§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Lord Camoys—namely, That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ 3 p.m.
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, this is for me an agreeable occasion, because it is the first time for over five years that I have addressed your Lordships from this side of the House; and, although over these past five years we have become accustomed to seeing the Labour Party on this side of the House and have come to regard most of them with affection and respect, I must confess that I have even more affection and respect for them when they sit on the other side of the House. Of course, there is an added advantage: after far too long a period of deprivation, we on this side of the House can see as well as hear noble Lords on the Liberal Benches.
Over these last years the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, has spoken on 234 foreign affairs for the Labour Government. Nobody could have been more courteous; nobody could have taken more trouble; nobody could evade a question with more skill, and nobody had more practice. I hope that from his great experience of foreign affairs and defence he will continue to speak on these matters in your Lordships' House; and if I can be half as courteous and as skilful as the noble Lord, I shall be content.
I have been looking at the programme which lies ahead for the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary this summer, and I began to understand why he is called the Foreign Secretary. There seem to be a plethora of international meetings abroad. Indeed, even this afternoon it will be necessary for me, with your Lordships' permission, to absent myself for a time. I hope that the House will understand if I am not as regular an attender as I would wish, and that no discourtesy to your Lordships is intended. My duty, of course, is to this House, but there will, I am afraid, be occasions when it will be impossible for me to be here; and I am happy to think that my noble friends Lord Ferrers and Lord Trefgarne will be more than competent to deal with foreign affairs in my absence. This afternoon I may talk for rather longer than was my custom when I used to sit on the other side of the House, but I think it is necessary to say a number of things on a Conservative Government coming to power which I hope will be taken note of, not only in this House but outside it.
It is not easy, I think, to speak in broad terms about foreign policy without falling into a series of platitudes. Yet over-concentration on detail, the routine world tour, lowers your Lordships' spirits while not necessarily enlightening your minds I do not expect to escape the trap entirely, but I shall at least avoid the attempt to cover all the difficult international problems which face this country at the present time. I shall concentrate, if I may, on a few principles, on a few major issues, and on a very few of the most pressing tasks which the Government will have to tackle in the weeks and months to come. I shall speak in particular about détente, about our relations with our European partners and about Southern Africa.
The foreign policy of a medium-sized industrial country like Britain has a simple 235 enough objective. It is to influence the international environment so that our people can prosper in peace and security. The scope for pursuing this objective is limited by the constraints of geography, by economic circumstances, by the state of military technology, by our national traditions, by our social and political system and, indeed, by the objectives and ambitions of others. These constraints may vary slowly with the passing of time. It is very rare that they can rapidly be altered. The scope for fundamental choice is limited, and it is hardly surprising that successive British Governments have, broadly speaking, pursued similar policies abroad. Of course, those policies have been attacked over the decades, or over the centuries even, by radical critics who preferred some quite different policy: accommodation with the French Revolution; protectionism in a time of free trade; Little England in a world of interdependence.
Sometimes the accidents of politics have brought the radical critics to power. I suspect, on reading history, that they have usually quickly fallen in with the underlying principles of our external relations. After all, British interests are British interests regardless of party. Of course, a Government may be more or less successful in the conception and execution of particular policies. Matters of timing and style are not to be ignored, and failures are rightly criticised by the Opposition of the day. But the broad continuity of policy which flows from Government to Government is reassuring to our friends and allies, and discourages those who do not wish us well from trying to exploit our domestic differences. It is a source of real strength and stability.
Security is the necessary condition of all successful foreign policy, and the avoidance of war is our own prime purpose. But security has never been a matter of simple military strength alone. To effective armed forces, Britain has always sought to add a network of alliances with her friends, while pursuing better understandings with her potential enemies as well; and the appalling destructiveness of modern weapons had added new urgency to the pursuit of arms limitation.
These considerations condition the Government's approach to the linked issues 236 of détente, defence and arms control; and my noble friend Lord Strathcona will speak at the end of this debate about the Government's intention to strengthen the British contribution to NATO, which is and will remain—and it hardly needs to be said—the basis of our defence arrangements. None of us wishes to bear the burden of unnecessary defence expenditure, or to seek confrontation where it can be avoided. But, while the military balance in Europe continues to turn against us, we have no choice but to do what is necessary to maintain our defensive arrangements with our allies.
To match these defensive arrangements, we need to negotiate arms control measures which maintain the balance of security at a lower level of risk and a lower level of expense. There is no contradiction in that. Unless our military arrangements are convincing, there can be no real bargain to strike between the opposing forces, and no sensible way of negotiating security at a lower level of military confrontation. The Conservative Party has long supported a prudent limitation of strategic arms. We look forward to the early signature and ratification of the SALT II Treaty. We are participating constructively in the negotiations for a comprehensive test ban treaty and mutual and balanced force reductions in Europe. But we shall not lose sight of the need for balance. Arms control arrangements which are not carefully worked out in detail, and which favour one side rather than another, in the end contribute neither to our own security nor to the peace of the world as a whole. Of course, détente is the political facet of this complex of security issues. To live in a world free from the threat of catastrophe is obviously the ambition of us all. There is no country whose people would not profit from a relaxation of military, political and ideological tension, from the growth of trade, and from the exchange of ideas and people. But the obligation to work for a relaxation of tensions is mutual. It cannot be selective. It must apply to all parts of the world, and to all countries; not just the super Powers, not just to Europe. It is with this in mind that we approach our relations with the Soviet Union. We shall look at the totality of the policies which the Soviet Union pursues at home, in Europe and further afield, but our firm intention is to work 237 for a stable and a mutually advantageous relationship with the Soviet Union.
If our security rests on partnership with our allies in NATO, our political strength and our economic well-being now rest equally on our relationship with our friends and neighbours in Europe. That relationship has been neither simple nor free from trouble in recent years. One does not want to go too far back in history but in the 1950s we all of us failed, or nearly all of us failed, to realise the significance and originality of the political experiment on which the members of the newly-created Community were then embarking. The omission was remedied by Mr. Harold Macmillan in 1961, who realised to the full that the future of Britain must lie in Europe, and that the future of Europe would increasingly govern the events which will unfold in the world over the remainder of this century and beyond.
But our application for membership was twice rejected, while the Community worked out policies on finance, agriculture and fisheries which naturally took no account of British interests. The process of mutual adaptation between the Six and ourselves when we finally joined the Community would thus, in any case, have been complicated. I must say frankly that it would have been eased by the wholehearted commitment of the British Government to the common political purposes of the Community. This commitment was not forthcoming. Instead, for five years the last Government tried the patience of our partners by the suspicious way they approached even the simplest and most constructive proposals for common Community action. It is hardly surprising that they were not heard when they drew attention to the serious weaknesses in some of the Community's policies and called for their reform.
By contrast, the Government today are determined to engage actively with our partners in developing the Community in the interests of all its members. We believe that it is in this co-operative framework that we can best construct a Europe in which future generations can live and prosper. We welcome the enlargement of the Community to include Greece, Portugal and Spain, and next month's direct elections to the European Parliament, as signs of the Community's willingness 238 and ability to accept new challenges and thus to demonstrate its continuing political dynamism.
Having said that, the healthy development of the Community is subject to one essential condition. It must reflect a broad balance of the aspirations and interests of each of its members, and match the rights and obligations of all of them. By this, I do not mean that each should expect to get out of the Community exactly what he puts in. The Community is more than the sum of its parts, and there are many intangible benefits which far outweigh the costs. But the present balance of the Community's policies does not meet this basic condition. It produces serious anomalies which it must be in the long-term interest of the whole Community to rectify.
The pattern of payments through the Community's budget illustrates this point perhaps clearest of all. Already the United Kingdom is paying far too high a share of net contributions to the Community budget. Depending upon how one calculated it, either we will be the largest contributor or the second largest contributor; even though, in terms of per capita income and GNP, we are only seventh. Next year our net contribution could reach more than £1,000 million. And there are substantial resource costs as well, which do not show up in the budgetary figures. These enormous sums must be reduced.
My Lords, we are not alone in these disadvantages, Italy, a poorer country than ourselves, makes a net contribution almost as great. This is quite contrary to the Community's aim of bringing about a greater convergence of economic performance between its members. This is sufficient evidence of a serious weakness in the Common Market agricultural policy, which accounts for by far the largest proportion of the financial transfers within the Community. The Government will aim to reform the operations of the Common Agricultural Policy to the benefit of all concerned. The immediate and overriding aim is to eliminate costly and unwanted surpluses. The Commission have themselves pointed the way with their proposal for freezing prices. Thereafter we shall look for the development of policies which balance more successfully than hitherto the interests of the Community's 239 consumers with the legitimate interests of the Community's farmers, our own included among them.
On these agricultural issues, as in the discussions over the Community's fisheries policy, we recognise that our partners, too, have a great deal at stake, and that it cannot be easy to modify the compromises they hammered out with so much difficulty during the period of our exclusion from the Community. But we believe that they recognise that mutually satisfactory solutions are needed if the Community is to prosper. We also believe that they will respond to the sort of attitudes which we adopt which are both constructive and, I hope, persuasive.
My colleagues and I have already begun bilateral and multilateral talks with the President of the Commission and our ministerial colleagues in the other States. And in June the Prime Minister will meet the other heads of the European Governments in Strasbourg, where she will be able to set out our position at the highest political level.
