§ 2.56 p.m.
§ Lord CARRINGTON rose to move, That this House takes note of Her Majesty's Government's intention to achieve a solution to the problem of Rhodesia. The noble Lord said: My Lords, although we spent some time on the problems of Rhodesia in the debate on the Address this is the first occasion in the new Parliament on which it has been possible for your Lordships to concentrate exclusively on the new situation which has arisen as a result of the elections in Rhodesia and the developments which have since taken place.
§ I welcome the opportunity to make a speech this afternoon explaining the Government's thinking and also of hearing what your Lordships, many of whom have first hand experience of the problem, will have to say. There are many other pressing issues in the international field —the Middle East situation, our elations with the EEC, and in particular the problems of the Community budget; the situation in Indo-China; the Vietnamese refugees: all these in themselves are worthy of debate. But we have a constitutional responsibility for Rhodesia and it is right that we should pay particular attention to it.
§ I sometimes think it very curious that so many of our friends and neighbours in 758 the outside world seem to ignore the efforts made by successive British Governments to settle this issue in a fair and impartial fashion. In their criticisms they seem to pay little attention to what successive British Governments have sought to do.
§ Over the last 13 or 14 years there has hardly been a year in which the British Government have not taken some initiative. Yet in reading some of the more extravagant comments from abroad one would suppose that in these years the British Government have made no effort to bring the parties together, nor sought a fair and just solution. But, my Lords, it is certainly not for want of trying that we have not achieved a settlement. I suppose the most difficult and intransigent issue over the years has been the fact that in Rhodesia 3 per cent. of the population held all the political power and it was on the reluctance of the white population to accept a transfer of power that most (not all) of the proposals foundered. But that is no longer the situation today. We are facing a new situation in Rhodesia which demonstrates progress of a kind and on a scale which would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
§ Memories seem to be very short. Let no one underestimate the progress which has been made nor seek to minimise what has been achieved in Rhodesia in the last 15 months. Let us begin, therefore, by recognising that there is a new situation and let us take advantage of it in shaping our policy.
§ In the Government's view the elections which took place in Rhodesia in April and which led to the formation at the end of May, under Bishop Muzorewa, of a new Government have changed the situation fundamentally. There is an African majority in the Rhodesian Parliament and an African majority in the Government. What is more, this new Government has come to power as the result of elections in which most of the adult population of Rhodesia were for the first time able to participate. Those elections took place in difficult circumstances. Attempts were made to disrupt them, but they did not succeed. Attempts have also been made to discount their significance. But very nearly all those who witnessed the Rhodesian elections were impressed by the 759 manner in which they were conducted and by the evidence of extensive popular support for Bishop Muzorewa.
§ I have already placed in the Library copies of the report by my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton on the elections. I thank him again for undertaking that task and for his very full and dispassionate report. It is true that a very few observers, including one noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, took a different view; but the majority of the observers present at the elections and of the Press who were also present took a view similar to that of my noble friend Lord Boyd.
§ There has been a disposition in some sections of the international community to seek to ignore the changes which have taken place in Rhodesia and to argue that Bishop Muzorewa and his Government should be treated in the same way as the previous Government of Mr. Smith. My Lords, I do not share that view. It was not Bishop Muzorewa who made the unilateral declaration of independence. He has campaigned for many years for majority rule in Rhodesia. He needs our help and encouragement if he is to demonstrate that a fundamental change has taken place in Salisbury, that a new Government with new policies is in control and that—as we believe to be the case—Rhodesia is now embarked on the road to a multiracial society. So the Government's first step was to establish close contacts with the new Government in Rhodesia and its leader. We had to make arrangements to keep ourselves informed of what was happening in Salisbury and to be able, too, to keep in touch with Bishop Muzorewa and his Government and with the other leaders in Rhodesia.
§ To this end I asked Mr. Derek Day, an Under-Secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to maintain and develop the closest possible contact with Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues and to report to me, travelling between London and Salisbury as was necessary. Mr. Day left for Salisbury at the end of May; he returned to London on 22nd June and has been back in Salisbury since the beginning of July. During his time in Salisbury he has had several meetings with Bishop Muzorewa and has had several meetings with other Ministers, indeed 760 virtually all the senior members of the new Administration and its senior officials. His reports have kept me directly in touch with the situation. I believe that his presence in Salisbury has made an important contribution towards assuring Bishop Muzorewa of our desire to work with him and to discuss the way forward with him and his colleagues. I believe that the British Government now has closer contact and is in a better position to influence events in Rhodesia than at any time since UDI.
§ But, whatever view we in this House or in this country may take about what has happened in Rhodesia, elsewhere in Africa and among Rhodesia's neighbours different views are held as to whether there has been a real transfer of power from the minority to the majority. We cannot, nor would we wish to, ignore these views. We clearly attach great importance to our relations with Africa and with the Commonwealth. We attach no less importance to doing all we can to bring about a situation in Rhodesia in which that country is able to live at peace with its neighbours. For it is only by that means that we can hope to win the greatest prize of all for Rhodesia and for the peoples also of the neighbouring countries: that prize is a peaceful settlement and an end to the war.
§ The Government therefore decided, as your Lordships are aware, to appoint a senior political figure to visit Africa for consultations with the Governments principally concerned. My noble friend Lord Harlech agreed to carry out this task, and I would like to say how grateful I am to him for doing so. He has done it with much skill and at considerable personal inconvenience. He has held discussions with the Presidents of Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana, Malawi and Angola; with the Mozambique Government and with the Federal Military Government in Nigeria.
§ In addition, Mr. Luce has held discussions with other Governments in West Africa. Lord Harlech has also discussed the situation with representatives of the two wings of the Patriotic Front in Maputo and Lusaka. His purpose was to consider with African leaders how we could best make progress towards the objective of restoring Rhodesia to legality with the widest 761 possible acceptance. I am glad to say that the talks Lord Harlech held with African leaders were, in my judgment, very useful. My noble friend explained the British Government's view that there has been a fundamental change in the situation in Rhodesia. He found in Africa an encouraging recognition that major changes had taken place. He also found, however, a widespread feeling that a solution must stem from the British Government, as the legally responsible authority. There was also criticism of the Rhodesian constitution, in particular of the blocking power given to the white minority over a wide range of legislation; and also of the character of the public service commissions.
§ The next step was for my noble friend to visit Salisbury. He saw Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues and was able to explain to them the views and attitudes of the African Presidents and the representatives of the Patriotic Front. He assured the bishop of the goodwill towards him which exists in this country and our conviction that the present situation gives us the opportunity to work with him for a lasting and generally acceptable settlement. As the House will be aware, Bishop Muzorewa will he visiting London to continue these discussions with my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and myself later this week.
§ I hope I have no need to emphasise that the consultations on which we are engaged with all those concerned are genuine consultations. They are genuine because we are convinced that they are essential if we are to achieve our objective. There is a savage and cruel war going on in Rhodesia, and our aim must be to try to contribute to a more secure future for its people. The most effective way in which we can make such a contribution is to try to bring Rhodesia to legal independence in such a way as to win the widest possible international acceptance. If that can be done, there is every chance that the great majority of the people of Rhodesia will be convinced that the objectives for which they have been struggling for so many years have been achieved.
§ As I have made clear on a number of occasions, the Government's approach throughout has been guided by the following considerations. First of all, we 762 stand by our commitments: we intend to carry out our constitutional responsibilities. We must try to stop the war and help to create conditions of greater stability: that is the greatest service we can render to the people of Rhodesia, both black and white. We have therefore also been discussing the problem and our approach to it with our friends in Europe, with the United States' Government, and with other Commonwealth and African Governments, and those consultations will continue.
§ In the course of deciding on our policy, we attach particular importance to the discussions which will be held at the Commonwealth Heads of Governments' Meeting in Lusaka in the first week of August. For the Rhodesian problem is a matter of concern to the entire Commonwealth; and I am sure that the House will agree that it is right—and indeed essential in the interests of the people of Rhodesia—to proceed with the fullest possible consultation.
§ But I must also emphasise that it is Britain which has the responsibility to find a proper basis on which to bring Rhodesia to legal independence. That responsibility, indeed, is recognised by the rest of the international community, many of whom have lost no opportunity on many occasions to remind us of it. It is recognised in successive resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, and Lord Harlech found in the course of his consultations in Africa a general recognition and indeed even a demand that a solution must spring from us, as the legally responsible authority.
§ Our responsibility in relation to Rhodesia is two-fold. We have the moral responsibility to secure the best future we can for the country which is linked to us by so many historical ties. We have a constitutional responsibility to achieve a proper basis for independence. The Government have not yet come to final conclusions about the proposals we intend to make in fulfilment of that responsibility. It would be wrong for us to do so until we have completed the process of consultation; and, as I have said, we shall be seeing Bishop Muzorewa and we shall have consultations at the Lusaka Conference.
§ But it is the Government's intention, when our consultations have been com- 763 pleted, to make firm proposals of our own, stemming from the British Government as the constitutionally responsible authority, to bring Rhodesia to legal independence on a basis which we believe should be acceptable to the international community. It would not be right for me to anticipate at this stage the form that these proposals will take.
§ As I say, we shall be seeing Bishop Muzorewa and others. But the results of our consultations so far encourage me to believe that it will be possible, once they are complete, to put forward proposals which will be accepted as fair and reasonable. They will take account of what has been achieved in Rhodesia. They will, I hope, be comparable with the terms on which we have granted independence to other countries in the Commonwealth. That is what the Government are seeking to achieve, and the House should be in no doubt of our determination to take advantage of the opportunity which now offers itself to achieve a solution.
§ I hope that I have said enough to make clear that the Government intend to discharge their responsibilities. No purpose will be served by undue delay. There is no reason to suppose that there will be a better chance of securing a solution next year or the year after that. Much has been achieved already, in particular the change of political attitudes in Rhodesia. Our concern should be to help Rhodesia attain independence in conditions in which a genuinely multiracial society can prosper. This must involve a serious attempt to win the widest possible international recognition. For that is the way in which we can make the most effective contribution to the prospects for a more secure and peaceful future for the people of Rhodesia and of the neighbouring countries.
§ Moved, That this House takes note of Her Majesty's Government's intention to achieve a solution to the problems of Rhodesia.—(Lord Carrington.)
§ 3.15 p.m.
Lord GORON WY-ROBERTS
My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, for taking this early opportunity of acquainting 764 us with his latest thinking on this important matter. The Motion to which he addressed himself speaks of the Government's intention to achieve a solution to this problem. We welcome on this side of the House the opportunity to clarify the Government's intention, especially in view of the Prime Minister's statement in Canberra a week or two ago—a pronouncement which has caused somewhat alarmed speculation as to the Government's intentions, especially in Africa. I leave for the moment the question of the propriety of making such a major pronouncement about a very sensitive issue in another country, albeit a Commonwealth country, but one wonders whether the Cabinet agreed; one even wonders whether the Foreign Secretary agreed and, if so, why did he not make the statement at that time, for I believe that he was in the area. However, I welcome what the Secretary of State has said this afternoon. The general tone is one of a constructive approach to the solution of this perennial problem.
When we last discussed this matter—if I may quote myself—I said on behalf of the Opposition that we hoped that the Government would proceed in this matter with caution and consultation. Recent events have shown that that advice was very well founded. Indeed, recent developments have shown that, in Rhodesia itself, the unacceptable nature of the Smith constitution and the Smith elections and the instability of the new Government, would urge upon whoever is in office in this country particular caution about proceeding in a way which might be interpreted as unilateral. Indeed, world reaction generally would seem to coincide with what we in the Opposition, and many noble Lords on the other side, have said about this problem, especially in the last few weeks.
A good deal of consultation clearly has been taking place, and it would be churlish of me not to commend the Government, and particularly the right honourable gentleman, for the efforts that they have made through Mr. Derek Day and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, to engage in the widest possible range of consultation in Africa and outside that Continent—with what results remains to be seen. One wonders whether the results justify proceeding as the Prime Minister proposes or envisages.
765 People have interpreted what has been said in Canberra as an intention—I stress the word again—not to proceed with the renewal of sanctions in November. I would point out that no one wants to continue sanctions as such, but it would he a disaster to create an impression that sanctions do not remain a constant during the next few weeks of negotiation with everyone concerned with the problem.
Once there is a shadow of real doubt as to the intention of the British Government next November, then two things will happen. The Salisbury régime will be encouraged to keep a hold on the position in which they are now and not to make any further concessions. And, black Africa may finally turn not to the West, but to the North and the East. I have said on previous occasions that, if we wish to keep Africa from becoming red, we must always remember that it is black. If the West does not bear that very firmly in mind, then the Africans themselves may draw that conclusion and turn in another direction for help and for solutions.
The consultations which the noble Lord has described to us include, I think, the points of power and opinion which some of us tried to describe in the debate on the Queen's Speech, when we last discussed this matter: consultations with representatives of all elements in Rhodesia, outside as well as inside that country. Clearly, the Patriotic Front has been consulted, together with other African Governments; indeed, Nigeria—an African country of the most significant importance in this matter—and also the Organisation for African Unity. I am not clear that the Commonwealth has been consulted as closely as one would like, both as to old and new members. But I am satisfied that it is the intention of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary to keep very closely in touch with the Commonwealth —with fellow Commonwealth members individually and the Commonwealth as a corporate entity—particularly as we move to the Heads of Commonwealth Governments' Meeting in Lusaka.
There are also the consultations with our friends and allies in the European Community, which are vital. I would add also that there must be proper consultation 766 with NATO. NATO is not disinterested in what happens in Africa. Even if it were, it would very soon find that it has an interest in the stability and, indeed, the security of that continent, as well as in the Northern Hemisphere. Then there is the United States, where the attitude towards any move to lift sanctions and, therefore, to recognise the illegal réegime ahead of the widespread support internationally, which the noble Lord was so careful to emphasise, would meet with very strong opposition indeed, clearly from the President himself and from his own Secretary of State.
It is very important indeed that we do not jettison the close collaboration which we have achieved with the United States in the past two years over this matter and which produced the Anglo-American proposals, proposals to which, in framework and as a basis, we may well need to have recourse when the time comes—as inevitably it must—when the present constitution is replaced by something which is truly acceptable to all the people of Rhodesia and, therefore, to the international community.
Above all, we must maintain our position of credibility in the United Nations, by whose esolutions—indeed, by our own resolutions—the United Kingdom and all other member-States are legally as well as morally bound. We must not run the risk of being isolated in the General Assembly and pilloried in the Security Council. We cannot afford another Suez. Nor can we afford to be isolated in the Assembly of the Commonwealth. At all costs we must avoid isolation in Lusaka at the end of this month; we cannot afford another Singapore.
Unless we continue with these constant and close consultations with all these elements in the international scene, we shall run very serious risks, not only for this country and for Rhodesia, but for Western purpose and policy as a whole. I have spoken of the danger of the erosion of our position in New York and in Lusaka, and of the possibility of Africa being forced into the wrong kind of choice as to its future source of friendship, aid and support. We must bear in mind the absolutely legitimate, proper and very large commercial interest which we have in a stable and friendly Africa. We do not need to apologise for the long- 767 standing British interest—commercially as well as politically—in Africa. Our people have contributed much to Africa and can contribute again in the future to its development under its own chosen Governments.
However, if we take a wrong step, if we act incautiously without, above all, adequate consultation with the Africans themselves, we may find that our commercial interests there will suffer; and they are, of course, twice as important to us in volume and value as is our trade with South Africa. As the House knows, Africa is also a source of quite vital raw materials for this country and, indeed, for Western democracy. I claim that my party, both in Government and now in Opposition, has constantly borne all these vital considerations in mind in its policy towards Rhodesia. It was not a policy which succeeded in resolving the problem, but up to now it has certainly avoided the ultimate catastrophe in Rhodesia and indeed, throughout Africa. Harrowing and terrible as the present war in Rhodesia is—and the noble Lord quite rightly described it as a cruel and savage war—it might pale into insignificance beside a general catastrophe enveloping most of the African continent if we were so to press policy incautiously and without proper preparation and consultation.
That policy, by which we still stand, has also maintained the essential unity of the Commonwealth and, indeed, has strengthened the growing political co-operation of the European Community. We saw this in Namibia when the five powers from the Community came together. Although that attempt was frustrated by white African interests, nevertheless it was an encouraging example of how Europe under British leadership, through political co-operation, could tackle in a constructive way a difficult African problem. That policy has maintained our position in the United Nations, and it has also helped to force Smith as far as he has gone.
I recognise that there are views that a great change has come over the Smith party in Rhodesia. The noble Lord has said that this is a fundamental change. I do not think that Mr. Smith will ever fundamentally change. It is for equal discussion whether this new constitution, 768 overloaded as it is with entrenched clauses —it has 123 clauses out of 187 (two-thirds of this much vaunted constitution)—entrenches the rights of 3 per cent. of the population; and 3 per cent. get 28 per cent. of the representation in the National Assembly, with blocking powers. A fundamental change? A little more evidence of a change of heart as well as a change of tactics. We have helped to force him to go as far as he has gone. May I venture to say, in passing, that perhaps he will go a little further, and himself finally disappear from the scene. That would help a great deal.
The policy we have advanced, and which has commanded great support outside the party I speak for, remains the only one possible today. I repeat that nothing must be said, or done, to cast doubt on the intention of the British Government of proceeding with the renewal of sanctions if that proves to be necessary. Once there is serious doubt about that, limitless consequences for disaster may well flow. Already there is an uncertainty. Already there are reports. I was impressed this morning to read Mr. Bruce Loudon's dispatch from Lusaka in which he gives a fair and temperately worded warning that black Africa, led by Zambia, may take very positive steps if it seems clear to them that we propose to act unilaterally and incautiously.
Our policy then—and it is not merely the policy of the official Opposition; it is widely supported in this country and abroad—is firmly based on the Five Principles, and particularly on the fifth principle: the principle of agreement by all the elements in Rhodesia as to the future of their country. This means two things. First, the present constitution will not do. It has not been voted on. The recent elections were not a test of opinion as to this constitution; it was a popularity contest. This is what everybody in Africa is saying; that this constitution will not do and that it will have to be radically changed; or, to borrow a phrase, that there must be a fundamental change in the constitution.
The enormities which I have just touched on must be got rid of and a more simple, honest, equitable statement of the shape and nature of the new State must be presented to all the people of Rhodesia.
769 There will be entrenched clauses, of course, defending the rights of minorities, including the white minority. But there are other minorities in Rhodesia who equally are entitled to proper protection. Such a constitution must be put together, and it must be such a constitution as will in fact really command effective agreement in Rhodesia and among the members of the international community.
Secondly, the recent elections will not do. I yield to no one in my deep respect for the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, and indeed others who, like him, visited Rhodesia and returned with honest and, as they saw it, objective reports on how the elections were conducted. They might be right. But that is not enough if others who have been there—for instance, my noble friend Lord Chitnis and Professor Parry—say exactly the opposite. Those elections are therefore non-credible. They are challenged by the fact that persons of equal integrity and distinction have come to quite different conclusions as to the nature of those elections.
Surely the solution is to say, "Well, there is disagreement as to whether these were free and fair elections. Let us therefore organise new elections under international supervision which will be beyond disagreement as to whether they were free and fair". I am sure that the bishop would welcome the opportunity of testing his popularity and his appeal in elections which were conclusively beyond doubt as to their conduct and their result. Those two fundamental changes, to borrow a phrase, must be achieved.
There must be a new constitution which is credible to African and to international opinion. The test of opinion, and an election of representation—based on the provisions of that constitution as to the percentages of representation—that is seen to be fair and free, can only be done under international supervision. There are various forms of international supervision. There is the United Nations. There is also the Commonwealth. What a fine task for the Commonwealth, for instance, to undertake so that the whole world, including Rhodesia, can see that we are in earnest about the two major needs which will lead us to a solution of this problem: a really accepted constitution which will determine the nature of the new State, and a really true test of 770 opinion among the people concerned, so that we can move—I agree with the Foreign Secretary, as quickly as possible—to the creation, on that twin basis, of a state of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia which will take its place in the international scene as a sovereign, independent country and a proud member—the 42nd—of the Commonwealth.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, we fully recognise the validity of what the Foreign Secretary said about the new situation which has undoubtedly been created by the formation in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia of a Government with large black participation. But, however much we may all want to see a generally recognised Government established in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia which will bring the present appalling conflict to an end, we Liberals, anyhow, believe that in practice this is likely to happen only when, and if, it is demonstrated that the new régime will fairly shortly be controlled by blacks and not, in effect, run by whites behind the scenes.
Some may sincerely believe that the only way to arrive eventually at a responsible black Administration, or at least to avoid the imposition of some appalling Marxist regime, is, as it were, to wink at the fact that Bishop Muzorewa and the black members of his Government have no present control over the army, the civil service, the judiciary, or the police, and that this state of affairs is expected to last for many years. Others, while generally agreeing, may feel that this situation will nevertheless, under the pressure of events, inevitably change much sooner than that whatever the entrenched clauses of the constitution may lay down. One can even admit, in theory, that the best way to arrive over the years at an efficient black State in which the whites would play an important but not a dominating role, might be to let the present constitution operate for a period of time with the tacit approval of the world community. But the truth is that, however sensible, this is not a solution which is likely to be accepted by the great majority of members of the world community, and more especially members of the Commonwealth, including many, or most, of the Western industrialised States. For, whether we like it or not, nearly all 771 the so-called emergent countries are convinced that bad rule by a majority of blacks is preferable to good rule by a minority of whites.
