cannot protect himself. Yet he says that they will not fall into terrorist hands. I am sure that his intentions are honourable. That I do not doubt; but I doubt his ability to carry out these intentions because he would not have the guerrilla camps in his country in the first place. The original object of sanctions has gone. They did not work and now all they do is harm. If sanctions were to be lifted, the Rhodesian economy would improve, 552 thus greatly assisting the lot of both blacks and whites and this would greatly facilitate the forthcoming majority rule elections.
So, my Lords, I ask: Why cannot we grasp the nettle in the same way as did the United States Senate and House of Representatives in August of this year, provided Mr. Smith carries out his part of the bargain, and then raise sanctions in December as the Americans have suggested? They agreed to that without referring to the United Nations for authority, purely in bilateral terms. This issue was very eloquently explained by my noble friend Lord Salisbury. Dr. Kissinger's proposals were agreed by Mr. Smith in November 1976. Alas! Dr. Kissinger has gone and we have President Carter and Mr. Andy Young. Perhaps it is unfortunate that Mr. Nkomo seems to be one of Mr. Young's most favourite politicians.
So here we have perhaps another reason for the continuance of sanctions: the Third World. But without being derogatory to the Third World—what is it? It is a conglomoration of a very large number of very unproportionately represented votes at the United Nations. And so I go on: only a stable Rhodesia will enable Botswana, Zambia, Zaire and Malawi to remain oriented to the West, because, should Rhodesia become Marxist, these other countries will follow suit in the recognised domino pattern, and after that, my Lords, you all know what the next target will be; it will be South Africa.
In this desperate situation where time is rapidly running out, one cannot blame Rhodesians for leaving their country. They feel they have been let down by their friends while simultaneously being attacked by their enemies. We must remember that the European is the life blood of Rhodesia, for without him the sophisticated economy will collapse. I think that even Governments in the Western World realise this; yet they do very little about it. But they do something. They stigmatise the white Rhodesian; they harass him; they belittle all that he has achieved and, by doing this, they leave Rhodesia to bleed to death unnecessarily.
It is indeed tragic that this Government appear to condone that attitude. They, with the Americans, want a conference 553 between the transitional Government and the terrorists—a conference which, in my opinion, has little chance of success since the minimum demand of the terrorists is unconditional surrender and anybody who thinks that the terrorists can be weaned away from the Communists is living in Cloud-Cuckoo land. We only have to look at Vietnam as an example. It seems that the advocates of a round-table conference only see a solution to the Rhodesia problem in a Marxist victory. The Government claim sovereign power over Rhodesia, but seem loath to exercise it. Do we really want to see Rhodesia reduced to the same chaos and shambles as Mozambique and Angola?
§ The Earl of KIMBERLEY
The original reason for sanctions has gone, so why do we still want them—to please the Russans? The Third World? The Nigerians? The Americans? I am convinced of one thing tonight; that Her Majesty's Government were privy to the Kissinger proposals of 1976 and that Mr. Smith was told then that, if he took the necessary steps to put these proposals into effect, the sanctions would be lifted. So to continue sanctions is, to say the least, in my opinion, highly dishonourable. Lawyers may call it "renéging", but I and the man in the street call it welshing—and to continue with sanctions will cost even more money—
§ The Earl of KIMBERLEY
The blood that is shed in the future will, when the history of this very unhappy area is written, rest fairly and squarely on the shoulders of those of us who are responsible. If I have made one Member of your Lordships' House come into the Lobby with me tonight, I shall at least rest easier in my mind and I shall have a clear conscience.
§ 9.50 p.m.
The Earl of LYTTON
My Lords, it is an honour for me to speak immediately after the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, whose great-grandfather was, I think, 554 Colonial Secretary when the great Kimberley diamond mine was opened up, and I thought that his speech had a diamond-like sparkle. At any rate, I agreed with much of what he said. I note that I am to be followed by one whom I regard as the quercus robur, the old oak, in this matter of the defence of the interests of Rhodesia, the noble Lord, Lord Barnby.
I was asked to attend this debate and to take part by black official representatives of the Foreign Department of the interim Rhodesian Government. Black men asked me to come here, and I wish to make a small protest that we have confused a debate on matters of life and death for Rhodesia with a historical post-mortem on sanctions busting, and that a great strain is placed on some of us to keep going. I have taken more than my usual ration of poison in order to stand up here, and I hope that I shall be able to complete and get home. The poison is one of those of which doctors approve which comes from the foxglove, so that your Lordships will know what is wrong.
The point which I wish to make, practically the only point, is that we have wickedly delayed recognition. We recognise all kinds of Governments and people that we do not like. There is Gaddafi of Libya, who got rid of King Idris illegally. There was Nasser, who got rid of Neguib illegally. There is Nimeri of the Sudan; I do not know how many illegal coups he succeeded. There was Obote of Uganda, who got rid of the Kabaka illegally, and was himself illegally got rid of by Amin. There is Siyad Barreh of Somalia, who reached his position by an illegal coup. There is Boumedienne of Algeria, who got rid of a really authentic African nationalist in Ben Bella. There is Oba-sanjo of Nigeria, with a welter of coups. There is Acheampong of Ghana, who got rid of Nkrumah, who was himself illegal. Then there is Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia who reached his position in a welter of blood and is wholly illegal.
All these people we have recognised, and why do we recognise them? I think it is because once people have established an authority it is a moral duty to recognise them, however unpleasant they are, so long as they are in effective control. The illegal Smith régime, the least of the illegalities in a continent that has seen a welter of illegalities and coups, has not been 555 recognised and it is lack of recognition that is at fault. If you do not recognise the legal authority, you do not recognise his right to punish a single malefactor. No man who commits rape, burglary, murder or assault of any kind can, in our view, be punished legally by an authority in Rhodesia. It is that lack of recognition which seems to me to make us patrons of lawlessness, which is going from bad to worse. It makes it impossible—perhaps I am wrong—for us to invite Mr. Smith to this country. He cannot come. He would be put under arrest and prosecuted, and that is a great handicap.
Those are the reasons why I propose to go into the Lobby in opposition to the renewal of sanctions. Sanctions are merely the instrument. It is the lack of recognition which is, to my mind, morally wrong. When I say "morally wrong", I hope that I do not adopt a "holier than thou" attitude. I recognise absolutely that those who differ from me are not sinners, but for me it would be morally wrong not to oppose sanctions. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made the very good and eloquent point that it is a symbol. It is a symbol of pride, integrity, good faith and international obligations on the part of this country. I want to counter that symbolic attitude by saying that it is a symbol to the Africans, who have asked me to come here tonight and speak on their behalf. It is a symbol for them.
I do not quite know how to say it, but I should like to carry noble Lords' minds back to an experience of mine—which, at first sight, seems irrelevant—50 years ago. I was in a position in Africa, miles from anywhere, where, among other things, I had to do what was possible for those who were ill. I carried about a hundredweight of Epsom salts for people over 40 and another hundredweight of tobacco for those whose agitations were soothed by chewing. I gave intravenous, intramuscular injections to people with malaria, and I sewed up people who were wounded.
I had no training whatever in these matters. However, a baby was brought to me one day, a baby who was thought by its mother and by the African dresser to be dying, and I was asked what I could do. I had no idea what was wrong with the creature. I had no authority to do 556 anything. The African beside me said, in a sort of whisper, "I think that a drop of your brandy might do it good". I had the brandy; he had not. I had the authority to give it; he had not. I gave it a drop of brandy, and its unfortunate mother, standing at its feet, thought that it was not very happy with the result. She bowed her head, put its little feet against her forehead and prayed. My Lords, it was not my brandy, but the baby did get well again. That is a symbol, and that drop is what I should like now. Let us drop sanctions. It is only a symbol, but let us do it.
§ 9.58 p.m.
§ Lord BARNBY
My Lords, in following the noble Earl, I should like to thank him for his gracious reference to myself. Impressed though I was by his speech, may I emphasise a question which has always appeared to me to be perplexing; namely, what is the justification for our recognition of newly installed, wrongly installed Governments in foreign countries? Often it seems to me to be a matter of hypocrisy. I have had the privilege of being a Member of your Lordships' House for nearly 50 years. I recall many contentious subjects which have bedevilled the judgment of the House, but I cannot think of one which compares with the present bankruptcy of statesmanship on the part of both political Parties, one which has required the presentation on 12 consecutive occasions—or is it more?—of one order. I cannot believe that there can be a precedent for that.
I opposed the first order, and I have spoken 12 or 14 times against it since then. I have given all my reasons for doing so, and tonight I do not propose to speak for long. But I opposed the first order because having been in Government service in two world wars, in economic warfare, I was then confident that it would not succeed in the object stated. Passing this order tonight will not produce a political settlement in Rhodesia. I am sad that I find myself in disagreement with my noble Leader, whose usual leadership stimulates us so greatly and certainly generates our admiration. I will not give much tongue tonight. The speech made by the noble Marquess satisfied me that it covered the ground for good reasons why this order should be rejected. I accept it in its entirety. For myself, 557 the situation at the moment is crystal clear—a cabal embracing the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Russia to destroy Rhodesia.
That is not a pleasant prospect. Rhodesia is a fair land, changed from savagery to a modern industrialised State by our country, by our compatriots in an earlier day. To destroy Rhodesia would be to transfer it into another Marxist State North of the South African Republic. The present cost of terrorists, in training and in arming and maintaining them, is great. That does not come out of the air; it is not paid for by Africans. Russia is the menace in this case and it should be resisted at every point. He who pays the piper calls the tune. It is Russia and it is a menace to our and to other Western interests in Africa. Opposition to it should be No. I priority. Rhodesia remains British territory. Any foreign pressure against British interests should be resisted and this transcends any foreign agency. For their policy, their inaction, shame on the Socialist Government! I shall certainly vote against this order.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, each one of us as we enter this House swears an oath or affirms to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law. The initial imposition of sanctions on Rhodesia was made because that oath or a similar oath was broken by the then Prime Minister, his colleagues and the armed forces.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Lord who is to wind up on the other side of the House if he will define for us what is today the legal and constitutional position of those who claim power—Ian Smith and those under him—so far as the breaking of that oath is concerned?
I have been visiting Rhodesia since the year 1951. My visits ceased in 1967. They ceased because I was served a notice as a prohibited immigrant by the Ian Smith régime. I should also like the noble and learned Lord who is to wind up the debate to define for me what my position is now, 558 as a British citizen, as a Member of Her Majesty's Parliament, as having taken an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, if I try to visit that country.
In those days I was trying to assist the British Government to defend the authority of the Crown by writing, by talking, by broadcasting. I have not been told why I am a prohibited immigrant, but I assume it is because of those activities in defence of Her Majesty's authority in Rhodesia. As we have to deal with two subjects tonight which all of us dislike, I should like to make a very brief comment on the Bingham Report in that connection because part of what I was doing in those days relates directly to the Bingham Report. I recall in 1968 and 1969 going to the United Nations to talk, particularly to Algerians and other French-speaking Africans, in an attempt to persuade them to use their influence on the French Government to stop sanctions breaking, and every time I approached them I was told: "Look at your own oil companies". These were the reports—I had no means of checking them—which I made to Ministers and to officials on my return to this country.
It has been said that we should not go into the past. I believe that we should in order to learn for the present and the future. We should consider in particular—and this is what makes me so angry about the sanctions breaking of those days by British companies—that at the same time that British companies were deliberately breaking sanctions, imposed by this country and the United Nations, this country and the Government of this country were asking the infant State of Zambia, only 13 months old at the time of UDI, to try to impose sanctions after she had been left completely tied into the economy of Rhodesia. This not only was draining the lifeblood of the new State, it was also endangering, in my view, both the position and possibly the life of its President, Kenneth Kaunda. I believe that this is a dishonourable chapter in British history.
In a previous speech I made some mention of the activities of multinational companies and suggested that some of their activities were above the law, but they knew how to get round the law and ignore Governments. One noble Lord from the other side shouted "Rot". 559 Bingham substantiates everything that I said. But I do not hold those companies responsible because that is what one expects. However, I think that there is a deeper lesson to be learnt from Bingham and that is that, however many members of previous Administrations of both Parties may say, "We did not know", that is not the charge: the charge is, "You did not ask". In our democratic system surely the first principle of our whole parliamentary and governmental system is that responsibility only stops at the top, and if there were sanction breaking companies in this country—as we now know there were—it is the responsibility of the Government and of Government Ministers to find that out.
The second subject that we must discuss tonight—and I wish that there were more time to do so—is the present situation in Rhodesia and the sanctions order. When sanctions were first imposed and when the act of treason was first made in 1965, the British Government—any British Government—had three alternatives: they could ignore the treason; they could send military forces in to destroy the rebellion; or they could find some other means, in this case economic sanctions, to try to bring that rebellion to an end. May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, with reference to his opening speech, that I should like him to consider whether, if it had been a black régime ruling Rhodesia in 1965 that had rebelled against the authority of the Crown—a black régime consisting of only a quarter of a million people—he would have been so sure that it would have been wrong to send in troops in order to destroy that rebellion. This treason has been neither purged nor renounced. I am asking noble Lords tonight to ask themselves before they vote whether it is now to be condoned, because if the sanctions order is revoked then that action is condoning treason against the authority of the Monarch.
We have heard a great deal about the transitional Government. Nobody defending the transitional Government has explained to us how we can be expected to recognise that it is a genuine multiracial Government when within a few weeks of its formation one of its members was summarily dismissed without any reference to the other members of the 560 Executive Council. Only yesterday another member—and on this occasion voluntarily—resigned. The so-called transitional Government is made up of people who have lost their political way. It is only a year or two ago since Joshua Nkomo was the darling of the British political establishment and the Reverend Sithole and Bishop Muzorewa were the dangerous terrorists. Bishop Muzorewa was cursed and spat upon at a Conservative conference. How is it that they have changed? Surely noble Lords who know Rhodesia recognise that Joshua Nkomo has never, throughout the history of his life, been a natural supporter of violence. He has been driven into this position by the intransigence that has been shown to him. Only a few weeks ago he was discussing with Mr. Smith; two years ago he was negotiating with Mr. Smith because he had obtained no compromise there. As so many other leaders of the British Empire, finding the constitutional means of advance closed, he had to turn to violence.
I was in the United States when the visit of Ian Smith and his colleagues took place, and I heard his sudden change of mind at the Press conference; he said that he would go to a new conference convened by the British and American Governments. Immediately I said, "Listen to the news from Central Africa, something is going to happen", and something did happen simultaneously with that change of mind. As he spoke, the raids had begun on Zambia. As my noble friend Lord Aylestone said so eloquently, this is the characteristic of Ian Smith and has been the character of Ian Smith as long as those of us on both sides of the House have known him in political life.
Let me make one final appeal, particularly to noble Lords opposite. I know that many noble Lords, like myself, have received warm hospitality in Rhodesia, in black and white homes. I am talking now particularly about the white homes; I am talking about the white community. I want to suggest that it would be a disservice to the white community of Rhodesia to remove sanctions at this moment. It would be a dis-service because it would encourage in particular the "wild men" of the Rhodesian Front—and many of our joint friends have been calling them the "wild men" for many years now— 561 to believe that they could still get out of passing over power to majority rule. Just think of Kenya and Zambia where, tragically, a good racial situation has been damaged by the raids only this past week. Think also that the safety and place of those white families in the future of Rhodesia depends upon them coming to the same kind of acceptance: that they are a minority in the political world; that they can still gain recognition and status in the economic, professional and social world and, indeed, in the political world, because we only have to look at Zambia and Tanzania to see how a non-racial society is different from a multiracial society. A non-racial society does not recognise the colour of the skin as any qualification for political power or political influence.
Finally, during this debate many constructive suggestions have been made which I believe are well worth the Government considering. But the first must surely be to renounce the treason that took place 13 years ago, to return to legality and to dissolve the illegal parliament. My advice to Ian Smith would be to take his retirement now; that would be the greatest service that he could ever perform for his country. I pay great tribute to those who have, and who still are, attempting to build the bridges between the colours and the races in Rhodesia. It would be a disservice to them to remove sanctions at this moment and to refuel the fires of racialism which have torn that country for so long.
So, as we, from this long distance, send our message to the peoples, black, white and coloured of Rhodesia, of Zimbabwe, let us send them the message that we will encourage every attempt to work together without consideration of colour, to abolish all colour bars, all colour prejudice; that we will support the very noble efforts of our present Foreign Secretary, David Owen, who has spent day and night in looking for a solution to this problem. As a House our message to the people of Rhodesia should be, "You have friends. You have friends in David Owen and Cyrus Vance. You have friends in the Organisation of African Unity; you have friends in the United Nations. If you want to keep those friends, then you must follow the way of the 20th century, which is to forget the differences in skin colours".
§ Lord GISBOROUGH
My Lords, once more we reach the sorry occurrence of the annual renewal of sanctions, but this year the situation has been radically changed, as has been stated over and over again. Now of the Five Principles agreed by all the Parties, which seem to be what the sanctions are all about, only the election remains. It is hardly surprising that elections have taken longer to organise than had been hoped, under the difficulties that have been faced both administratively and from the Russian backed terrorists, but I believe the will is there now, at last.