My Lords, I assured you that I would not engage in a comprehensive tour d'horizon, and I will not do so. But before turning to the problems of Southern Africa, I should touch briefly, very briefly, on some aspects of Asia and on the Middle East. First, we recognise the importance of our relationship with Japan, the second largest industrialised democracy in the world. I shall be accompanying the Prime Minister to Tokyo next month and, if your Lordships will allow me, I look forward later this afternoon to having discussions with the Foreign Minister of Japan. Secondly, one of the most welcome developments of recent years has been the improvement of our relations with China. A stable and prosperous China contributes to international stability. In building our political and commercial links with China, we shall not, of course, overlook areas where our policies diverge. Nor shall we allow our relations with China to complicate, or be complicated by, our relations with other States in Asia—such as those in the increasingly important grouping of ASEAN—or beyond that.
Events in the Middle East affect vitally Europe and the rest of the world. I 240 believe that our contribution to a settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute can be made most effectively in co-operation with the United States and the Nine countries of Europe. We welcome the recent Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel. But it is only a partial step towards a comprehensive settlement and a solution of the Palestinian problem; and the Palestinian problem lies at the very heart of the issue. The objective here must be full and genuine autonomy for these areas as a step towards determining their final status. Nothing would do more to help these negotiations, to build trust in the area, and to win the consent of the Palestinians than for Israel to cease the expansion of its settlements in the occupied territories.
Finally, I turn to Southern Africa and to the two crucial and related problems of Namibia and Rhodesia. They are related because if we can achieve an internationally recognised independence for Namibia and Rhodesia, then we may set a pattern for peaceful progress in Southern Africa; but if we fail, the prospect of bloodshed in Southern Africa and damaging implications much further afield will be grave. It is for this reason that in the case of Namibia the Government believe that the best solution remains the implementation of the Five's proposal for elections under United Nations' supervision, that will lead to independence in the conditions which I have described. We are consulting our partners in the Five Western Powers about ways of overcoming the remaining obstacles—and they are formidable. I have asked Mr. Luce, the Member for Shoreham, to visit Lusaka, Cape Town and Windhoek during the coming week to learn at first hand about the remaining problems, and to find out from those most directly concerned how they see the chances of making progress towards a peaceful settlement. He will be leaving tonight and will be able to report sometime towards the end of next week.
In Rhodesia we face a new situation which requires a new approach. Our predecessors, with respect, sought to make the facts fit their policies: we shall ensure that our policies fit the facts. And the facts are that there has been a fundamental change inside Rhodesia. There has been an election in which every adult man and 241 woman has been enabled to cast a vote in a nation-wide election. There is now an African majority in Parliament and there is soon to be an African majority in Government also. Successive British Governments have acknowledged their responsibility in Rhodesia. That responsibility is moral as well as political and it would be morally wrong to brush aside an election in which 64 per cent. of the people of Rhodesia cast their vote.
It is our duty, as we made clear before the general election, to respect the wishes of the people of Rhodesia. We acknowledged the importance of what was about to take place when the Prime Minister, as Leader of the Opposition, asked my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton to go to Rhodesia with a number of other colleagues to observe the election there. My noble friend presented this report to the Prime Minister last week. We are studying it and I have read it. I shall hope to arrange shortly for copies, together with copies of the report by Mr. John Drinkwater, QC, (who was also with my noble friend) to be made available to your Lordships. I shall also be studying the report of the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, who I know took a different view of the elections from my noble friend.
My Lords, I am sure that, when you read my noble friend's report, and that of Mr. Drinkwater, your Lordships will agree with me in thanking my noble friend Lord Boyd and his colleagues for the thorough, skilful and impartial way in which they carried out their task. Because his report has not yet been published—and it will be published—my noble friend has decided not to take part in the debate, though if he has enough stamina he will listen to all of it and will of course be able to give your Lordships an account of his views in your future discussions of the matter.
In the meantime, I think your Lordships would wish to be clear that, with certain reservations, my noble friend and his colleagues come to the conclusion that the election in Rhodesia was fair in the sense that the electoral machinery was fairly conducted, that it was as free as was possible in the circumstances in Rhodesia, and that in his and his colleagues' judgment the result represented the wishes of the majority of the electorate in that country.
242 The Government will be guided by his conclusions in seeking to build on the progress which has already been made in Rhodesia. They reinforce our aim and our determination to return Rhodesia to legality in conditions of peace and of wide international recognition. In the first few days of the new Government, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and I sent a very senior official to Salisbury to talk to Bishop Muzorewa about his plans and ours for achieving our objectives. These discussions must, at any rate for the time being, remain confidential; but I can say that Bishop Muzorewa welcomed the visit of Sir Antony Duff and our obvious wish to play a role which will help him when he takes over as Prime Minister in the new Government.
That was an important first step. The next step must be to keep ourselves fully informed of developments in Salisbury, and to be able to engage in a continuing dialogue with Bishop Muzorewa and his Government and others in Salisbury. For too many years we have had no adequate means of informing ourselves of the situation in Rhodesia or indeed of exercising a direct influence on the course of events. Occasional visits, in my judgment, are not enough. I have therefore decided to send a senior official to Salisbury to stay there for as long as necessary 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 often as the need arises. I am sure the House will welcome this announcement as an important step in establishing continuing contact and confidence in Salisbury.
My Lords, it is vital for Rhodesia that she should be able to live at peace with her neighbours and, as a landlocked country, trade with them and with the international community. Britain has the constitutional responsibility for Rhodesia, but that gives us an added duty: to exercise our constitutional prerogative in the most responsible way we can, in a way that will bring real and lasting benefit to Rhodesia.
Rhodesia's greatest need is for peace in which to build a more prosperous future for her people of all races, and to play the part for which her skills and her 243 natural resources equip her in helping to develop the economies of neighbouring countries. It is our responsibility to try to bring Rhodesia to legal independence in conditions which will afford that country the prospect of a more peaceful future.
To that end it will be our objective to achieve a return to legality in conditions of the widest possible international recognition. It is by those means that we shall best be able to contribute to a more secure future for Rhodesia and the Rhodesian people. It is for this reason that the Government have embarked on a process of discussion with our partners and allies about developments in Rhodesia, in order to consult them and to achieve the wide basis of recognition which we seek.
I was glad to be able to start these consultations myself when I met my colleagues in the European Community 10 days ago. Yesterday I had talks with the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Vance, and I shall be talking to him again tomorrow. I attach special importance to the closest possible consultations with our partners in the Commonwealth. The Government accordingly intend to arrange for a high-level emissary to travel to Africa in the very near future to talk to the Commonwealth and other African Governments most directly concerned. This is an essential part of fulfilling our commitment to the people of this country and to those of Rhodesia.
I think your Lordships may agree that in two weeks we have taken a number of initiatives, all of which have one overriding aim; namely, the fulfilment of the wishes of the people of Rhodesia as a whole who for too long had been deprived of their rights and who now have a unique opportunity to join the international community as members of a free nation. That, I believe, is what 64 per cent. of the people of Rhodesia voted for last month, and it is our duty to respond to their wish. Our overriding aim, as I have said, is a return to legality. But the people of Rhodesia have also voted for peace in which to build a more prosperous future in which all races can play their part. The steps which I have announced, following Sir Antony Duff's visit to Salisbury and his consultation with Bishop Muzorewa, will, I believe, be seen as the 244 first significant steps towards a return to legality in conditions of the widest possible international recognition, and thus to the achievement of a settlement of the Rhodesian problem, which will be not only acceptable but welcome to, and welcomed with relief by, the Rhodesian people.
I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has an Amendment to the debate on the Address, and I am aware, of course, having been in your Lordships' House for some years, that there are others who feel as he does. I would say only this to him in the light of my previous remarks. I should have thought, from what I have said, that he would see that the Government have fully accepted the commitments which they made in the Manifesto which was published at the beginning of the general election. We have already taken a number of steps towards implementing those undertakings. I hope your Lordships will understand not only the complexity of the problem which faces the incoming Government—or, indeed, any Government, because it would have faced noble Lords opposite if they had won the election—but, also, the need to carry international opinion with us, just as much for Rhodesia's sake as for our own. Your Lordships would, if I may say so, be doing no service whatever to this in seeking to force a Division on this matter so early in the life of this Parliament. Indeed, it is under three weeks since this Government took office. There will, of course, be other occasions in the not too distant future when this matter will inevitably be discussed, and I welcome that. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will not press his Amendment, or, even better, will make a splendid speech and will not move it, in the light of what I have said.
Today as always in our foreign policy, though perhaps even more so in our changed circumstances, we find prosperity and security in co-operation with others in the international organisations and bilateral relationships in which we have chosen freely to participate. We do not seek to increase our influence by claiming a role beyond our power; and our power depends to a very large extent on the strength of our economy. We do not seek to intervene in the quarrels of others. We do not believe that we enhance our reputation by shirking our responsibilities 245 when we find them irksome, or contracting our activity in those organisations to which we belong because we find that we have obligations as well as rights. We neither believe that we should inflate our claims for influence or opt out of the world in the way that some, in recent years, have urged us to do.
I remember many years ago listening in this House to a speech made by the late Lord Keyes, and he said this:It is not our past performance or our present weakness but our future prospects of recovery and our intention to face the world boldly that we have to demonstrate".I am content to let that statement and sentiment stand for today.
§ 3.34 p.m.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, my first and most agreeable task, of course, is to congratulate most warmly the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on his appointment and to wish him well in his most difficult task. He certainly brings to his great office qualities of the highest order; in particular, wide experience and balanced judgment. He will be confronted by problems of an unimaginable complexity, where judgment as to the balance of consequences is vital to their solution. There are certainly, so far as I can see, no foreign or security questions which are susceptible of simplistic solutions by extremism. We on these Benches will not indulge in fractious criticism, because we believe that there is a very large expanse of common ground in foreign and Commonwealth questions, and in relation to defence and security. That is not a matter of reproach but of reassurance, that a country should find the largest possible amount of common ground among the parties on those two fundamental matters. Indeed, it is when that common ground is seriously eroded, or even tends to disappear, as in the 1930s and during the Suez adventure, that this country, and democracy itself, is in its greatest peril. So we shall do our best not only to maintain the common ground and that continuity of which the noble Lord spoke, but, if possible, to expand that ground.