If that is so, and I believe it is, then there are only two broad possibilities. We could, first, go ahead by ourselves, lifting sanctions in November and then effectively recognising the Muzorewa régime, also on our own—because, pace the Prime Minister, it would really be impossible to take the first step, of lifting sanctions, without in effect taking the second of recognition—or perhaps in concert with the United States and one or two other States. Or, secondly, we could say that we will for our part do nothing of the sort until the Muzorewa Government have agreed, first to drop Mr. Smith and, I should hope, also Mr. Van der Byl, and also to put forward a revised constitution instituting real black rule with suitable guarantees for the remaining white settlers, more or less as in Kenya, for submission to the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia either in another election or in a referendum.
Let us examine the first possibility first. It is conceivable that if, whatever the Commonwealth may say, we were to take the plunge after Lusaka and decide to lift sanctions, the United States might possibly follow suit; but given the strong opposition to such a course in America, that is by no means certain. That is the least one can say. And if Washington did not follow suit, we should presumably be almost alone in our action. At least, I cannot at the moment think of any major power with which we might then be associated. Condemned by the world community as a particularly faithless member which had insisted on sanctions being imposed by the United Nations and had then lifted them by unilateral national action, we should be, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said, in much the same situation as we were after Suez, the only exception being that in those circumstances we should probably not even be supported by the French. It makes one think.
But even if America did come along, would the United States Senate demand that America, in spite of her experience in Vietnam, should take the lead in backing up the Muzorewa régime by 772 actual force of arms or substantial military assistance? I imagine that, whether we recognise or not, that would hardly be an option open to us alone, but together with the United States it might, I suppose, be contemplated; it is a policy. If so, that would take us a long way. It is difficult to see how such an operation could be conducted, even by America, without the active co-operation of the South African Republic. We should thus have to drop all our attitude towards apartheid, for the ensuing war would, I suppose, be waged between all those opposing Marxist penetration of the Southern parts of Africa and those supporting it. It would be a grim prospect.
If that possibility is rejected for those reasons, then we necessarily come back to the other possibility, which I seem to remember urging in this House a year or so ago; namely, that we could agree to recommend recognition only if the Muzorewa Government for their part agree to act broadly speaking as I suggested originally. It need not necessarily, I suppose, come out for a " Kenya solution " right away, but there must at least be some abolition or reduction of the blocking powers of the whites in the Legislative Assembly and the introduction of real powers for black Ministers in the various Government departments.
Should that likewise be rejected, then the war would presumably go on with, I suppose, more and more whites leaving and the position of those remaining, in view of the increasing support which their opponents would be receiving from the East Germans and other members of the Soviet bloc, becoming increasingly desperate. But if the Muzorewa regime should respond and agree in principle, then I believe we should take the initiative in New York in recommending, even demanding, both the lifting of sanctions and recognition, coupled no doubt with every possible form of economic assistance to make good the havoc of the war.
You may say, my Lords, that whatever concessions the Muzorewa Government did make, they might not be sufficient to induce the Soviet Government to raise their potential veto on the lifting of sanctions. Too true. But if we and the Americans together then decided in those circumstances that that was the right 773 course—namely, to lift sanctions—we should I believe be able at least to carry the great majority of the United Nations members with us, and I should certainly hope the great majority of the Commonwealth nations as well. And though, therefore, they might I suppose have legal right on their side, I should expect the Soviet Union to accept the inevitable and try to make the best of it, as they often do when up against it.
But would such a happy solution mean that some agreement would have to be reached before that happened at some conference with the Patriotic Front? Yes, presumably—but why not? If the constitution could be revised so as to ensure that any new régime would mean eventual—I stress " eventual "—black control of the army, no doubt after the conclusion of a genuine cease-fire, there would be no apparent reason why the Patriotic Front should not take part in the ensuing election or referendum. What would happen then I am afraid nobody can say—nobody can be particularly optimistic—but at least it would imply that the present war would come to an end and, with luck, some ensuing civil war could be avoided.
It is true that when a war has reached the state of intensity that the war in Rhodesia has how reached, more especially when it is essentially a kind of civil war, passions are aroused which make any compromise settlement very difficult. Either one side or the other wins. In either event, vengeance is usually taken. If we are ever to have peace in this distracted land, that must by one means or another be avoided if it possibly can be. Would it therefore not be possible, as part of any new settlement accepted by both sides, for some genuinely neutral force to be sent in to supervise the peace terms and see they are abided by?
To my mind, it is no good thinking that a British force would suffice for that purpose. We should, however impartial we tried to be, inevitably be suspected of bias in favour of the whites. The force should therefore be what is called " unaligned ", namely, composed of men from States not associated with the one power bloc or the other. Sweden or Yugoslavia spring to mind, and there must be others. And what about an Indian general to take command?
774 However, we can surely all agree that the first thing is to have full and free discussions with our Commonwealth friends in Lusaka. I must say I very much doubt whether, as a result of such discussions and whatever their Back-Benchers may be urging, Her Majesty's Government could go for what I have described as the first possibility. At least if they did, I can only imagine that the conference, to say the least, would hardly be very fruitful.
It is unfortunately quite possible, however, that there will be no agreement, and, if only in view of that distressing likelihood, I trust that Her Majesty the Queen—who must certainly, security permitting, open the conference—will not be involved in any political argument of any sort. As Head of the Commonwealth, she must clearly be above politics, only reinforcing those bonds of affection which bind us together whatever our political differences may be. We must therefore all wish her well in what will obviously be a singularly important tour of her African associated countries. I am sure that the warmth of her personality will help to overcome, or at least to moderate, grave and difficult problems. In the meantime there is nothing we can do at the moment except to await the result of the conference at Lusaka, and I am quite certain that we can have every confidence in the Foreign Secretary, who is the embodiment of good sense, to exercise the right kind of influence on its conclusions.
§ 3.50 p.m.
Lord HOME of the HIRSEL
My Lords, the whole House will echo the hope of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, that Her Majesty's visit to Lusaka will be very helpful to the Commonwealth—of which she is the Head—and that the conference will end in success. For a Foreign Secretary no debate on Rhodesia during the last 10 years can be said to have been timely, and I have no doubt that my noble friend would today have preferred to keep his own counsel. But the House will be glad that he has taken us into his confidence about his thinking, so far as it is proper for him to do so today while important consultations are still going on and the Commonwealth Conference has still to come. For my part I hope that the debate will help him and the Prime Minister in their consultations with the 775 Commonwealth and in explaining to the Commonwealth how the British Government propose to discharge their responsibility for the future of Rhodesia; and I am glad that my noble friend reminded the House yet again that it is a British responsibility, and a British decision alone. It is the British Parliament alone that can bring Rhodesia back to a legal relationship with the Crown and with the British Parliament. Many people will give us advice, but it is both Houses of Parliament who have to come to the final decision.
In the last two years there have been certain happenings of which some Commonwealth countries, occupied with their own affairs, may not have recognised the full significance. They may not have recognised what my noble friend has rightly described—although the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, questioned this—as fundamental changes in the political situation in Rhodesia. There is an entirely new political situation which could not have been foreseen even two years ago. Who would have dreamt at that time that there would now be in Rhodesia a black African President, a black African Prime Minister, a black majority in the Parliament and the Government of that country, elected on a franchise of one man, one vote? Added to that is a provision in the constitution for the protection of the European and the Indian minorities. My Lords, that is much more than a change of atmosphere. That is a strong indication of a change of heart among both the white and the black populations of that country.
I do not know what Sir Harold Wilson will say if he speaks in another place, but I am quite certain myself that the constitution and the provisional programme for abolishing racial discrimination are within the Six Principles upon which all British Governments have insisted during the last 10 years as a condition precedent to a return to legality and independence.
Therefore, taking into account all these changes in Rhodesia, I believe that when the Prime Minister and my noble friend go to the Commonwealth Conference they are at least entitled to ask that all that has been won should not be lost. Nothing should be done to prejudice the gains that have been made. It is some 776 times forgotten that this is an interim constitution—it is for 10 years—in the comparatively long history of that part of Africa; and 10 years is not a long time in which to allow and to help black Africans and Europeans to gain confidence in each others' intentions. I should think that some period of apprenticeship of that kind in multi-national government, multinational society, is essential if between them they are to build a new Zimbabwe as a truly multi-racial State—again the objective of successive British Governments over the years.
The constitution as it is drafted now may have defects, but it can be modified as trust grows. Bishop Muzorewa is coming here and he may be able to agree to some suggestions put to him by my noble friend, or he may have some proposals of his own to modify the constitution now. But, my Lords, do not let anybody underestimate the advantages of the constitution as it stands and as it has been agreed in Rhodesia. It will minimise the risk of the abrupt political coups which have wrecked the harmony of so many African States. It will prevent the relapse of Rhodesia into tribalism, which is still the curse of the African Continent, and it will secure the loyalty of the armed forces to the State—and the State alone—which is essential if any country is to remain free. Nobody knows better than my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton (who is to speak to your Lordships shortly) the fragility of agreements which are interracial. They must be full of finely adjusted checks and balances, and they need above all time to mature so that they may evolve and help to create a stable community.
When the Pearce Commission recorded the adverse opinion of the Africans to the provisional settlement that I had agreed with Mr. Smith in 1970, I said in another place that any future settlement must be agreed by Rhodesians, in Rhodesia, for Rhodesians. With great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, he or I may have opinions as to what is good for the people of Rhodesia in Rodesia. We can put them forward; we can recommend them. But, at the end of the day if a settlement is to stick, it must be settled by Rhodesians inside that country, not outside, That is the only hope for a settlement that will last.
777 I read in the newspapers that certain pressures are to be put on Bishop Muzorewa to agree certain changes in the constitution. My noble friend will clearly proceed with great caution for these balances are very delicate. They can easily be upset, and this young constitution must be given a chance to grow.
I am now going to say something which may surprise your Lordships, and I must say that when I talk about the Soviet Union I always have to remind myself of a telegram once sent from an Ambassador to the Foreign Office, which read:It is impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation here, but I will do my best ".I believe that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference must pay attention to the intentions of the Soviet Union and Cuba in the African Continent. In particular, those at the conference will have to ask themselves whether the Soviet Union is capable of staging and sustaining a prolonged and deliberate campaign of subversion and military intervention, using force at second-hand, as they have done in South-East Asia, in order to attain a political aim.
I should like, if I may—and I hope your Lordships will not think it an unsuitable diversion—to draw on my own experience. In 1954, in 1962 and in 1971 treaties were signed with the Soviet Union to achieve the neutrality of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and to achieve the non-intervention in that area of the great powers. I must telescope this story, but the treaties were signed by China and the United States, by Britain and France and by the Soviet Union and the local countries in the presence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations; and they set up international machinery to achieve the desirable ends of which I have spoken. The co-chairman with me was Mr. Gromyko. I say now, with a full sense of responsibility, that for a period of 15 years the Soviet Union deliberately wrecked the chances of the working of those treaties; and they finally armed North Vietnam to a point where they could take over South Vietnam and Cambodia, and threaten China. In other words, over that period of time they followed the deliberate course of rejecting international co-operation and of favouring domination—and domination by force.
778 I have heard it said of the Soviet Union and of some of the friends of the Soviet Union, or people who have been tempted to ally themselves with them in Africa, that the Soviet motive in Africa was inspired by a moral dislike of apartheid. There was no apartheid in Cambodia. The Russian interest in these matters is political; and, having achieved their political aim in South-East Asia, they have now stood aside and allowed Cambodia and Vietnam to rot. If they were to gain their objectives in the African countries, Zambia and Mozambique would find themselves left to rot. The Soviet Union is directly responsible for the boat people, and they only lately faced the Chinese with the most hideous of all dilemmas in this modern world: as to whether to see domination take over the whole of South-East Asia, or use force. With all the dangers inherent in that position, the Chinese chose to use force.
The Commonwealth leaders will have to pause to consider the situation in the Middle East, and leading to Africa. It was no coincidence that, when there was political confusion in Pakistan, the Russians took over Afghanistan. It was no coincidence that, immediately Iran fell, the South Yemen began to move her forces against the North—and South Yemen is Russian-directed. It is not by chance that Cubans are in force in many countries in Africa today. No Commonwealth leader—or, indeed, any leader of any democracy—is entitled to ask the British Government to do anything which would assist by one iota the Russian-Cuban Communist plans for the continent of Africa. If they were to succeed, the fate of Zambia, Mozambique and other countries will be the fate of those I have described in South-East Asia today.
Finally, the question of sanctions. Commonwealth statesmen have been associated with the British for a very long time, and they will recognise that, as we did in their case, when they were making the transition from colonial status to that of independent members of the Commonwealth, in the case of Rhodesia Britain has shown infinite patience, as my noble friend was saying, and has taken infinite trouble to try to find an acceptable solution. But no one in the Commonwealth or anywhere else can ask that a situation be continued in which those who 779 are at least trying to build democracy and a multi-racial society are penalised, while those who use force and spurn negotiation are left free to accept Communist instructors, Communist arms and Communist help. That is not a tolerable situation. It is so plainly unfair, so plainly intolerable, that no British Government could ask the British people to continue policies of this kind.
I still hope that my noble friend will succeed in finding a basis for a peaceful settlement. That would be the greatest prize. But I am bound to say to your Lordships that three times in the last six years I have seen Dr. Nkomo, and each time he has told me with more emphasis than on the previous occasion that the only way to solve this problem is by fighting. I have been inclined to believe he means what he says. I hope my noble friend and others will be able to persuade him to take a different line. But at least the Prime Minister and my noble friend can go to Lusaka with a clear conscience, knowing that they have tried their hardest to find a settlement in which there can be agreement among the maximum number of countries and to obtain the maximum recognition for Rhodesia. But I hope that my noble friend will say to the Commonwealth that we must not allow the chance that has been given and the gains that have been won by the setting up of a Government in Salisbury, where black and whites are partners, to be lost. That would be a great tragedy.
Anxieties might follow the lifting of sanctions by Britain, but compared to the catastrophe of the chaos and the war which would follow if the Soviet Union and the Cubans had their way in that continent, those anxieties would be almost incidental. I hope and trust that my noble friend and the Prime Minister will have a great success at the Commonweath Conference, and this is a day on which I think the whole House would wish them good luck.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Lord WALSTON
My Lords, we have all listened with enormous interest and appreciation to the words of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. He has had vast experience of these matters, and he has given us a deep and, to my mind, 780 very correct analysis of the situation. But I am afraid I cannot agree with very many of the conclusions that he draws from that analysis. One of the very minor points on which I disagree with him is when he suggests that this debate is not timely. I consider it to be extremely timely, because I believe—
Lord HOME of the HIRSEL
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him? I did not suggest that it was not timely. I suggested that no Foreign Secretary has ever thought such a debate timely.
§ Lord WALSTON
My Lords, I hope that when this debate is finished the present Foreign Secretary will consider it timely, because I hope it will be helpful to him. I say that because I have the feeling—I do not wish to embarrass him, and I know that praise from this side of the House is frequently an embarrassment—that he and many of us here are basically on the same side. Now he in his speech also said many things of very great interest. He said at the beginning, for instance, that we should not forget that a great deal of progress has been made over the last 10 years, and that a great many efforts have been made by successive and different Governments. That is perfectly right. We would be fooling ourselves if we did not accept, however reluctantly, that a very large measure of the progress that has been made in Rhodesia—and it is remarkable progress as the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, has said—has only come about because of violence, because of guerrilla activity, because of freedom fighting. I have a very unhappy feeling that, had it not been for Mr. Nkomo, Mr. Mugabe and their efforts, we would find the bishop, Mr. Sithole and many others still languishing in detention and Mr. Smith and his colleagues in control as they were a few years ago. That is not a debating point; it is of vital importance to the whole of our future policy.
Again, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said that we have a moral responsibility in Rhodesia. I agree with him there, we have. But that must not be confused with the right to pass a moral judgment upon the people in Rhodesia and upon the various protagonists in this sad and bitter fighting. Our moral responsibility is of a different kind because the time has passed 781 for the Pax Britannica. In the old days, the heyday of the Empire, we were convinced of what was right and what was wrong. We believed that we had a moral right to see that right flourished and wrongdoers were chastised. We had the power with which to do it. Now we no longer have that self-confidence and we are not certain that one side is right and one side is wrong. We have a certain amount of self-questioning, and we are all the better for it; for our role is different as a result.
Even if we had the feeling of complete self-confidence, we no longer have the power; we no longer have the gunboats or the battalions. Those have been replaced —however ineffectually—by the United Nations. That is a weak child, but a child that I hope is growing and that we shall continue to help in its growth. It is for that reason above all—and there are other reasons too—why in company with many others in this country, in Africa and in this House, I deplored the statement attributed to the Prime Minister in Australia, to which my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts has already referred, concerning sanctions.
We ourselves cannot and must not raise sanctions unilaterally. It may be that Her Majesty's Government do not have sufficient control in the House of Commons to put their policy through, but that is quite another matter and I should be surprised if the Prime Minister would admit that publicly at this stage. We as members of the United Nations took the matter of Rhodesian sanctions to the United Nations and we asked them to impose mandatory sanctions. They did so. They cannot be lifted unilaterally; they can only be lifted by the United Nations. Whether or not we wish to ask the United Nations to do so is another matter. I sincerely hope that we do not. A great deal of damage has already been done. The task of the Foreign Secretary when he comes to Lusaka is going to be infinitely harder—and I am sure he knows this—and the task of the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, has already been made harder, because of that remark.
In your Lordships' House last Thursday my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby asked a Question concerning this situation. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, replied:My Lords, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister was speculating, in exactly the 782 same way as the noble Lord is speculating ".— [Official Report, 5/7/79; col. 506.]I suggest with the greatest respect to my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby that there is somewhat of a difference between my noble friend Lord Hatch speculating in your Lordships' House and the Prime Minister speculating to a Press conference in Australia. As I say, much damage has been done. It can be repaired, and it must be repaired, if we are to have any success here.
I urge the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary to authorise a statement during the course of this debate to the effect that Her Majesty's Government will not raise sanctions unilaterally, will not do so without asking the United Nations for their approval and their agreement, and will not ask the United Nations to do so in the foreseeable future. If such a statement were made, it may be that the damage already done could be put right. Again, quoting the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, he said that we had our moral responsibility towards Rhodesia and our constitutional responsibility. I suggest that, in addition to that, we have other responsibilities—responsibilities to this country—and I am sure that the noble Lord will agree with me on this matter.
I suggest that our three major responsibilities are first to the people of Rhodesia and to do all in our power to see that in the future they can lead a life of peace; that the farmers can cultivate their soil without fear of bombs and land mines; that the children can go to school without the fear of ambushes; and that all people, black or white, can pursue their occupations in peace. That is our major responsibility towards the people of Rhodesia. We also have a responsibility to ourselves, to the people of this country. Our responsibilities here are to do all that we can to promote the economic wellbeing of this country, and, God knows!, we have heard enough about our economy—and we shall do so in the months to come—for there to be little need for me to emphasise this point. Our third responsibility is to ensure the defence of this country and of the West against the ever-present threat, to which the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, was so right to draw our attention, coming from the Soviet Union. Those are our three responsibilities.
How best can we achieve those aims? So far as the people of Rhodesia are concerned, 783 if we were to raise sanctions and recognise the present Government, what would then happen? I am not alone in thinking that the fighting would be stepped up, there would be an increased involvement of the Soviet Union, of Cuba, of East Germany—we see signs of it happening already—and the war would escalate. We would be powerless; our recognition would do no good. We would not be able to send our battalions to help. We were not even able to send a battalion when Mr. Smith declared his independence unilaterally; and we certainly cannot do it now since we are even weaker than we were at that time. All we should be doing is to subject the people of Rhodesia to yet more horror, yet more bloodshed, and longer fighting on their own soil. We should fail if we were to take the course advocated by some noble Lords opposite and, I suspect, by one noble Lord on this side of the House.
What about our own economic situation if we were to do this? I do not know—and I do not believe anybody can know for certain—how much there is of bluff and how much there is of true meaning; but we already have an indication in Nigeria, where British firms were not allowed to tender for one very large and important contract worth £500 million because of the statement of the Prime Minister. My strong impression is that if we were to recognise the present Government in Rhodesia our own economy and trade with the whole of black Africa, whether it be with Nigeria—our biggest trading partner in the whole of Africa; a great supplier of oil—Zambia, Tanzania or many other countries, would suffer a very severe blow. Therefore, on the second count, recognition of the present Government in its present form would be adverse to our basic objectives.
What about the military aspect? I am not really qualified to speak of that, but I cannot help feeling that just as there would be an escalation of Soviet help, direct or indirect, to the forces of Mugabe and Nkomo if we were to take this step, so the long-term influence of the Soviet Union in the whole of black Africa would be enhanced and made that much easier that, in the event of any conflict arising between East and West, the likelihood of 784 our obtaining bases—naval bases, air bases, over-flying rights—would be very much diminished and their armed forces would increasingly receive their training and their weapons from the Soviet Union. That cannot be to our advantage in this country.
So on all three counts—the welfare of the people of Rhodesia, our own economic welfare and our long-term defence—we cannot afford to recognise the present Government of Rhodesia, unless it is possible in Lusaka to gain agreement from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers gathered there together. That requires enormous powers of diplomacy and skill, which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has. It requires a great deal of help from his colleagues, and I hope that he will get it in the future. But it requires more than that. I believe that it also requires very serious concessions on the part of Bishop Muzorewa to convince the world at large that it is genuinely an African Government. I believe that in the interests of Africa, Mr. Smith and Mr. van der Byl should resign or retire from the Government. I believe that the Judiciary should not be entrenched, as it is at present, under white domination, for the next 10 years.
§ Lord SOMERS
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? Is that not getting rather dangerously near that frightful and widely condemned sin which is known as racial discrimination?
§ Lord WALSTON
No, my Lords. I think it is getting, happily, rather closer to that not sufficiently widely accepted virtue of realism—realism to achieve the best results for all those concerned. I believe, also, that the armed forces must be put fairly and squarely under the control of the elected Government of the country. If those three things were done, there is a good possibility, exploited by the skill and patience of the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that a solution could be reached.