If the desire of this country and the world is the fulfilment of the Five Principles, then surely the prime and only aim of this Government is to ensure the earliest carrying out of those free elections in that country. We know this is just what the Patriotic Front is determined to oppose, and yet our Foreign Secretary has virtually given them a veto on the terms of an election. Were the Front to be persuaded to attend a conference and agree elections even on their own terms they have made it clear that they would not accept any result if it is not in their favour. That is why they want control of the interim forces. Now we have to witness the spectacle of the Government actually giving aid in money and arms to defend the terrorists in Zambia against air attacks, and thereby giving them also moral encouragement to intensify their pillage.
It is utterly abhorrent and unacceptable to the British public that British arms should be supplied to protect Marxist terrorist camps, as was reported—if the report is true—on 28th October. There is little this country could do more to encourage the terrorists or to hinder the transitional Government from getting on with their preparations for the free and successful elections to which we pay lip-service.
The time is long overdue for the Government to recognise the internal settlement and the transitional Government, and to contribute to the continued progress towards majority rule. There will be enormous political and practical problems that demand tolerance on timing. But, as the Reverend Sithole said, the transitional Government is no sham; but it does need help and not hindrance from 563 this country. Unfortunately the influence of the three black leaders on our Foreign Secretary, as compared with that of Nkomo, is, or seems to be, in direct proportion to the violence which they are prepared to use. Surely they should be fostered, encouraged and helped in every way. They are, as the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, said, all men of calibre, of experience and with a welcome degree of moderation. Indeed our Foreign Secretary only after much pressure, met the peaceful black leaders on their London visits, and of course he will not meet or talk to the de facto Prime Minister or even allow him into this country, while out goes the red carpet for the terrorist leader. Seldom can a Foreign Secretary of this country have inspired by his behaviour such distrust and disrespect throughout the world in his handling of such a matter.
The British Government must now state firmly that we not only want to see fair and free elections but that we will give aid to see them prepared and carried out. The terrorists must be told firmly that their way to success is through the ballot box and that, as terrorists, they must now be treated and considered like any other terrorist group in the world. After all, if they represent the black majority, as they claim, they can have no fear of not gaining power by the ballot box. Personally, I see no difference whatever between the Patriotic Front and the IRA, who equally want power by force and not by the ballot.
By concentrating on the elections we will soon see who in the world wants an elected Government in Rhodesia and who simply wants an unelected Marxist one at whatever cost to life, not to mention democracy or the long-term strategic effect on the West. Which do the British Government want? Their behaviour might well lead one to ask. We must now offer any aid in any form to help the interim Government prepare for and hold their elections, and the team should be headed by someone who is both experienced and trusted by the world so that the elections are not only fairly run but are seen to be so by the world. To lead this team there is of course only one man who would have the confidence both of the Rhodesians and of the world, who could do the job and be above rational criticism.
564 Coupled with this aid to hold the elections, we should withdraw sanctions. That would stop what is now felt to be active encouragement to the terrorists, and withdrawal would in time I believe actually discourage the latter. Of course, there might be an increase in violence for a time, but the genuine and quickening approach to free elections, which we could help, would put right on our side. The continuance of sanctions after majority rule has been conceded, as it has now been, is threatening massive and long-lasting African unemployment, and not only in Rhodesia. This is the time when we should make our own decision to end sanctions, regardless of the demands of a volatile and verbose United Nations—a time when we should help the preparations and lead up to elections. What an uproar there would be if we dared take our own decision, but what grudging respect we might earn!
Let us indeed send our teams to Salisbury and give Nkomo one chance to join in the elections. If he refuses to co-operate, as seems highly probable, we must then set up the stage for elections regardless of the terrorists. The one thing we must not do is allow the Patriotic Front to drag out the agony for yet another year of attrition, for in no way will I personally fail to oppose a sanctions order in 12 months' time.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, I think this is the fourteenth time that I have spoken on a wretched order of this kind. When the first order was introduced I voted against it, and I did so for three reasons. First, I considered it immoral. Sanctions have never succeeded at any time. When we put sanctions on Italy over the Abyssinian war they were a complete failure. The trouble with sanctions is that when you try to destroy the trade of a country, that hurts the poor people far more than the wealthy. One reason why I was against sanctions in this case was that I knew they would hurt the Africans more than the other people. Another reason was that I considered sanctions to be quite idiotic. One would have to be almost a congenital idiot to impose sanctions on Rhodesia when there are South Africa and Portugal to consider. It was obvious that South Africa and Portugal would 565 support Rhodesia. I do not propose to speak on the Bingham Report because I have not read it, but apart from that, it was obvious that sanctions could never succeed.
My third reason for voting against the order was that I was informed by an international lawyer that it was illegal, because Rhodesia was not an external threat to any other country. As I quoted at the time, Dean Acheson, a former American Secretary of State, claimed that it was quite illegal, and one or two international lawyers also claimed that the imposition of sanctions by the United Nations at Britain's request was illegal.
When Mr. Smith accepted the Kissinger proposals embracing the Five Principles the Foreign Office—at least for a few days—appeared to accept that and to agree. But why, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, did the Foreign Office rat on that? We have not heard the reason for that, and I should be very keen to hear it. As has been said, it was a real tragedy that Her Majesty's Government did not support the transitional Government which Mr. Smith set up on 3rd March when he pledged majority rule. If they had supported that, we would not be where we are now. Support then would probably have saved thousands of lives and hundreds of tortures. That was an absolute tragedy, and the lack of statesmanship really appals me.
With regard to Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe, we have heard my noble friend Lord Saint Oswald say that Mr. Smith had asked them 14 times to join in the transitional Government and to take their chance at the elections when they come. There has been some criticism that the elections at the end of the year may be put off, but one cannot fight an election when one is fighting a war. It is quite impracticable; and Mr. Nkomo has said that he will try to destroy the ballot boxes.
There is another aspect of the matter which I do not understand. The Foreign Secretary, Dr. Owen, has conceded that the 3rd March agreement satisfies all the principles laid down by the British Government since 1964. Therefore, why does he still seem determined to foist on Rhodesia Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe? Does he really want the rule of the gun 566 to triumph? Although I cannot believe it, he would appear, at least to the ordinary person, to be working in the interests of Russia. It is an extraordinary attitude, and I should like to know why he appears to be working in the interests of the Soviet Union. Furthermore, we hear much about democracy and people being elected, but Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe have never been elected to lead the people whom they claim to lead. They are completely self-appointed. They do not have a majority in Rhodesia. I have relations by marriage in Rhodesia, as well as friends there, and I have some slight knowledge of the situation through them. I am afraid there is no doubt that Her Majesty's Government, by their refusal to back the transitional Government, are responsible for much loss of life, both black and white. That will go down in the history books. For instance, what excuses do they have? We hear that if we back the transitional Government it will annoy other African States. I have been in Africa two or three times, and I have seen some of these States. With few exceptions they are brutal dictatorships, and in my opinion they exploit their people to a preposterous degree. After all, many prosperous former colonies have been turned into lands of corruption and extreme poverty—and this in spite of continuing injections of Western aid. Rhodesia has had no aid, but the standard of the African people in Rhodesia is far higher than that in any of these independent republic States of Africa.
We are told that to do so will annoy Nigeria. We get very little oil from Nigeria now—1½ per cent., I think—and the corruption, bad government and mismanagement in Nigeria is a well-known fact. I have some friends, relations by marriage, who went to Ghana for over a year to try to grow rice. They had to come back; and they have told me that the conditions there are appalling. In the northern part of the country all the people are starving, and dead bodies are to be seen everywhere. This situation is quite unnecessary; it is a very prosperous country. It has raw materials and it is a very fertile country, but the corruption and the mismanagement by the ruling junta is something absolutely terrifying.
What are the Government frightened of over this matter? Are they frightened 567 of Russia? If you are frightened of a bully, then the bully will win. The sooner you stand up to a bully the better. I should like to hear what it is the Government are frightened of. I do not want to appear rude, but we have had two or three rather slick speeches, I think, to the effect that we ought to vote for the order. We are also told that if we were to vote against the order the black Rhodesians in Africa would think it was only done to help the whites. That is not my information from a number of people out there and from those relatives by marriage about whom I was speaking. I am told that the average African in Rhodesia would be overjoyed because sanctions have caused a certain amount of unemployment. I am told that the average African out there is very loyal to the transitional Government.
My Lords, I think I have spoken long enough. I can think of only one reason why the British Government are so slow to back the transitional Government and are all the time favouring Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe. The only reason I can think of—it may be an unjust reason; I do not know—is one of pique and personal hatred. Some other politicians, I think, have shown a bit of pique today. But there must be some personal hatred here; otherwise I cannot understand the matter.
Before I end, my Lords, I should like to say that I will vote against the order, and one of the reasons is that in the last few years I have become so sick of the double standards, the cant and the hypocrisy that exist. We have had in Africa the genocide of whole races; we have had—and I have mentioned this before—the slaughter of the Watutsi, the slaughter of the southern tribes in the Sudan, tens of thousands of them; and not a word of protest from anyone at all. This has been going on all the time.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, the noble Viscount has just made an accusation which embraces, I suppose, the whole of us on these Benches, that not a word has been spoken in criticism of the massacres in Africa. I would draw his attention to the fact that those of us who write regularly about Africa have been constantly criticising the massacres—not just in the countries he has referred to but particularly in Uganda and other parts of 568 the African continent and other parts of the world. It is totally unfair to say that not a word of criticism has been spoken. The criticism is against the genocide, against the brutality; it is not against any particular kind of people or ideology that perpetrated it.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, the noble Lord may have been criticising it, but it has not appeared in the British Press, as far as I am aware. If it appeared it must have been in small print. Anything about Rhodesia is in headlines. I will sit down; but I am quite sure that when history comes to be written Mr. Smith will be long remembered for trying to keep the flag of civilisation and decency flying in Africa for black and white when his detractors will have sunk into utter oblivion. He may be obstinate, as many of us are, but on the whole I think he has been very badly treated by the present Government, and I think by several Governments. As I have said, I will vote against the order.
§ 10.43 p.m.
§ Lord HALE
My Lords, if the noble Viscount who has just spoken is in doubt about the law in this situation, he can go into the Library and read the decision of the Privy Council in July 1968 upon this matter. It was really a historic decision because it was a very strong court of five Law Lords. Lord Reid (the late Lord Reid, unfortunately) delivered a monumental judgment of great wisdom. It was brought from the Rhodesian courts in the friendliest fashion, but Mr. Smith decided not to be represented. Mr. Smith had no doubt had legal advice about accepting the judgment of the Privy Council because he intended to pursue a course upon which he was already ready to embark. It is quite true to say that the noble Viscount may find in the one dissenting judgment of Lord Justice Pearce some points which still give me concern; because Lord Justice Pearce dealt with the law of necessity and one wonders how long one can go on laying claim to the residual rule of a country when under the law of necessity judgments are delivered in the courts uninfluenced by us. The law, such as it is, is being administered well or badly with no possible interference from us. We cannot interfere; we cannot do anything.
569 Mr. Smith, with a calculating shrewdness—to put it at its mildest—managed immediately after that decision to induce the resignation of the Lord Chief Justice of Rhodesia, a man appointed in the name of Her Majesty, a man who made an appeal in the name of Her Majesty and a man of great ability. He managed to force the resignation of the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs. He got through a resolution to Her Majesty complaining bitterly that the British Government had deprived Rhodesians of their Queen, and so on.
I listened to the charming speech of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. It was a delightful, peaceful speech in which he put a case I was thinking myself of putting. I could not have put it so well and might have done so with less enthusiasm. I have no doubt at all that Sir Harold Wilson had become aware in that 12 months of the legal and the practical difficulties of enforcing sanctions, of the impossibility of going on very effectively with that course, of the diminishing legal authority which would exist and of the fact that Mr. Smith was really establishing a de facto Government which could not be interfered with and which was rapidly assuming most of the powers of a government de jure. That was no easy position. I am quite certain he made a desperate effort to secure peace on the basis of the Five Principles and that that effort culminated in the "Tiger" talks.
I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, with great attention and agreed with nearly all of it. I am sorry to disappoint my friends. I do not agree that any useful purpose can be served by any prolongation. I am sure the sensible course is to pass this piece of paper, though it does not carry very much authority. The arguments have been advanced over and over again. There is no need for me to repeat them. They have been put forward by much abler speakers. The difficulty I have with Lord Carrington's speech is his assumption that one can rely on anything Mr. Smith says. This was taken up later—rather surprisingly, in a sense—by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, who rarely has anything critical to say of anybody. He almost gave an impersonation of Mr. Smith negotiating; it was rather an impressive spectacle.
570 My noble friend Lord Aylestone spoke with some passion of the way he was treated in the preliminary interviews before the "Tiger" talks, interviews in which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack took part. He said that after he had negotiated for some time he was astounded to receive that very morning an aide mémoire provided by Mr. Smith which virtually repudiated everything up to then and wanted to start again. He said he was astounded. So I turned up the record issued by the Rhodesian Government of the diplomatic negotiations up to the conclusion of the "Tiger" meeting. Everyone knows what happened on the "Tiger". I believe it is said that Mr. Wilson was being told by some of his own Back-Benchers that he was being too generous and going too far. It was said—it is all here—that it was only at the end after the document had been prepared that Mr. Smith announced he would have to go back and consult. Mr. Wilson said that he had virtually plenipotentiary powers; he had come to get an agreement and he had thought they had agreed the night before. "No", said Mr. Smith; he would have to go back. "Stay and discuss a little further", said Mr. Wilson. Mr. Smith said that he must go back. I think this was on the Friday, or possibly on the Saturday. On Monday, came an elaborate statement that they wanted different constitutional proposals and that the terms were fully rejected.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said at the time—as one would expect, he has played a statesmanlike part all the time—and I think he said today, or certainly I have heard him say it quite recently, that the rejection of the "Tiger" proposals was a great mistake and, furthermore, UDI was a great mistake. I do not know what the motives were, but Mr. Smith had already got immense power and immense authority.
We went through the same process right up to the "Fearless", and again we were within reach of agreement; and with the change of Government came the noble Lord, Lord Home, who of course speaks with quite exceptional authority, and I daresay Mr. Smith may have been a little more polite to him. He did achieve something that looked like an agreement. But that really ended in the Pearce 571 Commission and the report that there was no African support for the proposals.
I think I can, without wearying the House, refer to what was said by Mr. Bowden, as he then was—who, taking it by and large, is the most responsible person I have ever known who has held the office of Chief Whip. According to this publication, Mr. Bowden indicated that on his return to Britain he was almost sure to be asked whether he had seen Nkomo and Sithole. He asked whether it would be possible to see them. Mr. Smith said he thought it would be completely wrong for Mr. Bowden to see persons of that type. Then Mr. Bowden asked about political detainees who were prepared to give an assurance that they would act constitutionally and would only engage in peaceful political activities. The Prime Minister told him that they could all be released if they gave the right undertaking, and that rehabilitation teams were at work.
So I regret some of the things that Mr. Nkomo has said recently. I rather regret the way he has been paraded around as a necessary successor. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made some observations about this from which I do not dissent. But how long can we go on? It is not merely that Rhodesia is facing a catastrophe. It is the whole of Southern Africa that is facing a catastrophe. We have heard of arms going straight from Government stores in the Midlands to Jersey and being transported on to Rhodesia. We have heard of sophisticated weapons, supplied to Jordan on the strongest undertakings that they would never be disposed of to any other country, being sent to Rhodesia. There has been a good deal of skulduggery and there is a great deal more.
If one noble Lord opposite complains of not seeing rich Africans, he can see them in the Champs-Elysées and in the châteaux of France, where the Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic, in legitimate succession to Napoleon, has retired after celebrating his coronation in a depopulated and poor country. We have now been told that a vast area of Central Africa, Zaire and the Congo, has been set aside as a protected area for a concern which claims to have produced an essential weapon for the destruction of satellites. My noble friend talked about 572 Canada, and we are now being told of the Space Research Company, a highly reputable company manufacturing space research weapons, which has organised branches in Antigua and Barbados, ultimately shipping goods by devious routes to South Africa and supplying the very latest sophisticated weapons that they have produced. These things are happening. There is a good deal of tragedy and a good deal of doubt.
So I would say that the proposals of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Home, having been put forward, then, if it is believed that Mr. Smith can be persuaded to agree—and it is ridiculous to talk of removing him or not having him in the committee; he is a Prime Minister of 20-odd years' standing, whether we like him or not—let them be tried. The sands of time are running out. Let us realise that all these years are not doing anything to enable us to carry out our pledges and that the only way in which that can now be done is by successful negotiations. There is no other way. We are an impoverished nation. We are no longer a great Power. We cannot go on, year after year, spending this money. The issue really will have to go to the United Nations, because we have no interest in the physical resources, or in the Government, or in the continuation of the Government. We have merely something to enable us to carry out our pledges to the African people, if we can. Before I came here today, I heard that the Chief of the Matabele has resigned his office. He has said that Mr. Nkomo is the rightful heir to the chieftaincy of the tribe.