If he and the Government approach these great issues in a constructive and progressive spirit, we shall be glad to support them. But we shall not hesitate 246 to denounce forthrightly any signs of a take-over of the foreign policy of this country by reactionary and extremist elements, which are latent and sometimes rampant in the party opposite. So that we shall, as Her Majesty's loyal Opposition, watch very carefully the development of the foreign, as well as the internal, policy of the new Government.
The noble Lord—quite rightly, in my view—concentrated on the outstanding issues that confront this country, and indeed the democratic West, and first in importance, at least to us on this side, is the question of arms control and disarmament. We very strongly welcome the Government's decision to support the early ratification of Salt II. It was a most welcome early statement on his part, and I am sure that it has given President Carter great encouragement in his magnificent efforts to make a reality, through ratification, of Salt II. Beyond the ratification of Salt II lies the greater possibilities of Salt III, but beyond the non-ratification of Salt II lies the probability of a new and even more disastrous nuclear arms race in the future.
We also agree entirely with the Government in pressing forward for the completion of a comprehensive test ban treaty. I have had a little to do with this, and at this point may I pay a tribute to the Diplomatic Service, to the Foreign Office officials and experts, who, with the Russian and American experts, have been engaged in these vital discussions. The fact that there may well be an imminent possibility of agreement, certainly before the end of this year, owes a great deal to the British input from our Foreign Office, from our experts, to the discussions which have been proceeding. But I would add this. Our technicians are superb, but it is necessary for political direction, and sometimes political pressure, to be placed upon even the most expert of technicians, especially military technicians, military experts, and it would be a great pity if this very important treaty were to be diluted by excessive reservation based upon technical and military considerations. There is here room for political inputs at this time. This comprehensive test ban treaty will not only be a valuable addition to the safeguards against nuclear testing in the environment but will also encourage the countries of the world as they approach the Non-Proliferation 247 Review Conference. The noble Lord quite rightly reminded us that in the next few months, and indeed in the next year or so, a great many important international conferences—executive conferences taking decisions—will be held; and we certainly will sympathise with his need to absent himself from the House in order to promote those great purposes.
Among the most important, of course, is the Review Conference on Non-Proliferation. Proliferation is already a fact. It is not only the five almost traditional nuclear powers that have the capacity: today we have to admit that India, Pakistan, Iraq, Argentine, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, Israel and the South African Republic all, in varying degrees, have the technical capacity. So proliferation is proceeding and has been proceeding for some time. The Review Conference must therefore fasten on to this fact and endeavour to arrest the spread of nuclear weapons and to achieve a new concentration on the exchange of peaceful nuclear technology.
The Foreign Secretary knows of course that what we must try to do here is to get the nuclear weapons States to curb their own vertical proliferation in order to persuade the non-nuclear weapons States to curb their horizontal proliferation. It is a straight swap of policies. If we can devise, as a result of the Review Conference, a new régime of restriction of warlike usage and an expansion of the peaceful exchange of technology, then indeed, together with the comprehensive test ban, we shall possibly be ushering in a new era in the nuclear age.
I will say nothing about defence because the noble Lord did not address himself specifically to that point. I would simply say that we adhere to NATO. We are one of 17 countries and we believe in collective security, as indeed they do in the Warsaw Pact. Until there is mutual agreement that both alliances will wither away, if I may permit myself a Leninism for the moment, we shall stand by and make our full proportionate contribution to NATO; but we shall resist any suggestion from that side of the House that, although we are—do I recall the figure rightly?—only the seventh most prosperous country in Europe, we should contribute rather more than the six who 248 precede us, to NATO costs. It does not follow. If we are only seventh in our economic performance, why should we be second in our military contribution? It will need a good deal of explanation, through White Papers and otherwise, to persuade us that this is a logical position to assume, but, as to our commitment to NATO, there is absolutely no doubt on this side of the House.
I pass on now to what the noble Lord said about the European Community. I do reject what he said about the attitude of the Labour Government towards the Community, and I say so in the presence of at least one distinguished Minister who performed on behalf of this country and in the larger interests of Europe with great distinction; that is, the noble Lord, Lord Peart, a fellow Front-Bencher. There is also the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, whose standing in the European Parliament. I think, would be second to none, especially on budgetary and financial matters, which represent the heart of the matter concerning us. I do reject the suggestion that somehow the Labour Government, because they were blunt and forthright over British interests, were poorer Europeans than the rest. I do hope that the Latter Day Saints, as the party opposite are in this matter, having criticised and jibed at us because we stood up for British interests, and having made some mileage out of it, now that they are face to face with the realities they too are going to be tough and they too declare that they will not be "soft touches". Well, I hope so, because unless we speak with absolute clarity to our friends and allies in Europe we shall get nothing out of them. They are hard-headed businessmen: you must prove your point and you must stand by it. Style will not do it. One hears these fashionable phrases since the Kennedy era—somehow style will do it. What style is that of the present Prime Minister and Mr. Heseltine—or the style of abject courtesy—when the issue is equity and fair dealing?
I was very glad to hear the language used by the noble Lord this afternoon. He sounded to me as if he meant business. I very much hope that he does, because, as a long-standing European myself and as one who grew up in the 'thirties and realises the vital importance of political unity in Europe, I would say that you will 249 not get it unless the economics of it make sense. I would very much deplore the re-emergence of the issue of whether this country remains in the Community, simply because we had not the "nous" to get the sums right. If the summum bonum of political unity in Europe—and it is a pearl almost beyond price—is to be achieved, then we really must show to our own people and to a growing number of people in Europe that the economic arrangements of the Community are reasonable and sensible. They are not now.
I pass on to another point made with great force by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. He referred to the question of the Middle East. Very briefly, I will say that we stand four-square by Resolution 242, and if you wish to add No. 338 to it, by all means to so. That refers to a balance of the right of Israel not only to survival but to security, plus the right of the Palestinians to a homeland and to be able to look forward to self-determination over the next few years. I think I understand the approach of the noble Lord to this: I think it is right and I hope to support him in it.
He then quite rightly referred to the Tokyo Summit. I am very glad he is accompanying the Prime Minister to that Summit. It is, of course, the usual thing to do. It promises to be possibly one of the most significant Summits so far held. I also welcome his reference to ASEAN. I do claim a little credit for the Labour Government for having discerned from the start the significance of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, ASEAN. We supported and helped it, without intruding, giving advice and encouragement. This Association, which covers a very significant as well as a very large part of South-East Asia, is a very promising development indeed. We wish them every good fortune in the future. I am sure the noble Lord will wish to continue that policy of total support to ASEAN without in any way impinging upon their own sovereignty. We have many friends in South-East Asia, and we should keep them and make many more there.
The noble Lord then referred to the problems of Rhodesia and Namibia. On Namibia, I can only say that we agree. We agree entirely that the approach 250 to the Namibian question is on the lines which he has described, so I shall not detain the House on that point.
Turning to Rhodesia, I was very gratified to see the noble Lord on the television screen; he is so very telegenic. But, more than that, he spoke with great statesmanship, at an early point after his appointment, on this question of Rhodesia. I think the House is agreed that we want to see Rhodesia, under whatever name—and I myself rather like the name "Rhodesia"—proceed legally through the various stages that may be necessary to independence, hopefully within the Commonwealth, and as a country in which majority rule is a fact and where people of all colours, creeds and interests are able to make their contribution proportionate to their numbers and requirements.
It is a temptation, I know, in many parts of the House—and no doubt in the other place—to accept the existing régime because it has moved forward a certain distance, and to accept the recent elections as a basis for a far bigger thing than is represented by the movements forward in the last year or so or by most recent elections. It is a very big thing indeed to accord recognition and to lift sanctions without making absolutely sure not only that are you carrying the peoples of Rhodesia with you but also that you are carrying with you the peoples of black Africa. In the consultations which the noble Lord has said he has already started—and I profoundly wish him well in those consultations—I hope he will pay particular regard to what is said in Africa, for it is their continent below the Sahara line and above the Zambesi, certainly, and what they say and feel in that part of Africa must count. You cannot go against the feeling there.
Also, of course, it is necessary, as the noble Lord has said, to consult the Commonwealth. I have sometimes thought that the party opposite has become increasingly indifferent to the Commonwealth in the last few years—that having a fling with the new love in Europe meant that they could forget about the old. I have two loves. It is the European tradition upon which much of the Commonwealth is based, and it would be very shortsighted indeed to make a dichotomy between the Commonwealth and Europe. They flow from the same source.
251 I am delighted, therefore, that the noble Lord said that he will consult the Commonwealth specifically. He will need to do so, for they will be consulting him in Lusaka in the next two months or so. He had better have his answers ready for the Commonwealth—and not just for the black but for the coloured Commonwealth and also for Australia and Canada, who feel just as deeply as any Commonwealth member from Africa about these matters. The noble Lord will need, of course, to keep in line with our European partners. Part of the promising political co-operation between this country and our eight friends and allies in the Community is on Rhodesia, and is on Africa.
I believe that the noble Lord will need to consult many industrialists in this country and to avoid, in prematurely lifting sanctions against Rhodesia, running the risk of having the whole of Africa apply sanctions against us, because we have trade of the order of £1,300 million a year with black Africa—more than twice that which we have with the South African Republic. So caution and consultation must be the key to a durable solution of this long-standing problem.