I do not want to be alarmist, but I have a nasty feeling that Lusaka will present the last chance that we shall have in this long-lasting drama. It will be a watershed. If we can gain agreement 785 from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, there will be a chance of success. If we fail to gain agreement there, I can see nothing that can save Rhodesia from many years of suffering and slaughter, that can save this country from the loss of valuable trading outlets, and, for the Soviet Union, a heaven-sent chance of extending its military influence throughout the whole of Africa.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Lord CARVER
My Lords, I am sure that there will be nobody in this House who does not welcome Her Majesty's Government's intention to achieve a solution to the problems of Rhodesia, and we are all very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary, for the clarity and authority with which he set out his thinking. I hope I shall not be thought ungrateful if I say that I assume it has been the intention of all Her Majesty's Governments, and of all His Majesty's Governments, since at least 1923, if not 1896, to achieve a solution to the problems of Rhodesia, and that we have to take on trust a good deal what that solution will be, and how it is to be achieved.
The noble Lord made clear that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to base their search for a solution on the fact that a new situation exists as a result of the elections and of the implementation of the new constitution, whatever the reservations—and I personally have many—about both those elections and that constitution. But I would absolutely firmly support the noble Lord in agreeing that we cannot go back, that we must build on the new situation and that a new situation does exist. I hope that when building on it, one will be able to discard both the personal and the party prejudices, of which there are some in this House—and some fairly sharp ones—in supporting the Government in their search for such a solution.
We must, I am sure, keep on reminding ourselves that, from the point of view of the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia—the people who live there; black, white, brown, whatever their colour—the most important thing at this moment is to bring the war to an end. If there was one thing that I learned in the time—over a year—during which I was involved 786 in a number of discussions as Resident Commissioner-designate, it was that the war and the constitution and the politics of it all cannot be separated from each other. It was perhaps with some optimism that the predecessor of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary thought that one could make progress on the military field while one was stuck on the political field. That was not possible. But in exactly the same way, it was absolutely impossible to make any progress in the political field, unless one took account all the time of, and was involved all the time in, the military aspects.
One of the great problems that have beset the Rhodesian situation more than any other, perhaps, is the discord between the African nationalists. Bishop Muzorewa owed, and to a certain extent still does owe, a great deal of the support he has received, and does receive, from white and black to the belief that he was not one of those who was seeking personal political power for himself, his party or his tribe; that he was a man of peace and goodwill who would unify the African nationalists. That is how he came into the business at the time of the Pearce Commission, and the name of his party is the United African National Council. That reason for the support for him is drifting away from him fast, and when the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary sees Bishop Muzorewa this week, I hope that he will try to say to him that if he is to succeed he must get back into the position of being regarded, and being in fact, a unifier.
He has to get back Sithole, he has to get back Chikerema—not at all an easy matter—and he has to get hold of, and get back, Ndewini. I have no doubt that to do this he has to throw off that white parasol which now protects him in many ways from the African sun, and get all the Africans he can under a thoroughly black umbrella. In doing so, to mix my metaphors, he also has to get the reins in his own hands. He has got to convince the people of Rhodesia, and those outside Rhodesia, that he really is the Prime Minister, that he really does run the affairs of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and that he is not a puppet, manhandled from behind by the white civil servants, by the Rhodesian Front, by the Rhodesian armed forces, the police, the judges and others. I am 787 convinced that he will be in no position to enter into discussions with the Patriotic Front unless he has strengthened his position in both those ways.
I recall very clearly a piece of advice which was given to me by President Machel of Mozambique, which I thought was both wise and very realistic advice. Although he was applying it to the situation I might have been in with a transitional régime, I believe that it applies equally to Muzorewa today and to any régime which has replaced a previous regime. He said to me, You are bound to disillusion a very large number of people. They will expect of you "—and one can say this equally of the supporters of Muzorewa—" far more than you can possibly give them. They will expect an instant change in the situation, an instant improvement in their standard of living, an instant abolition of discrimination of all kinds. You won't be able to give it to them. They will all flock into the towns. You will have to send them away. You won't want to shoot them, even if you could do so. You will have to persuade them to do things that they do not want to do and to put up with disappointments. And the only way that you will be able to do this is by having the moral authority of the whole nationalist movement behind you ".
I believe that that advice applies equally to Muzorewa. His position will not be secure. He will only disillusion his supporters until they go away, unless he has the moral authority of the whole nationalist movement behind him. And that includes the Patriotic Front. However, I am equally convinced that it would be fatal to have an all-party conference, a meeting, or whatever you like to call it, between Muzorewa's régime—however many people he may have got into it—and the Patriotic Front, unless there appears to be some prospect of success. To have another Geneva would, to my mind, be fatal.
When the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary and Lord Harlech talk, as I assume they will and as, no doubt, they have already done, to the Patriotic Front, if the Patriotic Front think, as I am sure they do, that by holding out and never compromising on the basic question, which is not the form of the constitution but who 788 wields real power, they will win in the end —like Giap in Vietnam and Boumedienne in Algeria who won a victory—I hope that both noble Lords will remind them what a hollow victory it has turned out to be. In both cases, these countries finished up in ruins. That is what will happen to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia if the war does not come to an end. If the Patriotic Front continue to hold out they will not win. Neither side will win. The whole situation will crumble into chaos.
Having met them personally on a number of occasions, I believe that at heart both Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe are true patriots. They are concerned with the interests of their country but they will not compromise over what they believe to be the basic issue; namely, the handover of real power. With every week and month that goes by, however, I am afraid that they are becoming prisoners of both the political and the military machines which they themselves have created. Therefore, I believe that there is real urgency over once more trying to find the basis of a settlement. That basis will not, however, be found unless, somehow or another, one can find a way to satisfy the soldiers, or whatever you like to call them, of the Patriotic Front that what they have been fighting for, or waiting over the border to fight for, has been achieved; namely, a true handover of true power to the black majority.
We have heard a good deal, quite rightly, from both the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, about our responsibility. The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, said very emphatically that that responsibility was ours and ours alone. The difficulty about the Rhodesian situation ever since—misguidedly, in my opinion—Joseph Chamberlain was blackmailed by rogues into accepting theoretical responsibility is that we have never, and do not now, exercise any power.
I would remind your Lordships of what was once said in another place about the dangers of exercising power without responsibility—that the dangers of trying to exercise responsibility without power are equal. The only card that we have is that of legal recognition. Although it is legally possible for these Houses of Parliament to exercise that card alone, it seems to me to be politically impossible for us to 789 do so. And it is certainly not possible for this country alone to abolish sanctions. We should find ourselves—and the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary's predecessor was always, to my own personal knowledge, very well aware of this—in the very great danger of accepting responsibility for the situation in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia without the support of the United States, the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the OAU, the Front Line states—who alone can bring pressure to bear on the Patriotic Front—and our European partners, and with the support, perhaps, of only the Union of South Africa. That is a position that we must not allow ourselves to get into.
I am very glad that the Government recognise that it is not possible to act alone. In their search for a solution on the lines of building up a new situation, I am sure that the Government deserve the support of this House. I have the greatest confidence in the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary. If anybody can find a solution, he will. I hope that he will make sure that he keeps the reins firmly in his hands and does not let them slip out at Press conferences—Antipodean or otherwise.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ Viscount BOYD of MERTON
My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend the Foreign Secretary for initiating this debate and for his readiness to come to the House and consult with us on the future of Rhodesia. I know that my noble friend has to leave the House in a few moments' time; he sent a very courteous note to me to explain why.
I hope I may he allowed to indulge in one or two reminiscences, for it seems to me that some of the troubles about Rhodesia, or about thinking about Rhodesia in this country and overseas—and perhaps most of all in the United States—stem from a rather tragic ignorance of the background to the present situation. I am one of the only two survivors—and the only one in this House—of the ministerial team that attended the conference in early 1952 to consider the draft scheme for the proposed Federation of the then Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It was then agreed:That the Colony of Southern Rhodesia should continue to enjoy self-government as a member of such a Federation ".790 The noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, has sent me a note to say that in his own speech he will draw attention to the fact that I strongly supported the Federation. The noble Lord need not be disturbed. It is perfectly true that I strongly supported it. I supported it on economic grounds; and on political grounds it seemed to me then that it was the one way of preventing the absorption of Rhodesia into South Africa and that it could also lead to the emergence of a strong country where people of different races could live in harmony.
Then, as Colonial Secretary, I had no responsibility for self-governing Southern Rhodesia. Events there of course had considerable effect on the two Protectorates for which I was responsible. As Colonial Secretary I told Mr. Garfield Todd, whose difficulties I recognised, how much it would have helped me in Malawi and Zambia if, during his four to five years as Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, he had appointed even one or, better still, two black Ministers to his Government. He did not find it possible to do that.
To me the break-up of the Federation was a tragedy, and if I may be allowed one further recollection, in Lusaka, Blantyre and Salisbury I spoke of something that had happened when I first entered the House of Commons in the early 'thirties. It was listening to the debates on the attempt of Western Australia to secede from the Commonwealth of Australia; and I remember how, in this House, the noble and learned Viscount, the father of our present Lord Chancellor, moved a Motion to consider the petition of Western Australia to leave the Commonwealth of Australia. Throughout my tours in the Federation I said that I did not think many Australians would bless us, then or now, if we had found it constitutionally possible to meet the request of Western Australia, and I added that, although I realised that the Federation was a very different problem, I felt that one day the break-up of that Federation might be seen in the same light.
Southern Rhodesia, although a colony, was officially described as a self-governing colony, and although I deplored UDI I understood something of the feeling of frustration that had led to it. Many older noble Lords in this House will 791 remember the Statute of Westminster in 1931 which defined the constitutional status of the independent nations of the Commonwealth. In 1937, six years later, the Southern Rhodesian Prime Minister first attended Commonwealth conferences and went on doing so until the break-up of the Federation. I think it likely that if the Statute of Westminster had been agreed in 1937 rather than in 1931, Southern Rhodesia would have been mentioned by name in the statute as an independent Commonwealth country. I mention these things, which are known to people in Rhodesia, to get a little tolerance in circles which have forgotten them.
Lately statements have been made in the United States of America which make me feel that the spokesmen there know much less of the old or the new constitution in Rhodesia than I imagine they do of their own country's UDI in the eighteenth century. There was a strange declaration of President Carter in Washington on 7th June which contained at least three major misstatements. He said that the present constitution of Rhodesia was drafted only by the white minority. What are the facts? The constitution is based on the agreement of 3rd March last year, which was itself reached after four months of negotiation, during which black leaders consulted closely with their parties and supporters. The agreement was widely publicised throughout Rhodesia in English, Shona and Sindebele. The constitution was drafted by a committee, chaired, it is true, by the white director of legal drafting in the Attorney General's office. To this committee each black party appointed two legal experts and the Rhodesia Front appointed one. As the draft of each chapter was completed it was considered clause by clause: first, by the ministerial committee of nine black Africans and nine white, and then by the Executive Council consisting of Mr. Ian Smith and three black Ministers. The final version was likewise approved in detail by both councils, and Mr. David Smith, whose liberalism and wisdom is widely applauded, was chairman of the ministerial council each alternate month.
When the constitution had been finalised a summary was published in a White 792 Paper and widely disseminated by the Government and the parties. Then three of the black parties campaigned under the banner of the constitution, only one —UNFP—arguing for a federal constitution. So much, my Lords, for the President's statement on the drafting of the constitution.
Then comes his reference to the submission of the constitution only to the white minority. What are the facts about this? The Anglo-American proposals contained no requirement for a referendum on the constitution, either by black or white voters, but in the general election of August 1977 Mr. Ian Smith gave an undertaking to the white electorate that as they were surrendering political power they would be consulted before any new constitution was submitted to Parliament. Bishop Muzorewa and others put it this way to us:Power is the most important thing and that is why we asked the whites whether they approved of the constitution which would govern them under a new power. There was no need to ask the blacks whether they wanted power. The blacks are the receivers; the whites are the givers. That is why we asked the whitesThen President Carter spoke of the white vote on this referendum. Only 60 per cent. of the whites, he said, supported the constitution. My Lords, he spoke most carelessly of what is to Rhodesia a matter of major concern. Over 71 per cent. of those entitled to vote did so, and of the votes cast 84 per cent. were in favour. I know from many private talks and through my colleagues who were with me, including the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, the immense impression that this huge vote made on blacks, and in particular on young blacks.
A few days later Mr. Vance made a speech. He conceded that the constitution contained prohibitions against racial discrimination in the content or the execution of laws. However, even he got the main point wrong. He said the constitution exempted from the discrimination ban such areas as family law, entry into employment and one or two other matters; and he added this phrase:As a result the Rhodesian constitution legalises the treatment of black citizens as second class citizens ".That is an astonishing and wholly erroneous conclusion to draw. These exceptions are 793 recorded, not to give white Rhodesians a higher status but to protect the customs of black Rhodesians.
Of course our mission spoke to black African leaders on the entrenched clauses and on the fact that under the constitution posts might be held by white Rhodesians for a number of years. We were told quite openly that there had been a compromise on the number of white seats, ending in 28 in all. They told us that the whites wanted 36, the blacks wanted 20, so they compromised on 28. However, they made it equally clear that while of course they would ensure steady African advancement by stages to key positions, these must be based on merit and not on colour; and they added that they had learnt by the mistakes made by other African nations who had obtained their independence. When it was suggested "send the whites home", and the phrase was applied to General Wall, Bishop Muzorewa said to us: " He was born here. His father was born here. What other home has he got but here? We want a good general, whatever his colour may be". As to the 28 seats, those gave white Rhodesians a blocking mechanism against retrogressive amendments to the constitution—a negative power. But after all, the Sixth Principle called for guarantees that there would be no oppression, not only of a majority by a minority but of a minority by the majority.
I concede that there was in the election no way in which a voter could say " yes " to Bishop Muzorewa and " no " to the constitution. But this was not possible in an election when the bishop, as others, was appealing under the banner of the constitution. In our report also we conceded that censorship, while not operating so as to give a preference to any party, may have prevented the mounting of a campaign against voting at all. That is possible. The guerrillas did their utmost to do just that by terrorist threats and activities.
It is said again by the critics that the so-called Patriotic Front and their supporters could not take part. My Lords, that is nonsense and we dispute it vigorously. We had no doubt whatever that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe could have taken part, first in the consultations leading to the constitution, and then they could also have presented themselves and their parties at 794 the elections, provided they eschewed violence. We set out in an appendix to our report the many occasions when invitations were sent, and in the light of these statements we do not believe that the Administration could possibly have arrested them or their lieutenants. They chose for their own reasons not to take part, and we could not accept that such a decision challenged the validity of the election. In the event there was a straight battle between the ballot box and the gun and the ballot box won. What would the critics have said of the election if the turnout had been very low? They would say the constitution had not been ratified. They cannot have it both ways.
I have not said much about the contents of the report of the mission. I know that many noble Lords have studied it carefully and many have spoken to me about it. I would only make one or two brief points. On arrival we rejected the original programme prepared for us and we made our own itinerary. The changes involved put a severe strain on the administration, the transport and the security forces, but they responded swiftly and courteously. We were satisfied that the absence of an electoral register did not invalidate the election. Had the Anglo-American proposals gone ahead the election would have taken place without a register. There was the time factor involved; it would have delayed matters enormously. But far more important is the fact that an electoral register would have given the guerrillas four chances to disrupt the preparations for the election and the election itself. They would have threatened potential voters if they had tried to register. If that failed they would have tried to destroy the cards. If that failed they would have tried to prevent access to the poll, or driven voters away from home knowing that as they were registered at home they could not vote anywhere else. We ended by saying that the elections were as fair and free as possible under the circumstances.
The evening conferences of observers and the Press produced no evidence of serious irregularities. I believe that the vast majority of those who attended them would regard the charges of the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis—and I have sent him a note to say I would be saying something about this—hearsay after hearsay, as fantastic, and the absence in his report of 795 any serious study of guerrilla activities as quite astonishing. He made one reference to complaints lodged by Mr. Garfield Todd concerning certain teachers in the Shabani district. I have now got the third interim report of the Electoral Supervisory Commission, and if the noble Lord has not got it I will gladly give him a copy of it. Finally, I would add only that the great jubilation when the high poll was announced before the count started showed that the election was not merely about which party would win but that it did in fact constitute a kind of referendum on the Constitution.
My noble friend the Foreign Secretary has said something of how he plans to proceed, and I am sure we will all wish him well. I have ventured to describe to your Lordships how the Rhodesian constitution was devised. We have as yet in our country no written constitution, and there is a danger—perhaps less after our devolution experience—of looking on major changes in other people's constitutions as mere verbal or technical adjustments, though to local people they may seem major alterations. It may be there are aspects of the new Rhodesian constitution which could with profit be amended and which do not disturb a delicate balance. But if the passionate desire of many black and white Rhodesians for the white Rhodesians to stay in their homeland is to be preserved, then one has to move with great care and understanding. I believe that apart from the number of white Rhodesian Members of Parliament—28—the other provisions in the constitution represent much less of a compromise than critics believe. Surely here the criticisms of other nations in Africa which are not in the business of encouraging a multi-racial State with a strong black majority Government must not override the genuine desire of all races in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia for a different destiny—I hope that in any encouragement for changes great discretion will be shown.
I know that the Foreign Secretary knows that time is not all on our side, and while I welcome the diplomatic links which have been set up in Salisbury the Bishop cannot be left isolated much longer. Already internal disputes are arising, despite the assurance given to us personally by Mr. Sithole, " to bury the differences, to 796 see things through for the first five years ". The 67 per cent. of the people who voted for the Bishop's party expect results. As one observer wrote recently, " In black Africa there are no consolation prizes or second chances for runners up ". What can Bishop Muzorewa do? If racial discriminatory laws still existed he could abolish them. But they had all gone before he became Prime Minister. This ought to be recorded. How many noble Lords know this? All the racial clauses in these Acts have gone; the Land Tenure Act, the Urban Accommodation Act, the African Education Act, the Shop Hours Act, the Africa Beer Act, the Services Levy Act, the Urban and Rural Councils Act, and the General Laws Amendment (Removal of Racial Discrimination) Act. They have all gone. What remains for him to do? Agricultural reform, industrial, especially power, development; they all need massive capital and this cannot be raised while sanctions continue.
Of course, it is highly desirable to have other nations who share our views to join publicly with us. We have shown that we are prepared to be on the side of those who chose the ballot box rather than the gun. I trust we shall find others to hold the same view. I hope that in welcoming Bishop Muzorewa to London we can leave him in no doubt whatever both as to our admiration for his fortitude and courage and, though I hope we will not have to do it alone, our determination to act justly in what is now a moral issue.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, before the noble Viscount sits down, may I ask him to address himself to this question? I did not want to interrupt his speech. Can I take the noble Viscount back 23 years to the time in 1956 when Kwame Nkrumah wanted to go straight into independence with the constitution which he and his assistants had devised in what was then the Gold Coast? Does the noble Viscount recall that he insisted that the people of the Gold Coast should have a full election, although they had had one only two years previously, on that constitution? This is the point that some of us on this side are making. Kwame Nkrumah did not want to hold that election. He wanted to go into independence on a constitution which he had already devised. The noble Viscount, 797 with indeed the assistance and backing of the Labour Party, forced him to hold an election with the constitution as an issue nut before those electors. That is the point that we are making, the difference between previous experience and the conditions in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia today.
§ Viscount BOYD of MERTON
My Lords, I am afraid I cannot quite follow what the noble Lord has in mind to which he wanted to address my attention. I should have added when I said that I was a strong supporter of the Federation that when I was only Minister of State at the Colonial Office I urged that the capital should be not in Salisbury but probably in Livingstone. That was my own conviction. I cannot quite follow the contrast between the constitutions of Ghana and Nyasaland as advanced by the noble Lord. Perhaps he would like to develop it in his speech.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, I would apologise for addressing your Lordships twice within two months on the same subject had it not become increasingly clear to me during the past two months that I am not the worst offender in this respect. In any case, I am not going to speak precisely about the same subject, because despite provocation, and particularly the provocation of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, in the speech he has just made. I do not intend to talk much about the April election. On that I have stated my views, I have given chapter and verse, explaining how I arrived at them. Nothing I have said has been convincingly reputed, least of all by what the Electoral Commission said about the Shabani teachers, and my case rests. Whatever one's views of the April election, it is now clear that it was little more than a diversion from the fundamental problems now facing Rhodesia. The debate has now returned to what has always been the real issue, the question of the constitution and whether it provides for the irreversible transfer of power from the minority to the majority.
It seems to me to follow from what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said earlier this afternoon that the deficiencies of the constitution agreed in March 1978 are agreed by the Government here, leaving aside what other Governments may feel; 798 and the question is what changes Bishop Muzorewa can be persuaded to make in the new constitution to render it more equitable to the people of Rhodesia and acceptable to the international community.
While efforts to persuade him to make changes to the constitution, particularly to the entrenched clauses, are right, I hope that the issue will be seen as something more than one of constitutional draftsmanship or of merely making minor alterations to reduce the influence of the whites. Of course the whites are represented out of all proportion to their numbers but, as many noble Lords have frequently pointed out, this has often been the case in immediate post-colonial Governments—for example, there was Zambia whose constitution provided for 12 out of 100 seats in Parliament to be allocated to whites.
The issue is primarily that of the present constitution which, when taken as a package, ensures that a transfer of power from the minority to the majority has not taken place and that the white minority remains in effective economic and political control. The discussion, therefore, should not centre on whether the whites should have 28 seats or 25 or 20, whether the entrenched clauses should remain in effect for 10 years or seven or five, or whether Mr. Smith or Mr. van der Byl should resign from the Cabinet. Important though these issues are, the central question is that the whites should not be allowed, as at present, to operate as a blocking mechanism in the new Parliament and that the entrenched clauses, far from guaranteeing minority rights, perpetuate white control.