It is a matter for the judgment of people. If Mr. Smith's promises can be relied upon, if he will accept a mission of inspection, if he will make welcome distinguished people—not necessarily all allied to one Party—to find out what the position really is, if he will consider proposals and give some guarantees that are reliable for their performance, then by all means let it be done; by all means let us stop this discussion, which is certainly not helping any African. Finally, Mr. Nkomo has perhaps said some silly things recently. I remember (I have said this before) that for years and years he was imprisoned by Mr. Smith. Mr. Sithole was imprisoned by Mr. Smith, and while he was in prison, after the 573 Privy Council provisions, new charges were brought against him. He was sentenced to another six years' imprisonment on a charge of smuggling out letters threatening to murder that would not have been believed anywhere. At this time of night I regret having taken more time than I intended. I do not often speak. I put down my name with reluctance. I put it down because I thought that I had something to say, and I hope that some people will feel that I have said it.
§ 11.3 p.m.
§ Lord HANKEY
My Lords, it is getting late and I shall be brief. I am sorry to say that although I have tried for many years to be as helpful as I can to my old department, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on this occasion I have to differ from them and from a number of my noble friends on both sides of the House, for whose wisdom I have the deepest respect. The time has come to recognise that there is a new situation in Rhodesia and that the sanctions voted 12 years ago are inappropriate. They are out of date; they are one-sided, and they are damaging to British interests.
We have a multiracial, multi-Party Government in Rhodesia aiming to hold elections by universal suffrage. Was not that what we wanted to get? That is what we have got. They are making such progress as they can. Our objective has been attained, so what do we hope to get from sanctions? I cannot distil from any of the speeches made by my noble friends on either side of the House any practical programme of progress which the continuation of sanctions would offer. It is not surprising that it is difficult for the interim Government to hold elections in December. They are drafting a constitution. They have to draw up constituencies and make electoral registers. Look at the trouble we had about getting ready for the European elections. Do noble Lords suppose that we could have done it in the time, with a guerrilla war going on? It is out of the question. We are being very unreasonable to these people. I think we have to make some allowances for them.
We have heard it said that one object of sanctions would be to keep up the pressure. That is an awfully slick sort of thing to say. Who are we keeping the pressure on? We do not want Mr. Smith to go back on 574 what he has done. I do not hold much brief for Mr. Smith, but I think he has shown extraordinary courage in the present situation and really very considerable consistency, which I respect. The people we want to put the pressure on are the people who are holding out against holding elections soon; but that is not Mr. Smith, it is not the Rhodesian Government, it is not even the Rhodesian people. It is Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe, both of whom are resident abroad. They have done their best to make elections impossible, and Nkomo has said that he is only interested in force. They have Russian arms and money, they want power, and they want power on their own terms.
So why are we on their side? The effect of sanctions is to put us on the side of Mugabe and Nkomo, and I cannot see any reason for our being on their side. Not only do we keep the sanctions on Rhodesia and on the interim Government which is trying to make the sort of settlement we want, but we have given arms to Zambia free of charge; and recently, during the Recess, we have given a £10 million interest-free loan to Mozambique, where Mr. Mugabe is based. None of this makes much sense to me if we really want to settle Rhodesia. It seems to me that our policy has gone rigid. Our policies sometimes do go rigid, but this is not one of the occasions when that ought to be allowed to happen. We have a changing situation and our present policy seems to me to be completely cockeyed. I just hope that the noble Lord Goronwy-Roberts, who is always so constructive in this House, will tell is exactly what is going to happen.
I look around and I have listened carefully to everything that has been said: I cannot see that any serious person can hope for any other settlement to eventuate. There is a settlement there. Why do we want to break it up? For goodness' sake, make use of it! I do not see any chance of another one, for it is a most difficult thing to bring about. We could hold a conference but I do not suppose it would produce another settlement. My noble friend Lord Carrington made some very ingenious suggestions about a group of foreign Powers being asked to send representatives to help, but this would I fear only delay matters. I think the sands are running out in Rhodesia; I do not think we have all 575 that amount of time. You could not get the group together and have a meeting in less than six or eight months. We cannot wait six or eight months; we have got to get on with it.
I come now to Nkomo and Mugabe, because I quite see it would be very desirable that all parties should be represented in the internal settlement if it is possible. I have mentioned Nkomo already, and he does not seem to want to come in except with force. I recall that Mugabe's guerrillas are the people who have been killing hospital nurses, missionaries, doctors, anybody they can lay their hands on, as well as an enormous number of black Africans. I think that to try and bring those people in on their terms—and their terms are that their guerrillas should help to maintain order in Rhodesia—is really a most unpractical suggestion; I really do not think that as practical people we ought to lend ourselves to that sort of idea. I think Mr. Smith is right to turn it down.
There is another reason why we should be unwise to do that, and that is that they are both under Marxist influence and are receiving Russian arms and money. I do not think those are the sort of people you want to get into a democratic Government. I was at Yalta and I have served in Poland and Hungary, and I have seen what happens when the Communists get into a Government; they eliminate everybody else. You do not want to put the cuckoo in the nest and see everybody else chucked out. It is a silly thing to do. The idea is abominable. Please do not think I am just going back 30 years. Look what has happened in Aden. The Communists there succeeded in getting control. Anybody who had any influence before is in concentration camps run by East Germans. These are not the people who are going to promote human rights or democracy; they are not like that. It is absurd. We must be practical about these people.
If Europeans are eliminated from Rhodesia—and that would certainly be the effect of putting the cuckoos in the nest—then in a short time you would get the same situation as you have in Ethiopia, in Mozambique, in Angola. And what will happen then? The economy of Rhodesia will fall to bits. And what can they do? 576 They will go to the Russians and the Cubans. Do we want that to happen, my Lords? We should not treat our own countrymen in Rhodesia so very badly, and certainly not risk a Marxist régime in Rhodesia.
I think it is time to stop being purist about this and to aim to make the best of the settlement which is there. It may not be perfect; I do not stand up to say it is perfect. But look at all the other régimes. There is hardly a régime in the whole of Africa which is not either Marxist and destructive of human rights, or else it is dictatorial. There are hardly any which have a multi-party multiracial aspect. So I think we should give Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa and their colleagues credit for what they have done and see what we can make of it. I would say that the Salisbury Government looks like being one of the better ones if we lend it a helping hand. So I offer your Lordships a constructive programme; I do really try to be constructive. First, I think we should cut sanctions. The United Nations would have to follow: the United States are going to do it anyway. So let us cut sanctions; it is our duty here tonight to do this thing and vote them down.
The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack made some very important points about the legal consequences. He said that sanctions were mandatory and that we would be condemned by the United Nations. Well, are we in the position that we cannot alter this policy? The implication of the Lord Chancellor's remark would be that we are at the mercy of the Russian veto on this. If the Russians tell us we cannot change our policy, then we cannot change it. That does not make sense to me. I suggest that a much more practical way would be to send a note to the United Nations, or ask our delegate to make a speech and say, "Thank you very much. We asked you to impose sanctions. They have not been very effective. There have been many difficulties about applying them. Many countries have broken them. We have even had difficulties ourselves. But thank you very much. We now have a multi-racial multi-party Government preparing elections in Rhodesia. We hope it will be a success. We are going to try to see what can be done about it. We are now taking off sanctions, and we really need not trouble all you gentlemen any more". 577 If they want to condemn us they have to pass a resolution, and we have got the veto.
Many of my colleagues whom I respect very much have said, "But we shall have trouble with the Africans". That is a task for diplomacy. Over the years there have been countless occasions when I have had to go to the Government to which I have been accredited and tell them that we are going to do something which they would regard as abominable. The good diplomat does such things and puts the arguments in such a way that they are least likely to cause trouble. That is what our diplomats in Africa are for and, thank God! the Berrill Report did not remove them.
Therefore, I suggest that we vote sanctions out tonight. I think that we ought to give de facto recognition to the Government in Salisbury. That Government is no worse than a great many Governments which we have recognised, to which we have sent diplomats and with which we have active diplomatic relations. In this case I think we should have de facto or interim or provisional relations—let the Government invent a formula. They will find some way of doing what ought to be done. We ought to have an ambassador or a chargé d'affaires, but anyway a very practical and good diplomat on the spot who can keep our Government properly informed —because at present they are obviously out of touch with what is happening—and, on occasions, when he has built up suitable friendships and contacts, he can exercise a little influence. We do not have much influence there at present; we shall not have much for some time. It is high time that we filled this lacuna and got on with it.
So, we should aim to speed up the elections as much as possible. Let them all face the ballot box. If Mugabe and Nkomo do not come and face the ballot box, that is their funeral; and if others support them and say that we are non-democratic, then I think that the boot is on the other foot. We should promote any settlement that will work.
It is high time that Mr. Smith and his colleagues were invited to this country. They have been to America; let them come here too. Some of us wrote to the Foreign Secretary about this, but he 578 rejected the idea. I still think that it is a good idea and I happen to know that Mr. Smith would be willing to come, provided, of course, that our Government gave him immunity. We could not invite him and have him arrested; we certainly could not allow that to happen. By all means let us have Nkomo and Mugabe too, if your Lordships so wish, but do not let them hold matters up. This discussion must move forward before the sands finally run out.
I must say a few more words about Rhodesia, because everybody seems to me to be talking as if Rhodesia were in a little case by itself. It is not to be regarded in that way. It is a very vital part of Southern Africa. Southern Africa is very important both to NATO and to this country. There is a drastic change taking place in the balance of power. We ignore it at our peril and not nearly enough is said about it. The Russians now have bases on both sides of Africa and I believe that they are going to get them in the Cape Verde Islands. They control the entrances to the Red Sea. They have Iran under pressure from Marxist régimes on both sides. If they come to control the Persian Gulf as well it will be very serious.
It is most important that there should be some sort of a settlement in South Africa whereby we shall not see the Russians established in Simonstown. The Russians move in wherever we move out. If ever there was a case of criminal treachery to the interests of this country it was when the British Government took our fleet out of Simonstown. So, we want a sensible solution in Southern Africa, and I believe that for that purpose the settlement in Rhodesia will be extremely influential. If, with democratic processes, there is established in Rhodesia a good multiracial, multi-Party Government, I believe that it will be an enormous encouragement to the liberals in South Africa. I do not believe that their cause is completely lost. On the other hand, if we so handle things that the situation in Rhodesia breaks up in disorder, with the murder and departure of all our countrymen, what will the South Africans say? They will become much more extreme. I foresee that we shall have to support some sort of a white presence in South Africa because our strategic interests and those of NATO make it absolutely necessary. For goodness sake let us 579 prepare this by taking a long-term view in Rhodesia. The Romans used to say, "Perspice finem", which translated reads, "Look always to the ends where you are going".
§ 11.21 p.m.
§ Lord CHESHAM
My Lords, it is thirty-second wicket down! It leaves little new to say, if anything. Nevertheless, I shall say it, although frankly I do not think that it will take me very long. I think it is a thousand pities that on this very, very important issue there should be such a clear line of Party division and cleavage. The only exception I have heard to this is what the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, said early in his speech—I see that he has now gone—namely, his criticism of the Prime Minister at the time of UDI. I thought that that was quite extraordinary when one recollects that the Prime Minister's name was Harold Wilson. However, it is his privilege to say that.
Apart from that, it seems to me that the Party opposite finds it difficult, almost to the point of impossibility, to see or find—or if they do find it, to admit it—that anything good, right, helpful or progressive can come out of Rhodesia, whatever it may be. I recall that, in the course of answering quite a number of Starred Questions on the subject of Rhodesia during the summer, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts—who I see has also gone—has never been able to bring himself to call the country Rhodesia and has frequently called it Zimbabwe, which I believe is what it would have been called once majority rule had been established. Whether or not this prejudice is the cause or effect of Government policy that seems to me to be as barren as it is naive and as ill-founded as it is ill-judged, I do not know, but I do not think that it very much matters.
What I resent is the continual representation of the white population of Rhodesia as largely over-privileged people with a gin and tonic in one hand and a jambok in the other and who live at the expense of the ground-down Africans. The noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, said he has known the country fairly well since 1950-something; I can cap that because 580 I have known it fairly well since 1934, which is possibly even before some of your Lordships were born—not many perhaps, but some. It is not like that. If only you get away from the political circles of Salisbury—which is a place that few people do get away from—and go out among the ordinary working people, either black or white, you will find that they actually work very well together and with a mutual respect. The white population of Rhodesia is not composed of over-privileged people, but of very honest, straightforward working people: artisans, if you like, members of trade unions and so on, such as it ill-becomes members of the Labour Party to attack.
I used the word "naïve" and I use it again. I shall not continue. Many speakers have referred to Bingham and sanctions busting, but I find it utterly extraordinary that successive Governments did not know what almost everybody else knew and which, if one took enough trouble, one could probably see. All the fuss and "hoo-ha" (if that is a Parliamentary word) about Shell and BP at the moment, when there are so many other companies from almost dozens of other countries who have been doing exactly the same for so long, I can only think must be a very convenient smokescreen to cover up the ineptitude of policy handling in other ways.
If you can believe yesterday's explanation of what I would regard as incredible ignorance, you would believe anything. You might even believe the Foreign Secretary's assurance about arms to Zambia being used for defence of the country. I think it is fairly well known—at least I thought it was—that Mr. Nkomo's army is considerably bigger than that of Zambia. If anyone can fool me that these arms will go for the defence of a country which contains a very much bigger army than your own and which is liable to be attacked because of its very presence where it has really no business to be, then I think anybody could fool anybody about anything.
I come to my last point, and it is the one about which I feel most strongly. It has inevitably been touched on before. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester touched on it lightly, and the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, touched on it, and my noble friend Lord Salisbury 581 also mentioned it but with regard to the future, and that is the actual effect of sanctions. It is true that in 12 years, rather than 12 months or 12 weeks, sanctions have had a considerable effect on the Rhodesian economy, and I am sure this must please many people. It pleases, I have no doubt, plenty of busy little politicians in the United Nations comfortably interfering from the security of that body with other people's lives. It will please people such as Marxists, and it will please people such as those of impossibly prejudiced opinion whose views have been formulated on the biased reports of others who, if they have any knowledge of Rhodesia at all, have never gained it outside the political circles of Salisbury I have mentioned. But in no sense, or in any way, can the effect of sanctions as applied in the past, or sanctions to be applied in the future, please the great mass of the people in Rhodesia; and here I especially mean the Africans. I do not especially mean the African politicians but the mass of good, decent, honest, ordinary African people whose only wish is to live at peace in an improving environment based on improving standards.
My Lords, whether you like it or you do not—and I do not expect noble Lords opposite to like it, and I do not expect the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, in particular to like it—the standards of the African people did, to my personal knowledge, perceptibly improve in the first seven years, and maybe more than that, after UDI. This was there to see for those who had eyes to see. But in no way did those standards improve to the extent that they would have improved without the sanctions; those sanctions which have done so much to hold back progress and development in Rhodesia to the enormous detriment of its African population. That is what I feel most strongly about, and I feel it so strongly that I have the intention to vote against the order.
§ Lord HANKEY
My Lords, would the noble Lord agree that African education has particuarly suffered owing to sanctions?
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Lord BOLTON
My Lords, like other noble Lords, I have taken part in many debates on this most worrying subject. It would be wearying, indeed pointless, to run through an appraisal of a subject on which most in this House and many in another place are agreed on the ideal, though not on the method, of how we tackle it, so I will not waste the time of the House. However, I am equally sure that most of the people of this country and many other countries feel the time has come, indeed is overdue, when we should stand up and be counted. My noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel, quoting Winston Churchill in a parallel situation, said—and I hope he will excuse me if I am slightly misquoting him: "Let not this House agree, but let England agree".
Lord HOME of the HIRSEL
My Lords, my noble friend is misquoting so much that I really must ask him not to quote again. What I said was that the Benches on one side in the Commons at that time could have given independence to the Transvaal from the Party; the point was, of course, that it could be given from England and not from the Party.
§ Lord BOLTON
I am obliged to my noble friend for correcting me. In any event, I would follow that by saying that England would, if faced with this question now, say, "England does agree", and England must agree now. Indeed, they would also say that England must agree before a handful of very gallant men, women and children succumb, through sheer lack of support, to the might of Russia and Cuba, who must be laughing their heads off between courses of caviary. The set-up of the present de facto Government and the existing interim settlement, in the setting up of which I played some small part, must be quickly reinforced; it may be fragile and it may have weaknesses—I acknowledge all of them—but it is the only hope for Rhodesia, and if we are honest and are prepared to stand up and be counted, we must support it.
What concerns me deeply as an Englishman is the way in which the word "politician" has become not the noun it used to be but an adjective, and almost a dirty one. There are people in this country and in other countries who will open their newspapers in a few hours' time and will 583 read the reports of this debate. For my part, I should like them to read that I voted according to my conscience and did not say "tut tut" and abstain. Winston Churchill had another saying, one he used frequently, namely, "Action this day". I would not feel able to leave your Lordships' House with pride unless I voted regardless of annoyance to certain friends for whom I feel great respect and affection, and accordingly I will vote in the Lobby against the renewal of this sanctions order.