As I have said, we wish the noble Lord well. I hesitate to speak too admiringly of him, in case he should then find that he is in bad odour with his own side. However, I had personal experience of the noble Lord as the Leader of the Opposition when I was a Minister, and, in addition to the qualities which I have already mentioned, I should like to say that the noble Lord combines intellect and integrity. He has the intellect to understand difficult problems and the integrity to speak about them and to try to solve them with complete honesty.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, I have always found it rather difficult to compose a speech on this particular occasion. It is customary, I think, to refer in two or three sentences to some of the most appalling problems which now confront not only the world but our unfortunate Government, so I imagine that some kind of tour d'horizon is inevitable. I propose to make one—but very shortly—and then to dwell at rather greater length on one or two of the great general problems to which the Foreign Secretary referred.
252 First may I say that we Liberals are most glad that these appalling problems will now be dealt with by a man who, by reason of his experience and his very nature, is eminently qualified to cope with them. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has won our respect by coming out at the very beginning of his term of office with a statement in favour of our commitment to Europe. We must hope that this enthusiasm will persist. Unfortunately, not all of the noble Lord's colleagues are equally committed to the European idea. In particular, it is questionable how many of them will favour the gradual emergence in Western Europe of a genuine political community. I propose to say a word or two about that later. At this point, may I say that we Liberals would contest the noble Lord's view that it was Mr. Harold Macmillan who was the first man to suggest that we should go into Europe. It was the Liberal leaders immediately after the war who had that honour, and they have maintained that position ever since.
Now let me say a word about China. Recent events in that huge country have been fascinating and, on the whole, encouraging. Napoleon once said:"C'est un géant qui dort: Laisse le dormir".However, the giant has now woken up with a vengeance and is intending, if possible, to emulate other countries which have, with various degrees of success, followed the example of Europe and tried to raise their standard of living by industrialising themselves on Western lines. The difficulty is that a process which has taken 200 years to develop in Europe and North America is just not going to produce the same results elsewhere in 10 or even 20 years. Japan is an example of more or less successful industrialisation within a comparatively short period, but even there it took about 100 years. Just look at what has happened in Iran. Just look at what may happen in Indonesia, in the Philippines and even in Brazil if modernisation is too quickly pushed forward. And all this at a moment when even the long-term advantages of industrialisation are being widely questioned in the West, and when the ecologists, with some reason, are pointing to the likely fearful consequences of the destruction of the great rain forests—which, at present rates of felling, are likely to disappear totally by the end of the century—or of the 253 pollution of the air and the oceans by the exploitation of the earth's petroleum resources, which in any case are not inexhaustible.
As regards China, therefore, I hope that they will not push industrialisation too fast. The chances are that they will—and I hope that they will—still maintain the bulk of their enormous population on the land, while increasing the standard of living in the communes: mechanising them, no doubt, to an extent but not following the example of Europe in the nature of the industrialisation which they intend to attain. Anyhow, I am sure that the new régime will gradually become more liberal in outlook, though a completely free economy is clearly out of the question. Nevertheless, as the Foreign Secretary said, it is clearly in our interest to get on the best terms with the Chinese Government and I am sure that he is well qualified to do so. What I believe is certain is that the new Chinese Government, apart from industrialisation, are determined to make sure that China somehow counts in the world and can no longer be pushed about as it was in the past by the great Powers as a sort of corpus vile. I think this was mainly the reason for their recent action in Vietnam, a country which was responsible not only for expelling hundreds of thousands of Chinese in pretty horrible circumstances but also for committing aggression in violation of its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, against a country which, however dreadful its régime, was, strategically at any rate, an ally of China.
As for Cambodia, this seems to be the supreme example of total inhumanity —often referred to as "social engineering". Taken over by wretched peasants, led by half-baked intellectuals who had only apparently learned from a few months' study of Marx that it was necessary to eliminate the bourgeoisie, about a fifth of the entire Cambodian population was massacred simply because they could read and write and lived in towns. No sooner had this crime been perpetrated, to the great apparent satisfaction of much of the so-called Third World, than the unspeakable régime was overthrown by another, almost equally uncivilised, that is now trying to run it on totalitarian lines in co-operation with Moscow. We can only hope that the social cancer will not 254 spread westward to Thailand and Burma or southwards to Malaysia. Here I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, in thinking that there is great hope in the successful development of the ASEAN group of nations. Perhaps now that China is freeing herself from totalitarian ideology—at any rate to a considerable extent—she will play a restraining rather than an activating role in this great world development.
But are we, after all, witnessing the famous "Domino" process predicted by the late John Foster Dulles if Vietnam was lost to the West? In our pessimistic moments we might well think so. The Indian sub-continent can hardly be said to be very stable at the moment, more particularly Pakistan. Afghanistan is already more or less in Soviet hands, or at any rate the Government is; Iran is in turmoil; the Gulf Arab States are deeply apprehensive; Turkey seems often to be on the verge of collapse, and it is clear that unless there is real progress towards a general settlement, necessarily involving some concessions by Israel on Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and, above all, the West Bank, which seems highly improbable, the maintenance of a pro-Western Government in Egypt can only be assured (as we must all hope it will be) by really massive injections of Western, and presumably American, finance. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, is nodding his head.
We must certainly recognise that Russia may profit from all this confusion to exert her power over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean where, as we know, she has already secured good bases for her new and very formidable navy. But that is not certain and it is good, after all, to consider what it may all look like from what is called "the other side of the hill". After all, the formation of revolutionary Moslem States extending from Istanbul to Islamabad, even if they were not pro-Western, could only represent a potential danger to the Soviet Union in view of the possible effect on the Soviet colonies in Central Asia.
Some crack-up or some dissolution of the existing States would no doubt be preferable from the Soviet point of view; but this is not certain, and with luck, and no doubt if the West—and this is a point 255 on which I hope the Foreign Secretary will agree—and notably Europe, pursues a co-ordinated policy of aid (this was also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts) not military, but rather industrial and social—ploughshares, as it were, taking the place of swords—then I think there is a reasonable chance that it will not happen.
Take Iran only. It is indeed quite possible that the State will now collapse, the non-Farsi speaking periphery splitting off and the semi-industrialised centre and south coming under some kind of Communist control. But if what might be called the "mild Mullahs" as opposed to the "mad Mullahs", perhaps, have their way—and we must do all we can to encourage them—a peaceful 'shia State may still emerge and build itself up on the still huge revenues derived from oil. Perhaps we may have an opportunity to discuss these great matters later on, before the end of the Session?
In Africa, too, the Western position is not hopeless. It is true that the Russians, formidably assisted by their Cuban allies, seem to have established themselves in Angola, and in Ethiopia almost certainly; but now that the monstrous Amin has somehow faded out, the Eastern side of the Continent, broadly speaking, seems inclined to resist Communist pressure, as does the immense Zaire and, most important, Nigeria.
Yet over the whole continent, and whether we like it or not, there broods the spectre of apartheid, and however much we may protest that the era of white domination is over, this is something which, as it were, haunts our relations with the new African nations and just will not go away. It is, indeed, the suspicion that white rule will simply be perpetuated under another form—and however genuine and well conducted the recent elections in Rhodesia may have been, it is still the great difficulty so far as the West is concerned—which stands in the way of a happy and, above all, an accepted settlement in Rhodesia. This is a subject which I myself think it is obvious that we should be ill-advised to discuss today in any detail until the Foreign Secretary has completed his talks with Mr. Cyrus Vance and we have all had time to consider the 256 implications of the Boyd and other reports which we have not yet read.
Leaving the tour d'horizon, I should like to say just a few words about defence and Europe, because after all the two cannot be dissociated—a sentiment which, from what she has said, is presumably shared by our Prime Minister. On defence the chief event is obviously the apparent agreement between the Russians and the Americans on SALT II. If it is signed, as I am sure it will be, we must assume that the American experts are satisfied that strategically, in other words as regards missiles which reach the heart of the two super Powers, there is (a) a substantial parity, and (b) adequate means of inspecting and verifying the carrying out of the treaty. Presumably it must also be assumed that in the opinion of our chief ally the means of retaliating effectively after a potential first strike on the part of the adversary are so great that they will constitute a really effective deterrent to any such action.
I suggest that we should be well advised to take the word of the administration on all this. After all, they are cautious and sensible men. But there does remain the fact that even after the conclusion of the treaty the Soviet Government will continue to maintain an array of formidable mobile medium range nuclear weapons of enormous force, trained on Europe, to which there will be no means of replying, save by employing either the Poseidon weapons allocated to SACEUR or the main strategic weapons of America, or even of Britain and France, which, if employed, would obviously be the start of a general nuclear escalation.
While, therefore, the possible use by NATO of so-called tactical nuclear weapons to check any Soviet advance would probably result in a corresponding use of Soviet tactical weapons—there is no reason to suppose it would not—there would be no very profitable means, to say the least, of retaliating against some major attack by the Soviet Union on a Western European city, presumably in the Bundesrepublik or the Low Countries, since a Soviet attack on United Kingdom or French territory would probably entail the obliteration of at any rate some Soviet towns, even if only submarine missiles were employed.
The question, therefore, is: Should such very accurate weapons as the cruise 257 missile be deployed in Western Europe in order to make up the deficiency? To this question I should hope the answer will be, yes. Perhaps the noble Lord who winds up will say whether the answer to that question is yes or no? None of this, if we go in for this kind of policy, should affect détente. I agree that détente depends essentially on some kind of agreement being come to not only on strategic nuclear but also on conventional weapons, in fact perhaps more especially some agreement being reached in Vienna on MBFR. But until such time as agreement is reached, in my view détente will be very much an illusion.