Many of the entrenched clauses which govern key sectors of the Administration look at first sight very sensible. In theory, the notion of commissions for the Civil Service, the police, the judiciary, the armed forces and so on are an excellent way of guaranteeing the independence of those services. But, when joined in the constitution with the blocking mechanism and in view of the fact that historically these services have been far from politically neutral, it becomes clear that they are designed to perpetuate the status quo, and to maintain power in white hands.
Although that may seem a hard thing to say, it was the present judiciary that 799 decreed that Mr. Smith's Government after UDI was legitimate. It is the judiciary which has been involved in implementing a whole battery of emergency legislation which began in 1965 and which has resulted in the sweeping powers which the armed forces currently enjoy, in particular the powers which those forces enjoy under martial law legislation—including the confiscation of property and food, the destruction of crops and cattle, the forcible removal of people into protected villages, arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, summary executions and so on.
The past, too, has compromised the independence of the armed forces themselves. Their role has not been the apolitical one of preserving law and order, but the very political one of ensuring the maintenance of an unfair legal structure and the imposition of a particularly unjust kind of order. One cannot, in the Rhodesian context, compare their role to that of the British Army, loyal to the Crown under Administrations of all parties. The Rhodesian security forces —almost exclusively white officered—have been engaged in a particularly brutal and bloody civil war in order to maintain a particular social structure which preserves to an excessive degree white privilege. In other words, in a situation of institutionalised injustice and inequality, such as we have had in Rhodesia over these past years, radical changes need to be made in those institutions so that they can be seen to be truly in the service of all the people of that country. I hope that any discussion about changes to the present constitution will focus on the central issue of the genuine transfer of power rather than about playing with numbers or minor clauses in an attempt to make the constitution seem more palatable.
And then, whatever conclusions are reached at the end of what may be interminable discussions about the future arrangements for Rhodesia, the terms of any amended constitution must be seen to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole—as indeed successive British Governments have always insisted. Having seen what happened in Rhodesia in April, it seems to me clear that, as there was for the whites only, there must be a simple referendum on a common roll for the entire population, without confusing the issue by attempting to replace it or 800 link it with an election between various leaders and parties. But even that will not be a genuine and free test of opinion unless accompanied if not by a ceasefire, which it may be unrealistic to expect totally, then at least by a dramatic reduction in the level of violence. If this is to happen, it follows that the British Government must seek to involve in such a referendum all the major political elements in the conflict. And, if it is going to happen, this time the attempt to involve the Patriotic Front must be genuine, not simply a token offer which one could predict with certainty would be rejected as unacceptable by it.
In order to prevent the widespread harassment and intimidation of voters which occurred on all sides in April, the referendum must be under proper external supervision by those who are not themselves party to the result. This would mean more than just sending observers to wander round polling stations only during the voting time. There would have to be a substantial presence—one which would be seen to be acceptable to the international community—in the country throughout the run-up to such a referendum. And at it, there must be complete freedom of political activity to present the issues to the people.
As the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, told me in a Written Answer last month, and as I think the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, has just confirmed, in April there was no opportunity for those who disapproved of the constitutional arrangements to campaign for their view, and this is a major reason behind my querying and the querying of others of the electoral process which then took place. There would also have to be the release of political detainees, access and equal opportunity to present conflicting political views in the media and much more close supervision and restriction on political spending than in the spring—when indeed there was none. And, not only should there by sufficient time allowed for a proper campaign in which the issues could be presented fully to the people, but time should also be allowed for the 200,000 refugees who, it is estimated, are currently outside the country in camps in the front-line States, to return to Rhodesia, to resettle themselves, and to play their part in determining their country's future.
801 Finally, my Lords, much is made—and it has been this afternoon—of the fact that Rhodesia is a British responsibility which indeed it is, and Britain cannot shirk that responsibility. But it is not an exclusive British problem—it stopped being that when UDI was declared in 1965 and the UN subsequently imposed, at Britain's request, mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia. As the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is so clearly aware, any decision made by Britain regarding sanctions or recognition, must be made in the international context and must take into account the views of the international community, notably the OAU and the Commonwealth. But in particular Rhodesia is a regional problem—countries in southern Africa, whose Governments cover a wide political spectrum, have suffered considerably through implementing British-instigated sanctions and in support of British policy. The views of those countries must be given considerable weight by the British Government.
My Lords, to continue pressing for a constitutional arrangement which will ensure the genuine transfer of power, and which is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, is, I believe, the only responsible British policy. An attitude of the British Government which withheld recognition while at the same time it allowed by default sanctions to be lifted, would be both politically disastrous and morally indefensible. Creeping recognition—and however much politicians may try to separate sanctions and recognition, the two are inextricably linked—premature speculation on the likely reaction of the British Parliament in hypothetical circumstances and exclusive support for one party to the conflict on the basis of highly questionable elections, will only lessen the chances of a negotiated constitutional settlement in Rhodesia. Or, even worse, they could lead to the intensification of the war and the increased involvement of Cuba and Russia which all of us, on all sides of the House, are so anxious to avoid.
§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, sits down, perhaps he can help me as regards one matter. He can be quite sure that I shall not be nasty to him—I am never nasty to anyone, my own Front Bench excepted. However, if I 802 heard him aright he mentioned 200,000 refugees. I wonder whether he can tell us how he came to that figure; and, supposing that there are 200,000 refugees, would he not agree that they cannot be more than 10 per cent. of the total electorate?
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, when I am faced with problems as regards which there are no people conducting censuses or taking polls, I ask the best informed people in the field. That is what I have done. It is only an estimate and I said so. They may be only " X " per cent. of the population, but they are 200,000 Rhodesian citizens who I think should play their part in determining their country's future.
§ 5.9. p.m.
§ The MARQUESS of SALISBURY
My Lords, in following the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, I should like to refer to one or two aspects of the remarks that he has just made. First, he has suggested that the constitution is an unreasonable one. I do not want to go into the matter at great length because I spoke about it when we last had a discussion on this subject. However, as both he and the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, have raised this issue I should like to point out the other side of the egalitarian aspect that they have put forward. It is based on the assumption that when one starts taking over authority one needs to gain experience. That is the principle which has governed all our attempts to hand over quietly our colonial countries to rulers of their own choice. I see no reason why Rhodesia should be any exception to it. Indeed, the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, has already pointed out that the Bishop himself has said that they have seen the mistakes made by other countries and do not intend to make them themselves.
The noble Viscount also cast aspersions on the armed forces in Rhodesia. I do not think that he has any justification for so doing or for suggesting that they are partisan. On more than one occasion it has been clearly stated—and again the noble Viscount referred to it—that the armed forces are there to serve the State and have accepted this as their mission. In spite of what the noble Viscount said, 803 they have begun to commission Africans from the ranks and no doubt that will continue. Therefore, for all those reasons I believe that the noble Viscount has taken a somewhat biased attitude.
I should also like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on his remarks at the beginning of the debate and to thank him for making it possible for us to discuss this matter before we adjourn for the summer Recess. Although I cannot say that I entirely agree with everything he said—and I have reservations about his approach—it is, after all, the noble Lord who has to conduct the negotiations and, in view of what he has said, and of the aims which he has stated to be his own, we must at least give him the credit for setting about it in such a way as may well lead to fruition. I also have reservations, which have been echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and by the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, about making too many concessions. I hope to return to that in a slightly different form a little later.
So much has been said over the years on this subject—and, regrettably, I include myself here—that I now want to embark on a slightly different aspect of the situation. Perhaps I could go back to the very beginning when this matter first arose, which was long before I was a Member of your Lordships' House. I should like to refer to the legal position. I do so with great diffidence because I am not a lawyer and I know that there are a great many eminent learned Lords in this House. If I understand the position correctly, in international law—which to me, as a layman, appears particularly vague—Rhodesia is already independent. For international law appears to lay down that a colony becomes independent either by the consent of the colonial power, which is not a point at issue at this moment, or by ousting its authority, either by force or by peaceful means. This especially applies if the mother State appears incapable of re-establishing its authority or takes inadequate steps to do so. As I understand it, this is the generally accepted view held by legal authorities.
There is also a requirement that the government taking over in the ex-colony should appear to he in control. Perhaps 804 that is not taken so seriously nowadays, for we have only to think of countries which have received immediate recognition regardless of their capacity to govern: the latest, of course, being Uganda. However, recognition by the mother State is immaterial. Therefore, a colony becomes independent at some point and is no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the colonising power.
It would appear to me as regards Rhodesia that this point was reached some time ago. If that is so, Rhodesia is already independent so far as international law is concerned. Therefore, there is no requirement for recognition to establish its independence. There is a very good precedent for this in the case of the Spanish colonies in South America, which effected their independence many, many years before Spain acknowledged it. Therefore, I wonder whether the resolution of the United Nations demanding an end to the rebellion should apply any longer. It appears to me at least to be contrary to international law.
However, there is one problem, regardless of the legal position. It is that clearly, even though a country is independent, unless it is recognised by other countries to be so, it is of no value. This is especially the case with Rhodesia, which is in a difficult economic situation, and which having no access to the sea, is very vulnerable. Therefore, if the international community decides to ignore the established acceptance of international law, Rhodesia is not in a position to stand alone on its legal rights and for political reasons has to seek to achieve international acceptance.
However, it may be argued — as apparently Her Majesty's Government argue—that Rhodesia is still a colony. Surely in the present circumstances we are the proper country to give recognition to Rhodesia, the lead should come from us. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has already said that this is a matter on which we have the final responsibility. The only alternative to recognition is to insist on the continuance of colonial status for Rhodesia. I should have thought that this was neither realistic nor achievable in view of the present state of our own country. But if Rhodeisa is still, in law, a colony, surely it is subject to the laws of this country, and not to international law.
805 Therefore, by recognition, the rebellion must, of necessity, be brought to an end. There appears to be no argument in law or in a political sense about that particular point.
However, successive Governments have argued that before that is possible Rhodesia must have complied with the Six Principles. This point has already been dealt with this evening and on many previous occasions. I simply ask Her Majesty's Government whether they accept that the Fifth Principle has now been met and whether, as the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, pointed out, the elections were probably as good a test of opinion as is feasible under present circumstances. In other words, do Her Majesty's Government accept that Rhodesians as a whole have, in this way, exercised their democratic right to self-determination? If Her Majesty's Government accept that, and recognise Rhodesia, that is an end of the situation; we merely have to regularise it by taking whatever steps are necessary because, by Resolution 318 of the Security Council, the Council decided that sanctions should remain in force until the aims and objectives of Resolution 253 were fully achieved.
The aims and objectives of Resolution 253 are to bring the rebellion to an end and to enable the people of Rhodesia to exercise their right to self-determination. Apparently it is not necessary for there to be a resolution of the Security Council to lift sanctions. Indeed, if there was, at the present time I imagine that it would be unlikely to succeed. If that is correct, once we are satisfied about the Fifth Principle on which we rest our case and are prepared to grant recognition, as I understand it there is no reason why this country should not drop sanctions. No doubt we shall hear the views of Her Majesty's Government later on, but I merely put this forward. If possible I should be grateful to receive an answer to my point. It would be unfortunate if we were deterred from our legal and moral obligations by threats from outside. Whether Rhodesia is an independent country or a colony, in neither case have other States the right to interfere in its, or maybe our, affairs.
On the contrary, if we look at the Charter of the United Nations, Chapter I, Article 4, states specifically that States must 806 not interfere in the affairs of other nations. The sole exception has been set out under Chapter VII which is, of course, the chapter under which sanctions were applied. But if the reasons for sanctions have disappeared, and if the course I have suggested takes place, surely the provisions of Chapter VII in regard to Chapter I would no longer apply. Anyway, it is my view, at least, that the case against Rhodesia originally brought to the United Nations was a trumped up one, and the procedure failed to comply with even the most elementary requirements of justice.
There was one other point about internal interference, and I understand that this has always been accepted by jurists all over the world. It is that the internal affairs of a nation are their own affair and must not be interfered with by other countries. Indeed, it could be considered to be one of the fundamental pillars on which international law itself depends. It has been stated by one authority, Mr. Stowell, that it is the most important role of internationnal law. He concludes that:… to deny it would be to remove from International Law the salutary system of Territorial Sovereignty and to deprive the principle of the Independence of States of all meaning ".Surely this is a point we should consider carefully. It seems to me that when he goes to Lusaka in the near future this is one of the principal problems that will confront the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. He has already stated that the final decision is ours, and ours alone, and in view of the other complications I hope when he goes to Lusaka that he will make our position in this respect abundantly clear.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, it is appropriate that I should succeed the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in his speech. He has followed the tradition of his great ancestor. He will not expect me to agree with the arguments that he has put forward, but the value of these debates is that different views can be expressed, and it is one of the glories of our country that by such discussion we have reached decisions finally.
I had intended to make an analysis of the effects of the unfortunate remark which the Prime Minister made in Australia about the withdrawal of sanctions in November, the effect on the hope of an all-party 807 conference; creating on one side encouragement, on the other side alienation, and making any reconciliation more difficult; the effect on America, where President Carter is seeking to prevent Congress from lifting sanctions; the effect on the meeting of the Organisation of African Unity tomorrow at Monrovia, where it will create prejudice; its effect on the Commonwealth Conference, where the majority of Commonwealth nations will deplore that statement; and its effect on the Security Council of the United Nations which, after all, is responsible for sanctions. But I am going to refrain from that analysis because my great desire in contributing to this debate is to assist a settlement.
Because of that I want to welcome much of the speech which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made from the Front Bench. Quite remarkably he did not even mention—I think I am right—the issue of sanctions, and his speech was directed towards a settlement of this problem. That was equally true—perhaps more so —of the speech which the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, delivered from the Front Bench on this side. I think it very likely indeed, in the spirit of those speeches, that before November, when we have to consider sanctions, that the situation will have been transformed. Events are taking place regarding Rhodesia more deeply and more speedily than most of us realise: the visit of the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, and his discussions with all those involved: the talks which have taken place with Bishop Muzorewa, now in America, and coming back to London; the opportunity of the Commonwealth Conference—these events may very easily transform the situation before a decision has to be reached about sanctions in November.
I want to make three comments only on early events. The first is regarding the Commonwealth Conference. I welcome the firm and courageous statement on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen that she will be going to Lusaka. It is important that we should recognise that she will not go to the Commonwealth Conference as the Head of State of this country. She will go as the symbolic link between the Commonwealth countries. I would urge that great care should be taken at the 808 Conference not to involve her in disputes which may take place between Commonwealth countries, and perhaps with us.
I want to make a particular reference to the conference of the Organisation of African Unity which begins tomorrow at Monrovia. There is a great danger there—I hope it will be corrected by the speech which the Foreign Secretary has delivered today—that because of the indication that sanctions may be withdrawn that counter-sanctions may be proposed. Nigeria is likely to propose that. It has already stopped tendering by this country for contracts worth £500 million until the position of our Government is clarified. Nigeria is very important to this country in view of the energy crisis through which we are passing, because of its oil supplies.
My last reference is to the United Nations Security Council. We have to appreciate—and it was urged when the issue of sanctions was last debated in this House—that the sanctions against Rhodesia are not the responsibility of this country but the responsibility of the Security Council of the United Nations. I hope a situation will not occur where Britain will be in a minority within the Security Council and might even he vetoed for its attitude.
I particularly welcome what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about the necessity to transform the constitution in Rhodesia. I listened carefully to the defence of it which was made by the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton. I remember when the constitution was first discussed in this House I criticised it and I was almost alone in doing so. What do we have now? We have white administration, control of the judiciary, the civil service, the armed forces—that cannot be changed for five years. We have 28 per cent. white representation in the legislature when the white population is less than 4 per cent. We have five white Ministers in the Cabinet. All this can be blocked for 10 years by the white minority. There must be some reform of that constitution if there is to be any movement forward towards a solution.
It is now clear that African opinion in Rhodesia is turning against the constitution. I reject the idea completely, which the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, 809 urged, that in the recent election the constitution was endorsed. It was endorsed by a referendum of the white population only; the election took place under that constitution. The African people had the right only to choose between one African representative and another. I can imagine the excitement that must have been felt among them to be taking part in voting for the first time in their lives; but that is utterly irrelevant to acceptance of the constitution itself.
There is now evidence that among the African population there is a resistance to the present constitution. There is a serious split in Bishop Muzorewa's own party, with a considerable minority boycotting the legislature, and there is opposition from Sithole, his rival in the election. It is said that in theory racial discrimination has been ended, but that measure has made no difference whatever to the vast majority of the African population in Rhodesia. A black is allowed to have a house in a white region, but only a trivial minority of the rich African élite can possibly bear the cost of a house in such an area.
I think it is an open secret that the Bishop, the Prime Minister, himself dislikes the constitution. He ventured to express that view even before the election, and I believe the pressure which our Government are now urging on him and which the American Government will urge on him as he goes to Washington will have the effect of his acceptance that there must be some change in the constitution. If that happens, a first step will be made towards a settlement of this problem.
I wish to make a personal comment. I went to East and Central Africa at the beginning of this year and I was greatly moved by what I saw. I was terribly conscious of the tragedy which there is in Rhodesia. Despite the fact that white occupation began with one of the most immoral acts in British colonialism, everyone has to recognise what the whites have done for Rhodesia. I have seen a picture of Salisbury 70 years ago, a dirty stream in marshy land where boulevards and civilisation now exist. I was aware of the terrible discord among the Rhodesian population; I was aware of the repression of the great majority of the African population; and I was aware of the horror of the war, with its loss of life of Africans 810 and whites. I came back with a determination; namely, to try to contribute towards a settlement of that problem.
Lord Carrington recently invited me from the Government Front Bench to make proposals regarding a solution of this problem. Ever since I returned I have discussed it with those involved; I have corresponded with them about it. I said when I came back that I had changed my mind, and ever since I have been seeking a solution. I wish now to make proposals. They will be in a rather rigid form and I admit at once that one cannot solve this problem by a tidy pattern; the uncertainties are too great, with reactions and counter-reactions. Nevertheless, I believe that the proposals I am making would have the support of some very influential members of the group of States who are supporting the Patriotic Front in the neighbourhood of Rhodesia.
These are my proposals: first, that Bishop Muzorewa should accept the necessity for a transformation of the constitution; secondly, that Mr. Ian Smith and most of the white members of his Cabinet should resign from it; thirdly, that the Bishop should regard himself as a transitional Prime Minister until a new constitution is agreed; fourthly, that the new constitution should be prepared in a conference between the Bishop and his colleagues, representatives of the Patriotic Front, the front-line States, complying whites in Rhodesia (among whom I would include Mr. Garfield Todd) and representatives of the United Kingdom, and that such a conference should have the duty of preparing a constitution; fifthly, that members of a provisional Government should be nominated by this " all-in " conference.
My sixth proposal is that the guerrilla war should be called off by the leaders of the Patriotic Front; seventh, the provisional Government should issue invitations to the whites in Rhodesia and the other minority communities to remain in the country pledging democratic rights and no reprisals for those who have been taking part in the conflict; eighth, that Great Britain and the United States of America should take the initiative in the United Nations Security Council to secure international recognition of the provisional Government; ninth, a referendum on acceptance or rejection of the new 811 constitution held under United Nations auspices; tenth, within a limited period an election under United Nations supervision with a common rule, one person one vote, to elect a new legislature and the Government; and, eleventh, economic and technical aid from Great Britain, the United States of America and other countries in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe.
I believe I can say that those proposals would have the support of some of the most important Front Line States which are involved in this problem. I recognise that this series of proposals is too tidy; I do not claim that they can just be operated as I have indicated. The important thing is that this kind of approach should be made. I should like to see such proposals put to both sides. I conclude by saying that there is now opening a new hope for Rhodesia, bringing legality and international recognition to a new Government, an end to the disastrous war, a promise for the future of its people, a precedent for all Southern Africa. My Lords, it is in that spirit I have sought to speak, and I hope I have made some contribution towards a settlement.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, I should like to comment upon one particular point which occurred to me when listening to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. I refer to his charge that the abolition of discrimination in housing rules would allow only a very small minority—I think he said an insignificant minority—of Africans to take advantage of it. What he has perhaps not realised is that the operation of sanctions on Rhodesia has had an interesting side effect. It has in fact produced quite a large and quite prosperous African middle class. It has also produced in Rhodesia an educated artisan class which is not present in practically any other African State. This situation has been forced upon Rhodesians by the application of sanctions, by the fact that they have had to invent, and to make do and mend at home when they have been unable to buy on the open market. This has created a slightly larger percentage of rich Africans than were present previously, or is present in other African communities.
812 I am now going to quote the following statement:The recent election in Rhodesia was nothing more than a gigantic confidence trick ".Was that written by the same man who on the aeroplane back from Rhodesia agreed with me that it was the fairest test of opinion in all of Africa, including the Boer republics; or the same man who confirmed that view in a social occasion in your Lordships' House last week; or the same man who, when I warned him at lunch time today that I was going to state this quotation, did not deny it at all? Those words were written by the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis—
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, the noble Earl will know that when fairly recently the question arose of quoting in this House private conversations, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, leapt to his feet and said what an appalling thing that was to do. I am sure that if the noble Earl were ever to repeat to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, what he has just said, Lord Carrington would respond in kind. However, that is indeed what I said; but at similar social occasions the noble Earl has said to me that he is incapable of reading. If however he will set his mind to the job and read the Hansard report of the speech that I made about the Rhodesian elections, he will find that I covered that point precisely and that I said that the question of whether the election was freer and fairer was never asked and therefore was not answered.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, I would not hesitate to admit that I cannot read. My parents spent an awful lot of money in sending me to Eton, and I think that that was a total failure. But I am very pleased to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, has now said in public, in your Lordships' House, that the election in Rhodesia was the fairest test of opinion in all Africa.