§ 11.34 p.m.
Lord PAGET of NORTHAMPTON
My Lords, it is late and I shall try to be brief. We are considering a sad story a story of decisions taken in haste and regretted at leisure. We should have realised at the start that once we gave independence to Zambia and Malawi, it was impossible for any Government of Southern Rhodesia to accept less. We should have realised that we lacked military power. After all, we had tried military intervention in this part of the world; it had taken us three years and we employed half a million men at a time when we had the ports and movement was not nearly so difficult. There was the absurd idea that we could have intervened there. I think that Russia also realised her impotence when it came to intervening on behalf of Lumumba in the Congo. Modern armies cannot be supported thousands of miles away. The logistics just do not allow of it; they are too thirsty. Russian intervention in Zambia is a story to scare children; it is perfectly impossible.
Next, we ought to have realised that we lacked the power to impose sanctions. When we found our failure we went to the United Nations and asked for mandatory sanctions. In doing so we were asking for something which was grossly illegal, Contrary to the Charter, we were asking the Security Council to intervene in an internal dispute and to impose our imperial will on a colony. It was right outside the Charter. On this issue 13 years ago I voted with the Tory Party, and I remember this point being put by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, far more ably and eloquently than I am able to do. We have got into this trouble because we demanded illegality and got involved in it. We 584 should not have encouraged the flouting of the limitations of the Charter to serve our temporary convenience. We are reaping the consequences.
When it came to sanctions, everybody cheated. There was not an African country that did not trade with Rhodesia. Russia traded with Rhodesia. She obtained chrome which she mixed with her own and sold to the Americans until the Americans got sick of it and started buying crhome direct and, without regard to the United Nations, passed an Act to enable them to do so. The result worked out rather satisfactorily all round. Rhodesia prospered. What effect sanctions had forced her to diversify her industries. She had peace and prosperity for many years. We maintained a ship at Beira. I do not think that it cost us all that much more than it would to maintain it anywhere else. Our oil men, and others, to whom we should be most grateful, shielded us from suffering unduly from our own folly. And so the situation went on. Statesmanship should have found an opportunity to regularise it, and a settlement could have been obtained which would have been far more beneficial to the blacks than the civil war into which we thrust them.
Then came the Portuguese collapse, Marxist revolution, and terrorists coming across the frontier to disturb the Rhodesian peace. Astonishingly, Her Majesty's Government seemed to rejoice. Then Dr. Kissinger persuaded Mr. Smith to accept our famous Six Principles, and later Mr. Smith obtained an internal settlement on these lines. Her Majesty's Government offered no help and much obstruction. We backed the Patriotic Front—an odd name for a movement based, armed and trained abroad to murder its own compatriots; but it is a name which Her Majesty's Government never fail to use. Children were kidnapped, missionaries were murdered, a plane was shot down, and the survivors were murdered. Her Majesty's Government offered no objection. Dr. Owen did not seem to think that this kind of thing in any way excused a certain reluctance on the part of the Rhodesian Government to confer with the assassins or to invite them to join the Government. But when Mr. Smith hits back Dr. Owen announces that the Patriotic Front will not be bombed into agreement. It has all been such a case of double values.
585 I do not know whether any of your Lordships ever read the Andy Capp cartoon. There is one in which Andy Capp is lying on a settee asleep with his feet on his wife's lap, and a visitor is sitting perched on the edge of a stool. Florrie observes: "'E's 'orrible. Of course 'e's 'orrible; but 'e's fair—'e's 'orrible to everybody". That is the trouble with Dr. Owen: he lacks Andy's redeeming virtue; he just is not fair. As an arbitrator or conciliator he has made himself hopelessly unacceptable. That is the difficulty we are facing.
As I have said, it has been a tale of decisions taken in haste and regretted at leisure. We shall learn our lessons. I think one lesson is that the Foreign Office is not the job for a young man. It does not require zest and enthusiasm; it requires patience and experience. That great master of this art, Prince Talleyrand, introducing his staff to a successor on one occasion, said: "You will find them careful, conscientious and industrious, but you will not find them zealous. Zeal is always discouraged in this office." On another occasion he observed, "No letter should be written today if it can be postponed till tomorrow, or posted today if it can be postponed till the day after. I have often earned the gratitude of my imperial master when I was able to tell him some days later that the orders he had given had not yet been executed."
Taking an example of that, the first thing that Dr. Owen did was to jump in where angels had feared to tread and order the Bingham Report. Why? What was the point of inquiring here? Everybody knew that Rhodesia had been getting oil, and everybody knew that that oil originated in the companies which brought the oil. Everybody knew that it went through Lourenço Marques. I certainly did. I saw the trucks in Lourenço Marques: they were all clearly marked. Everybody knew perfectly well what was happening. I do not say that I knew the precise book entries which covered it, but the subsequence of the company oil going to Rhodesia was known to everybody. I raised it time and again in another place, when I complained about the Biera blockade. What could an inquiry do except what it has done—embarrass a lot of Ministers in two Parties who were doing their best to serve their 586 country and, far worse, grossly embarrass our country in its international relations? I really feel that a man with more experience and in less of a hurry would have known better than to institute this fatuous inquiry; and at least I hope that we shall decide not to do anything further about it.
Further, I would say that the Foreign Secretary ought not to be a travelling man. It is our Foreign Secretary's duty to take decisions. In this he differs from the American Secretary of State. In America, decisions come from the President with Congressional consent. With us, if the Foreign Secretary makes a decision it is very difficult for the Cabinet to repudiate it. Decisions should be made here and considered by Cabinet before they are announced or before they become effective. Negotiations should be the job of ambassadors. Switzerland, that wisest of countries, has an admirable law. It has a law that its Foreign Secretary must never leave the country. I wish we had the same. I think Kano is a very good example of that. I cannot believe that the Kano agreements would ever have got through Cabinet if they had been brought before Cabinet, with the number of contradictions and the silliness involved. There was this supply of arms with this lack of consideration of what it would do, and even without consideration of the risks. After all, Smith controlled the air here. Why he did not intercept the planes, order them into Salisbury, bring them before a prize court and condemn them for carrying contraband of war, I do not know. If he had, we would have got what we thoroughly deserved. As it is, we simply put this at his mercy. I think it is worth noting that while Kaunda was engaged on a soft touch in Kano, Mr. Nkomo went to Moscow, where, I am told, he got a rather rough answer and the Russians said they were not supplying arms for the Rhodesians to take over at their leisure.
I think that another thing we should learn is that our Foreign Secretary should keep away from the United Nations. We have always had the difficulty of ambassadors becoming involved in the interests of courts to which they were accredited and beginning to wonder which side they were on. This is a mild difficulty compared to a Minister who begins to fall in love with the United 587 Nations. When you get the case of this splendid young man who understands the Third World, he begins to be in deep difficulty as to whether he is playing up to his image or representing our interests. Mr. John Silkin of Brussels suffers from none of these difficulties.
The third thing—and this is perhaps a Labour Party point—is that a Foreign Secretary should be at the end and not at the beginning of his career. Otherwise, his career interests will be very apt to conflict with the national interest. Dr. Owen was thrust forward by appointment; but if he is to be the boy who gets the salmon when the boat comes in, he must get and keep the support of the great soft centre, the bleeding heart, of the Labour Party. Failure to do this destroyed Michael Stewart who was a very good Foreign Secretary. This bleeding heart cares for high principles, peace, internationalism, the fellowship of man; but it does not think much of British interests—they tend to be imperialist, capitalist, selfish, nationalist; and nationalists have a bad name if they are not black.
When Owen, the other day, mentioned that he felt the Shah served British interests better then an oil and water combination of Tudeh Communists and fundamentalist mullahs, he got into bad trouble. He did not like it at all. What is going to be his position when we get to South African sanctions? Not only have we £5 billions of investment and much trade, but South Africa shares with Russia a near monopoly of a number of metals on which our steel, chemical and electrical industries depend completely. If he commits that folly there would be only one of two alternatives: either go into mass unemployment or rely on our company men to outsmart our friends in cheating the sanctions.
What should we do now? We are faced with a bipartisan policy, and a bipartisan policy is always desperately difficult to get rid of. It is a very dangerous thing. A bipartisan policy only holds together when it is cemented by a common disaster for which neither Party dare admit responsibility. That is our situation with regard to Rhodesia. I believe that, not necessarily the Foreign Secretary, but the great majority of the Government who 588 place British interests first would be extremely thankful if somebody would rid them of these sanctions without their having to take the responsibility. I believe also that the Conservative Party would not be unrelieved if somebody would take the responsibility of getting rid of it all—and that is what we have got an opportunity of doing tonight. If we rid ourselves of sanctions we can arbitrate and mediate. We cannot do so while we are imposing sanctions. Nobody can be an arbitrator; nobody can be a mediator who is committed to impose sanctions on one of the two people between whom he is arbitrating. Our position in being able to arbitrate depends absolutely on our getting rid of these sanctions.
If we reject them tonight—as I profoundly hope we shall—the Government may come back in a week or so with another order. However, if they do so they will have to persuade us to accept it the second time. They can only do that by offering us something. The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, suggested that we should have a resident Minister in Salisbury and that we should provide technical assistance to enable the Government to get on with their proposals with regard to elections, et cetera. If we reject sanctions and the Government come back, we can ask for that. If we have rejected sanctions, they probably will have to give it to us. But if we do not reject sanctions, if they do not have to come back to us, then we can get nothing. On every view, therefore, it seems to me that a vote against this order is right tonight. There is no doubt that the great mass of the British people are with us. Polls have showed a massive majority against sanctions. This is perhaps—and it may be—the most important vote that we shall ever have to cast. I urge your Lordships to cast it for England.
§ 11.52 p.m.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, I cannot hope to compete with the savaging of a Labour Foreign Secretary by a member of his own Party. They always do it rather more effectively than the Tories. If the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, had been Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I suspect that we should not be in the same muddle that we are in now. He has always shown a more constructive 589 appreciation of the diplomatic situation and a healthier regard for the real affairs of this world. He is also more sensitive and he has greater historical knowledge than the present incumbent. Above all, he would not have shown the unjustified optimism that appears in Government speeches on Rhodesia or uttered the Panglossian and Micawberish bleats about the Anglo-American proposals which come from Dr. Owen.
Optimism even appeared when the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor spoke this afternoon when he said that one of the main points of this order was to legalise marriage and adoption in Rhodesia. This optimism is totally unjustified. Already, the Rhodesian bath is gradually filling with blood. We cannot yet lounge in it but the taps are turned full on. Russian-armed terrorists, South African-armed Rhodesians and private armies of all complexions are shooting at each other with gay abandon. Most revel in atrocities. For free votes Mugabe cares not a fig; Nkomo chuckles smugly at a shot-down civilian airliner and the consequent massacre of its surviving passengers. Some 100,000 children are abducted—and the Government did not deny this figure. Are these liberal democratic tendencies?
Mr. Smith, who is not an Olympic gold medalist for democracy—in fact he would be an Olympic gold medallist in the "too little and too late" stakes—has perhaps realised (and I say only "perhaps") that the previous plans and desires of the settler community can no longer profitably be continued. These desires, I think it is accepted by most of your Lordships, have been the main cause of the present impasse. Oh for the interim Government if it had been available in 1965! The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, demonstrated that absolutely correctly.
The Kremlin mouths sanctimonious slogans for African freedom, hypocrisy is shown by Bingham, oil companies break the law and Ministers know it, and a Birmingham merchant is fined eighty quid for importing wrought iron copper-ware from Rhodesia! Deep pessimism is the order of the day. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester asked in an intervention who had accused the Roman Church of being infiltrated by 590 Marxism. The answer is the Dean of Peterhouse, Cambridge, in last night's Reith Lecture. Freedom and democracy are strangers in Africa. Is the General who commands in Nigeria, where they shoot criminals as a Sunday afternoon carnival treat, any less or more of a democrat than Ian Smith? Both came to power by coup d'état—one by bogus legislation and the other by Askaris. Is Kaunda, who has just rigged his country's constitution so that no one can stand against him, the successor of Demosthenes and Bright?
From this black despair, one has to make up one's mind—my Lords, I say "mind" and not gut feeling—tonight on the basis of self-interest. Is self-interest best supported by adopting the interim settlement? All of us on this side seem to agree with that proposition. Does lifting sanctions provide the best support? This is where we begin to differ. I think so. The interim Government is a second best. The best is unattainable. It is a Government half-attuned to our values. A Government of Mugabe and Nkomo would be a Government alien to those values. It would be a Government of savages—and not of the "noble savages" of Rousseau. I use that word advisedly. I and other speakers have detailed some of those savageries. I made by maiden speech seven years ago on this subject. The noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, spoke for the then Opposition, and noted with distaste that Joshua Nkomo and the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole were in prison. The contrast to that in the present position is revealing: one tries to talk, the other guns. The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, demonstrated the fawning on the terrorist and the shunning of the talker.
I have listened carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and very carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Home. It is difficult for me to think of two men whom I respect more. So far they have failed to stop my voting against the Motion. Perhaps I would have been more inclined if they had used the plea to vote for the Motion, but pleas for abstention are hard to follow. I shall, of course, listen carefully to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, whom I certainly respect as much as the others. I put against that what has been said by the noble Lords, Lord Carrington and Lord Home, and what the 591 noble Lords, Lord George-Brown and Lord Blake, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said. I also know—I checked with him before I said this—that a great and good liberal Colonial Secretary (and I use the word in its proper sense and not in its petty sense as applied to Mr. David Steel and his colleagues) who voted against the Uganda Asians Act on Second Reading is going to vote against this Motion: I refer to the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton.
My Lords, Pliny said: "Ex Africa semper aliquid novi"—"Out of Africa always something new". I suggest that this aphorism should be changed to: "Ex Africa semper eadem excepto in Rhodesia"—"Out of Africa always the same except in Rhodesia." The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, checked this Latin with me, because I asked him before making this speech. The second best is the interim settlement, and that must be preferred to the tyranny, corruption and incompetence of the rest of Africa. That second best, my Lords, as best as I can judge, is best helped by defeating this Motion.
§ 11.59 p.m.
§ Lord CARADON
My Lords, the night before last I was in Harvard University, and I read in the newspapers that the fate of Africa was likely to be decided in this House this evening. I therefore came to the conclusion that education might be more necessary on this side of the Atlantic than the other, and I have come here in all haste to take some part in the deliberations of your Lordships' noble House. I do so because I have had some part, a minor role no doubt, in difficult matters of Rhodesia and Southern Africa over a number of years.
I do not forget that, when I was at the United Nations some 15 years ago with the rank of ambassador, I resigned from my position because the Conservative Government at that time refused to admit African leaders into consultation about the future of Rhodesia. I remember that occasion now. I remember, too, when I went back to the United Nations later, having to return to this House where the decision had been taken some years ago to rescind the sanctions order. It was necessary, so I was told, to come back in 592 order to take my part in the debate so as to get the order re-established.
Over many years in the United Nations —and I am glad to give my testimony accordingly—on the encouragement and on the specific instruction of my Government, I had the task of doing everything I possibly could in order to ensure that sanctions were fully applied and carried the widest possible support. Among the achievements of my delegation when I was at the United Nations, maybe the chief achievement of all was to obtain a comprehensive and unanimous vote in 1968—it is not an easy thing to get a unanimous vote on Rhodesia—to impose the full sanctions, after a series of previous resolutions had been passed. I subsequently had an opportunity of attending United Nations conferences, first in Maputo and then in Lagos, called on the future of Southern Africa, where I had an opportunity of realising that the overwhelming support in the world, not only in Africa but in Asia and in the Commonwealth—wherever you look—is for the policy which we have been consistently pursuing under the directions of the Party which I serve.
So I go back over those recollections when I speak to your Lordships this evening, for a few minutes only at this late hour, with three thoughts in my mind. First, I would speak about our obligations to Africa; then, perhaps, a word on our obligations to the international community, but, most of all, on our obligations to ourselves. I felt as I listened to this debate, and as I listened to part of the debate last night in the other place, that there really is not an adequate understanding of the urgency, the danger, which is upon us. We talk as if we can make decisions and alter events when already the war is joined in Rhodesia; when a race war in Africa has already begun.
We talk in a casual manner as if we are speaking of Rhodesia alone. It is not Rhodesia alone. Rhodesia is an early episode in the race war of Africa, and it will be worse than a race war, because it will be a race war with a cold war. I would earnestly put it to this House that when you get both together there can be nothing more serious in the world than a war in Africa between white and black, with the West supporting one side and the East another. I shudder to 593 think of the repercussions in this country and in the United States, too, of a long-drawn-out war, which would not be a war between armies. It would be a war of so-called terrorism and repression.
We worry about the Middle East. I spent a great deal of my time in it, and I have recently come back from visiting there. I have also been in Central Africa. I believe that the dangers of a race war in the world, already begun, are so great that much of what we have said this afternoon is irrelevant and inadequate.