Whether the United Kingdom strategic deterrent should be brought up to date is another burning question. If we can rely on the Americans remaining in force in Europe for such time as the Russians constitute an obvious threat, it is arguable —I only say "arguable"—that the billions necessary for renewing our own strategic nuclear deterrent might be better spent on reinforcing BAOR with the latest conventional weapons and on building up our own hunter-killer submarines, for example, and our general aerial defence in order to guard against defeat in a conventional war, because a conventional war is always a conceivable thing, or even to act as a deterrent against a conventional war—another aspect. Personally I should like to see this sort of option argued out by experts in Lord Shinwell's defence committee with the intervention of Peers specially qualified to join in the debate, and surely we have many here. Just as war is too serious a matter to be left to the generals, so nuclear strategy—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said something of the kind—is too serious a matter to be left to nuclear experts. I think also things like the test ban treaty and the non-proliferation treaty might equally well be discussed in that committee.
Lastly, my Lords, Europe. I do not know whether your Lordships heard the other day on the radio the voice of Franz Joseph Strauss. He explained that the Germans, while not expecting the new directly elected Parliament to have any very great new power, at any rate to start with, had a great belief in its role as a sort of catalyst for European unity and were all taking it very seriously. In France, though unfortunately the 258 elections have been caught up in domestic political struggles, there is also the feeling that direct elections do mark a new and potentially revolutionary change. In both countries, and in Italy too, they are being taken most seriously, and many famous parliamentarians look forward to playing a significant role. Not so, for the moment, at any rate, in Britain, where it seems a very low poll is expected—I hope not, but it seems expected—and that out of 81 British members probably 50 to 55 will be Tories, the great majority of whom, though no doubt excellent people, will never have had any political experience at all. I therefore hope that, no doubt under the impulse of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the Government will now make a great effort to explain to the people not only what the importance of the Parliament is likely to be, but what they conceive to be the ultimate nature of the political community which we are now presumably on the way to creating, whether we like it or not.
We shall of course, have an opportunity of discussing this subject in detail tomorrow on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Banks. So I will conclude by reiterating once again my own firm belief that it is only in European unity that we can all, in the long run, in this part of the world avoid becoming satellites of the Soviet Union. If we believe this, and I am sure that many Tories do believe it, it just makes no sense to go bumbling on, "pragmatically" as the saying is, with a system in which common decisions must always depend on complete unanimity, and which therefore in practice can seldom be taken, or at least taken in time. To paraphrase the immortal words of Nurse Cavell, "Pragmatism is not enough". It is not a question of abandoning our famous sovereignty, it is simply a question of sharing it; it is not a question of one member of the Community dominating it, it is a question of arriving at a general will as opposed to individual wills.
If we, as I think some people in this House would like, go on simply pressing our own view, our own desiderata, and without consideration of the views of anybody else, I do not think we are going to get far. If we are to arrive at any common will it must be by concessions by everybody to somebody else's point of view; otherwise the system cannot work. My Lords, unless these truths are 259 understood and accepted, the future of the democracies in our part of a world rent by divisions of race, creed and colour and the victim of cyclical depressions, is likely to be unpleasant, and they will probably not remain democracies for very long. Cassandra was never popular, but had she been heeded the Greeks would not have won the Trojan War.
§ 4.17 p.m.
Lord PAGET of NORTHAMPTON
had given notice of his intention to move as an amendment to the above Motion, at end to insert:—
("but, whilst welcoming Your Majesty's Government's intention to bring about a lasting settlement with Rhodesia based on the democratic wishes of her people, regrets that no proposal is made to recognise the democractically elected Government of Bishop Muzorewa when they assume office or for the removal of sanctions imposed on a former white Government.").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, may I commence by adding my congratulations to the noble Lord, the Foreign Secretary, and may I say that I do it with perhaps more sincerity and less regret than would be the case with any of his colleagues.
I had the privilege of being present at the Rhodesian elections. They were African elections. There was no register. I believe that is right for Africa. After all, if you have no register there is much less opportunity for fraud. It is far easier to rig a register than a polling station. Again, there is far less opportunity for intimidation if the people can go and vote in any polling station they choose. I certainly—and I have had some experience of African elections—felt that this was very much the best one I have ever seen. Of course, one objection to having no register is that it is possible to switch your supporters where they are surplus on the ground in one constituency to another one where you feel that you are perhaps thinner. I think to a very small degree this happened. I do not really know whether it is wrong, but certainly it was marginal and irrelevant. The decision was clear.
Again, it was an open election. I do not think any of the observers or the great 260 Press corps felt that anything was being kept back from them, and indeed great efforts were made to enable us to see anything which we asked to see. I think it was an honest election. I believe there was really only one observer who took a different view, the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, who certainly saw some very terrible things: employers were giving lifts to the poll on tractors! Well, there is duress if ever one saw it! I wonder whether there is any Member of this noble House who employs agricultural labour who has not given them a lift to the poll. I certainly have, but I warn your Lordships that it does not do any good. The silly fellows still vote Conservative!
I believe also that the noble Lord found that at one place the army had shot 18 people in order to make them vote. That seems an odd method. The terrorists were certainly shooting anybody they could to prevent them voting, but to shoot people to make them vote is, I should have thought, counter-productive. In any event, the Rhodesian Army is not that sort of army. Massacres are committed by undisciplined armies—armies such as those one meets in Zaire and places of that sort. The Rhodesian Army is a superbly disciplined army. I think that all of us who saw it were proud to be English because it derived from England. It is a splendid brigade with Israeli standards, and it is probably a good deal better than anything that we can produce ourselves. It is a splendid force and has a splendid discipline.
Nor was it that sort of an election. It was a relaxed election. It was a happy election with singing, a carnival atmosphere and laughter. People were going to vote joyously and that was the more so, of course, in the towns, where protection was perfect. There was some anxiety in the provinces, but it was a joyous, happy, fair, open and honest election.
What was the purpose of the election? First, it was to show the world who ruled Rhodesia, who were the effective Government of Rhodesia. That, I think we should remember, is the only question which, under international law, should concern us when we come to decide whether we can recognise them as the Government of Rhodesia. The Patriotic 261 Front committed themselves to stopping the elections. So, to their shame, did the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat and our own Foreign Secretary at that time. None the less, the challenge was accepted by the Rhodesian Government.
We had been told that the victorious legions of the Patriotic Front controlled the whole of the countryside, and that the whites were laagered in a few towns. The Rhodesian Government set up 700 polling stations and nobody was more than 10 kilometres from a polling station. Rhodesia is a country as large as France and with a hostile frontier longer than Poland. It was a formidable military task to undertake. Those polling stations were defended, they were not defended to compel voters. Voters walked miles to go to those stations; they queued for a long time to cast their votes and they were defended from those who wished to stop them voting.
I was particularly impressed by what happened at Mitoko—a place we visited on the second day. These are tribal lands next to Mozambique. We travelled by Dakota. We flew high to avoid ground fire. We then dived on to the airfield; back came the flaps and then it was bump, bump, bump as we landed —like it used to be in the war when travelling in these very rugged stripped planes. We then got into a "chopper" and went out into the country. We were briefed by the military commander of the area who said: "We cannot guard the frontier here—it is completely open. The terrorists have been in here in force and they have told the people not to vote. They have moved the people out of the kraals and they have burned some of the kraals. I think that you will see very little voting today". In fact, there had been no voting the first day. Then, suddenly from this "chopper" we began to see small parties on the ground beneath us coming from all directions and converging. I asked the pilot who they were. He was not sure. Then we came down. The people had converged in their thousands. They had come to vote not in the party spirit of the towns, but because they had reached a very firm decision. They had come with their tribal chiefs—there were no white men in the area—and their petty chiefs to vote. 262 They had come to reject the terrorists. They wanted their schools and their buses back, but above all they wanted their clinics back, all of which had been upset by the terrorists. They had decided to reject Mugabe and to come to the bishop, and very bravely—because this was a very brave thing to do—they made this demonstration.
Even more interesting afterwards was the effect of that demonstration. We went somewhere else and the next thing we heard was that the terrorists were telling the people to vote. They were the very people who had committed themselves to stopping and shooting anybody who voted. There was but one reason —they had changed sides. The people who were commanding the terrorists out in the bush and in this area saw what was happening, saw who was the new leader, and were building their bridges to the bishop. We saw on that day that they were changing sides. It was one of the most dramatic incidents that I have seen. At the end of the week, the massive Patriotic Front effort had not closed a single one of those 700 polling stations for even five minutes. The Patriotic Front had suffered an enormous and humiliating defeat. Its supporters were falling away and joining the other side.
The second purpose of the election was to provide a Government that had the consent of the people. The Government do have that consent. I can tell your Lordships that Mugabe and Nkomo are not coming back; they are not acceptable to the people of Rhodesia, and that the people have made clear. Mugabe never had a reputation inside Rhodesia. He was basically a Russian invention. His army had a great reputation in Rhodesia. The people expected his legions to march in and give them the white man's lands. They sang songs about it. But, it was the army that they sang about. They never sang about the Duke of Plazatoro who led his legions from behind. Mugabe never appeared in the country; he has never taken part in a guerrilla operation. He has been the Duke of Plazatoro who stayed behind and he has no reputation in Rhodesia. It was quite interesting to note that at a number of stations we were told that people had asked, "How can we vote for Nkomo?" At quite a few they had asked, "How can we vote for 263 Smith?" At no single station did we ever hear of anybody having asked how they could vote for Mugabe.
Nkomo is quite a different proposition. He is the only Matabele leader; there is no credible alternative Matabele leader. That is a great drawback. However, there are terrific difficulties about Nkomo. Those of your Lordships who saw him recently on television cannot have failed to see how that man has gone to pieces and how depraved he is—his crazy raving. There is also the matter of the airliners and his behaviour, which has shocked not only white Rhodesians. His reputation has gone a very long way back. That is as it may be, but we now have a Government of Zimbabwe, and it is for them to decide who they will have. They offer amnesty, but they do not want those two men back.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said that the problems are complicated and complex, with which, most respectfully, I agree. However, with some impertinence, I venture to suggest that when problems are complicated and complex the simplest and most direct road is sometimes the best. I also believe that we should avoid asking for advice if we do not intend to take that advice, for that is the way to confrontation. It seems to me that there is a very simple answer here: we should give recognition to a government which is in effective control. However, I believe that the situation is urgent, and that now is the time for decisions. We may not have another chance.