The reports of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, and of Mr. Drinkwater, both reach the same conclusions. Most observers who went there would agree. The Press who started by cynically disbelieving, were converted. Mr. Sithole on Thursday issued a Press statement saying that the elections were free and fair, but two hours later he withdrew the statement, saying that the elections were not free and fair. That 813 may not have been totally disconnected from the fact that he had seen the first results coming in.
It is interesting to see that Mr. Drinkwater says in his report that he did not discuss it before submitting it. The noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, said to others:I will talk about anything when we meet. I will talk of Guinness and I will talk about Cornish castles. I will talk of friends and relations, but I will not under any circumstances talk about Rhodesia ".He did not; and he comes to the same conclusion as most others who went there.
One journalist who I saw out there said that when he covered the Pearce Commission there was a smell of dissent about. This time there was a smell of accord. This election has given the bishop great power. Unfortunately, I think it possible that the bishop is not quite sure what to do with that great power. The bishop's advisers are not up to the standards of the Rhodesian Front advisers. Ian Smith and Van der Byl—or " Von der Bale " as he does not like to be called—have had their hands on the levers of power for a very long time, and they know exactly how to pull them. It is vitally important Muzorewa can use the power that he now has so that, as he said in Salisbury before he left the other day, he can produce something for the Africans. If he cannot produce something for the Africans, then this brave, but very belated, experiment in sensible government will abort.
My Lords, how can we help?—help as I think we must. There is a feeling in Salisbury that our top level advice is outside the country, not in it. The bishop has no one to whom to turn except his own civil servants. He has to be helped to ask the right questions. We must make sure that there are sufficient changes in the constitution—and here I agree with others who have spoken, perhaps not from this side—so that it will be more acceptable to reasonable people. It is not quite acceptable yet. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has certainly seen this. The most important change would be that the Prime Minister could actually hire and fire his own Cabinet colleagues.
The present situation is intolerable, and ought to be changed. Also, as has already been mentioned, the commissions in 814 charge of the civil service, the judiciary and the security forces must be more open to black Zimbabwean advancement. The present rules are those of very hidebound seniority and suitability. I would remind your Lordships that the rules of seniority nearly destroyed the career of the great Duke of Wellington before the battle of Vimeiro, but luckily he had sufficient political pull. The suitability rule is so flexible as to be almost useless. The recent row over the appointment of Jack Gaylord's successor is a case in point. Then, the bishop could not appoint whom he wanted as Cabinet secretary. This must be impressed upon Bishop Muzorewa when he is here in London later this week.
Next, we must help him help himself. He must be helped to stand up to the complaints of Ian Smith and, I believe, the rather patronising behaviour of Van der Byl. We must explain to him that a return to legality is essential to getting international recognition. Constitutional change and institutional change of a not enormous sort are important. My noble friend Lord Carrington, again, in his speech today, has recognised this. He has also noticed that, unlike most others, the power of Great Britain over Rhodesia is greater now than at any time since 1923. We now have something which they want. We have something which they can come to us and ask for, which for the first time, certainly since 1965, gives us an ability to apply pressure.
If Muzorewa can produce a recognised independent State and then rapid black African advancement, the war must fade. If he cannot, then Zimbabwe-Rhodesia will go the way of Angola or Chad. It will allow Russia, that maligned power which has been happily breaking sanctions and laundering Rhodesian chrome, and generally behaving in a thoroughly illegal fashion, a greater opportunity to meddle and create tyranny. An acceptable, free Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, prosperous and at peace, is the greatest threat to Russian adventurism in that part of the world. Thus, the constitution must be acceptable to us. The opinion of military tyrannies of West Africa, Angola or Mozambique carry no moral weight. Not one of those countries' internal arrangements would pass the test of the Six Principles. Those Six Principles are what we set out and 815 what we should act upon. They appear to have been met.
I was slightly shocked by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, when he seemed to say that it was more important to think about Nigerian oil than our own moral standing. Considering his great courage on moral issues since long before I was horn, anyway, I was slightly surprised by this. If we take into account only material interests, we will fail either to influence the suppliers of our raw materials or gain moral standing in the world. Let us remember, as did my noble friend Lord Home, that Africa is prone to coups, counter-coups and sudden ructions. Bishop Muzorewa said to us:I have seen what has happened in other countries where the whites have been expelled. I have seen the suffering that has resulted to the Africans of those countries ".I was with Lord Boyd and several others, and we all in fact clapped this because it was said with such feeling and so movingly. Therefore, we must help him help himself to help the whites and help the advance of the Africans. This advance of prosperity and freedom will not only keep out Russian imperialism but will also act as a very healthy example to the Boer Republics to the South.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Lord HASTINGS
My Lords, I am afraid I have to apologise to the House that I shall not be able to stay to the end of the debate—I have told my noble friend the Foreign Secretary—but an engagement made two months ago is impossible to avoid. I think that perhaps I am almost the only Member of your Lordships' House who should remind your Lordships of the personal interest that I have in Rhodesia. I believe it is customary to do so, though most of your Lordships are aware of it. I still have a farm there; and, of course, I was living in that country for several years, and was at one time a citizen. Therefore, when I hear people talk about peace in Rhodesia and of the benefits to all races there, my feelings are sometimes tinged with a certain degree of cynicism, because over the years, listening to all these debates, it has seemed to me that it is almost impossible for Members sitting on the other side of the House to agree on their objectives with the Members who sit on this side of the House. Although we 816 think we do agree, as a past Rhodesian and as one with his roots in that country, I find it very difficult to see that the objectives are the same.
In fact, after having heard the speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, in the first part of his speech, I must say that I have never been so depressed in the 23 years I have sat in this House. What the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, was asking us to do was to continue the negative policy pursued by the previous Government, of which he was a member. In an excellent speech by the noble Lord, Lord Plunket, in the debate on the gracious Speech last month (Lord Plunket, of course, still lives in Rhodesia, and has lived there for some 23 years; he was there before I left it, and I knew him then) he described this policy as a negative attitude which has resulted in the people of Rhodesia believing that the Labour Government supported the Patriotic Front. Whatever their intentions were, the effects were just that; and it is because of that negative policy and its effects that the problems that my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has to solve now are so very difficult. Everything that has been said from the opposite Benches has really been based on fear—fear of the African Commonwealth Presidents, fear of the front-line Presidents, fear of the Patriotic Front, fear of Russia and Cuba. My Lords, that is not a foreign policy at all.
This is why I was so refreshed and relieved at the speech which my noble friend Lord Carrington made, which made it quite clear that this Government are going to assume their political and constitutional responsibilities and, after fair and free consultation both now (it has been going on in the very recent past) and at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference at Lusaka, are going to make fair proposals; and, although my noble friend did not say so, I got the impression that this Government mean to carry out those proposals—with as much agreement as possible, of course, but that we shall assume our responsibilities and carry them out whether or not everybody agrees. That is a foreign policy, and it cannot be made dependent on the whims and wishes of everybody else. This is why the speeches from the other side of the House 817 depressed me so very much. When noble Lords opposite were talking of bringing about peace in Rhodesia for the benefit of all races, I quite honestly had some doubt as to the sincerity of some of those remarks, because I believe that in the past they have wished to impose leadership on Rhodesia from outside the country and not from within it. As was made perfectly clear by my noble friends Lord Home and Lord Boyd of Merton, the agreement must come from within, from the Rhodesians who are there—and the vast majority are there.
That does not diminish the difficulties. It does not mean to say that the constitution which was supported out of the long experience and wisdom of the two noble Lords I have just named cannot be changed by negotiation. I have no doubt that my noble friend the Foreign Secretary is perfectly capable of putting the arguments and bringing to bear the necessary pressures, although one has to recognise of course that Bishop Muzorewa is tied to a certain extent by the present constitution and by the clauses built into it and the number of votes he would have to obtain in order to bring about an alteration. That ought not to be absolutely impossible.
I want to refer in more detail to something which was, as pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, carefully avoided—and understandably so—by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary: that is, sanctions. It has been assumed by noble Lords on the other side, by their party and by certain very powerful organs of the Press, that sanctions and legal recognition are one and the same thing. This was pursued by the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis. I was struck by the remark that was made in the speech to which I have referred by the noble Lord, Lord Plunket, when he said that this Government have two cards to play: one is the return to legality; the other is to remove the sanctions, and they can be played separately. This is right.
If we cast our minds back to when sanctions were applied and referred to the United Nations—against of course the official policy and votes of the Conservative Party of the day; but when that happened we had to accept it—it was stated, and it has been stated ever since, that the purpose of sanctions was to bring 818 about a black majority rule; there was no other purpose. It was stated by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson (as he then was), by his Foreign Secretary, by his representatives in your Lordships' House and by the noble and learned Lord the then Lord Chancellor, time and time again, that sanctions were not there as punishment, but were there purely and simply to oblige the white minority Government to give up power to a black majority Government; and that is what has happened. Now every excuse has been trotted out by the Labour Party, by noble Lords opposite, and by the Press—and certain organs of the Press have been anti-European for as long as I can remember so far as Central Africa is concerned—to excuse the moral obligation to lift sanctions. There is no moral justification for keeping sanctions on any longer. It is simply a question of when they should be lifted and not whether. I have no doubt that my noble friend the Foreign Secretary will be pursuing this point in the near future.
What will be the effect of lifting sanctions? Here we have had a whole gospel of gloom and doom spread about the House this afternoon from the other side that it is going to bring the most frightful retribution; but there is the logical argument of lifting them, as well as a moral argument. The logical argument is that it will bring about more material benefit to the countries surrounding Rhodesia than to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia itself. Certainly it will lift the difficulties of obtaining foreign exchange. But foreign investment capital on the scale required is not going to pour into Rhodesia until the war has ceased and until there is legal recognition. It will give them a breathing space. What other practical support can we give to a black majority Government which has been fairly elected, if not that? We have already sent out some representatives on the spot and a travelling Minister of the highest calibre in that area. A practical gesture to help that Government to maintain unity can only be the lifting of sanctions. If we do not lift them, we get back to the same old problem of appearing to support and in effect giving an advantage to the Patriotic Front.
As the noble Lord, Lord Plunket, said, it would merely be evening up Bishop Muzorewa's position vis-à-vis the Patriotic 819 Front. It would not put him ahead of them at all. Surely, it is not going to create a worse war, because the African likes to be on the winning side. If he sees that the bishop has achieved something, has relieved a situation and can unify the nation, the African in the bush, who is sometimes rather tentative—because I know from my personal contacts hundreds of them are changing sides already—will go over and support the bishop and it is much more likely to diminish the civil war than to increase it. This is a practical argument as well as a moral one.
I am strongly in support of using sanctions by all means as a pressure on the bishop to make certain changes. Above all, something we can all agree on is that Mr. Ian Smith should resign. Apart from that, it may be difficult to see what can be done. But it should be used as some lever to give the moral and practical support necessary to give the elected majority black Government a chance which otherwise they really do not stand and to put pressure at the same time on the Patriotic Front. The noble Lord, Lord Carver, was the only Member sitting on the other side of the House who was really realistic. He approved the idea that pressure should be put on the leaders of the Patriotic Front so that they could see they are not on the winning side any longer and have to come to terms.
I believe that sanctions can be used in a constructive manner in this sense and divorced from the necessity for legal recognition which I think we all realise must come later. My noble friend the Foreign Secretary has said clearly that we must get the maximum international legal recognition. But I am sure the two things can be divorced. I wanted to put this point strongly because it is a moral one and a practical one with constructive benefits which will ensue from it.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Lord GARNER
My Lords, in my last years of Government service, which ended just over 10 years ago, nothing was more intractable, more perplexing and seemingly insoluble than the question of Rhodesia, and things do not seem to have changed. But there has been one big change: in my view in Zimbabwe we have really passed a 820 watershed in the past few months. Whatever view one may take about the validity of the elections—and we have heard a variety of views this afternoon—whatever view one may take about the constitution or about the competence of the bishop (and I shall return to some of those points later) something strikes me as absolutely clear: black Government has come in Zimbabwe, it is there to stay and there will be no going back. I do not mean from that that necessarily the present form of Government is ideal—far from it.
Following on that, the new Government have felt able to take advantage of the situation and to open it up. They have taken a variety of steps which have given themselves a freedom of manoeuvre. I welcome this and applaud particularly the posting of a mission in Salisbury. It has bothered me for a long time that we were dealing with a territory when we had no direct information from our own people on the spot about the subject and I think that this was a very necessary step to be taken. But in my view it is vital to preserve that freedom of action and not to commit ourselves exclusively or prematurely to one side until at least a coherent policy can be evolved.
There are a number of conflicting factors to be taken into account, and we have heard a variety of them this afternoon. There is opinion at home, in Zimbabwe itself, in Africa and in the world. There is no unity; there is division throughout all those areas. I do not want to traverse them all, but let me just pick out two, one on each side. If Zimbabwe is to succeed, it seems to me that two things are vital; first, that an adequate number of Europeans shall feel sufficient confidence to want to stay in the country and to make a success of it in the future; and, secondly, it is equally vital, if Zimbabwe is to succeed, that she knows she has the support, encouragement and co-operation of the neighbouring States in Africa.
The debate this afternoon has hinged on two separate issues—though some have tried to connect them—recognition and sanctions. In neither, of course, as has been shown, have the Government a totally free hand. International recognition demands much exploratory consultation which is already taking place, and will depend to some degree at least on international agreement. A fundamental 821 point, it seems to me, is to know what status the new State will have. Is it to return to legality by way of being a British colony first, is it to apply for full membership of the Commonwealth, as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, hoped, or is it to ask for entirely sovereign independent status as an independent country? All of these questions are difficult and, of course, in the last resort, all of them will depend, to some extent at least, on legislation by this Parliament.
Then there is the question of sanctions. I want to be very brief about these, because I have expressed my views from time to time in debates in the past, and I have written a history of them in a book which is in the Library and which anybody can read. But, very briefly, as we all know sanctions in their first impact failed. Latterly, it can be argued that to some extent they succeeded in their objective in bringing about a change. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that other factors played their part. To the guerrillas which he mentioned, I would add, possibly even more important, the attitude of the Republic of South Africa under the stimulus of the United States and ourselves. But in any case, in the long run, sanctions partially succeeded.
They were originally imposed on an illegal régime in rebellion against British authority. That is no longer the case, and I personally find it distasteful to contemplate an indefinite infliction of continued punishment—because punishment it is—on the bishop and his compatriots, whatever his faults may be, and to cause continuing hardship to the people of Zimbabwe. In parenthesis here, I make the point, which has been mentioned by others, that if Mr. Smith could be persuaded to leave the Administration this would immensely strengthen the case for a removal of sanctions, and indeed, in my view, would be the greatest service he could still perform for his country.
But sanctions have always been important, not so much for their immediate effect on the economy of the country, although that has had its results, but for their symbolic equality. They have been regarded, and still are regarded, as the touchstone of good faith on the part of the West in general, and more especially 822 on the part of Britain. I agree with those speakers who underlined the very serious consequences that there could be of any drastic unilateral action, which might have very serious long-term consequences not only for Zimbabwe itself, but also for the country. Incidentally, there is, of course, the technical point that has already been made that they are mandatory under the Security Council.
I do not want to prolong the discussion. It has been an interesting debate which has highlighted the problems very clearly, because such strongly opposing views have been advanced from the two sides. Perhaps it is appropriate that, as a Cross-Bencher, I should have to confess that I am neither persuaded by the advocates on the one side who would favour immediate unilateral recognition and the removal of sanctions, nor am I persuaded by some of the arguments on the other side by those who wish to tear up straight away, apparently, the constitution which has come into effect and which has been operating for only a few months. The one word that I would address to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, and others who are so critical of it, is that when they think back to 10 years ago a constitution of this kind would have been regarded as quite dramatic. I regard it really, as a neutral constitution.
What we are working for, surely, is an evolution and not a revolution. If we had a complete change overnight from a white Administration to a black Administration, there could have been grave difficulties. I am not defending the present constitution; I can see its theoretical flaws. But I think one has to accept that for an interim period there is something to be said, in the interests of preserving continuity and efficiency, for not going for the all-out ideal solution straight away. Finally, as many noble Lords—in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel—pointed out, there are underlying serious factors in this whole situation, which I need not develop.
I only want to say, in conclusion, that in a stormy sea there is no one whom I would rather have at the tiller than the present Foreign Secretary. I was encouraged, though not surprised, to learn today that he is not prepared to listen to some of the siren voices in his own party and beyond, who would advocate 823 quick, drastic action which might superficially be attractive, but which might have long-term serious consequences. I applaud the manner in which he has set about his task and, so far, has proceeded. I hope that he will continue, however impatient he may be tempted to feel at times, to show that cautiousness which is bred from experience and wisdom and not from weakness and, above all, that he will persevere on his present path with his characteristic imperturbable deliberation.
§ 6.17 p.m.
My Lords, may I speak to you very shortly, because I think that most of the points that are to be made have already been made. I welcome the statement made recently by the Prime Minister that this Government are unlikely to renew sanctions. I think that it is a fair judgment, in the light of the results of the recent elections held in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. I was fortunate in being asked to go as an observer, and after spending nine days touring the country, visiting polling stations and interviewing both black and white citizens, I came to the conclusion that, given the circumstances, the elections were free and fair. One must realise that the country is at war and to try to change the constitution satisfactorily under these conditions is an extremely difficult task.
The elections were held and a result was forthcoming, giving Bishop Muzorewa's party a majority and the right to form a government. Arguments that the Patriotic Front were given no say, are groundless. It was asked on a number of occasions to help form the new constitution, but doggedly and repeatedly refused. The decision not to take part is a regrettable one from the point of view of Messrs. Nkomo and Mugabe. The result of the elections, in which over 64 per cent. of the population voted, was a strong indication of how people felt about the war.
On many occasions when interviewing black voters, I asked what they thought of the Patriotic Front and received the reply publicly and privately, that the war should now end, that Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo should cease their guerrilla activities, and a great number of these voters said that they would not like to see Mugabe and Nkomo return to 824 Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. It is now much too late for them to return to take part in resolving any constitutional matters on their terms. They are unacceptable to the new Government and to the overwhelming majority of the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Whatever just causes they originally had, they now have no credibility and events have overtaken them.
The relationship between Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe is a tenuous one. There is open mistrust and they are almost as much at war with each other as with their common enemy, as has been witnessed when the two guerrilla sides meet when raiding in Rhodesia. An open battle takes place. If either leader of the guerrillas was in power, the country would virtually be split in two.
I am in agreement with the reports which have been submitted by the Conservative delegation, led by the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton. It is a fair assessment of the situation. It contains some valid criticisms, but one must bear in mind that we are debating the birth of a new nation, with massive obstacles to overcome. It is the duty of the British Government—and I welcome their stand—to accept, in part, responsibility for the way in which the country has reached its new status. We have been very hasty recently to recognise new régimes and shortly afterwards to have reservations about them. Zimbabwe-Rhodesia does not have a régime; it has a government and it must be recognised as such. I welcome the visit of Bishop Muzorewa to this country this week and the meetings which are to take place. It is a further step in the right direction.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Lord BARNBY
My Lords, this is a British subject, and we are having a British discussion about British territory. The Foreign Secretary has already made that very clear to us. Responsibility involves leadership. I am puzzled about why it is necessary to defer so much to the opinions of other countries regarding a British subject. That point has already been stressed by other speakers. " Appeasement " is a nasty word. The modern term " détente " is equally unpleasant, although naturally this Government do not wish to attract that tag.
825 No subject has received such continuous discussion each year in your Lordships' House. It is a clear-cut proposition. I suppose that one could instance Ireland, a problem which has been with us for very much longer. In the case of Ireland, however, there was compensation; I think that perhaps I am the only Member of either House who remembers sitting with the 60 Irish Members of the Commons, where one was treated to their glorious, extempore rhetoric, so consistently deployed.
We have received from the Foreign Secretary a very lucid, painstaking exposition of the complicated position in which he finds himself. There is propriety in candour, but of course we want to avoid creating any difficulty over the delicate discussions which are taking place. There is a wide diversity of view. The debate has been enriched both by the original reasonings of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and by the lucid—and fluent, we must admit—extempore reasoning of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings. Perhaps I may tell the House that he reminded me of the eloquence of his father who served for a long period in this House. There were few who excelled his father in extempore persuasion.
I am perplexed as to why we are participating at all in this continuing discussion, because the Foreign Secretary is unable to present us with anything definite. Great discussions are ahead of us. My views are very much in line with those of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings. The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, and I have exchanged views on this subject on many occasions, and I congratulate him today, as I always do, on his painstaking and precise presentation of his point of view.
The Six Principles have been agreed to. They were demanded by Britain and they were endorsed by Kissinger for the United States of America. The Rhodesians have had a free and fair vote, and there was a high poll which must have included the majority of Rhodesians. We have heard that there must be an expression of view of the majority of black Rhodesians. We have had it.
All this external criticism is surely superfluous. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has asked, why is it that 826 we have to yield to views expressed by so many different countries and bodies? The noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, gave a splendid explanation to the House, and we are grateful to him; it was most helpful—one which I am sure many Members of the House were not aware of.
It may be that the legal explanation given by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has validity. I have consistently held the view that, under the terms of the Charter, sanctions have no legality —another angle for having strong views about the subject.
Muzorewa himself has expressed the desire for the continued presence of as many whites as possible. He repeats his belief in the continuance of their presence. Either the non-removal of sanctions or non-recognition would hasten the exodus of the whites. Can anyone really deny that if there had been greater participation by the whites in several other emergent countries there would be less of the mess which so many of them have got into? Everybody can understand what that means. Would the security forces in Rhodesia be any more effective with a smaller white content?