So the first obligation is to Africa, and I say with the utmost sincerity that if we in this House tonight were to say that sanctions should be removed, if we were to give encouragement to Ian Smith, who has led his country over a period of decades right through the processes of terrorism—yes, his own terrorism—to a state of open warfare and who has thrown away opportunity after opportunity, and if we were to come down on his side tonight and to say that this House and this country are willing to support a faction which has forfeited all respect in Africa and in the world, then I believe that it would be a declaration of our joining in a civil war. Therefore I believe that we have an obligation to Africa.
Also we have some obligation to the international community. Nobody doubts the legal position. Sometimes you forget that when you enter the United Nations you make one solemn obligation only: that under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations, every country that enters the United Nations swears that it will carry out the mandatory calls of the Security Council. South Africa is required to do so. South Africa has refused to pay any attention to its international obligations. We have no reason to be grateful to South Africa. South Africa has created the situation which we now strive to tackle. South Africa has created a world situation which is of the utmost danger, and I think that we have been too considerate to South Africa. We are afraid even to speak to her in strong terms. I think the time is soon coming when we shall have to say to South Africa, "Either you carry out your international obligations and show yourself a worthy member of the international community, or you, too, will suffer the condemnation and the ostracism of the world." I believe that when it has 594 been said it may not be necessary to go to the length of carrying it out. Once it is clear that you mean it and that you intend to carry it out, then I believe that the result may be adequate.
I should also like to say that the sort of sneering references which we had from the noble Earl who spoke just now are fairly common these days. I heard them yesterday in the other place. We hear them in this House. I think it will be very serious if, in this country particularly, we reach the stage when we seek to destroy the principal instrument of international authority—when we propose, by our sneering references, to remove the hope of the world for a peaceful settlement where other means have failed.
I think that it is necessary for some restraint to be shown in the references which are made to the international community. Sometimes I think that we are listening—perhaps I can say this at my age—to old men who, familiar with a bygone age of national power, are unable to adjust themselves and to become familiar with a different age in which what is necessary is not power and force but international agreement and international co-operation. It will be a great pity if we in this House reach the stage where we can assume even the references by the noble Leader opposite, whom I greatly respect, who said in passing, I think I am right in remembering, that we cannot expect the United Nations to be able to do anything; we cannot expect United Nations' sanctions to have any effect. If that is the kind of attitude we are going to take in our Parliament, then I believe that before the United Nations had been able to be used as an instrument of peace we should have been seeking to destroy its effectiveness. I think that we must consider our obligation to the international community, but I intend to speak more about our obligation to ourselves.
It is necessary surely that we should take a lead in international affairs. It is not a question of exercising force but of taking a lead and, with the greatest respect, speaking to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, I should like to say that I was filled with admiration for the fact that would turn his speech today not to abuse and criticism but to a constructive advance, and I should like to put a suggestion to him which I believe may fit 595 in with what he has in mind. I expect he is aware that last week there was a meeting of an organisation known as the Commonwealth Committee on Southern Africa. I wonder whether he is aware of the decisions of that body, usually unanimously taken, because I believe it might well be that where we are looking for a new initiative, that initiative might well be that of the Commonwealth. There you would get Members of the Security Council, including Canada, and there you would also get the African representation. I think in a matter of this kind the Commonwealth can have a vital role to play and I believe it might well fit in with the search for an independent body which could speak with authority to all those concerned and make progress towards an eventual conference and a conclusion.
So I would suggest that we might go back now to the United Nations, not on the defensive, not to exercise our veto, but with a practical proposal. Why not go to the United Nations now and put forward a proposal, and I suggest that it might be under the six heads. The initiative might be British. We have an original obligation, so I suggest that the initiative to go to the United Nations might well be ours and I believe we should do so with the full support and understanding of the Commonwealth group, which should be drawn from all sections of the Commonwealth. We should seek international approval. I should like to emphasise that it must be international because if we are going to try to deal with this matter by scoring off East against West and turning the race war into a cold war, that is not the way to proceed. We have agreement for the 1968 resolution, where we had the Russians, the Africans, the Asians and everyone else agreeing to act together. That is the way to proceed; not to attempt to deal with it by scoring off the other side.
Therefore, I think we should conclude our six points if we had the British initiative, the Commonwealth association, the international approval, and certainly there must be an impartial transition. There is no other way than an impartial and independent transition. Certainly also there must be free elections under United Nations supervision and with a United Nations force to ensure that these objects can be satisfactorily carried out. I believe these suggestions of the six 596 proposals are not out of line with what has been suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. We have very little time left and I believe it is right that we should take the initiative and deal with it on an international basis, and that we should be prepared to go East and West and also North and South in order to get a new initiative which is likely to break the deadlock and to bring the matter forward to a satisfactory conclusion.
§ 12.15 a.m.
§ Viscount CALDECOTE
My Lords, I would like to apologise to the House for not having been here throughout this debate; I did listen to the opening speeches with great care and attention, particularly to the speech of my noble Leader Lord Carrington. I must also declare an interest according to our normal practice, because I have in Rhodesia business interests and also many, many friends.
There are two aspects of this debate, the Bingham Report about the past and the continuation of sanctions about the future. I do not propose to discuss the Bingham Report about the past, because to my mind the situation is far too serious to spend time on the past, allocating blame and crying over spilt milk. I want to concentrate, constructively I hope, on the future, on how to prevent more blood being spilled in a now literally pointless fight. That is what matters, surely, above all else. For now I believe there is little time left to avert disaster. But we should not underestimate the progress that has been made in 1978; above all, the acceptance by Mr. Smith of rapid progress towards majority rule and the agreement to form the transitional government. I do not agree at all with the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, who has just spoken so persuasively and with such authority, that we should speak scathingly of Mr. Smith. He has over many years borne a heavy burden with courage and fortitude, in the interests of his country as he sees it.
Shortly after the transitional Government agreement earlier this year we had a debate in your Lordships' House, and at that time I said, "We need to do our utmost to persuade the United Nations to deter external interventions which could easily wreck the election". In the event nothing at all has been done to 597 prevent that external interference, and we now see that the progress towards free and fair elections is being interfered with. Indeed, not only have we done nothing about removing that interference; I believe the way the British Government have handled the situation has encouraged the guerrillas to go on fighting in the belief that ultimately, if they go on long enough and make life difficult enough for the transitional Government, Rhodesia will fall into their hands like a ripe plum.
Now we have to face the grim fact that by this time next year—probably a good deal sooner—we shall know whether the new Zimbabwe is to be the first genuinely non-racial African State with its black and white citizens working together to rebuild their country and their economy, or whether the new Zimbabwe is to become another base for international Communism like Angola; whether its industry and economy will be largely destroyed through conflict and neglect, as has happened in neighbouring Zambia. Which way Zimbabwe will go will be determined in the next few months, and it will be determined in large measure by the actions and the pressures and the influences that we in Britain bring to bear. There is no avoiding that responsibility. We have always had a responsibility for Rhodesia, in my view, however much we may have tried to hand it over to others. And it is no easy task.
As I understand the situation, there are two crucial steps in front of us. First, there is the need to have a referendum among the present white electorate on the new constitution when that constitution has been published. It is, therefore, urgently necessary that that constitution should be completed at the earliest possible moment so that the referendum can be carried out. It is urgently necessary that the referendum be carried out with the least possible delay. It seems to me that the importance of that step, the referendum, has been greatly underestimated; we very seldom hear it mentioned. It will mark the end of a very long road, particularly for Mr. Ian Smith, and I will return to his position in a moment. Secondly, elections need to be held in conditions which are free and fair.
How should British influence be brought to bear on those two problems, the next two steps, to encourage progress along 598 the road we want it to go? First, I believe that we should offer all possible help to the transitional Government on completing the new constitution and preparing for the referendum and elections. We have great experience in such matters, as other noble Lords have mentioned. I ask Her Majesty's Government what help we have offered to the transitional Government to assist them along that road and, if we have not offered them help, why have we not done so? Surely we are all agreed that the referendum and free and fair elections are essential steps towards the formation of a non-racial Zimbabwe. I hope that the noble Lord who is to reply will answer those questions frankly.
After the referendum, which I hope and believe will accept the new constitution—if it does not we can forget the future of Zimbabwe—I believe that there will be a very great and exciting opportunity to make real progress and to remove obstacles in the way of free and fair elections. As I understand it, the main obstacle at present is the continued fighting to which the absence of Mr. Nkomo in the transitional Government greatly contributes. However, I believe that there are many people who are involved in this long struggle who are desperately looking for a face-saving way to get themselves out of untenable situations. Among them is Mr. Ian Smith himself who, as I have said, has borne a heavy burden with courage and fortitude for many years. There is Dr. Kaunda and perhaps many other Front-Line Presidents whose countries are being destroyed and damaged by the Rhodesian conflict. There is Dr. Owen and his colleagues who I believe genuinely want a solution, but they are prisoners of their past mistakes and their anti-Smith vendetta. There is Mr. Nkomo with his rigid antipathy to the transitional Government, especially to Mr. Smith himself.
It seems very likely that the new constitution, if accepted by the referendum, will be accepted. If it is, then surely there would be a good chance that Mr. Smith with the right kind of encouragement and help from us, might be persuaded to resign and retire from his arduous task. On many occasions he has said that he wants to resign and retire to his farm as soon as he feels that his work is done. 599 In that event, surely we should encourage him to do so. If we could do that and it led to a great diminution in the fighting we should have conditions under which free elections were much more likely to take place, and the acceptance of the new constitution by the white population in Rhodesia would set the seal on that.
If Mr. Smith retired it would greatly improve the chance of attracting Mr. Nkomo to come into the transitional Government, of getting support from surrounding countries to stop the fighting and of holding free and fair elections. There would then surely be no shred of case for continuing sanctions. As I understand the opening speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, it would be possible at that stage to rescind the sanctions order by Order in Council, even if we passed the Southern Rhodesia Act (Continuation) Order today.
It seems to me that in those circumstances we ought to take the opportunity of proceeding along the lines that I have suggested and encourage Mr. Smith to retire, and thus make progress in that way. If your Lordships believe that that is the kind of way we should go, then I believe that to defeat the Southern Rhodesia Act (Continuation) Order tonight would be merely a diversion from the real problems of Rhodesia. Therefore, on balance, I shall not vote against the order. It is no easy decision for someone who has great affection for Rhodesia, who often goes there and who has many friends there. So what does someone in that position do? Does he just abstain or does he vote for the order? I have come to the conclusion that on balance—and I find this a most difficult decision—it is better to vote for something rather than to abstain. Therefore, for those reasons I propose to vote for the re-establishment of the Southern Rhodesia Order. However, I am doing so because I believe that to defeat the order tonight would be a diversion.
I submit that by far the best chance of reaching a solution to these difficult problems is for Her Majesty's Government, first, to give positive support to the referendum and the new constitution; secondly, to encourage Mr. Smith to retire and to give him and all his Rhodesian colleagues a free pardon, as has often been 600 done for other African rebels; thirdly, to promise to give full support to the removal of sanctions when the new constitution has been accepted, and to make one great effort to get Mr. Nkomo into the transitional Government, because I believe that that gives the best chance of carrying out elections without the distractions of guerrilla fighting.
I realise that that kind of procedure will be criticised because it will be said that I am suggesting that sanctions should be lifted before African opinion has been tested. That, of course, is correct. But I can see no way of removing the impasse—the vicious circle—into which we have got ourselves other than by adopting the kind of suggestions that I have made. For if Mr. Smith remains, there is no chance of getting Mr. Nkomo into the transitional Government. Without his support, fighting will continue and elections will virtually be impossible.
Therefore, in the interests of all the suffering peoples of Rhodesia, let us bury our hatchets, forget personal vendettas and our amour propre; let us stand no longer on legal niceties nor on our dignities, for the stakes are far too high. Let us use our influence in a practical, pragmatic way at this very critical stage, because if we do not, and if we hesitate now, the chance will be lost and the only outcome can be more bloodshed and more chaos for which we, in this country, will bear a very heavy responsibility.
§ 12.27 a.m.
§ Lord WALSTON
My Lords, I have rarely listened to so many wise and statesmanlike speeches from noble Lords on all sides of the House. But I must also say that I cannot remember ever having listened to so many speeches so full of arrant nonsense and muddled thinking as I have heard during various times this evening. I am sorely tempted to attempt to refute some of the arguments, or so-called arguments, that we have heard. I shall not do so, not only because the hour is late but also because—and I do not like to say this but I think it should be said—I think that those who have made such speeches are so surrounded by prejudice and ignorance that even if I were to speak with the tongues of serpents—which I certainly cannot—it would make no impact on them whatever.
601 Therefore, instead I shall do no more than very briefly try to suggest to your Lordships some of the areas where I believe there is agreement on all sides of the House and from those of all shades of opinion. First, we must all agree that Rhodesia today is, if not actually embroiled in civil war, on the brink of it. Secondly, we are all agreed that the United Kingdom today, even less than in 1965, is in no position to intervene with any armed force in order to prevent the bloodshed which is taking place and which will accelerate as the weeks and the months go by.
Thirdly, I am certain we all agree that our overriding objective is to bring that bloodshed to an end; to do what we can to ensure that in Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe (what does it matter what it is called?) in the years ahead, not that Mr. Smith will be able to retire to his farm or be Prime Minister, not that Bishop Muzorewa will hold the reins of power, not that Mr. Nkomo will become the President or, whatever it may be, but that the ordinary people of Rhodesia are able to cultivate their land, to bring up their children, to look forward to a future which is peaceful and has opportunity without the fear of being caught in the crossfire of the security forces, the guerrilla forces, the freedom fighters, the terrorists—it does not matter what they are called when you are shot by them. That is what we all want.
How can we achieve that, given the fact that we cannot use our own force, or introduce force from other people? Surely there can be only one hope, albeit a slender one, and that is that there should be talks; that the conflicting sides should be brought together in an attempt to reach some solution other than the solution which is imposed by firepower. Whether one agrees with the steps that have been taken by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary or not, that has been what he has been attempting to do.
It has been suggested here that he has shown favour to Nkomo and Mugabe and he has spurned the others. I do not think that that is right. He has spoken to them. He has not always laid out the red carpet for them. I myself have talked with Nkomo sitting in the public lounge at a fogbound Heathrow Airport; and no VIP lounge for him at that time. I thought myself it was rather unwise. Now he is 602 treated as an important character, as indeed he is, and so is Mr. Mugabe, and so is Mr. Sithole and Bishop Muzorewa, who have both recently been here. There is no favouritism there.
When it comes to Mr. Smith, surely that is a very different kettle of fish. After all, we must not forget that Mr. Smith is in rebellion not against the Government, not against the Labour Party, but against Her Majesty, against the Queen, to whom he swore an oath of loyalty. He has done nothing to retract that rebellion; he is still in a state of rebellion. Surely, my Lords, and particularly your Lordships on the Opposition Benches who yield to no one in your loyalty to the Crown or in your belief in the sanctity of an oath, you cannot seriously suggest that that man should be invited, while still in a state of rebellion, while having uttered no word of retraction, to come to this country and be treated as an honoured head of State. We are not so bound by protocol that we do not talk to him. We have had many talks with him, but I think we have gone quite far enough in that.
We are today discussing sanctions. That is the issue on which we have to vote. Where we have to make up our minds—having, I hope, agreed that talks are the only way in which there is the slightest chance, however remote, that this problem can be solved without further bloodshed—is on whether it is more likely that we can achieve talks by abandoning sanctions tonight or by maintaining them. Your Lordships have heard arguments. I cannot add to them. All I can say is that to my mind logic makes it abundantly clear that if we were to remove sanctions tonight that would be looked upon, whether rightly or wrongly, by Nkomo and Mugabe, and by many others too, as an abandonment of any hope of a peaceful settlement; of support for a régime they do not believe is right for their country. It will force them into believing that the only hope to achieve their aims is by firepower, and their only allies in that will be the Soviet Union, Cuba—all those terrible bogeymen of whom we have heard so much.
Therefore, whatever one's attitude towards the history of this sorry affair, and whatever one's feelings about people individually, I can see no other conclusion that can be drawn but that the removal 603 of sanctions would exacerbate the war, increase the slaughter and increase the risk of more Soviet domination in that part of Africa. The maintenance of sanctions will at least provide a slender hope that talks could take place and that peace might come to that unhappy land.
§ 12.37 a.m.
§ Lord ORR-EWING
My Lords, at this late hour I shall be as brief as possible, and perhaps I should apologise for speaking at all. In 1968, Tories in both Houses voted against United Nations mandatory sanctions. I believe we did so correctly because we felt that Rhodesia was the responsibility of the United Kingdom and that that responsibility should not be passed to the United Nations; we felt that otherwise it would make it very much more difficult to lift sanctions when it was desirable to do so. I am afraid our warnings then are being proved to be only too true.