We have seen a huge military victory—for such was the election. I think that it was Chairman Mao who said:Guerrillas should be as the fish to the sea".The sea has turned sour on the fish; the forces are killing them at about four or five times the rate of a month or two ago. The figures of those killed are published, but the figures of those coming over are not published, and they are coming over in vastly larger numbers. When I was there, I visited a large estate which I knew very well 10 years ago. I was told there that terrorists are there all the time, that they have been hidden by the work people and have been fed by them in the caves. I was told that they did not do much harm and that everyone 264 had lived and let live. In the last week they had all been handed over to the security forces. That is the kind of thing that has been happening.
I believe that this moment must not be lost. It may be an old-fashioned point of view, but, together with Winston Churchill, I believe that the military decision must always come before the political decision. One cannot reach a satisfactory political settlement until one has first had a military settlement. I believe that to be profoundly true in this instance, as it was in Kenya and in Malaya, which both depended on the military solution which we provided, and they are now relatively satisfactory countries.
The Rhodesians must return from Mozambique and Zambia. Now is our chance. Mozambique is in real trouble for it depends on South Africa for its living. Mugabe's army in Mozambique is starving and is out foraging, which is not making it popular. I am informed that Machel's troops have already killed several hundred Rhodesians in Mozambique. Machel is urging Mugabe to push his troops back across the frontier into Rhodesia in order to do some fighting. However, when they go, they desert. I think that Machel is only too thankful to get rid of them. If we bring pressure to bear and tell him and the South Africans that the war is over and that we shall not toleratc the illegal maintenance of forces to attack a part of a Crown colony, then I think we have a chance. That chance may not last long. The Russians may rally him; they may build up. However, at present we have our chance.
Much the same applies to Zambia. Kaunda is also in trouble. His people have been starving and, frankly, it is due to the very remarkable generosity of the Rhodesians that he is able to feed them at all. He is not without competition at home; a great many political threats have been made against him. He is depending very much on the Commonwealth Conference and, above all, on the visit of Her Majesty in order to restore his prestige. Are we to send Her Majesty to Lusaka where she will be at the mercy of Nkomo's guerrillas?—because there is no question that that will be so. Kaunda's troops are quite incapable of controlling them. Or is she to see them 265 sent off to be trained by Colonel Gaddafi in Libya and come back to re-start a war in what is, after all, one of her colonies? Or—dare one say it?—are we going to object to our colonial citizens most of whom were kidnapped, being transported to Libya to be trained as janissaries? There was a time when the great Powers acted together to suppress the Barbary pirates, but those times have passed.
I warn the Foreign Secretary that if he cheeks the great Gaddafi, he will be condemned by the United Nations and by the Security Council with three abstentions, because that is what has happened. We need a Swift to tell us what has happened to the West and to tell us how the Yahoos took over from the Houyhnhnms in the United Nations. Surely now is the time for us to tell Kaunda that the war is over and that if he wishes to see Her Majesty, he had better repatriate his visitors. Most of them were kidnapped anyway and will be welcomed home by a black Government.
There are economic reasons, too, why I believe that this matter is urgent. Rhodesia is a success story. All of us who were there were impressed by the cleanness and beauty of her towns; by the cars, so many of which seem to be new; by the general sense of confidence and by a gross national product which, although it has dropped a little in the last two years, has more than doubled since sanctions began. When visiting a tobacco farm, I saw new investment of £157,000 in a drying plant. That shows the confidence they have in their economy. However, that economy has had consequences.
I do not know what the population was when the white man came; it was tremendously exaggerated by Rhodes, who wished to sell his shares and advertise available labour. On the best authority I can find the population was about 70,000. It is now nearly 7 million. It means that in 100 years we have seen a 100-fold increase in the population. Rhodesia has the highest child-survival rate in the world. Fifty-six per cent. of the population are under the age of 16, and the people look marvellously well. That is the extraordinary thing, and it is so different from the accounts of what those wretched children look like when they are taken to Zambia.
266 If they are to live, if they are to find employment as an alternative to banditry, something must be done quickly. There must be investment; there must be trade; the white man must stay. We cannot feed people on that level by dividing up the white man's land, and reverting to peasant subsistance farming—of course not. These large organisations must continue. The white man must stay.
There is no time for me to inform your Lordships now as to why this is, how it works in Africa, why the white man is necessary and how nations come to be born. I recommend your Lordships to read my new book, The Human Journey, which is very good on the subject. However, in a sense, I believe that I am pushing at an open door here. All, save a sick minority who express their class grievance in an inverted racialism that hates its own colour, know perfectly well that recognition is the right policy. The settlement is agreed. It is not for us to interpose.
Races have equal rights. Nobody is to be promoted or sacked because of his colour. I think that that is right. This means that a white led army, judiciary, and civil service is likely to be there for about 10 years. Is the democratic record of African led armies such that we wish to impose one on the Bishop? At least he will know when he comes to visit us that his General will not have usurped his job. Again, do we really wish to push up a new judiciary inexperienced and before its time? Do we really think that the economy of Rhodesia would be better with an inexperienced black civil service until it gets on? What we need here is courage, not appeasement.
My noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts has threatened us with supposing Africa imposes sanctions on us. Africa could not even impose sanctions on Rhodesia. There was not one of the African countries that was not breaking them, and Zambia most of the lot. This sort of thing is ludicrous. We must realise that Africa needs us far more than we need her. Again we are told, "What will it do to President Carter's black vote?" Is this really our concern? I personally prefer the views of the American Senate.
Then there is the case of the Common-wealth High Commissions. I asked the Secretary of State, did Tanzania ask our 267 advice before she invaded a fellow member of the Commonwealth? He referred me back to the last Government. He may have found out the answer. I am sure that she did not. Did she tell us in advance? I am sure she did not. What would she say if we presumed to tell her how and by whom to govern Zanzibar? There is certainly room for telling. There are few more atrocious governments. Is there a single Commonwealth country who consults us as to who to recognise?
Rhodesia is our Crown Colony, and I would venture to say to the Commonwealth Commissions that unasked advice on that subject is an impertinence. It is time we stood up. We have crawled enough in our foreign policy. I think the time has come for us to say, "This is our business". I say to the Minister that this is what England expects. It is time that we sought to be as courageous as the American Senate. My Lords, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary has asked me not to divide the House at this stage and on this Question. I cannot say that I am by any means satisfied, but I will on this occasion comply with his request and I will not now use the words which put my Amendment before the House.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Lord CARVER
My Lords, it would be strange if a former Chief of the Defence Staff did not welcome the very positive attitude expressed in the gracious Speech towards defence—and of course I do so. Some of us a few hours ago were attending a service of thanksgiving in Westminster Abbey for the 30th year of NATO. Indeed, we have very good reasons to be grateful for what NATO has done over that period. But the alliance must not let its defences be eroded by the relentless increase in the capability of the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, that of her satellites.
It is not so much the increase in the numbers of her armed forces, although they have increased in a certain number of fields, but to my mind the most sinister aspect is the increase in their quality. The effort which the Soviet Union is clearly devoting to research, development, and production capacity is such that it enables her to replace the equipment of her very large armed forces at intervals more 268 frequent than those at which any members of NATO, and certainly ourselves, plan to do, or could indeed possibly do within the resources devoted to defence if we are also to keep up our numbers. That is a threat which I am glad to see the Government have clearly recognised.
In recognising that challenge they have a number of difficult decisions to make (some of which will cost a lot of money) over the next few years, and perhaps at the top of their list is the future of Polaris and our other nuclear weapons systems. Recently public interest has been centred on the threat to Western Europe of the Russian SS 20 missile, and there has been a good deal of concern about this. I find the concern somewhat curious, and some of the response to it in fact rather dangerous in conception. There is nothing new about the fact that Russian nuclear weapons could be delivered by them on targets in Western Europe whether by aircraft or by missile, and whether the missile came from a submarine or from the land.
But the answer to that lies, and has always lain, not in ensuring that every Russian nuclear weapon that can be brought to bear on Western Europe is met nuclear weapon by nuclear weapon, by a nuclear weapon in NATO's O's hands stationed in Western Europe, but by the involvement of the United States in the defence of Europe, and the very clear linkage between the United States' strategic deterrent force and the forces of NATO in Europe, whether they are nuclear or conventional. Anything whatever that weakens that linkage could be very serious. I believe that the acceptance of a concept that Russian nuclear weapons stationed in Europe must be met almost exactly by NATO nuclear weapons also stationed in Europe could be the thin end of a wedge leading to what NATO calls "de-coupling" between the defence of Europe and the United States' strategic deterrent force, and I would regard that as extremely serious.
When the party that is now in office last came into office, at the beginning of their administration there was a tendency among them to say that the United States would tire of her support of the defence of Europe and that we must therefore, particularly in close cooperation with France, try to build up 269 the defence of Western Europe so that it could be independent of the United States. Under the realities of international politics that idea was pushed further and further into the background during their period of office until, I am glad to say, it finished up more or less under the carpet.
I very much hope that that idea does not re-emerge. I would regard it as a very serious matter if it did. I think to start down that path would be fatal. It would encourage those in North America who would like to wash their hands on the defence of Europe to do so. It would encourage those in Western Europe who would like to make some form of abject accommodation with the East to start moving to do so, and of course it would encourage the Soviet Union themselves to drive a wedge and exploit the rift that would then appear in NATO. Indeed, I believe it could bring the end of NATO itself. Do not let us kid ourselves that there is any other defence organisation for Western Europe which could provide for the defence of Western Europe without the United States.