A lead from Britain is what is wanted. Responsible action by Britain would possibly attract action by the United States, which would gradually he followed up by action by others. The removal of sanctions would greatly assist the momentum of recovery. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, let us remember that Africans always want to be on the winning side and all the speeches and suggestions of the Opposition surely give encouragement to the terrorists that they have such strong support in Britain that it may bring a hope of success by their terrorist methods.
But, my Lords, can the economy really bear much longer delay? Can Bishop Muzorewa's Government itself endure under continuing too strong stress? I can think of other small items, too, but they are important. Think of the decimation of the cattle population resulting from the cessation of dipping. Think of the loss of human life by relaxing the precautions against bilharzia. Trade with Africa, as elsewhere, will always depend on prices, quality and delivery and I am not in the least afraid that there would not be a 827 continuance of trade if we were to exercise our due duty as regards Rhodesia.
I was shocked by the noble Lord, Lord Walston's, suggested acceptance of the fact that Britain would be the victim of boycott of trade if we were to do our duty towards our own territory. My Lords, fear is not one of the feelings that we should have. Nigeria has been instanced: a ruthless dictatorship with a habit of shooting their ex-leaders—bad luck on the opposition in countries like that! Leadership would quickly change. A delayed recognition would be a great danger; it would bring about another bloody coup or civil war.
I have just mentioned Nigeria: we need not assume that there is not a two-way danger in anything of the type of a boycott. Thinking of Nigeria reminds me that it is a rich country and I am reminded of a play where Hoggenheimer was presented and he said " What, me vulgar? But I am rich "; that is the line we are taking about Nigeria. Incidentally, taking invisible together with visible trade with Nigeria, it is nonsense to say that she is the biggest and most valuable trading partner in Africa. If the two were put together, South Africa would remain the more important. Surely economic and social collapse in Rhodesia would be one of the dangers if there should be delay.
Another danger in delay would be that a Marxist régime would follow and, as everybody agrees, Marxism is the greatest danger in South Africa. I remember the criticism when Teddy Roosevelt, in face of world opinion, annexed the Panama area. He acted first and had talks afterwards. Time is short, options are narrow, sanctions will lapse in November. If this Government should care to lean on the Opposition for support in retaining them, it would split the Conservative Party and, as a long-serving parliamentarian, I do not believe that would be a good thing for Britain. Courage—and we know that the Foreign Secretary has that in good measure—should outweigh caution. Threats would wither as time went on.
§ Viscount BOYD of MERTON
My Lords, may I just ask my noble friend, for the record, whether, when he spoke of the Nigerian Government executing their leaders, he had not got in mind Ghana?
828 I know that my noble friend is a very fair person, who might think it was only right to correct the record.
§ Lord BARNBY
My Lords, I would bracket the two. I certainly do not admire the rapidity with which the Government recognised Ghana after another bloody revolution, but I do not think I am wrong in saying that Ghana did shoot some of the heads of State. I am glad that my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton has asked that because I believe we are attaching too much importance to the fear about Nigeria. I believe that Britain can stand against any boycotts or wrongful approach. I criticise the fear: trade should not be subject to ideologies of any kind, but success should be the result of competence and of the three qualities I have just mentioned.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, for whom I have the very warmest affection and with whose opinions I totally disagree. He will forgive me, I am sure, if I do not follow him down the road on which he has led us.
I should like to start by saying to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in absentia that he mentioned twice in his speech the objective of securing the widest possible international acceptance. On that I agree with him. He has recently suggested to me that I agree with him also on the objective of seeking a peaceful solution in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and I do absolutely. The object of this debate therefore is surely to see how we can best attain those two objectives. A great deal of the debate has been taken up with discussion on British policy and British interests and I should like to bring it back to the interests of the Rhodesian people. This is a complicated and very dangerous situation.
I grant to the Foreign Secretary that he has been landed with a legacy for which he is not by any means totally responsible; it is a legacy that nobody would wish to inherit. We have seen since the election of April and since the appointment of the new Prime Minister 829 in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia part of his support eroded. We have seen James Chikerema leave him: we have seen Ndabaningi Sithole refuse to take his seats. Going further back, it is only a matter of just over two years ago since it was Joshua Nkomo who was having discussions with Mr. Smith and the bishop and Mr. Sithole were in exile helping to form guerrilla groups: so the whole thing is very complicated.
What I want to do is to make some suggestions to the British Government based on a brief analysis of where I think the roots of the problem lie. The roots that I am referring to have hardly been dealt with at all this afternoon. I think we need to get rid of a mythology which has unfortunately grown up about this part of Africa, just as about many other parts—the mythology we have heard repeated time and time again this afternoon, the African always likes to be on the winning side. Did he like to be on the winning side in Algeria or in Kenya or in Zambia or in Nyasaland? This is condescension and condescension of the worst kind. It simply blinds us to the realities of the situation.
The realities of the Rhodesian situation have for long been shrouded in old historical myths: the myth that the white man went into Rhodesia in order to suppress inter-tribal warfare—historical nonsense, as any historian will tell you: the myth that the Rhodesian African is divided between the Mashono and the Matabele —anthropological nonsense; the myth that in 1923 the British Government granted self-governing colonial status to the Rhodesian people—again historical nonsense. And the further myth, which I will come to in a moment, that I should like to take up from the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, about the Central African Federation.
Very briefly, the first Europeans in Rhodesia during the 1890s had to fight against both the Shona people and the Ndabele people; there were rebellions from both. In 1923 the British Government granted self-governing colonial status to whom? To the 15,000 Europeans who lived there among something like 2 to 3 million Africans. And now the most important issue, approaching the present situation, that of Central African Federation. I know that the noble 830 Viscount, Lord Boyd, and I have always differed on this. I can claim to have had as long experience as he has, although not the same kind of executive experience. He was at the conference in 1952. I was in what was then Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia in 1951, when Ministers from this side of the House went out to examine African opinion. From the start I had no doubt whatever from my researches in Central Africa that the bulk of the African people were against Central African Federation. But that is not the central issue that I want to make this afternoon.
It seems to me that the most important mistakes made during the period of Central African Federation were, first of all, that a British political straitjacket was put upon that area of Africa, but the straitjacket came right out of the early part of the 19th century; it was not a constitution which had anything to do with the 20th century. It was put there basically for economic reasons, because it was believed by the whites that by Federation they could increase the capital development of that area—and to be quite fair to them they believed in it, and so did the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd. This would increase the wealth of the Europeans, and, again to be fair, it would eventually trickle down to the blacks. Well, it did not happen that way and it has not happened that way anywhere, including our own country.
What did happen was that, in order to sustain that political constitution formed in Britain and imposed from Britain, the white politicians for 10 years applied a policy of divide and rule in Rhodesia itself. I remember that during my first visit to Rhodesia in 1951 there were encouraging signs of interracial social, economic and political mixing. There was indeed a Rhodesian Labour Party that was interracial. All this went with the Federation, and it went because of the opposition to Federation. But it did something else. Whereas eventually in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland the nationalist movements became unified, in Southern Rhodesia they became fragmented. They became fragmented partially because this was the tactic, to divide the African nationalist movements and divide them largely along tribal lines. This again is another myth.
831 If you live among Africans in this area, or even if you just do an anthropological analysis, you will see that the Shonas are a language group, not a tribe, but, secondly, the Shonas are divided into many, if you like so to call them, clans; above all, there has been throughout this century a great deal of inter-marriage between the different groups within the Shonas and the Ndabele, there has been political mixing. A man, for instance, like Joshua Nkomo has indeed a foot in both of the groups; he is a Kalanga, which cannot be defined as either Shonas or Ndabele. During the 1950s and 1960s there was a very unfortunate pushing towards tribal politics, and that pushing at times became a deliberate movement to create a federation of different tribal groups throughout the country, which would have been disastrous.
What I want to bring to the attention of the Government is that this is really a political mosaic and that when they are addressing themselves to the bishop, who is a Manyika, to Chikerema, to Sithole, to Nkomo, to Mugabe, to Nyandoro, they must recognise that, far from what the noble Lord, Lord Home, said this afternoon, tribalism is the curse of Africa. Here are communities that want to contribute to something that may not be a stereotyped unified political system, but they have different ideas on that and they have different ideas of decision-making.
The noble Lord, Lord Home, will remember that back in the 1950s I made a one-man mission to investigate the affairs of Seretse Khama who was at that time exiled from his own country. I did not go to villages and take votes: I went throughout Botswana—then Bechuanaland—to hear the sense of the population in the area that is known as a Kotla. That is one system. It is just as democratic as ours, reaching many more consensus views than our divided system. It is only one system, but there are others.
I want the Government to note when they are looking to the future of Zimbabwe that there are many different elements to be put into that future and I do not believe that they will fit into the strict parliamentary form of government that we have known in this country. I would draw their attention to the attempt that 832 was made in Nigeria and the disaster which followed that. I would also draw their attention to the use that President Nyerere has made of tribal difference as part of a cultural enrichment and political acceptance of nationality in a State which was just not there—which was not a State before the Europeans came and carved it out.
So, in looking at the situation from the African point of view, it looks very different from the simple application of a stereotyped test of whether it fits in with what we do in Peterborough, Manchester or Westminster. I believe in the sincerity of the Secretary of State in wanting to get a settlement and he must take this matter into deep consideration and exert a great deal of understanding when discussing it.
Finally, I should like to put forward some concrete suggestions to the Secretary of State. First, it seems to me to be essential that he and the British Government should recognise that the 1978 Rhodesian Constitution does not satisfy the Fifth Principle agreed by both parties in our Parliament. The noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, asked me to explain the reference that I made to his experience in 1956. In 1956 the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, then Colonial Secretary, insisted that Nkrumah held a new election—although he had held an election in 1954—at which the central issue should be the new constitution. He insisted that Nkrumah hold that new election because there had been objections to the constitution within what was then the Gold Coast. Against his will, Nkrumah held that election—as I said in my intervention —with the support of members of my party. But the 1978 Zimbabwe-Rhodesia constitution has not been tested by the Rhodesian people as a whole. Therefore, it is vital that the British Government recognise that so far—and only so far—the Fifth Principle has not been met. I am not talking about the fairness or unfairness of the elections, but about the constitution as it stands.
The Foreign Secretary has told us that he is to meet the Bishop. I think that the bishop is the key man at present, and I suggest to the Foreign Secretary that there is just a light at the end of the tunnel if he can persuade the bishop to do three main things, but to do them simultaneously and not in succession. He must first show his 833 flexibility on the constitution and constitutional changes, particularly on the white power over the statutory commissions—the civil service, the judiciary and the armed forces. He must try to get rid of Ian Smith and Peter Van der Byl because they are anathema to anyone who has any feeling for non-racialism.
Secondly, he must be able to visualise the way in which a new constitution will be implemented, including the integration of the guerrilla forces within a new Zimbabwe army. In doing so he must be able and willing—I believe that he is willing because things have been going on that have been unpublicised—to communicate at least with Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe.
Thirdly, he must give the Foreign Secretary his assurance that he is willing, if the preliminary negotiations show any sign of success, to have a meeting with Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe and with any other of the leaders like Chikerema, Sithole, and Nyandoro who can discuss together the joint future of a new Zimbabwe. I believe also that he must give an assurance to the Secretary of State that he will rid himself of the very strong South African influence which has borne in on him over the past six months and which is disastrous for his position in Zimbabwe and, indeed, in Africa as a whole.
Finally, may I express the hope to the Secretary of State that he will not heed the voices of extremism behind him or in other parts of the country, in certain organs of the Press and within certain sections of the Conservative Party, to go bald-headed for recognition and the lifting of sanctions. May I suggest that he recalls that the same people who are today calling for that kind of policy were, up to a year or two ago, supporting the policy of Ian Smith when Ian Smith was saying that white rule would last for a thousand years. Those same people are today supporting the recognition of the Muzorewa Government and the lifting of sanctions.
I hope that he will continue to ignore the words of his own leader the Prime Minister, said in such unfortunate circumstances in Australia, because if he does not do so he will have allowed her to tear up the ace of trumps. What will be the result? The inevitable result will be that the Bishop's regime will be intransigent towards the type of improvements and 834 reforms that we have been suggesting this afternoon, while on the other side the Patriotic Front will despair of any hope of negotiations. That will undermine any effort to get the peace for which we are looking. For, we are looking for peace. We are looking for peace for the Africans to work out their own destiny in their own way along with those whites, Indians and coloureds who will stay with them. That, remember, has been the express desire not only of the bishop, but of Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo and every other African leader in Central Africa.
Please let us remember when we are undertaking these negotiations that 10 years may seem a short transitional period to us, but what does it seem like to a young African? What does it seem like to a young African who is participating in the life of his community, but who will be prevented from taking a full part in the shaping of that community for 10 years? This evening we are discussing an issue which will be of fundamental importance, not just to the Africans in Rhodesia, about whom we are concerned not just to the whites living in Rhodesia, the Indians and the coloureds, but to our children and our grandchildren, whose relations with the great African continent will be very largely dependent upon the decision made by the British Government in their final responsibility in the creation of the new Zimbabwe.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord about the reform of the commissions. Obviously there is something wrong here, and I think that this view has been expressed on all sides of the House. Can the noble Lord give us his view as to how these commissions should be reformed?—because it is universally recognised that it is very important to maintain a high standard of judiciary, servicemen and civil service. Of course, up to now the judiciary has been open to criticism. Perhaps in one and a half seconds the noble Lord could give some views on this.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, the noble Earl is asking me to speak off-the-cuff and briefly on a very important subject. I would simply say—and this must be general—that it is crucial that the control of the recruitment, development 835 and promotion within the civil service, the armed forces, the judiciary and the police force should be absolutely under the control, and be seen to be under the control, of relevant Ministers, and not under the control of some outside body, on which the minority is predominant.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Lord FORESTER
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, I must declare an interest in Rhodesia. I shall also be very brief, as far abler tongues than mine have covered the subject from this side of the House. However, I am concerned that time is running out for Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. I do not believe that they can last very much longer. Decisions must be made in the immediate future. It is almost three months since this enormous change took place in Rhodesia and the Bishop came to power—three months during which time the war has got continually worse.
Her Majesty's Government have now been in office for two and a half months. Emissaries have been sent around the world. They have collected information; they have brought back the views of our friends around the world. There has been time for those views to be considered and acted upon. I listened with interest and great care to my noble friend the Foreign Secretary and I appreciate his problems and what he is trying to do. However, with great respect, I sincerely hope that the history books will not compare my noble friend with Emperor Nero. While we deliberate, it is inevitable that the war in Rhodesia escalates. That is the fundamental problem. While there is indecision the Patriotic Front has everything to fight for, and nothing that has been said today has changed that. Even while we talk the war is getting worse. Up to 100 people are being killed or maimed daily in Rhodesia. How many will die during this debate in, what has so well been described as, " this savage and cruel war "?
Rhodesia has been bled dry financially; there is no money left. Unemployment has reached terrifying proportions and there are people starving. Why should the present black Government suffer for the mistakes of a previous white one? I feel sure that Bishop Muzowera's cabinet are prepared to discuss anything reasonable.
836 The only proviso should be that Her Majesty's Government will make immediate decisions.
I understand from Rhodesia that Bishop Muzowera has done phenomenally well. Unlike Chikerema, he has enormous support; but he must deliver the goods soon, in particular a reduction in the war, if there is not to be chaos. For that he needs our support. Where would we be without Bishop Muzowera? I believe that Rhodesia has reached her darkest hour and her people's cry for help remains largely unheeded. I ask Her Majesty's Government to act with all possible speed, and I only hope and pray that they will be in time.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Lord MONSON
My Lords, first, I should like to apologise to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary for having missed the first half of his speech. This was due to very severe traffic congestion in the vicinity of the Buckingham Palace garden party. As it is a long time since I have participated in a full debate in your Lordships' House on the subject of Rhodesia, let me start by declaring no interest; that is, I do not have and have never had a single penny invested in Rhodesia or in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
This rather unusual declaration is necessitated by an instance which occurred 12 or 13 years ago, not long after UDI and shortly after your Lordships had debated, and subsequently divided upon, the issue of sanctions against Rhodesia for the first time. I was one of those who voted against the imposition of sanctions. Shortly afterwards, a prominent report appeared in the Press which revealed that a United Nations committee had named me, together with about two dozen other noble Lords, as individuals who possessed vast financial stakes in Rhodesia, which by implication had warped our judgment and influenced our voting intentions adversely as far as the United Nations was concerned. This was a nonsensical allegation as far as I was concerned and I believe that it was equally a nonsensical allegation as regards the other noble Lords named by the committee. However, unfortunately, English libel laws do not stretch across the Atlantic—at least, not without a great deal of difficulty—so nothing could 837 be done. But this seems an opportune moment to put the record straight, and to give the United Nations a chance to expunge our names from their dossiers, their black-lists, or their memory banks, which must be getting rather overcrowded by now if they are as inaccurate about other people who incur their displeasure as they were about the other noble Lords and myself.
It is particularly apposite to mention now a glaring mistake made by a United Nations committee in the middle or late 1960s, in view of a letter from the Policy and Information Secretary of the United Nations Association in London which was published in the Daily Telegraph about six weeks ago. The lady in question started her letter by alleging that the new Zimbabwe-Rhodesia's constitution had been approved by the white population only. That was simply not true. The Asian and the coloured—that is to say, the mixed-race—electorate also took part in the referendum. It is true that they are quite small communities, but none the less they are important ones. If the United Nations Association is wrong on such a simple and easily ascertainable matter, one wonders how much confidence can be placed in its other judgments. So much for the facts, or rather the errors of fact. Now for opinions.
The letter from the United Nations Association in the Daily Telegraph went on to criticise the new constitutional arrangements on the grounds that they violated the fifth principle—the principle relating to " acceptability to the population of Rhodesia as a whole." Several things can be said in reply to this. First, it is not easy for an unsophisticated electorate to grasp complex constitutional details. How many United Kingdom electors studied the Treaty of Rome before they participated in the referendum of 1975? How many Scots understood even 1/20th of the late, unlamented Scotland Act?
But suppose it were possible to establish scientifically that the only independence constitution acceptable to 51 per cent., or more, of the Rhodesian people was one which provided for the expulsion of all racial minorities from their jobs, and the expropriation of their lands. Clearly independence on these terms would violate not only the Fourth Principle, which forbids, or has to do with the diminution of, racial 838 discrimination, but the Sixth Principle as well, which provides that there should be no oppression of the minority by the majoriry or the majority by the minority.
I noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, made something of a Freudian slip in that he omitted to refer to the Six Principles, but referred instead to " the Five Principles." It is the Sixth Principle which is by far the most important, as I hope to demonstrate later on. Therefore, reverting to this hypothetical state of affairs, unless the majority were to change their minds about an acceptable constitution, Rhodesia would have to remain a British colony in perpetuity.
Suppose, on the other hand, that the hypothetical scientific test of black African opinion produced the opposite result. Suppose, in other words, that it revealed that 51 per cent. or more of Rhodesians were entirely happy with the present constitution—as I believe would be the case were it possible to carry out such a survey. Would then the front-line African Presidents, the international Left, the so-called third world, accept the Rhodesian Africans' judgment and rush forward to embrace the new State of Zimbabwe Rhodesia with open arms? They would not. On the contrary, I suspect that the response would be on the lines, " This constitution may be good enough for the Rhodesian Africans "—the ones who have to live in the country—" but it is not good enough for us."
What sort of changes would these outsiders, who are so hostile to the new constitution, try and press for? First, objections would be raised again to the reservation of 28 per cent. of the parliamentary seats for the white and other minorities. But, as has already been pointed out in this debate, this sort of provision is by no means uncommon in independence constitutions elsewhere. Plucking something out of the air, one can think of Cyprus, where the Turks, who formed only 18 per cent. of the population, were given 30 per cent. of all governmental posts.
Furthermore, I should remind your Lordships that the draft independence constitution put forward by Sir Harold Wilson in December 1966 allocated just over 25 per cent. of the seats in the Legislative Assembly to Europeans and 839 no less than 46 per cent. of the seats in the Senate. I am certain that Sir Harold Wilson would never have endorsed these proposals if he had thought that they would in any way adversely affect the interests and wellbeing of black Africans.
Next, the question of what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, described as the " continuing control exercised by whites behind the scenes.". I see that the noble Lord is not in his place, but I should have liked to remind him that in former French colonial territories in West Africa, whites not only help exercise control behind the scenes but on stage, in full view, as well. The black Africans in those countiers do not object to this in any way because they know that their countries are much more prosperous and well run than would otherwise be the case.
Related to this would be demands for rapid Africanisation. Now, in the rare instances when this would mean the replacement of second or third rate, incompetent whites by keen, qualified, hardworking Africans, I am all for this. This would be an admirable step to take. This would be meritocracy, but such cases would be comparatively few and far between. Hasty Africanisation for its own sake, without regard to merit, would not be meritocracy but its very opposite—racialism. It would entail qualified whites being removed from their jobs and replaced by less qualified Africans. Less qualified through no fault of their own, but less qualified none the less, and whether slightly less or a great deal less makes no difference for the purpose of this argument.
This would be a good thing in the short term for those Africans placed in these posts but bad for almost everybody else, white and black, in Rhodesia. It would inevitably lead to lower standards in agriculture, forestry, mining, industry, health, water supply, education, law and order, and so on, and would eventually act to the detriment of the entire country. I was interested, though not surprised, to hear the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, say that Bishop Muzorewa and his followers were well aware of this danger, and did not want it repeated in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. In so far as it would lead to those qualified whites who were pushed 840 out of their jobs having to leave the country, because it would be highly unlikely that they would obtain posts anywhere else within it, it would also contravene the Sixth Principle, to which I shall return in a moment.