Each year ever since we, in all parts of the House, have supported sanctions. Each November the same arguments are put forward: "Please continue them for one more year. Please give them a chance". I submit that the position has radically changed since we debated the subject a year ago. I have, rather reluctantly, supported sanctions in the 10 years that have elapsed because I have thought it would help persuade Mr. Ian Smith to accept the six salient conditions which successive Governments have demanded. Last March Mr. Smith accepted them and agreed to multiracial government, majority rule, with solid guarantees for minorities; and, after all, we all believe in guarantees for minorities whether they be in Northern Ireland or Rhodesia. I feel, therefore, that there is now a different situation and that I must therefore on this occasion vote for the lifting of sanctions.
It is said persuasively by great statesmen in your Lordships' House that if we vote against sanctions and defeat the Government tonight we shall be breaking United Nations law and a mandatory resolution. But there are many first-class Powers, also members of the Security Council, such as France, which have found no difficulty whatever in breaking sanctions year after year. One 604 need only go to South Africa or East Africa and see the number of cars there; one sees every sort of product that France and Germany produce. They have never felt inhibited in breaking sanctions or United Nations rules. Indeed, there have been times when a committee of the United Nations has voted solidly that we should hand Gibraltar over to Franco Spain. I am glad to say that we took absolutely no notice of that resolution either.
Many Peers may not have received a letter from the Foreign Office in Rhodesia. I fear that a number of copies did not arrive here and I have asked the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, to look into this; only very few have got through. The letter points out that the United States of America passed a resolution in both its Houses. The letter states:it is pertinent to recall that the United States Senate and House of Representatives agreed to a joint motion on 11 August 1978, declaring the sanctions should be abandoned after 31 December 1978, provided that the President was satisfied over Rhodesia's willingness to negotiate in good faith and to hold fair and free elections".The point here is that both Chambers of Congress did not say that they would make representations to the United Nations to lift sanctions. They made no reference to this at all. They merely said that the United States Congress would make this judgment and would act bilaterally. So are we going to be more obligated to the United Nations than was the United States Congress? I believe that we should set that point aside and that we should do what we believe is in the interests of a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia.
My noble friends Lord Home of the Hirsel and Lord Carrington, and others, have made constructive suggestions as to what action should be taken in preparation for elections and for a stable and peaceful Government in Rhodesia. Many of us in all parts of the House feel that Her Majesty's Government are giving too much support to the guerrilla forces led by Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo, and that during what has become a civil war—and a desperate and disastrous one—no aid and only little comfort is being given to the interim Government.
I should like to suggest that the Government should seriously consider some of the constructive suggestions that have 605 been put forward by my noble friends Lord Home and Lord Carrington, and others. Would it not be worth while now, within the next few days, to send a Minister of Cabinet rank to Salisbury? This was proposed by Lord Home and was also touched upon by Mr. Francis Pym in another place. Would it not be worth while to take up the proposal that we form a contact team as was sent to bring about such a satisfactory settlement—or, at any rate, a very promising settlement—in Namibia? Would it not be worth while to think about a Camp David-type conference led by the British Prime Minister? That was proposed by, I think, Lord Home, and Lord Carrington as well. Why should we not lend parliamentary draftsmen to help the interim Government to draft the constitution? Why should we not assist them to draft laws concerning racial equality and land ownership?
If they are dragging their feet, perhaps it is because they do not have the expertise. Probably they have no more expertise in Rhodesia than some of our county councils would have if they were asked in a few months, when a civil war was on their hands, to make drafts of such vast importance. So could we not help them in this respect? Would not all these actions help the morale of those in the interim Government who are dedicated to a peaceful and satisfactory multi-racial settlement in that poor country? It would certainly improve their morale at a time when they are badly in need of help.
If those of us who believe that sanctions should be lifted defeat the Government tonight—as I hope we shall—we shall be giving Her Majesty's Government and the Commons, in the classic words which I have heard so many times in your Lordships' House, time to think again. The Government have brought the order forward rather belatedly, but there is still time. We have until midnight on 14th November or 15th November. Remember, my Lords, that we passed all stages of the Bill on Rhodesian sanctions through both Houses in a single day on 15th November 1968. So there is certainly time to bring this back. In the meantime, the Government could think about the constructive proposals put forward by people of great wisdom in this House and in another place as well. 606 If they agree to do this, perhaps when the order comes back to this House many of us will think again about voting against it and think that it would be wiser in the long-term interests to let it through.
The Government have constructive alternatives before them. They have some possible solutions. I want to ask them to think most carefully about these solutions. I hope that many of us will give them those five or six days to carry out this thinking by voting later tonight against the continuation of sanctions.
§ 12.45 a.m.
My Lords, although it is so early in the morning I will, for the sake of reasonable brevity, confine my remarks to the question of sanctions only. I must tell your Lordships straight away that, from listening to this debate, I have reached the opposite conclusions to the conclusions reached by my noble friend who has just sat down, although I in fact agree with many of the points that he made. In deciding how to vote tonight, I am bound to ask myself the same question as my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition asked himself. I paraphrase it in this way: Would the unilateral removal of sanctions by the United Kingdom now improve or weaken the prospect of an independent Rhodesia in which black and white can live and work together in peace? I think that is what we are talking about.
I can answer that question only in the light of certain beliefs. I think, first of all, that successive Conservative and Labour Governments have been right to lay down and stick to principles with which Rhodesia must comply before her Government is recognised again. The fact that their adoption in other African countries has usually meant one man one vote once only does not alter my view. It is no bad thing, my Lords, to launch a ship on an even keel. Secondly, although no country in Africa can be described as a Parliamentary democracy (I think that in spite of what the Foreign Secretary said about Basutoland, on which I am not an expert)—and precious few countries elsewhere in the world can, for that matter —Kenya has demonstrated that a non-racial society can flourish, albeit with greatly changed standards, even after a rebellion in which some 25,000 Africans 607 and close on 100 Europeans were slaughtered by Mau Mau, headed by the man who became President. Perhaps there is some hope in that.
Following on from that, although I think Kenya serves as the best example of what Rhodesia could achieve, I think Rhodesia has several much greater advantages. The country is comparatively free from inter-tribal conflict in comparison with Kenya, although there is no love lost at all, as many noble Lords know, between the Shona and the Matabele. Rhodesia is rich in natural resources; and as well as having a competent Civil Service, well trained over many years, since virtual independence in 1923 she has had many African graduates in politics and the professions. These, I think, are great advantages.
Next, the tests of public opinion through a referendum for the white people followed by a general election must now, unhappily, take place in dangerous and unfavourable conditions. But provided there is an honest intention to make the election as free and fair as possible, surely we must accept the result of these tests. I think the longer these essential tests of public opinion are delayed, the less free, and therefore the less fair, are they likely to be. I remark in passing here that we have been given no good reasons by the transitional Government for the delay in holding these tests of public opinion, and this concerns me greatly. To this end, my Lords, everything possible must still be done, I feel, to persuade Mr. Nkomo and, if possible, Mr. Mugabe (though I think that is a slender hope) to play their part in electing a constitutional Government. Such persuasion can no longer be matched, though, by the Government's ambivalent and even hostile attitude to an internal settlement. Therefore, it surely follows that the transitional Government deserves and should have our full support and encouragement, though not our recognition.
Surely, too, we should follow up the suggestion made by a number of noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel, and send to Salisbury a senior representative, of Cabinet rank, to represent the British Government's view there. As a small gesture, could we not relax some of the quite unnecessary 608 restrictions on Rhodesians wishing to visit the United Kingdom? I think that would be very well received in Rhodesia. Immediately it is clear that Rhodesia has taken all steps to comply with the Five Principles and acted to repeal all the discriminatory laws—and here, again, delays are worrying and unexplained—what then? Of course, United Nations sanctions should then be removed at once. But are there adequate contingency plans to give that lovely country of Rhodesia a rapid, major boost to restore her weakened economy and to rebuild the damaged fabric of her education, health and other services? We have not been told much about these plans. I should appreciate it very much if when the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, comes to reply he will reassure us that such plans exist and that Britain is prepared to lead such a rescue operation, calling for the support from all right-minded countries.
Finally, under this heading, I believe that Mr. Francis Pym's excellent suggestion of a Rhodesia Camp David-type meeting should be urgently followed up with no delay whatsoever. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, recommended to the House that nothing would be lost by a little old-fashioned diplomacy. For my part, I could not agree more. But the Prime Minister's comment when intervening in Mr. Pym's speech in the other place, that neither side is yet willing to make the necessary compromises—and I think those were his exact words—begs the whole question. There were no compromises of any significance at all before the Camp David meeting between President Sadat and Mr. Begin; and who seriously thought that Mr. Begin would agree to the withdrawal of all the Israeli settlements from the Sinai as a result of those discussions and that he would get the blessing of his Cabinet? I doubt whether any noble Lord can put his hand on his heart and say that he was expecting that result. So perhaps there is some real hope in such a meeting.
So much for my general thoughts. My question was whether sanctions still have a part to play in helping Rhodesia to find a way out of her tragic dilemma. Those who advocate ending sanctions seem to use two quite different arguments. First, they say—some of them—that sanctions are ineffective because they have been so widely broken and they are therefore 609 simply a farce. Secondly—sometimes in the same speech—one hears that sanctions are damaging Rhodesia's economy and weakening her ability to defend herself against her enemies within and without. In words I take from The Times last week, even a "moron in a hurry" can see how contradictory those two arguments are. The Smith régime was never in any doubt that sanctions would follow a declaration of UDI; but they believed that they could live with them. Mr. Smith told me so in 1964, just before the UDI declaration, when I tried in a very small way to reinforce a Conservative Government's warnings of the dire and dangerous consequences of declaring independence unilaterally.
What would be the effect of removing sanctions now? I think it could only be a unilateral decision were we to do so. It would certainly be flouting international law. In my view, it would provide very little relief for the Rhodesian economy. I see no chance of any other country following suit. It would inevitably hurt our economy more than it could help Rhodesia's. Why?—because of the reaction in so many other countries. In Nigeria, for example, what would the reaction be? In many countries which have raw materials of immense value to our economy the reaction could be very serious indeed. That is my view. It would mean abandoning our rôle as mediator in the search for a political solution—and the only satisfactory solution is a political one.
Such an empty gesture as a unilateral abandonment of sanctions could create a false impression that a Conservative Government would follow a radically different policy from that of the present Government. I have no reason to believe that to be the case, although there would no doubt be important changes of emphasis after the blunders which I feel, and other noble Lords on this side feel, have been made since March.
Mr. Smith must bear the major responsibility for the present state of affairs in Rhodesia. It has always been a case of too little, too late, too often. But I am in no doubt that he cares passionately about the future of his country and its people, black and white, and that he may be the best or the only man capable of leading Rhodesia out of the wilderness. 610 Here I differ from my noble friend Lord Caldecote, who knows Rhodesia and probably Mr. Smith much better than I do; but that is my view. If we now believe that Mr. Smith is talking and acting in good faith—and if we do not, who can we trust instead?—we must strengthen and not weaken his position and that of Mr. Sithole, Bishop Muzorewa and Chief Chirau.
Unlike some of my noble friends, I believe firmly that keeping sanctions on until the transitional Government have carried out their obligations and promises is one way of strengthening their hand, though we can hardly be expected to be thanked for doing it. I add to that that many noble Lords, during this extraordinarily interesting debate have suggested other ways in which the hands of the transitional Government can be strengthened. I beg the noble Lord who is replying for the Government to tell us quite clearly that the Government have an open mind about the suggestions that have been made, will consider them favourably and do their utmost to take some of the excellent advice that has been offered.
These are some of my conclusions after listening to the collective wisdom of noble Lords in this debate. These are some of the reasons why I say with absolute conviction that we would make a great mistake today to say more than that we will use all our influence between now and the spring to help in setting up a constitutional Government in Salisbury that we can recognise. Until that supreme effort has been made here—especially by the Government—and there in Rhodesia by the transitional Government, I am convinced that sanctions should go on. So, as I do not like abstaining, and though I am highly critical of the Government's handling of this problem since last March, I feel bound to vote for the order. I am sure that in doing so I will not be alone on this side of the House.
§ 12.57 a.m.
§ Lord PLANT
My Lords, I too shall support the continuation of sanctions. It has been adequately explained why the whole world is expecting us to record an affirmative vote. There has been no western support for the internal settlement. 611 It may be that history will say this was an error; but we have to accept that non-recognition has meant failure for the internal settlement as we now know it. Joshua Nkomo is a friend of mine. He was leader of the powerful railway workers' union and a great friend of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. He was the original nationalist. He certainly was not self-appointed. He was gaoled for a number of years. While in gaol, he asked Bishop Muzorewa to continue the fight for liberation.
Nkomo is from the Matabele tribe. They are warriors, dominant, forceful leaders; but only 30 per cent. of the black population are from that tribe. The other three leaders are Mashonas. They are farmers, peace-loving, easy-going, but they form 70 per cent. of the population. The 1CFTU had a representative, Bill Lawrence, in Rhodesia, helping and guiding the trade union movement for eight years. But Ian Smith made this task impossible; he had to leave. We had hopes that the trade union movement could be welded into a uniting force for freedom, democracy and peace. It did not happen. It is regrettable that the trade union movement is in Rhodesia now split not only on a tribal basis, but also between the various Zimbabwe leaders. It is therefore weakened and divided and is not at present the dominant uniting force we hoped for at one time.
In November 1976, in Geneva, Ivor Richard tried for six weeks to achieve an understanding between the four Zimbabwe leaders and Ian Smith. History will show how near he was to succeeding. He had secured the confidence of all participants. I had the opportunity, as a member of the ILO Governing Body then meeting in Geneva, to meet the four leaders. Joshua Nkomo had the real smell of leadership. The ILO, at that Governing Body meeting, amended its regulations so that technical help could be given to the emerging controlling interests in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, no agreement has been reached and this help can now only be given to the freedom fighters recognised by the OAU.
We are now at the crossroads. Not renewing sanctions will do nothing to concentrate Ian Smith's mind towards peace. His resignation, in my view, is now 612 needed. What are we then to do? Men sometimes change when brought face to face with awful and blinding truths. It may require an extra dimension of faith to win men from their present fixed positions and frozen attitudes. There are African precedents for something quite unexpected to happen in Rhodesia. There has been reformation: Kenyatta changed from a leader of Mau Mau to a statesman whose generous attitude induced many whites to stay. There is the reconciliation with the Ibos, the ending of 13 years of civil war in the Sudan, and the astonishing reconciliation of General Nimeri with Sadique Mahdi.
We stand for a full transfer of power to majority rule, based on free and fair elections. We take no sides in the leadership dispute: only the people of Zimbabwe should decide this. We want to see the war and suffering ended. We must do what we think is right for the 6½ million Rhodesians. The firmer our stand on these issues and the firmer our refusal to be drawn into any deals in the course of diplomatic complexities, the more other African States—notably Nigeria, which has a key role to play—will join in the same stand.
I underline the suggestion made by my noble friend Lord Caradon. In spite of what the leaders may say in public, the terrible prospects of unending war which neither side can win without so much bloodshed as to leave a country in chaos to inherit is giving them second thoughts in private. The Rhodesian security forces realise they cannot keep fighting to preserve white supremacy, nor indeed the transitional Government. Is this why the leaders are now gathering private armies? The younger generation in Rhodesia increasingly feel they are fighting to gain a majority rule government—the best chance for a stable and democratic Zimbabwe. I think a British resident Commissioner with expert observers is urgently needed in Salisbury. I think, too, that we might consider asking the ICFTU to take a more active role again in Rhodesia.
Profound changes are going on in Rhodesia. The man in the street wants to know how the vicious circle of fear and control, bitterness and struggle for power can be broken. Actions of extraordinary faith and courage are taking 613 place. A white farmer was recently killed by guerrillas while leading a major move for reconciliation through meetings with local people and with the guerrillas in his area. It was spreading. His widow, I am glad to say, is continuing the fight. There is a solvent at work—an ever-growing nucleus of blacks and whites are learning to trust each other and work together. If Britain can take some risks in order to bind up the wounds and set the people free, there will be many inside the country who will immediately join in this task.
§ 1.5 a.m.
§ Lord COLERAINE
My Lords, this has been, in many ways, a most extraordinary debate. I think it is the first debate that I have attended at which there have been 46 speakers, and not one has withdrawn. That is an indication of the sincerity with which the views expressed on either side have been held. It is extraordinary in another way. I think that I have been present at every debate on the sanctions order and I have spoken in most, and in this one the argument seems to have been blown apart. In every debate until now we have been told that sanctions were beginning to bite; if they were not biting this year they would be biting next year. But, today, we have been told that sanctions were never intended to bite. We knew all the time that oil was going in. We knew all the time that we had to consider our interests in South Africa. We knew all the time that we could not afford to go in for a full-blooded policy of sanctions and that, again, is something new.
But what is perhaps most extraordinary of all, to my mind, is the fact that on this side of the House, at any rate, there is a general opinion that the Government have totally mishandled the opportunity that was offered to them in March of last year. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said that the chance that was given to the Government, and which they threw away, was a near miracle which he could never have anticipated. I think that each of our Front Bench speakers has said more or less the same thing. Yet at the end of it all, we are invited to go on as if nothing had happened and to retain sanctions.