The serious nuclear threat today is the fact that NATO's nuclear weapons in Western Europe are vulnerable to the modernised nuclear weapons systems of the Soviet Union, of which the SS 20 is one. It is the weapons themselves, their means of delivery—and they are often confused in the public mind—their storage and their transport which need bringing up to date. I know that NATO is very well aware of this. I hope that when the Government get round to considering the future of our own nuclear forces, including Polaris, and the modernisation of NATO's nuclear forces, they will seriously consider linking those two problems. I know that that may not be the advice which the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, may receive when he is in the Ministry of Defence. Nevertheless, I believe that it should be given very serious consideration.
There are other important decisions which will face the Government in the defence field in the next few years which will cost a lot of money. One of them is the replacement of the Jaguar and Harrier aircraft. I hope that the answer to this will not be that the European consortium will produce a European copy, at great 270 expense, of the American F-16 ten years later. I think that there is a danger of that. I also hope that, in order to avoid that, they do not commit themselves, without very serious thought, to a vertical take-off aircraft, and an aircraft which could be neither efficient on the battlefield nor economic to operate.
Then there is the future of the replacement of the Chieftain tank. That is very much affected by events in Iran and the cancellation of the Iranian tank order. Nevertheless, I believe, if wisely handled, that could be a blessing in disguise. It could mean that the British Army received a more up-to-date tank perhaps earlier than it would otherwise have done so.
In these matters of international arms co-operation I suggest that a pragmatic policy should be followed between going it alone and international co-operation. It is very easy to see what the right answer is. The right answer clearly to my mind is that if the European members of NATO come to the conclusion that they can produce an equipment, both in the time-scale and within the cost, which is effective on the battlefield in that cost and in that time within Europe, they should do so; but they must also all have the same one and they must try to persuade the Americans to have it too. But in many cases they will judge that that is not so and that an American equipment would he better; then they must also organise themselves to have the same one and to take an American equipment, and see that it is one that is going to be in service in the United States armed forces at that time.
I must also welcome not only the promise but the action which the Government have taken to restore comparability to the pay of the Armed Forces, and the promise to maintain it. Pay has been an important factor over the last year or so in encouraging particularly skilled men to leave the forces who might otherwise have stayed. But I do not believe that pay has been the only factor. There are a number of other factors at work which make Servicemen and women today much more reluctant to see their private lives disrupted.
There are three factors which are perhaps important to mention here. The fact that Servicemen—and Servicewomen—marry very early; the fact that they 271 expect their wives to work; and the very great difficulty and expense in getting a house. These are all factors which tend to make the Serviceman reluctant to stay in and face the disruption of his private life. I hope that when the Government set their minds to finding an answer to this they will not err too far on the side of providing stability at the expense of flexibility. Armed forces that are not prepared to have their private lives disrupted are not good armed forces. I have seen the results of this in many other countries' Services where the regular Serviceman has become little more than a commuter, sometimes addicted to some of the more undesirable restrictive practices.
I am very well aware that a maiden speech should be brief and non-controversial, and I have my eye on that clock. Nevertheless, I feel that I would be justly accused of dodging the bowling if I did not say a short word about what I now believe is called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. I noted very carefully what the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said, and I would not by anything I say want to make his task in any way more difficult, or make it harder to arrive at a peacefully negotiated settlement of that country's troubles. It is clear to me that the constitution which is going to come into force, I think next month, does not in fact give the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia what I would call genuine majority rule. Certainly it does not hand over 95 per cent. of the control to 95 per cent. of the people who are black. Nor do I suppose that the elections were entirely free and fair, but not many elections in Africa are, even if they take place at all.
What I believe we must recognise is that a considerable proportion of the inhabitants of that country want Bishop Muzorewa and his party to lead them forward to genuine majority rule. I, therefore, entirely agree with the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary in saying that a new situation has been created. When these situations are created experience surely tells us that things move very quickly. There is no going back. Indeed, the speed at which they advance becomes very great. I would appeal to Joshua Nkomo and to Robert Mugabe to recognise this, and to abandon the armed struggle which has brought them very little dividend, and go for the political struggle.
272 One thing, I would hope, should be common ground in this House, and perhaps elsewhere, is that the Anglo-American proposals, certainly as they were first put forward in September 1977, are dead. I believe that they were a very well-intentioned and valuable method of extricating us from the Geneva impasse into which Dr. Kissinger's instant diplomacy had led us. Nevertheless, it was not long before it was absolutely clear that neither of the main parties involved were prepared at any stage to hand over responsibility for the country to Her Majesty's Government, or, as the proposals were later modified, to an individual appointed by Her Majesty's Government who was then responsible, so far as I could make out, only to his own conscience.
I was delighted to hear the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary say quite firmly that the first priority now for us all and for Her Majesty's Government was to try to bring about peace, to end the war, as indeed the previous Administration constantly recognised, for which they were often not given credit where they might have been. When the party that is now in office was in Opposition they suggested that both defence and foreign affairs were in a terrible mess. Now that they are in office, I hope that they have found that some things in defence are not in as great a mess as they thought, but on the other hand that in foreign affairs some of the problems are not so easily solved. by just doing what their supporters wanted.
If there is a lesson that I take from this it is that the defence of this country's interests, in its very widest term, is not something that should be treated, in the words of a recent notorious Irish-American, as a political football. Indeed, I would make a strong plea that the needs of the Armed Forces are not kicked about in that manner, as I am afraid to a certain extent they have been over the last year in anticipation of an election. I would hope—and I was very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, say this—that the Government could expect to have the support of most of this House in foreign affairs and defence, and I certainly wish them well.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, it is a great pleasure and honour for me to 273 follow the noble Lord, Lord Carver, and to congratulate him upon what is undoubtedly by any standards in this House a most distinguished speech. From being a second lieutenant in the Royal Tank Corps to ending up as its colonel commandant, as well as serving with the United Nations force in Cyprus, his service and devotion to this country have been evident. We are sure that in this noble House his service and devotion will always be at the disposal of your Lordships, and I take this opportunity to thank him most warmly for his speech. Indeed, I would say that the expert knowledge that he has brought to the debate, particularly on matters of defence, supports the view of many of your Lordships—which I certainly share—that defence is too important an issue to be considered with foreign affairs in the debate on the gracious Speech. Therefore, bearing in mind the kind of speech we have just heard and a maiden speech at that—perhaps our Front Bench will consider at some future time, in the many years that we shall be in government, whether we should have a debate on defence as well as a separate one on foreign affairs, following the gracious Speech.
I must give my apologies to your Lordships because I have to attend certain activities this evening in a Euro-constituency, and so, unfortunately, I shall be unable to stay until the end of the debate, but perhaps it is compensation to your Lordships that I propose to keep my comments extremely brief. So at least my apology is accompanied by brevity.
I personally welcome not only the change in direction of the aspects of foreign policy outlined by my noble friend Lord Carrington, but also the entire policies that are set out in the gracious Speech. We all know that there cannot be a successful foreign policy without a strong economy and a strong defence, and it is these elements which will strengthen the hand of our Foreign Secretary, and indeed our Government, in negotiating in the future on behalf of this country.
We recognise also that the hopeful restoration of our economy will once more lift us up in the comparable economic leagues, whether in Europe itself or internationally. For too long we have been 274 somewhere near the bottom of the European list and not very high up in the world list; and it is by these lists that we are judged in the context of world affairs. Therefore I particularly welcome the hope and the confidence which the Government have inspired in the few days they have been in office, and I do so in the hope that the situation of this country may change and strengthen our position in the world.
The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, commands respect from all sides of the House, and it was interesting to hear what he said about our being only seventh in the economic league in Europe and about contributing more to NATO, where we are somewhere near the top in terms of financial contribution. As the noble Lord will know better than anyone else, this is playing with statistics, because if one looks at the situation on a per capita basis, one sees that we are also seventh in the contributory league—we are not at the top. It depends how one measures one's contribution. It was also interesting—
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, the noble Baroness is accustomed to giving way, as I have been accustomed to giving way to her, and I am most grateful to her now. Why go after per capita as a criterion of contribution when proportionality to the simple measure of gross national product is so simple, so equitable, and so honest?
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, I think that in three or four years' time we should be very happy to measure the situation on a per capita basis, and perhaps we shall again be high in the list on that basis of measurement. Perhaps we could defer our argument for two or three years to see whether our ecomony and GNP increase; and then we can again measure our contribution to NATO.
I certainly welcome, as I am sure do all noble Lords on this side of the House, the recognition of our international and political legal obligations in the long-term interests of the United Kingdom, in restoring the priority of membership of the Community, not only to our foreign policy but to our domestic policies. Once again I regrettably must take issue with the much respected noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, when as a good 275 European he tried, regrettably perhaps not very successfully, to convince us that the last Government was very pro-European. All of us will remember the six Cabinet Ministers who in July 1976 voted against the European Assemblies Bill. After all, at that time they were part of a Government, taking collective responsibility for going towards direct elections to the European Parliament. All of us know the unsuccessful efforts of those who were anti-European. I do not say that they were all anti-European. It would be silly to pretend that they were. But the six Cabinet Ministers who went so frequently to Brussels, and who negotiated so badly on our behalf, now have to admit that our budget contribution is too high. They have failed to solve any of the problems with which we are faced with regard to the CAP. They have failed to get a common energy policy.