The other facet of the constitution which has been attacked (most recently by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, this afternoon) is the entrenched clauses. The necessity of these clauses is rather more evident to those Europeans living on the African continent than to people over here. One only has to think of just how much enforced movement there has been from the African continent during the last quarter of a century, when one considers that since 1955 over 2 million Christians and Jews from countries North of the Sahara have been pushed out; more recently tens of thousands of Asians have been expelled from Uganda, and to a lesser extent from other East and central African countries, together with a good many Europeans. I know that there are many Europeans still living happily in Zambia and Kenya but, equally, large numbers have had to leave.
Last but not least, from two territories adjacent to Rhodesia, Angola and Mozambique, as many as 1 million people have had to leave since 1974, often having to leave everything they own behind them. They have been mainly Europeans, but also Chinese, Goans, Pakistanis, and people of mixed race: one can understand the impression this has made upon people in Rhodesia. In other words, a total of at least 3½ million people of minority races have been pushed out of Africa in the last 24 years. The white Rhodesians are well aware that another quarter of a million added to this total is a drop in the bucket so far as the world as a whole is concerned. Very few people outside Britain would lose even one night's sleep over their expulsion.
It is the moment to return to the Sixth Principle, which is the most important, and which stipulates that there should be no oppression of the majority by the minority or of the minority by the majority. Once this happy state of equilibrium is reached, all the other principles will fall into place automatically, in so far as they are necessary preconditions, or consequences, of the attainment of this happy state. The one exception is the Fifth 841 Principle—if it is over-rigidly applied—and if it is, it becomes a superfluous stumbling block.
It is often said that the main reason for providing safeguards for the minorities in Rhodesia (and elsewhere) is to retain their valuable skills within the country. Of course that is an important reason, but it is not the main one. The main reason is that they, and their fathers and grandfathers, built the country up from nothing. They made hundreds of thousands of blades of grass grow where none grew before; they created order out of chaos. It is their home, and they have the right to stay there. Let no changes be made to the constitution which would jeopardize that right.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Lord VERNON
My Lords, I should like to follow what the noble Lord, Lord Monson, has said by examining, perhaps a little critically, some of the arguments which have been put forward by noble Lords opposite during the afternoon regarding the new constitution in Rhodesia and, what follows from that: whether we should lift sanctions and recognise the régime.
The first and perhaps principal objection is that while there is now in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia a black Prime Minister and a predominantly black Government, the whites still control the civil service and the armed forces, that nothing has really changed and that black majority rule is therefore a sham; it does not exist in practice. The second is that while the white population was given the opportunity in a referendum to reject the new constitution, the blacks were not. The third is that the election held was not free and fair. The fourth is that the majority of independent African States, and especially Nigeria, which is so economically powerful, are strongly against recognition and the lifting of sanctions and have threatened us with trade sanctions if we ignore their wishes.
I wish to examine those arguments in turn. The last is, in my view, by far the least convincing and indeed somewhat disreputable, and it was put forward rather to my surprise by both noble Lords, Lord Brockway and Lord Walston. It never has paid to give in to blackmail, and it will not pay now. If we believe 842 that what we propose doing is right and the conditions that we have set for a colony to obtain independence have been met, we should stick to our guns regardless of any threats. In any case, I believe that trade sanctions, if applied, would be short-lived, and if, as we have been told today, Nigeria has already applied trade sanctions in the form of refusing tenders from British companies, then my view is reinforced even more strongly.
The second objection—that the blacks were given no opportunity to reject the constitution in a referendum of their own —is superficially more valid, but I think only superficially; and the point was answered very adequately by my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton when he referred to his conversations with Bishop Muzorewa. The whites were handing over power to the blacks and it was therefore reasonable that they should first obtain the approval of their own people. The blacks were accepting power, which is all along what they had wanted. There was therefore a clear distinction. Moreover, if the black population did not like the new constitution and wished to have nothing to do with it, they had one very obvious remedy; they could have abstained from voting, as indeed the Patriotic Front recommended them to do. That would have destroyed the credibility of the settlement. But they did no such thing; they voted in large numbers.
The third objection is that the election was not free and fair, and I do not propose to say anything about that. There are two opposing views—the views of Lord Boyd and his colleagues and the views of Lord Chitnis—and I for one accept the views of Lord Boyd, particularly as those views were endorsed by the large majority of the international Press which witnessed the elections.
That leaves the first objection; namely, that majority rule is bogus because the whites are still in virtual control of the country. It would be idle to deny that the whites continue to play a very important role in the administration of the country, but I believe that is desirable, particularly at the present time when a guerrilla war is in progress. It does not follow that Bishop Muzorewa and his Ministers are puppets. Nor do I believe they are puppets. They have, after all, very strong cards in their hands if they 843 choose to play them. The whites need the Muzorewa Government just as much as the Muzorewa Government needs the whites. All this does not mean that there are not defects in the constitution. One of the worst in my view—I do not think it has been particularly referred to today—is the arrangement under which all the white Members of Parliament, even those eight who are elected on a common black and white role, are pre-selected by the Rhodesia Front, which virtually closes the parliamentary door to any liberal whites.
That is one of the things I hope it will be possible for my noble friend the Foreign Secretary to get altered in the negotiations he is having. I hope also that something can be done to speed up the Africanisation of the armed forces and the civil service because the Bishop's standing in the country will certainly depend on that. But let us not push too far. As my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel said, it is a very fragile settlement, and if we push the whites too far they will up stick and go, and that in my view would be a disaster for Rhodesia at this juncture.
When all is said and done, the constitution provides a framework for the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, both black and white, to work together towards establishing a new and, one hopes, prosperous State in Central Africa and to give time for the African politicians to lay aside their tribal differences which, according to the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, are a myth but which other observers perhaps think are not a myth. If it works—and I know it is a big " if " because it will require great understanding and forbearance on the part of both blacks and whites—it will not only bring to an end a most unhappy period in the history of Rhodesia; it will also have an important consequence outside Rhodesia to which I believe far too little attention has been paid, and I do not think it has been referred to once today. That is of course the future of the Republic of South Africa, which has racial problems of altogether different dimensions.
If the whites of the Republic were to witness the victory of the terrorist forces and the mass exodus of the white population from Rhodesia which would inevitably follow, the prospect of constitutional advance and other changes which we all want to see in the Republic would be put 844 back for many years, perhaps even for decades, and the laager mentality among the white population in the Republic would reign supreme. If, on the other hand, they can look North towards a white population living and thriving under a black Government, the hands of the proponents of change in South Africa will be immeasurably strengthened.
I therefore hope and believe that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary will stand firm at the Lusaka Conference against the pressures which will undoubtedly be brought to bear on them. Zimbabwe-Rhodesia is a British colony and it is our responsibility. It is nobody else's. If, as I believe, the six principles laid down by successive British Governments have now been met, we should proceed to recognition and the lifting of sanctions at an early date. Of course, we must consult our Commonwealth friends and our allies, and of course we must try to obtain the widest possible agreement to a settlement and for the proposals which my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has told us the Government will in due course put forward. But I hope that such consultations will not be too long prolonged. The Bishop must be given something soon in exchange for the very considerable risks which he has taken. Too much delay could be fatal—
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I refer to the very interesting issue which he raised about the effect in South Africa of what happens in Rhodesia? Would he agree with me that the future of racial under-understanding in South Africa would be even more enhanced if the struggle in Rhodesia comes to an end through a round table conference, of whatever kind, between all the parties involved? Would the noble Lord recognise that it is only 12 months since the people whom he is calling terrorists had agreed to attend such a conference, while the people whom he is now supporting as a Government refused to attend such a conference?
§ Lord VERNON
My Lords, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, only that he put forward certain proposals in the course of his speech regarding what he thought Bishop Muzorewa should do. In my view, if Bishop Muzorewa acceded to the suggestions of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, he would be signing his own death warrant. It is completely unrealistic.
§ 7.32 p.m.
Lord PAGET of NORTHAMPTON
My Lords, may I say how cordially I agree with the noble Lord's last remark—and a crazier set of suggestions I have never heard. May I also say how much I agree with what the noble Lord had to say with regard to Nigeria. Nigeria does not trade with us for our benefit; she trades with us for her benefit. In point of fact, the problem of getting payments out of Nigeria is becoming more and more difficult, as all our traders know, and she is in growing need of people who will give credit. So do let us get off our backs and realise that Africa is vastly more beholden to us than we are beholden to her and that our economic position is one from which we can negotiate proper settlements.
Turning to Rhodesia, the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel—I agreed with almost every word of his speech—said that Rhodesia was exclusively our responsibility. In one sense that is true, but in a wider sense I believe that it is Rhodesia's responsibility. The Rhodesians are a proud people. They have governed themselves for a long time. They took independence and defied this country; and I wholly agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, when he says that in international law they are an independent nation. They threw off the colonial power. They defied it. They established government, and they maintained it. By every definition in international law that is an independent State, vastly more entitled to recognition than is a bloodthirsty lieutenant on the West Coast, whose position and authority must be considerably more exiguous.
As I say, the Rhodesians are a proud people; they have much to be proud about. They not only took us on and beat us, but they took on the United Nations and its sanctions policy, and for 12 years they produced the best growth rate in Africa and vastly the best law and order situation. Then the communist powers, after the fall of the Portuguese colonies, declared war on her, and these communist-organised armed forces received a very bloody nose indeed and are on the retreat. Finally, when everybody else had failed she produced a settlement, a racial settlement, that won the consent of a great majority of the people. These 846 are very remarkable achievements. Indeed, in these days of our manifest decadence it was rather encouraging, or perhaps irritating from some people's point of view, to find a people who were doing the kind of things which we once did when Britain was great.
The Rhodesian constitution is a matter for Rhodesia, and she has settled it. She negotiated it between two sets of people, the blacks and the whites, who needed each other. The sixth principle, which is the one which we so seldom hear referred to now, provides the need to ensure that, regardless of race, there is no oppression of majority by minority, or of minority by majority. This is sense. Rhodesia needs the whites, and Bishop Muzorewa knows that. She needs them for military reasons. Rhodesia is fighting people basically of the same race and of the same fighting capacity, and she is winning at a ten to one difference of odds, and winning all the time. This is because of the leadership of her army. She cannot live without that defence, and she has not got that defence without an army that she can rely upon, led by people capable of leadership.
In terms of the economy it must be borne in mind that more than half of Rhodesia's population is aged under 16. That is one of the results of success in the economy and in health services, which are the best in Africa. This vast increase of population can only either die or turn to banditry if there is not an expanding economy to feed it, to provide it with employment, to provide it with alternatives. That economy can be provided only under the white organisation, the white leadership, and through the confidence that makes white capital available.
These are the kind of things the blacks of Rhodesia require from the whites, and the white population will not stay unless it has, under the sixth principle, assurances that make it a reasonable proposition for it to stay. After all, the lot of minorities in Africa has not been very encouraging. Just consider, my Lords, what happened to the minority in Nigeria, the unfortunate Biafrans. Consider also what happened to the Arabs in Zanzibar; or what happened to the Asians in Uganda, as well as the lesser tribes in Uganda. Recall also, my Lords, what happened in Burundi, and what 847 happened to the Nigerian workers in equatorial Africa; or indeed what happened to the Portuguese colonists in the Portuguese colonies immediately next door. Those were dreadful things. One cannot expect people to stay without some kind of reassurance, freely negotiated.
I plead with the noble Lord not to try to interfere with this agreement, worked out by the Rhodesians of two colours for their mutual benefit. Once you begin to shake the validity of this constitution you will shake the confidence of the whites, who you must retain in Rhodesia if all those children which have been brought into existence in this expanding white economy are going to have a chance to eat and a chance to work. After all the experience of what has happened to minorities under the constitutions and independencies which we have granted, it is really an extraordinary situation to find us trying to whittle down the protections of minorities instead of seeking to extend them.
Again, there is the prospect of trying to get rid of Smith. Whatever we may think here—and we have worked him up and made him a bogeyman—in Rhodesia he is the one man who is thoroughly trusted by both races; not liked, but trusted. The African leaders did not trust each other, but they trusted Ian Smith; and Ian Smith has played the game with them. He has pulled off this election and given them the power, as he said; and to a great degree confidence in him is what holds this multi-racial thing in being. The attack on Smith is an attack by the enemies of this constitution, and it reminds me tremendously of the attack on Strafford at the time of the civil war. The people who hated the constitution then knew that it could be destroyed if Black Tom could be destroyed —the one man who had the strength to hold the situation together and provide for its evolution. To destroy Smith would be to do a terrible disservice to Rhodesia.
As to sanctions, the Prime Minister has told us they are passing. As far as recognition is concerned, that is our decision but substantially we have given it. We shall be welcoming Bishop Muzorewa in a couple of days as a Head of State. The important thing we must obtain for Rhodesia, and what she needs, 848 is international acceptance. But, for heaven's sake!, let us work for international acceptance of Rhodesia under the constitution which Rhodesia has chosen and under the Ministers she has chosen to hold her people together in this difficult time. To try to interfere with that, or to try to bargain upon that, is crazy. Again, Rhodesia has chosen her Government. To proceed to tell her how she should change it and bring in the Patriotic Front people—Mr. Chikerema, or all these other people—is, again, crazy. So far as Rhodesia is concerned, they have had an election, they have chosen their man. There is no place money in African elections; it is a winner-take-all principle. You are not going to get the beaten coming back in and taking a job in the Cabinet. It does not work that way in Africa. So much for that.
There is one other point which I wish to raise and which has been mentioned very little in this debate so far, and that is the question of the Queen's visit to Zambia. So far as that is concerned, I am not unduly concerned about the security aspect. If those who are responsible for the Queen's safety are satisfied as to her safety that is their business. What I am concerned about is her office. The Crown must not be involved in political controversy. That is a fundamental principle of our nation; and it is really quite unrealistic to say that this particular conference, held in this particular place, is not a political demonstration. All the Africans—the Front Line Presidents, et cetera—have said, " Rhodesia is going to be the first subject; Rhodesia is what we want to talk about; we want a demonstration here in the war which we are conducting against Rhodesia "; and if the Queen goes there she cannot fail to be involved in that.
Again Mr. Nkomo will be there. Will she have to meet Mr. Nkomo? Will she have to shake his hand? We have had no assurances with regard to this. In the old days, many of the Rhodesian people thought that Nkomo was the most desirable nationalist leader to bring forward, the man with whom they might be able to get on. But then came the Viscount that was shot down with some 57 passengers, the survivors who were murdered on the ground, and Nkomo's attitude towards it. First, he said, " These planes were used for military purposes ". That was quite untrue. It was a specious argument; in a 849 sense, it was an excuse. Then he was asked, " Did your people murder the survivors? ". He said, " No, I do not think my boys would do that ", and then he chuckled. That chuckle had a prodigious effect in Rhodesia. It brought the feeling that this was savagery; that this was what they were up against. There were the feelings of the relations of those murdered people; and then there were those who were murdered in the second Viscount. The Queen, their Queen, is to shake hands with the assassin!
It may be that it can be organised that the Queen does not meet Nkomo. But, in all conscience, is that enough? I believe that in the days when John L. Sullivan was champion of the world there was a booth at a fair in which a man got up and said, " Step up, step up, and shake the hand that shook the hand of John L. Sullivan ". There are too many people there who have shaken the hand of Nkomo; who have been his host, and who are going on being his host; who have supported his atrocities; who have helped, armed and trained the assassins who are going over the Border. To visit Lusaka at this moment cannot he an act which is other than politically controversial. It is not a position in which our Queen should be permitted to put herself.
§ 7.49 p.m.
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, I think I am the last spokesman from the Back Benches this evening—at least, I hope I am—so I shall touch upon only one subject; but, having been with my noble friend Lord Boyd in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia during the period of the election, I was very much struck by one thing. Immediately after the reiteration by people in every quarter of the country, black and white, in town and in country, that they wanted the war to cease, the next thing that they said showed a touching faith in what they believed would be the ensuing Conservative Government, a faith that we would at last be able to do something to bring an end to their atrocious problems. If I can do anything to assist my noble friend Lord Carrington in that direction, I shall be only too satisfied to have tried; and perhaps, since I think our debate may be studied in Salisbury and in other parts of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia as well as in this country, a few people may also listen to what I hope will be words of goodwill from myself towards 850 the people in that country. This may be particularly apposite, since I have noted in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs newsletters that have been coming to me regularly since I returned what appears to be an increasingly petulant irritability about the lack of progress that is being made.
I tend to think that if those in that Ministry read this debate—and perhaps the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Garner —they will see that there are more difficulties than perhaps they had initially conceived to be the case. At any rate, I want to say a word about that much discussed subject, the constitution, and to urge the Government of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to seek, if they can, to accompany my noble friend Lord Carrington along the path which he sees leading on from the election and from the institution of a new black President and black Government in that country.
Looking at the document itself, I have to confess a considerable sense of satisfaction and admiration for those who drafted it. Not only—as my noble friend Lord Home has suggested—did it strike a very fine balance in an extremely difficult political situation between the black and the white elements of the population, it also had built into it a number of most ingenious checks and balances which give protection of all sorts. I would have thought that it was a document that would command respect rather than the recrimination it has received. Even its own authors must, I feel sure, be prepared to admit that there are errors and, indeed, errors which have already come to light. Would they, for instance, have really anticipated that a breakaway group of MPs, such as Mr. Chikerema's, if they are five strong, should automatically be able to have a ministerial post in the cabinet? Would they perhaps have chosen to make the reform of the entrenched clauses even more difficult if, as in the case of Mr. Sithole, 12 of the members do not choose to take up their places but yet there still has to be a majority of 78 voting for any alteration of the entrenched clauses?
There must be other less obvious defects which have come to light or which will come to light in the near future. Perhaps one of the most contentious ones is the slowness with which the constitution provides for the advance of the black Africans in the various important public 851 services with which the constitution deals. In fact, when one hears from the authors of the constitution why they so ordained it —my noble friend Lord Boyd has dealt with this—it does not seem altogether surprising. It is after all no fault of the blacks in that country that there was until recently a very strict ceiling on promotion for the blacks in all of the public services. For instance, the commissioner of police told us that it was five years ago since he started making approaches to the then Government for some freedom from restrictions on promotion for his force, but it took two years even then to persuade the Government to accede to that idea. So by this time there are still only 170 blacks holding positions which were formerly occupied by white policemen, and only to the extent that they have reached the rank of inspector. I spent an evening with 10 of them in Salisbury while we were there, and as impressive a body of men they were as I have had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting.
However, the fact of the matter is—whether or not they are the reasons advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, or other historical reasons—the black people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia have not been brought forward into the positions of responsibility in the way that I believe they would have been if that country had had more direct rule or direct rule from London in the way that the other colonies have had. One regrets that very much; but, nevertheless, it is a fact, and it is a fact with which I believe anybody realistically trying to appreciate the situation must deal.
Since the black people have not yet reached senior positions either in the judiciary, the armed forces, the civil service or in most other places, so too of course the five commissions dealt with by the constitution have been so arranged that there will be a majority of people with experience in the running of those services who will deal with the promotion. Inevitably, that majority will be white. It is not just the promotion with which they deal; if noble Lords will look at the constitution, they have responsibility for wide regulation-making powers to govern every aspect of the welfare and success of those various organs of power. I do not believe that even if one were to bring forward Lord Hatch's hundreds and 852 thousands of keen young Africans that they would be the people who would immediately get on to the Commission. They may be the people who would be promoted by it, but I do not think that they would be the Commissioners themselves. He suggested that there were various methods—and he specified one of them—whereby nevertheless this could be ameliorated.
This arrangement, which is a reflection of the facts, has been interpreted as a clear indication that power has not been truly transferred from the whites to the blacks. In this I must say that I wholeheartedly reject the malign interpretation that the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, put upon the courses of action of these various bodies in the speech that he made. Part of the trouble about what I believe to be a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the situation must derive from one of the points on which my noble friend Lord Carrington touched. He has now established a system through Mr. Day whereby information can pass regularly to and from Zimbabwe-Rhodesia; but this constitution has been interpreted all over the world by Governments which have no contact at all with the goings on in Salisbury or with the leaders of that country, and no method of finding out how their minds have worked, let alone any method of interpreting to them the way in which those foreign countries are thinking.
I do not believe that there was any attempt made by the creators of this constitution to explain it to the world at large and to explain why it was that they had adopted, not as my noble friend Lord Boyd said as a compromise but as a matter of fundamental principle for the welfare of their country, the state relating to these commissions that can be found in the constitution. If they had done so, it might be that the attitude now being taken, so far as I can judge it, in countries abroad would have been rather different.
If we were to tell them now, as has come out of this debate this afternoon, that it was the express wish of all the three black creators of the constitution that this should be so, and if we were to tell them that Senator Chief Ndewini was also in agreement that this promotion on merit should be part of the arrangements under which he would be prepared 853 to work, would it now do any good? I have a feeling that the time has now come when we are in a position that the countries of the world have taken up an ineradicable view about some of the aspects of these policies and of the constitution, and that something must be done if we are to go forward in order to persuade them that things are not as grim and not as unreal as they may have thought.
The 10 black policemen, with whom I conversed for some time, were themselves emphatic that they did not wish to have any advancement or promotion beyond the passing of their ordinary exams, on a par with all their colleagues of whatever colour. But they were clearly an outstanding body of men, and they were not alone among the very many public officials, both in the forces and in the public service, that we had the pleasure of meeting, though I am bound to say that I did not spend so long with any of the others.
There is also—is there not?—the fact that since the constitution was, at any rate, conceived, there has been a system whereby under the transitional Government the ministries have been run by both a black and a white co-Minister. None of the white co-Ministers to whom I talked had anything but praise for his black colleague during the period of the transitional government. They said how significantly well they had contributed to the running of the Ministry, even though in some cases they were not particularly skilled in the affairs of that department before.