My noble friend Lord Home said that by their attitude towards the internal settlement the Government had made 614 themselves a virtual hostage to Nkomo and Mugabe, and I think that is true. But he then went on to say that of course until we get a return to legality there is nothing we can do about it. I wonder whether my noble friend has ever considered how many Governments he had to deal with, whether as Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary, which began as illegal régimes. I would say, at a rough guess, that two Scandinavian Governments and Belgium are the only three that did not begin as illegal régimes. And do we have to go on harping year after year, decade after decade, century after century, on the illegality of this particular régime?
I should like to ask my noble friend another question. Has it ever occurred to him that he himself was Prime Minister of an illegal régime. The revolution of 1688 may have been glorious, but it was certainly illegal. But somehow he managed to swallow that. This attitude that we have, to go on for ever and ever denouncing Rhodesia as an illegal régime, is something that we must get out of our systems. And then my noble friend said—I am sorry to pin everything on him—that we cannot do anything without the United Nations: this has to be done, that has to be done, and that cannot be done unless it is an illegal régime. That assumes—the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor made the same assumption, I think—first that there is such a thing as international law, that it is comparable to municipal law, and that that international law is embodied in the Charter of the United Nations. That simply cannot be true.
I suppose there is nobody in this House or, indeed, in the other place, apart from my noble friend, if I may so still call him, Lord Gladwyn, who has had a bigger part than I to play in the formation of the United Nations. His was at the official level, and therefore more effective, while mine was at the ministerial level—and representative. But my enthusiasm for the United Nations was very great, and anyone who has read Lord Gladwyn's memoirs will know that he recommended me as Secretary General of the United Nations, simply because of my enthusiasm for it and my interest in it. However, in those days the United Nations consisted of 50 members. Today it consists, I think, of 147. The difference, the 100, is more or less the Organisation for African 615 Unity, plus a few Asian countries of which, I am afraid, I do not know the locality. To pretend that a body politically so inexperienced as the United Nations today can lay down international law for politically mature people like ourselves seems to me to be asking a little too much.
Older Members of the House, at any rate, will remember a man called Gilbert Murray, especially Members sitting on the Liberal Benches, because he was a very distinguished Liberal. I knew him well, and I dare say that others did. I was looking at a book about him over the weekend. He wrote a letter to Hugh Cecil in which he said this:Justice is often very difficult to define and the just line of policy impossible to discover. Still, psychologically it makes an enormous difference to people whether they feel they are getting fair or unfair treatment".Just let us think of that phrase in relation to Rhodesia and the United Nations.Of course",Gilbert Murray goes on,it would be impossible to give every nation, or perhaps any nation, what it chooses to consider its just deserts, but I think people are often calmed down, if not actually satisfied, by what they feel to be an attempt at justice; e.g. if they are not allowed to state their case they get wild with rage;".Has Rhodesia ever been allowed to state its case to the United Nations, my Lords? Or should they be allowed to state it before a reasonably impartial tribunal? If so, then they may lose it. They may grumble, but they will not feel positively murderous; and I do not see how anybody, surveying the world scene over the past 15 years or longer, can expect the Rhodesians to pay any attention to the United Nations as a fair court of law, and I can see no reason whatever why we ourselves should do so.
My noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing read what the American Senate and Congress said about policy towards Rhodesia—not a word about the United Nations. They are going to pursue that policy. Why are we so afraid of the United Nations? Why are we so afraid of Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo? Is it because we want them to fight the battles for us so that we shall not have to intervene? Is not the fair and honest thing to reject this order tonight and, as has 616 been suggested by more than one speaker, if within the next week the Government come forward with some constructive suggestion to implement the internal settlement we can reconsider the position. But if not, I for my part would say unhesitatingly that we ought to reject the order tonight, and reject it when it is presented again.
§ 1.17 a.m.
§ Lord WIGODER
My Lords, we on the Liberal Benches would wish to join with noble Lords in all parts of the House who have expressed the fervent, if somewhat optimistic, hope that this may be the last occasion upon which we shall have to discuss this order. Nevertheless, we take the view that it would be wholly inappropriate at this stage to lift sanctions. It would be quite wrong to make a dramatic gesture in favour of a régime that is still in rebellion against the Crown, that is quite clearly still dominated by Mr. Ian Smith, that is quite clearly still not proceeding to fulfil the Six Principles that we have all regarded as essential and that is still proceeding in far too grudging and belated a manner to set up any form of multiracial society. We believe, too, that to make that gesture at this time could have nothing but disastrous results upon our relations with the whole of the African continent.
The only other observation I want to make about this aspect of the matter is that in recent years your Lordships' House has, I think throughout the country, acquired a very great reputation for the responsibility with which it approaches public affairs. I cannot help wondering whether it would materially increase that reputation if on this issue we were to take a decisive step against a majority of very nearly 200 in the elected Chamber, and whether indeed it would materially enhance our reputation for responsibility if we, in your Lordships' House, were to be the first to advocate the unilateral abrogation of our international legal obligations.
I could wish—and I hope there will be no caustic comments of "Hear, hear"—to sit down at this stage but I cannot do so because, inextricably intermingled with this debate, there has been a debate on a matter which we on these Benches regard as being of the greatest possible importance, and that is the debate on the 617 Bingham Report. We believe that that raises issues of the accountability of Government, of the integrity of successive Governments, of the role of the Civil Service; indeed, it raises also long-term considerations as to whether economic sanctions can ever be an effective weapon in the international armoury of peacekeeping. Therefore, with some hesitation, I feel obliged just for a moment or two to tread into the minefield that surrounds me. The mines, of course, are those many of your Lordships who have occupied positions of the greatest distinction in Labour or Conservative Governments since 1965, or have been civil servants of equal distinction during that time.
It is comforting to learn from the lips of every one of those who have spoken this evening that there appears to be no need for any further inquiry into any of the activities of the last 13 years, and one is no doubt supported in that view by the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has added his voice, too, in that direction. Nevertheless, we believe that there are matters. We believe that the Attorney-General was right when he said the other day that nothing must be swept under the carpet. We believe it would have been a good start perhaps to not sweeping anything under the carpet if we had been able to have, at the instance of either the Government or the Conservative Opposition, a wholly separate debate on the Bingham Report, not mixed up and confused with the other matter that we are discussing this evening.
As to the issues that are raised, I have read, as have most of your Lordships, I know, the Bingham Report and a great deal of the published material that has emerged in the course of the last few weeks. It is no time now for detailed analysis of what they contain, nor would I wish for one moment to claim Parliamentary privilege in order to attack by name people who are in no position to reply. I accept, too, there are grave difficulties in the sanctions position, with South Africa and its own internal laws and the position of Portugal in relation to Mozambique. But certain questions want answering, do they not? It is no part of my task to suggest the answers, but to suggest that we must have a full investigation to discover the answers.
618 There are very clear indications in Bingham that before UDI the oil companies may have been in collusion with Ian Smith in order to assure him that when UDI was declared, even if sanctions were imposed, ways round could be found. That is a matter that requires investigation. The question arises whether, before they imposed sanctions, the British Government went to the oil companies, went to Shell, went to BP, which has a majority Government shareholding and two Government directors on the board, and invited them to help. Were sanctions going to be effective; how could they be made effective? Or did the British Government know in 1965, right from the beginning, that they were merely going through rather empty motions?
The fact that emerges beyond any dispute from the Bingham Report is that from 1965 to 1978 Rhodesia got as much oil as they wanted, and got it from Shell and from BP, either directly or indirectly. There was a very small falling off just after 1965 but so small as to be negligible. I say they got it either directly or indirectly because there was, of course, the swap about which we have heard a good deal. The swap on the face of it was a straightforward fraudulent device which appears to have served only one purpose, and that was to enable Ministers to say with a completely straight face that no British oil was reaching Rhodesia. That appears to have been the only importance of the swap. I noticed with great interest that the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, in the course of his frank, and, if I may say so, fascinating observations, said that such swaps are a normal part of the international oil trade. They are not when they are documented in the way that this one was documented. If it is suggested that they were normal transactions in this case, why was it that no Minister came forward and explained to the British public that the swap was going on and it was, of course, something that was in no way unusual—it was entirely legitimate and above board?
In that situation, where the oil was in fact getting to Rhodesia, there are only two possible alternatives: either Governments knew, or Governments did not know. If Governments knew, then what were they doing making the statements they did to the people of this 619 country? Why was it that in December 1966 it was said:Our present sanctions are having a considerable effect";in October 1967:Her Majesty's Government have imposed sanctions in a way that has had much greater effect than had been generally accepted";in June 1968:that sanctions have had serious effects is now perfectly clear";in 1973 with a Conservative Government:On sanctions this country is fulfilling its complete obligations under the United Nations instructions";in September 1976:The competent United Kingdom authorities are satisfied that there is no evidence of sanction-breaking by any British companies or individuals";and as recently as February 1977:So far as the British oil companies are concerned, Her Majesty's Government have, in the past, received firm assurances that they are observing sanctions"?I frequently receive firm assurances from my own professional clients that they are entirely innocent. It is a very naive jury that has ever taken them at their face value. That, therefore, is the first problem. If Governments knew, why have they been misleading the public of this country?
The alternative is that it may be that Governments did not know. That may be an alternative, but it is no answer. If they did not know, why did they not know? What was British intelligence doing over these 12 or 13 years, if that be true? What happened to the British Consul in Lourenço Marques, who must have been making reports as to what was going on? Whom did those reports reach? Why did they not get to the Cabinet? What happened at the embassy in South Africa where we know from the Bingham Report that in early 1968 the head of Shell (South Africa), Mr. Walker, gave a full account of what was happening? Was that not sent on to the British Government? Indeed, we know today, having had the advantage of the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, that some information was certainly coming through, and he was supported by what Mr. Michael Stewart said the other day in the other place. If that information came through, as no doubt it did, how does it come about once again that those 620 statements were made and that the people of this country were being misled in that way?
There are other matters, but I have no time to explore them at this stage. I am not surprised that the Front Bench of the Conservative Party is getting a trifle restless. There was the Beira blockade that cost £200 million of the taxpayers' money and was certainly a farce and must have been known to be a farce while it was being imposed. There is the rôle—and I choose my words with some care here—of the Civil Service. I heard what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Garner, and the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill. There are indications in the Bingham Report that all was not well. There arc indications of some links of an unusual nature between the civil servants and the oil companies. I am not seeking to pass judgment, but I am suggesting that there is material that should be inquired into.
There is the further situation that should surely be inquired into as to the relationship between the Civil Service and the incoming Government in 1970. I accept entirely the convention to which the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, referred. But are we really to stretch that constitutional convention into saying that if civil servants are aware that there is a criminal conspiracy to contravene the law taking place under one Government, their obligation is to keep entirely silent when a new Government takes office? These are all matters that we, on these Benches, believe ought properly to be inquired into. We do not seek to pass judgment. We seek to ask for an inquiry, but not for a criminal investigation. A criminal investigation will result in a few minnows being put in a dock for events that are 10 or 12 years stale and who may have committed actions with the connivance of those who will never appear in the dock.
We suggest that the proper way in which to deal with this matter is by a proper judicial tribunal of inquiry which really will get down to see what was happening in those last 13 years and which we believe, despite what has been said by many noble Lords today in this debate —because of the importance of the issues involved—must have access to the Cabinet papers. The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, said that to do that would be to 621 bring Cabinet Government into disrepute. If I may respectfully say so, what brings Cabinet Government into disrepute is disreputable Cabinet Government.
That is all I desire to say on this occasion. I would hope that your Lordships will agree to continue the sanctions order tonight by a very, very substantial majority, and I would also hope that many of your Lordships in all parts of the House will join with my friends on these Benches in demanding the fullest possible inquiry into activities over sanctions in the last 13 years, not because we want to see a general muck-raking expedition, but because we believe that there are valuable lessons that should be learned for the future.
§ 1.32 a.m.
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARY-LEBONE
My Lords, I mean no discourtesy to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, when I say that I wish to confine myself solely to the question before the House. No doubt the matters which he discussed in the greater part of his speech are important. We, in this House, have many opportunities to discuss such matters. We have serious decisions to take in the immediate future, and I want to discuss them and them alone.
The Government have come before the House asking for a further year for Section 2 of the Act of 1965. The question is whether we should ultimately say "Content" or "Not Content" to that Motion, and, with respect, that is the only question that we have to consider. It is not the work of the House in a deliberative function; it is something we have to do or refrain from doing; and we shall be judged, not by the sincerity of our motives or by the wisdom of our words, but by the consequences of our acts, be they good or bad. It is upon the consequences of the two alternative courses that I want to concentrate in the few minutes during which I shall detain your Lordships before the Division.
The debate is held against an admittedly sombre background. Blood is being shed in Rhodesia, and, as more than one noble Lord has reminded us, Rhodesia is only part of Southern Africa. Great Powers are in danger of being involved. In the end humanity must make up its mind whether power grows out of the barrel of 622 a gun or whether it is to be pursued by a different doctrine and a different philosophy: that it is based on reconciliation, reason and argument.
I approach, first, the problem of law. It has been expounded by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, but, with respect to my noble friend Lord Blake, I do not think that it requires too much learning to see what the issue is. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has told us what the issue is. The sanctions were imposed at the request of this country. The noble Lord, Lord Paget, reminded me that I had spoken against it. I did speak against it. I spoke against it because I thought that it would place us at the mercy of the Soviet veto, and so it has, but it was introduced by the Government of this country. Mandatory sanctions were imposed and, under the Charter of the United Nations, they can only be removed in the circumstances which have already been described.
I do not think it requires a very acute legal brain to say that treaties are not "scraps of paper", or that people should keep their promises. The Charter of the United Nations is a promise solemnly entered into by all the founder members and by anyone who subscribes to it. It is a promise entered into by this country, and the proposition which my noble friends are putting before the House when one after the other has got up and said he is going to vote against the Motion is that we should solemnly break a promise made in the most serious of circumstances.
I do not share at all the unmitigated and apparently unqualified admiration of the way the United Nations works expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. I think it is at times pathetic, and often disappointing; occasionally disreputable. But if we were to withhold from the Government what they are asking for tonight we should not be taking sanctions off, because we cannot do that; we should be withholding from the Government the power and the right to enforce something which it is our duty to perform. I must say—I frankly say—I was shocked when one noble Lord after another got up and pooh-poohed all this and said, perhaps, "This is only a lawyer's point. It is an argument of expediency. It is something which other 623 people have done, so why shouldn't we do it too?" I frankly say that I was about seven when I was told that this country had gone to war because treaties were not "scraps of paper", and I wholly disagreed with my noble friend Lord Coleraine when he said that the question is whether there is such a thing as international law, or whether the Charter of the United Nations forms part of it.
The solemn keeping of promised obligations is something which transcends law and is at the basis of civilised life. It transcends Rhodesia. It is at the very root of the philosophy of the West, and very largely the whole future of mankind may depend upon the question whether nations that claim to be civilised nations and exponents of the law of Christianity as well as the law of nations should keep a solemn obligation solemnly entered into in public.
§ Lord COLERAINE
My Lords, would my noble and learned friend allow me to intervene? I accept his strictures, but does he really argue that the cause of law is advanced by relying on what is patently a sham? Is peace advanced by relying on what is patently a sham, or does he think that the United Nations has a reality which transcends all these "minor" points of the future of the world?
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE
My Lords, if I have time, and I am conscious that I am trespassing on the time of the House, I shall at a later stage in my remarks say something on that too. But there has been no serious challenge to the propositions first that the Government are asking for the power to discharge their international obligations on behalf of this country and, secondly, that if we were to refuse that power we should not only be condoning but compelling a breach of promise by the United Kingdom—the United Kingdom which has hitherto gone on record as believing that the plighted word is something which should be kept. The last thing I wanted to do was to pass stricture on my noble friend, but I thought his failure to disentangle the important issue of principle, which is a moral issue, from the confusion of this debate was a serious failure on his part to see what the real question 624 which we have to decide will be and what the consequences of it would be if we were to yield to his argument.
That brings me to the political consequences of what we are being asked to do. My noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing gave what I thought was a proper tribute to the constructive suggestions made at the outset of the debate by my noble friend Lord Carrington and, at a later stage, by my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel. He also referred, and so may I, to the additions and improvements on them which were made by the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, whose experience of diplomatic affairs is surely something one must take seriously, as one must the noble Lord, Lord Garner, who also held the post of Permanent Secretary.
Those suggestions might as well be forgotten, in my opinion, if we were to reject the Motion tonight. They would be absolutely useless because if there is one thing which is absolutely certain it is that not one of them could be carried out without the goodwill of countries outside our own, without the goodwill of moderate Africans, shaken by the Bingham Report, without the goodwill of the Commonwealth outside Africa and without the goodwill of the United States. We certainly will not get much goodwill from the Communist bloc. Without that goodwill, which would be lost, in my judgment—I must tell my noble friends that it is my considered judgment—and if this country were allowed to stand alone in breach of her international obligations, any constructive influence we might hope to have on the Rhodesian situation would be lost and would not be recovered before the situation had deteriorated beyond our control. And when noble Lords, whose sincerity I do not for a moment doubt, ask us seriously to take that risk in this House and to place this country alone, and without a shred of legal justification for what we were doing—in such a way that the political consequence would be that any influence on others we might hope to possess would be torn to shreds and would disappear forever—it seems to me that they should think twice before casting a vote against this Motion.
My next point is perhaps an argument of expediency, and I say that as a present to the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, who spoke from the Cross Benches. We 625 cannot overlook the possibility of retaliation, retaliation not of course from the United Nations Security Council, although I think Lord Hankey was wrong in thinking that our veto would be available to use in such circumstances; he has not read the Charter recently. I am not particularly worried about that. Bilateral or unilateral retaliation would be a certainty. How serious it would be I cannot judge and perhaps noble Lords who know more about these things than I do can judge it better for themselves. But I do not think that it can be disregarded. If we were to make peace as a result of what is proposed, if we were to enhance our prospects of making power grow out of reconciliation and reason, rather than out of the barrels of guns, then we might have to face the prospect of retaliation with a good conscience. But what kind of men and women would we be if, having first isolated this country and rendered it impotent, we then laid her naked to the frenzy and folly of our enemies? Is that the kind of argument from expediency that we ought to reject?
My noble friend Lord Blake quoted from the admired ancestor of my noble friend Lord Salisbury. At any rate, there was one thing which that great Prime Minister knew—and that was that foreign policy ought to be based on national interest; and I cannot believe that those who so despise the argument from retaliation are really wise or are in the true tradition to the Party to which I belong.
There is also the question of the position of this House. Obviously, it is of far less importance than the matters that I have been discussing up to this moment. However, I ask noble Lords whether we are being wholly responsible if, after the other place by a substantial majority—I think about 200—has voted in one direction, we should try to take an executive action, withholding from the Government power to pursue their policy in another? I do not deny that we have the legal power. I do not even deny that in certain circumstances we might have the constitutional right and duty to do it. However, in the circumstances which I have sought to portray, in an action which will isolate this country, in my judgment, and render it impotent in the dispute which we are to discuss, and which will break international law, is this House 626 going to try to override the considered judgment of another place?
The least of all the arguments that I think we ought to consider is the possibility that the Government will have another thought about this policy. They will re-lay the order in a slightly modified form to conform with the statutory law of this country, and we should then be in exactly the same position as we are now, except that we shall have been humiliated as a result of the action of those who voted against the order in the first place.
My noble friend Lord Carrington has led the Opposition in this House, commanding a substantial majority, ever since I returned to it and have been on this side of the House. I think I can honestly say—and it is no idle compliment that I pay him—that it is very largely due to his wisdom, restraint and, to my mind, almost infallible judgment, that in a very difficult period of time this House, so far from losing its influence, has actually gained it. It has gained it among all sections of the community. I believe that we should be forfeiting almost all our gains if we were to take the course which was recommended by those of my noble friends from whom I happen to differ.
Having said that, I must come back to the question posed to me by my noble friend Lord Coleraine and which I promised to answer if I had time. I shall try to answer it very shortly. It must not be thought, because I have said what I have said, that I am without criticism of Mr. Smith, or of the Government, or of other parties to this discussion. We should not forget that in 1965 every responsible Conservative statesman I know of—from the noble Marquess's revered and much beloved father on the right, to people like Mr. Nicholas Scott on the left—begged of Mr. Smith not to take UDI. We did that for the reason, among others, that when he got into trouble he would make it almost impossible for us to help him, although we should wish to do so. He got into trouble because he was working against the grain of history, and now he abuses us because we find it difficult to help him as much as we should like. I also opposed—and I have already referred to it—the appeal to the United Nations. I doubted, as the noble Lord, 627 Lord Paget, reminded us, whether it was within the true purposes of the Charter. But I doubted the wisdom of it far more because it put us at the mercy of the Soviet veto. That was done, and I do not approve of it.
My Lords, I also think, as I believe do all my noble friends on this side of the House, that when Mr. Smith, under one pressure or another, came to see that majority rule was inevitable and made the internal settlement, the Government should have smiled upon it and encouraged it. I would not have blamed them, in the light of some things that had been said, if they had said to him, "We must see the colour of your money first. We are not going to take any paper money; we want actual performance". But I think they should have smiled on it, and I regret that they did not. I also feel, and feel with a passion which I shall try to restrain, that the two so-called freedom fighters have made themselves the lackeys and the stooges of Marxist imperialism, and have become the apostles of the doctrine which I hate most in the world, which is that power arises out of the barrel of a gun. I think, therefore, that they have been too much indulged by the Government.
But, my Lords, that does not alter my judgment about the question which we have to decide now; and the question we have to decide now is: What is going to be the consequence of our vote? I beg my noble friends, with whatever preconceptions they may have entered this Chamber, not to take the advice of those who say that they should vote against this Motion.
§ 1.52 a.m.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord has reminded us, the question for decision tonight is indeed whether or not to approve the order continuing for a further period Section 2 of the 1965 Act. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has set out very fully the purpose of the order and the arguments for its approval. We have had an exhaustive, if not exhausting, debate, following on an equally detailed discussion in the other place, and I do not think it would assist the House if I were to retread any of the arguments and 628 counter-arguments which have been so ably put forward on both sides throughout the night.
On only one point of argument would I respond to, in this particular, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. He suggested that my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary had been silent following the shooting down of the Rhodesian Viscount aircraft on 3rd September. In fact, my right honourable friend said in a speech to the Royal Commonwealth Society on 6th September that this was—and I quote—a horrible and tragic accident which had shocked and numbed us all".He went on to call for,clear-cut orders to go out from the leaders on all sides that they will not tolerate incidents involving the loss of life of innocent civilians, and that if there are such incidents those responsible will be brought to book".
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, I should speak more distinctly, and the noble Lord should listen more acutely. I will therefore confine myself to stating the Government's position on a number of salient points.
I do not propose to go into any detail on the Bingham Report. I have listened very carefully to what the spokesman for the Liberal Party had to say about this. I will simply remind the House that my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in the other place has set out the Government's attitude with absolute clarity. The Government will decide how to proceed further on the basis of this report after full consideration of our debates in Parliament. That will be done; and we may expect an announcement in a matter of days. I only want to add one point on this aspect of the matter, namely the report. I hope that noble Lords will not only study the report itself fully but will also consider very carefully the statement of my right honourable friend in another place and, in particular, what 629 he had to say—and this was echoed in this debate this evening—about the need to understand the immense complexity of the factors which influenced successive Governments during this period.
The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, as well as my noble friend Lord Thomson, who spoke with such power and authority on this matter, have all emphasised this point. It is of extreme importance. Otherwise, we might find ourselves being starved of recruits for responsible positions in office, for ministerial and Civil Service office. Unless there is this understanding, this undertaking, that the whole circumstances surrounding decisions at the top will be taken into account, then we may be leading ourselves into great and continuing difficulties as a democracy. My right honourable friend also said that after studying all the relevant papers he is convinced that this was a situation in which honest and honourable men exercised their best judgment in an incredibly difficult situation and one of continuing difficulty and very often, indeed, of uncertainty as to the facts. Knowing my right honourable friend as I do, as a man of total integrity, his view is worth bearing in mind as we move on to any further consideration of the Bingham Report.
I now turn to the order itself. It must be considered against the background of the situation as it now is in Rhodesia and Southern Africa. Rhodesia now faces a critical situation, with deaths running at an annual rate of 5,000, with violence constantly escalating, including the shooting down of a civil aircraft and the massacre of passengers; with raids into Mozambique and Zambia; with an increasing exodus from Rhodesia and an ominous emergence of private armies—the precursor throughout history of the chaotic break-up of societies and nations.
This is the situation eight months after the signing of the Salisbury Agreement, to which noble Lords, in too many cases, have urged us to accord official recognition. The plain fact is that, even now, no one can credibly point to any real advance towards the reforms which the interim Government was supposed to introduce. As the right reverend Prelate 630 the Bishop of Winchester reminded the House, its promise has not been kept. He and others doubt if there is now, or was ever, the will to keep such promises.
The interim Government has no alibi for its failure—its failure to act on its own statements. It is very fond of ascribing its failures of will and policy to the fault of the British Government. I find it intolerable that an illegal régime in rebellion against the Crown should attempt to settle the responsibility for its own actions on the British Government. The British Government were scrupulous not to condemn out of hand the Salisbury agreement, despite the immense pressures on them to do so. We waited for results; we did what the noble and learned Lord doubted that we had done. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister put it with simple force, "The proof of the pudding", he said, "will be in the eating". My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in other words put the same point months ago, very soon after the signature of the agreement in Salisbury. From this Box I used the phrase that, so far as I could see, Mr. Smith had taken a gigantic step forward. To quite a number of people here and abroad that phrase was seen to be an injudicious exaggeration. I said it deliberately.
The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, who is more used to these things than I am, described it as a revolutionary step forward. He is a better judge of revolutions than a mere social democrat like myself. I entirely agree with him. Of course it was a revolution; I said so and we said so. Then we waited and there was no pudding, or very little. Instead of a march forward to practical action, following these words, all we have had is tactical footwork and the typical Smith technique which my noble friend Lord Aylestone described so well: one move forward and then almost immediately a move back.
In particular, the Salisbury agreement has failed to stop the fighting. This was the great reason for it. There has been an increase in violence. It has not started to grapple with the vital question of rehabilitating and absorbing the nationalist forces. Its so-called cease-fire programme has led to the formation of private armies. It has increased conscription rather on the analogy of the ill-fated move in Ireland in 1918, the 631 consequences of which we are still to experience. It has extended martial law to over half the country. Some detainees were released, but many have since been detained again: one move forward, another back. The elimination of racial discrimination is still only a promise with no legislation passed. As for the reform of land tenure—perhaps the most sensitive element in the discontent of the African population—little if anything has been done.
Finally, the need to create a climate for free and fair elections has hardly been met by banning the Zimbabwe Times and tightening the censorship. And so it has gone on; one could give further instances of announcements not followed by acts. As we know, "hope deferred maketh the heart sick". When one talks to black Africans—especially Africans from Rhodesia—this is what one sees in every one of them—this feeling of despair; and despair often leads to desperation and to violent action.
I am reminded that the hour is late and I will therefore truncate my remarks as much as I possibly can. I hope that every noble Lord will be absolutely clear in his mind about the consequences of the vote that he casts tonight. We have been privileged to hear my noble friend Lord Caradon who, at great inconvenience and considerable material sacrifice, has come here specially to speak to us from North America. We are very grateful to him. I hope that the House will not only have listened to him, but will pay attention to what he said. The consequences of an adverse vote tonight may well be incalculable in Rhodesia, in Africa and internationally.
Somebody asked whether I would give a few facts about trade, the point of expediency which a country is entitled to consider. I agree with the noble Lord that the first priority in foreign policy is national interest, and national interest pursued with a view to international co-operation with other countries for the general good. It is a fact that since 1965 the countries of Africa have come together in a very powerful organisation—the Organisation for African Unity—as well they might, and they are watching what we are doing. They are watching with a view to retaliation, economically as well, possibly, as in other ways.
632 As to the economic issue, I have a few figures here—I will not detain the House unduly but I promised to give one or two figures. In 1976 United Kingdom exports to black Africa amounted to £1,328 million and United Kingdom imports from those countries amounted to £1,058 million—a favourable balance to us of about £270 million in 1976. In 1977, United Kingdom exports to Nigeria alone were almost as much as our total exports to the whole of black Africa in the previous year. They amounted to £1,068 million, and our imports from that country were only £213 million—a very big balance in our favour. So these are very considerable economic considerations, and it is no good expressing an emotional view of this matter and walking through a certain Lobby without bearing in mind that kind of consideration. Others have been eloquently put by other Members of this House.
The failure to renew this order might momentarily encourage Mr. Smith, but the euphoria would be short-lived in Salisbury. Who else would it encourage? More than anybody, it would encourage the men of violence; because take away sanctions, and what have you left?—armed conflict only. This is the alternative, the substitute for war. Vote it down, and you enthrone once more war as the only means of settling disputes of this kind; and millions of black Rhodesians and Africans who are very friendly towards this country, and who hope very much that we shall take the right turning tonight, would then feel there is no way forward, except by violent action; that the men of blood are after all right and that the white man will not listen to anything except force.
That is one of the implicit consequences of an adverse vote on this matter tonight, and it is no good saying—I say this to my noble friend (if I may call him that) Lord Orr-Ewing—that the House could reject this order tonight and then somebody else would clear up the mess and bring back another order in another few days. You cannot take those risks, not with a tight Parliamentary timetable such as we have. Moreover, the damage would have been done; the signal to the men of violence would have been made clear and loud. They would have got the message, and it would have been a 633 unilateral act, as we have just heard. No other country is even debating the possibility of abandoning in this way its obligations under the Charter. This is the only country and the only Assembly to be considering such a course of action—not France, not Germany or Italy, and certainly nobody in the Commonwealth. We would be alone in the international community; we would be alone in the European Community. We would be out of step with our partners and allies in NATO and in Europe, and we would be
§ alone in the Commonwealth—white and coloured—because they are unanimous that we should stick to our bonded word to the world authority, and that means that we take the right decision tonight on this order.
§ 2.10 a.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 166; Not-Contents, 65.635
|Adrian, L.||Gardiner, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Garner, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Allen of Fallowfield, L.||Gifford, L.||Oram, L.|
|Alport, L.||Gladwyn, L.||Pargiter, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Glenamara, L.||Parry, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Goodman, L.||Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Ardwick, L.||Gordon-Walker, L.||Phillips, B.|
|Astor, V.||Goronwy-Roberts, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Gosford, E.||Plant, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Greene of Harrow Weald, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Bacon, B.||Greenhill of Harrow, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Balogh, L.||Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Banks, L.||Gregson, L.||Rhodes, L.|
|Barrington, V.||Hale, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Hampton, L.||Roberthall, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Harris of Greenwich, L.||Robson of Kiddington, B.|
|Beswick, L.||Hatch of Lusby, L.||Roll of Ipsden, L.|
|Birk, B.||Henderson, L.||Rugby, L.|
|Blease, L.||Heycock, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Bowden, L.||Hirshfield, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Boyle of Handsworth, L.||Home of the Hirsel, L.||Seear, B.|
|Briggs, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Brimelow, L.||Howie of Troon, L.||Segal, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Hughes, L.||Serota, B.|
|Brown, L.||Hutchinson of Lullington, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Jacobson, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Jacques, L.||Simon, V.|
|Buxton of Alsa, L.||Janner, L.||Snow, L.|
|Caldecote, V.||Kaldor, L.||Soper, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Kennet, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Caradon, L.||Kilbracken, L.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Carver, L.||Kirkhill, L.||Stone, L.|
|Castle, L.||Leatherland, L.||Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]|
|Chelwood, L.||Lee of Asheridge, B.||Tanlaw, L.|
|Chitnis, L.||Lee of Newton, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Collison, L.||Leonard, L.||Thomson of Monifieth, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Listowel, E.||Thurlow, L.|
|Crowther-Hunt, L.||Llewelyn-Davies, L.||Trevelyan, L.|
|Cudlipp, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller.]||Wall, L.|
|Darwen, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|David, B.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Walston, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Lockwood, B.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||London, Bp.||Weidenfeld, L.|
|de Clifford, L.||Longford, E.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Lothian, M.||Whaddon, L.|
|Denington, B.||Lovell-Davis, L.||White, B.|
|Diamond, L.||McCarthy, L.||Wigg, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||McCluskey, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Dormer, L.||McGregor of Durris, L.||Willis, L.|
|Dowding, L.||McNair, L.||Wilson of Radcliffe, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Melchett, L.||Winchester, Bp.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Milner of Leeds, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Evans of Claughton, L.||Morris, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Fisher of Camden, L.||Morris of Kenwood, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Foot, L.||Murray of Gravesend, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Noel-Baker, L.|
|Aldenham, L.||Dundee, E.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Effingham, E.||Paget of Northampton, L.|
|Ballantrae, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Porritt, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Forester, L.||Reay, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Gainford, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||George-Brown, L.||Salisbury, M. [Teller.]|
|Biddulph, L.||Gridley, L.||Savile, L.|
|Birkenhead, E.||Halsbury, E.||Scarborough, E.|
|Blake, L.||Hankey, L.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Bledisloe, V.||Hayter, L.||Slim, V.|
|Bolton, L.||Kimberley, E.||Stamp, L.|
|Bourne, L.||Kinnaird, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Kinnoull, E.||Strathspey, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Lauderdale, E.||Sudeley, L.|
|Burton, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Swinfen, L.|
|Chesham, L. [Teller.]||Lloyd, L.||Torpichen, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Lytton, E.||Tranmire, L.|
|Cobham, V.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Tryon, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Mountgarret, V.||Verulam, E.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Moyne, L.||Ward of North Tyneside, B.|
|Cross, V.||Nunburnholme, L.||Yarborough, E.|
|De L'Isle, V.||Onslow, E.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.