If we put these things together, is there not an opportunity now for some advancement of the blacks and some opportunity for their participation, even though they have not been promoted entirely in accordance with the previous arrangement, over and above that which was originally laid down—promotion on pure merit and with very severe qualifications—which will now be acceptable to the white population of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, really as a result of having seen how the co-Ministers and those in authority for 15 months have performed? That is the kind of amendment which I should hope we could put forward. We could suggest that, just as the politicians in government have shone, so, too, in the all-important public services 854 and in the forces there may be room for an example to be set by some of the very fine black people who are available in the country. That may be a way out of what seems to me to be a very widely misunderstood set of provisions.
There have been other criticisms even worse, which, frankly, I would not attempt to suggest to my noble friend should be met. What are the enormities which the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, detects in this constitution? It can do no good, surely, to the attempts to solve this problem to speak in such extreme terms of the carefully thought-out provisions and the carefully balanced arrangements in this constitution. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said that the Prime Minister had no control over the army and the police. With respect to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, he has not read the constitution, because it is spelled out in express terms in two places that that is exactly what the Prime Minister does have.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, I thought Mr. Smith had said that he was in charge, as a kind of commander-in-chief.
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, may have been mistaken in his recollection. But there are two domestic mistakes that have been made.
§ Baroness LLEWELYN-DAVIES of HASTOE
My Lords, I apologise for intervening just before I speak, but I think it has been suggested in many places that the Bishop cannot dismiss either General Walls or Mr. Smith.
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, that is perfectly true, but from the point of view of day-to-day command they are bound, as a matter of law, to do what the Prime Minister says. It is spelled out in express terms in the constitution, and if anybody wants to look at it one of the places is Section 103(3). I conclude that after 15 months, for reasons beyond the control of those in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, though perhaps not sufficiently foreseen by them, there are these deep and serious misunderstandings about the constitution which we shall have to tackle. At the same time, I very much take the point made by my noble friend Lord Home and my noble 855 friend Lord Vernon, in the period, above all, of transition from white to black power, in the period, we hope, after the war comes to an end and when the country's economy starts to be rebuilt with the end of sanctions and the resumption of normal trade, that on all fronts it will be necessary to have at the centre of affairs in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia the very best brains that that country possesses. For instance, in the economic field the inflation rate in that country has not begun to keep up with what has happened in the rest of the world, and I really do not know what will occur when the ordinary market forces come to bear after the end of sanctions. All these people's brains and skills will be needed.
But, at the same time, I hope that there will be methods that can be found, with all the skills and assistance of those in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who have drafted and been in charge of the preparation of so many constitutions, so that we can make clear to the world that some changes are made and, at the same time, that the appearances that they have so much misunderstood and disliked do not hold the sinister context and do not hold the threat for a peaceful future that have been feared. If my noble friend Lord Carrington can set about that process, then I, for one, will be very happy to support him.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Baroness LLEWELYN-DAVIES of HASTOE
My Lords, this has been a remarkable debate. I do not think I have ever heard so many powerful speeches in a relatively short debate for a long time. I think that the whole House, whatever the views of noble Lords, were particularly moved by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Forester. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, as always, made a reasoned and highly statesmanlike speech. We are all grateful to him and, above all, wish him well in Lusaka, because we on these Benches—and I think all noble Lords—believe that this is perhaps the most important Commonwealth conference that we have ever had; it has great portents for the future.
I listened very carefully to what the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said about the constitution. We have had one 856 of our great experts talking to us just now about it. It is of vital importance, and I think there is fairly general acceptance that the unprecedented number of entrenched clauses ought to be changed. I liked the brilliant metaphor of the noble Lord, Lord Carver, who said that we must throw off our white parasol and cover ourselves with a black umbrella. I liked that very much. The noble Lord, Lord Home, said that a delicate balance had been achieved and that it was important not to disturb that. With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, I think that it is, in fact, not a delicate but a very hard nosed constitution—if I may mix my metaphors—that would be extremely difficult to change.
If I may continue from where the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, left off, this is not a temporary arrangement. Even after the 10 years, which we have heard a lot about, a commission of five persons can be set up—two black, two white and with the white Chief Justice as chairman—and by a majority the commission can veto the abolition of the entrenched clauses. So it is unlikely that we shall see a fair constitution leading to true majority rule in measurable time, unless something can be done about it. The noble Viscount spoke with his great knowledge about the crucial appointments to the judiciary, the civil service, the commissions and so on. I shall not attempt to cross swords with him, because I should certainly come off worse if I did, but I still cannot see why you need entrenched clauses to keep the inexperienced people off until they are experienced enough to go on to it.
Also, one of the important things about the constitution is that in the election the Africans only had the chance of voting between parties that all supported the constitution. Nobody who opposed it had a chance of putting on a campaign or of putting his case. So the fifth principle, in which we all believe, has never yet been put to the test. Noble Lords are rightly exercised about whether the election was free and fair. We listened to the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, with great respect and I think that most of us, anyway, have read his report. Leaving aside all questions of actual polling booth irregularities and that kind of thing, I have found the report by Professor Clare Parry very worrying, and I think that any noble Lords and any parliamentarians who read it will be rather uneasy. She is a professor 857 of law and was a lecturer at the University of Salisbury. She was not at all new to this; she had been through four elections in Rhodesia before this election. She found above all, that major temporary changes had been made in the electoral law specifically for this election. I shall not weary the House with the details—
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, since the noble Baroness has touched upon this matter, it is true to say that Professor Parry was not there and that it is easy to detect several serious errors of law in what she has written. I am afraid that I do not think that she entirely understood the constitution.
§ Baroness LLEWELYN-DAVIES of HASTOE
My Lords, I do not entirely understand the law, but I can give a good illustration from what she wrote which I think will bring it home to noble Lords. As the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, said, the Africans did not have to register. There were various reasons for that. One result is that constituencies have no significance in the way in which we understand it. The voters can vote anywhere.
On the second day of the election, the bishop's party found that they were not doing very well in a place called Norton, so they ferried bus-loads—another exception which had been made in the law—of voters from Salisbury to Norton where, doubtless, they made a difference to the results. It is rather as though, as Professor Parry said, people came from South-East England to Paddington to vote in a marginal constituency. That may not be the law, but it is a quite graphic illustration. Also, civil servants, who should be apolitical, played a not very good role in urging people to vote, because, as the Minister of Mines said on 4th April:Our immediate problem is to have a good turn-out … The higher percentage poll we get the easier it will be for our friends overseas to help us gain recognition and the removal of sanctions ".There was also a rather sinister use of spirit mediums by the bishop's party. This was something which Lord Pearce and his Commission were worried about—playing on the Africans' fear of ancestral spirits to win votes. Speeches by mediums were a major feature of the meetings of the 858 bishop's party. There are many other examples. I am sorry that the noble Viscount has such a poor opinion of it; I found it to be most persuasive. President Carter does not think that the elections were fair and free; nor do the African Governments and most of the Commonwealth Governments. Noble Lords are laughing, but one of the few things which have worried me about this debate has been the extraordinary examples of anti-American feeling displayed by noble Lords opposite. I think that that laughter was very significant. It would be a disaster if we were to isolate ourselves from American opinion on Rhodesia, or on anything else. I am referring to this, because it is important to the background to the Lusaka meeting.
§ The Earl of ONSLOW
My Lords, before the noble Baroness continues, will she tell me of one other African country where there has been a freer and fairer test of opinion? I was there. Certainly I would accept that many irregularities occurred, but there was a freer and fairer test of opinion in Rhodesia than there has been in any other part of Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, has admitted it in the debate today.
§ Baroness LLEWELYN-DAVIES of HASTOE
My Lords, I do not accept that at all. There have been very fair elections in Kenya, for instance. The point is that this was essentially to be seen as free and fair because it was so crucial. It was not run simply by a newly emerging, independent country. It was run, as the noble Earl has said, by the most experienced constitutional lawyers.
Many noble Lords have referred to the many references in the Press to the need for Mr. Smith to go. As my noble friend Lord Walston said, the bishop's Government will never be acceptable to African, Commonwealth, EEC or United Nations opinion so long as Mr. Smith is part of it—and a leading part of it. As the Salisbury Herald put it:Since the Bishop holds two portfolios, he has a pretty heavy workload. He will be able to call on Mr. Smith to help out in defence and combined operations ".That is quite significant. The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, said that there had been a change of heart in Rhodesia. The same Salisbury newspaper, 859 the next day in its article on Mr. Smith's sixtieth birthday, headlined its article:Smith has no regrets ",and quoted him as saying:These are challenging years when Rhodesia has made history that for all time will be engraved in the glorious pages of the history of this world ".Those 15 years have reduced Rhodesia to a country 85 per cent. of which is under martial law. One-third of the country is occupied by guerrillas. There are six warring internal armies, apart from the two guerrilla armies of Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe. The noble Lord, Lord Alport, pointed out in the last debate in your Lordships' House that the present State of Rhodesia is less favourable even to the Europeans than could have been achieved 17 years ago if the Rhodesian Front had not brought down the parties of Sir Roy Welensky and Mr. Edgar Whitehead. I say this in a forward-looking sense. It is not only Mr. Smith himself. As many noble Lords have said, others in the white leadership must go. The re-emergence of Mr. Van der Byl—the top white supremacist in Rhodesia, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said—has caused what the censored Rhodesian papers called " raised eyebrows ". The Bulawayo Chronicle described 15 of the Rhodesian Front candidates as Parliamentary left-overs.Some were even hostile, notoriously so, to the blacks with whom they will have to work. They are a guarantee of acrimony ".I have given the House evidence from pro-Government Rhodesian sources to show why, out of all the African States, only two show any disposition to approve the lifting of sanctions, under present circumstances. Even " moderate " countries like Kenya and pro-South African ones like Malawi do not favour the new Government.
I particularly welcomed what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about the necessity for consultations—he used the word " genuine " consultations—with the Commonwealth. As I listened to him, I could not help thinking of the story of Sherlock Homes and his famous remark to Dr. Watson of the significance of the dog that did not bark in the night.
I hope that it is not unfair to ask the noble Lord who is to wind up whether, before his right honourable friend the Prime Minister had her Press conference 860 in Australia, there had been the fullest consultations with Commonwealth Governments and the United States. We know that her Australian hosts did not agree with her and that Canada does not agree with her. It is clear that the African States do not—indeed, could not possibly agree with her. Dr. Kissinger commented that, " if Britain lifted sanctions in November, as Mrs. Thatcher predicted, then Britain would play the fall guy ' ". It seems extraordinary that the right honourable lady proposes meekly to accept a hostile vote in Parliament in advance. This is not the Prime Minister that we are getting to know. Indeed, two newspapers as different as the Financial Times and the Daily Mail are both almost certain that she could get the order through in November, if she wishes to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, deals with this, as with all situations, with his usual urbanity and grave ingenuity, and we admire his fortitude.
I am quite sure that to lift sanctions now would mean to the rest of the world recognition of the Muzorewa-Smith Government, with all the dangers that that would bring and to which the noble Lord, Lord Carver, referred in his magnificent speech. Moreover, we on these Benches believe that it is quite impossible to lift sanctions unilaterally. The United Kingdom asked the Security Council to impose sanctions, and the United Nations did so. Last November—on the 9th—the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, who now sits on the Woolsack, said in your Lordships' House:A charter of the United Nations is a promise solemnly entered into …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 ".He continued:It is my considered judgment that 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 he lost ".I do not see how the present Government can possibly think otherwise. Moreover, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, went on:we cannot overlook the possibility of retaliation ".As many noble Lords have said, we must think of our economic as well as our moral responsibilities.
861 To lift sanctions unilaterally would imply that we mean to recognise the Rhodesian-Zimbabwe Government. What then ? Think of the dangers. If we support this Government which we have made legitimate, what do we do—as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn said—if they ask for large economic support, that is one thing, but worse still supposing they ask for arms? The dangers of such a situation are really quite incalculable.
If the Patriotic Front sees the United Kingdom Government moving toward lifting sanctions quickly they have no possible incentive to abandon the fighting. That is the most important thing of all. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and my noble friend Lord Walston, that Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe must be brought into the situation. They represent large sections of the Rhodesian Africans. I am afraid that noble Lords opposite often unfortunately refer to them in most disparaging terms and particularly to Robert Mugabe. I should like to quote the Daily Telegraph— not exactly a Left-wing paper. On 25th April they said:Hopes of ending the war in Zimbabwe will focus more on bringing together Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Mugabe —Both have their political roots in the mission school idealism which has given Rhodesian African nationalism its distinctive colouring ".That is the Daily Telegraph. Mugabe, whom I know, is not the ravening Bolshevik that some noble Lords think he is. Indeed, the Russians have refused to give him any arms because he is too independent. We know from the past the stupidity and the dangers of ignoring nationalists like Kenyatta and Archbishop Makarios until almost too late. I hope—and indeed I believe—that this Government intend to act more wisely.
My Lords, peace is the supremely important issue at stake here: peace for the suffering Rhodesian people, black and white, and peace so that the conflict in Southern Africa does not get internationalised, but there can only be peace in Rhodesia if the international community as a whole thinks that the settlement is acceptable to all communities in Rhodesia. This has been mainly a serious and a generous debate on matters which are far too serious for party wrangling. It is important to get on now at Lusaka. I 862 think it is probably—as my noble friend Lord Walston said—a last chance. If it is so, we wish the Government well in dealing with it.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Lord TREFGARNE
My Lords, the length and distinction of the list of speakers in this debate has once again helped to demonstrate, if that was necessary, the depth of interest which this House and the country, indeed, habitually take in the Rhodesian question. This public concern is one which the Government fully share and I hope that the scale and scope of the consultations which we are now engaged upon, and which my noble friend the Foreign Secretary described in his opening speech, will have demonstrated to your Lordships our determination to find a solution.
We believe there is no problem in the field of foreign and Commonwealth policy more important than this one. It involves the life and future of 7 million people, every one of whom is still a British subject. We seek to take the final step in the process of decolonisation in Africa which Britain began more than 20 years ago. Indeed, an honourable resolution of this problem will enable us to open a new chapter in our relations not only with Rhodesia itself but with Africa as a whole and to put an end to what has for so long been a source of unhappy dissension within the Commonwealth. We owe it to the people of Rhodesia, to the people of Britain and to the wider international community to see to it that this is indeed the spirit in which we resolve the problem of Rhodesia's future.
If I were to do my job properly tonight I should reply to each and every speech that has been made in detail because all were excellent, but I might unduly weary your Lordships if I were to do so. Perhaps, therefore, I may be allowed to touch on some of the important problems that have been raised and I apologise if I do not mention each noble Lord who has spoken by name. The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, speaking at the beginning of the debate—and indeed many other noble Lords—referred to the criticisms which had been made of the Rhodesian constitution. We consider that our first task in that respect is fully to acknowledge the very great progress which has 863 been made. We accept that the British Government, as the legally responsible authority, have to form a view on the basis on which legal independence is granted, but in doing so we must have full regard, as my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel pointed out, to the need to avoid undoing what has been done and to undermining confidence inside Rhodesia. That is one of the matters that we shall be considering in our consultations with Bishop Muzorewa and others.
Various opinions have also been expressed about the Rhodesian elections. The Government have said that they will be guided by the conclusions of my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton in deciding how best to proceed towards the objective of bringing Rhodesia to legal independence with the widest possible international acceptance. Although other views have been expressed, we believe that the great majority of observers present at the elections reached conclusions similar to those of my noble friend Lord Boyd and that it is unreasonable to dismiss the very large turnout at the elections and the extent of popular support which they represented for Bishop Muzorewa.
Of all the points that have been raised I have a great selection to deal with, but perhaps I may touch first on the question which was put to me by the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, and others about our acceptance of the various principles, and particularly the fifth principle, and what our position is on the constitution. We do not think that we are yet in a position to take a final view on the constitution. Many opinions have been expressed, some critical and others, like those of my noble friend Lord Boyd, less so, but our consultations are continuing and we shall be reaching our conclusions in due course.
My noble friend Lord Onslow asked about Mr. Day's role in Salisbury. I believe that his suggestion was no doubt well intentioned when he suggested that Mr. Day should take a more positive role, but it is not our purpose to tell Bishop Muzorewa what he should or should not do. The Government have never been in a position to dictate to the administration in Salisbury in any case and I think we do the bishop, as a responsible African leader, no service by suggesting that he is 864 open to direction in the way the noble Lord seemed to imply. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Carver, would agree with our position on that point.
The noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, asked about Mr. Nkomo in connection with the Queen's forthcoming visit to Zambia. We certainly have no reason to suppose that Mr. Nkomo will be involved in the arrangements for the Queen's forthcoming visit there.
The noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, also asked me (as other noble Lords did) about the position of Mr. Smith in the Government in Salisbury. Our basic position on this is very straightforward. We do not seek to dictate to the Rhodesians who should be in their Cabinet. It is up to the bishop and indeed the people of Rhodesia to decide in the long term who they shall have. If the boot were on the other foot and there were too many coloured people—as some people might think—in the Cabinet I think we should he rightly criticised if we chose to complain about that situation.
Baroness LLEWELYN-DA VIES of HASTOE
My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to intervene, nobody has ever suggested dictating, but surely the Government have a certain amount of influence with the Bishop and one hopes that, when he comes to have talks next Friday, some views will naturally be put to him.
§ Lord TREFGARNE
My Lords, of course we shall be putting our views to the Bishop when he comes to us later this week but we are not going to dictate to him. My noble friend said in his opening speech that no purpose will be served by undue delay in discharging the Government's responsibilities in relation to Rhodesia. We have been conducting our consultations with a sense of the greatest urgency, and when we bring forward the proposals to which my noble friend referred we shall seek to implement them with the same urgency. There has never been a moment more opportune than this for securing a solution, and if advantage is not taken now then the prospects for a solution are likely to get worse, not better. There is a new hope in Rhodesia, and indeed a new disposition outside Rhodesia to recognise the extent of the 865 change that has taken place. We must and shall take action before the momentum is lost, before hope fades and gives way to disappointment, recrimination, or worse.
I know that many noble Lords would have liked the Government to act sooner, and some have drawn unfavourable comparisons between the Government's reactions to changed circumstances in Rhodesia and to the emergence of new rulers in Commonwealth countries which are already independent. My Lords, there is a fundamental difference between the two situations. In relation to a new Government of a legally independent country there is only one question to answer—do we recognise that new Government? The answer to that question is decided by reference to certain accepted criteria which relate to the support commanded by the new Government, and to its prospects of permanence.
However, in relation to Rhodesia, the question is not one of recognition, but first of granting legal independence to a dependent territory. This raises complex issues, and these we are now working to resolve. But it is my duty to warn your Lordships in the plainest possible terms that the risks attached to premature recognition of the new Government in Salisbury are very serious indeed.
It has been suggested that recognition by us now would result in many other countries, in due course, following suit. In our view, having regard to the wealth of information at our disposal, that expectation is without foundation. On the contrary, we are satisfied that were we to move too quickly without some measure of consensus at least, in the Commonwealth and the world at large, we would be threatening not only our reputation, not only a very large part of our wider national interests, but above all the interests of Rhodesia—in other words, exactly those people we are trying to help.
Some suggest that it would be worth taking risks to secure the prize of a final settlement of this intractable problem. It would be idle to imagine that any effective policy will be free from risk. But we do owe it to ourselves and to Rhodesia to minimise the risks and to increase to the best of our ability the 866 prospects for a settlement which will bring to the people of Rhodesia internationally recognised independence and will offer some prospect of an end to the war. That war is claiming an average of at least one life every hour. It has driven hundreds of thousands of Rhodesians into exile. It is causing human misery on a scale which many of your Lordships have been able to see for yourselves. We must adopt the course of action which will have the best chance of bringing that misery to an end.
Several noble Lords have suggested that a settlement in Rhodesia should embrace the parties outside Rhodesia who together comprise the Patriotic Front. The Government will certainly seek such a reconciliation if that can be attained. But neither the Patriotic Front nor anyone else can be allowed an absolute veto over a just and reasonable settlement if that settlement is not to their liking. But we believe that a way can be found of bringing the war to an end and enabling the external parties to return to peaceful political life in their own country. We must act on that belief. Whatever else may or may not have been decided at the recent election, the desire for peace was clearly overwhelming. It was, I think, and many observers thought the same, that consideration above all which persuaded so many Rhodesians to cast their votes in such difficult, not to say dangerous circumstances. Nothing would do more for the Patriotic Front's prospects, nor could they better serve the interests of those they profess to represent, than if they were to lay down their arms and join in a democratic political process in Rhodesia. But they cannot dictate the terms on which they will do so.
Finally, my Lords, I have spoken of the urgency which in the Government's view attaches to this question. Let no-one doubt that we shall do our duty in resolving it. The world has recognised that we bear a special responsibility for doing so. We accept that responsibility and we shall move forward as fast as prudence allows —but steadily and without hesitation. My noble friend the Foreign Secretary and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister will be having full discussions with Bishop Muzorewa later this week, and we shall be considering the best way forward in the light of these discussions 867 and those we shall be having at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
We cannot yet say that success is assured and that we shall not fail. If we do, the prospect facing Rhodesia is isolation, poverty and bloodshed. But if we succeed, as I believe we shall, then all the people of Rhodesia may before long have a chance to live in peace and increasing prosperity surrounded by their friends and allies. My Lords, that is the chance which all of us in this country who care for Rhodesia and its people have a duty to strive for, urgently and by all the means that lie in our power. What Rhodesia needs above all is to resume its rightful place in the international community, and to find a way out of confrontation and into reconciliation, not only among its own people but with the world at large. It is this wider international acceptance which alone can give promise of security, stability and better conditions of life for the people, and that is what the Government have been working for consistently ever since we took office. I am confident that in this task the Government will continue to enjoy your Lordships' support.
On Question, Motion agreed to.