But I do not wish to dwell upon these matters because I think that we should look not to the past, but to the future. I believe that in this country we have a great future by being in Europe and by contributing to the success of the Community, which is of course of vital interest to us. We shall have an opportunity on 7th June to show the support that we are going to give to our own Government. Our own Government in their manifesto went to the polls showing that they are committed to the European Community and are convinced Europeans. Surely it will be up to the electorate to support the Government and to strengthen their hand by going to the polls on 7th June and again supporting our Government and their European policies.
Indeed, I would say that if, with a regrettably comparative ignorance on the functioning and the existence of the European Parliament at present, we in this country have a joyful turnout of 64 per cent. of the population on 7th June, no one will doubt the validity of these elections. It would be very surprising if we get anything like 64 per cent; but the validity will in no way be doubted in this also new democratic experiment of multi-racial and international elections.
In Rhodesia, whatever the consequences may be, and whatever the kind of constitution for which the people were voting, we have seen a valiant attempt at democracy. 276 This must be admitted by all sides. At another time, and in another place, this attempt would have been greeted with amazement and congratulations, particularly in regard to the achievement of a result of a black majority; whether it is 95 per cent. or 85 per cent. is totally irrelevant. The fact is that there will be a black majority Government, and whether or not it will be imperfect, one cannot but congratulate Bishop Muzorewa upon having achieved these results. After all, the Rhodesians—or the Zimbabweans, as we may prefer to call them—have themselves proved that black is not synonymous with Marxism, as we have so often been made to believe, or at least had pressure put upon us to believe. A peaceful settlement in the war-torn country of Rhodesia must be the desire of everyone in your Lordships' House, regardless of party. In particular, I would plead with the Front Bench to make every effort to ensure that all the children who were abducted from their families—no matter by which guerrilla movement, and regardless of in which country they find themselves—be returned to their families, so that they can live in peace and grow up to contribute to the economic and social success of their country.
It must surely be in the long-term interests also of the front line five Presidents that their countries should be neighbours to a country which is at peace and which is economically successful. We know perfectly well that they depend upon Rhodesia for their food supplies and their communications; it is hypocritical to deny it. Why do we try to punish even those who are supporting guerrillas? Surely our aim should be to achieve a peaceful settlement for the benefit not only of Rhodesia, but also the countries which surround it.
I believe that our neighbours in the European Community have been extraordinarily tactful, extraordinarily cooperative and extraordinarily reticent (if I may use that word) about making difficulties over this very delicate and difficult situation in order to give Britain and our Government a free hand in deciding which course we should take, and this should be of benefit to our Foreign Secretary. My firm belief is that it is not only the European Community. Despite their difficulties, I believe the countries of the Commonwealth are waiting for a lead from this 277 country, and it is up to our Foreign Secretary, with our Government, to give that lead. It will be a great test of the diplomatic skills of my noble friend, but I believe that, in the end, he will achieve a peaceful settlement. However, I also believe that this can be achieved only if our party as a whole—and one would hope, indeed, the country as a whole—give him support. I do not think the right way is to press him to lift sanctions immediately or to take other steps immediately. He is in a position to judge, and he has his hand and the power where it is needed. Therefore, I believe he must have the full support of our party in taking the decisions which he deems right at the right time, because, of course, as we all know, in politics it is timing which, in the end, is the essential element.
Finally, my Lords, I should like to say how much we welcome the commitment of the United Kingdom under a Conservative Government to the support of our obligations under the United Nations Charter to promote respect for and observance of human rights wherever they may be violated. Whatever might be the solution of the Palestinian problem by way of the restoration of their homes on the West Bank or in Gaza, there should be a peaceful solution for these people who have been kept out of their homes for decades. We should attempt at least to exert pressure to see that administrative justice is restored to Iran. We should not allow 207 or 210 people to be executed, without a proper trial and without defence, in the middle of the night, by a country which has been restored to so-called democracy. Whatever difficulties there may be in Iran—and I accept that there may be very many difficulties—the Iranians should not be encouraged or allowed to undertake this kind of activity without some comment from others on the world stage; and I would hope that the British Government would make their voices heard as well.
Then, of course, the tackling of problems like food aid and world aid to less developed countries is again part of the commitment of this Government, and we would hope to see more special trading arrangements and special commercial activities, and greater protection of investment in less developed countries who need our investment. They ask for our investment, and we should go forward in 278 joint ventures with them in order to help them develop their trade and restore and increase their economic, social and cultural abilities and development. With those few words, my Lords, I should like to wish every success to my noble friend the Foreign Secretary. Knowing that he has the full support of our party will, I think, enable him all the better to go forward to undertake the very difficult tasks which he has before him.
§ 5.12 p.m.
My Lords, may I endorse the remarks of the noble Baroness in regard to the excellent and instructive speech which we have heard from the noble Lord. Lord Carver? In the course of hearing many maiden speeches over a long time I have rarely heard, if at all, a speech which has contained such knowledge and experience as the noble Lord has displayed to us both today and by his previous help towards a country in whose activities he has participated. I am quite certain that everyone in this House will look forward with the greatest pleasure to hearing him again often in the future.
My Lords, in view of the large number of your Lordships who wish to participate in this debate I shall confine my remarks to a subject in which I believe your Lordships are aware I have been interested for very many years. Her Majesty's Speech contains but a brief reference, as indeed did the speech of the noble Lord the Leader of the House, to the subject of the Middle East. Her Majesty said:My Government will fully co-operate in endeavours to achieve a just and comprehensive settlement in the Middle East and to bring peace to all the peoples of the region".With that, very few, if any, will disagree. I hope this will be keenly followed and that the most important constructive step which has been taken will be pursued. I emphasise this because I believe it is of tremendous importance that we should realise what the peace treaty really means, not only for Israel and Egypt but for the Middle East and for the world as a whole. The signing of the treaty by the three eminent leaders—Mr. Carter, President of the USA; President Sadat, President of Egypt; and Mr. Begin, Prime Minister of Israel—will, I hope, be supported in a most enthusiastic manner by Her Majesty's Government, the EEC and 279 all countries who desire to see peace restored to the whole Middle East.
Right since the foundation of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, of which I have had the honour of being President for a number of years, motion after motion has been carried expressing goodwill towards Arab countries and peoples; and in that particular sense I have never yet known of any person, either in Israel (where I have been very many times) or elsewhere, speaking against Arabs as individuals. The original pioneers, who were the forerunners of the Zionist movement, commenced the conversion of parts of the desert into food-producing and health-giving areas. Incidentally, if I may say this in parenthesis, what a disgraceful thing it is for the World Health Organisation at the present time to utilise that body for political purposes! I am very pleased that both the previous Government and our Government at the present time took action opposing the resolution by senseless people, which I consider to be a most terrible step, particularly in view of what has been done by Israel in regard to health and what has been done throughout the world by very many Jewish medical men and researchers.
The process of pushing back the desert and repairing the ravages of nature, which had destroyed the fruitfulness and utility of the land for many centuries, has been continued with energy and devotion by Israel and its predecessors. The peace treaty marks a new era of civilised conduct towards each other by neighbours in the Middle East, achieved by negotiations—and not by war—led by men of great courage, ability and statesmanship. Thirty-one years after Israel gained its statehood, this ends its monolithic request for peace.
I should like to direct your Lordships' attention for a few moments to several of the very important passages contained in the treaty itself which indicate its invaluable example for the creation and establishment of peace. In the Preamble it is stated:Desiring to bring to an end the state of war between them and to establish a peace in which every state in the area can live in security: convinced that the conclusion of a treaty of peace between Israel and Egypt is an important step in the search for comprehensive peace in the area and for the attainment of the settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict in all its aspects".280 Then there follows, in Article III:The parties will apply between them the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations"—and God knows how important it is that that should be observed, judging from the steps which have been taken from time to time against Israel by her enemies in the United Nations in respect of this particular matter—and the principles of international law governing relations among states in times of peace. In particular: (A) They recognise and will respect each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence; (B) They recognise and will respect each other's right to live in peace within their secure"—and I underline that—and recognised boundaries".What follows, my Lords, is tremendously important, particularly if you want to establish proper peace in the Middle East:(C) They will refrain from the threat or use of force, directly or indirectly, against each other and will settle all disputes between them by peaceful means".Egypt and Israel could co-operate, and, I am sure, will co-operate, with each other in a large number of fields. I hope the House will permit me to refer to some of them which I have endeavoured to investigate in the course of my inquiries. They are: agricultural projects, including water conservation and storage, drip or trickle irrigation, desert agriculture, plant protection, biological warfare against plant pests, new fertilising systems, desalination of sea water, crop rotation, new methods of harvesting and picking, improvement of quality and yield of crops, fish breeding ponds (which have been referred to as far as our own interests in this country are concerned and which are very important), increasing milk yields in dairy cattle, production of animal feed, veterinary services, eradication of animal diseases; growing desert crops (and this was developed in the Negev and the Sinai); airlinks between Israel and Egypt, roads and sea links, ecological agreements, protection of the environment, wild life and land, public health, marketing of agricultural produce, trade relations, foodstuffs, medicines and chemicals.
Noble Lords will realise what a tremendous benefit there would be in co-operation between these two great nations in those respects. Such cooperation could ultimately result in a 281 very important advance in respect not only of Israel and Egypt but also throughout the Middle East. Let me turn, for example, to what Israel has been doing lately in the utilisation of solar power. Some 50 to 60 per cent. of the houses are actually being heated by solar power. This undoubtedly would be of tremendous advantage to the Egyptians themselves. I am sure that in time they will co-operate to provide that form of energy—as we should—particularly in view of what I have often called "blackmoil" of some of the countries who oppose this peace treaty.
I should like to refer for one moment to the position taken by Israel. After all, I do not think it is yet recognised what concessions Israel really have made. They have already agreed to hand over the whole of the Sinai area, the oil fields, the airfields and so on, and are prepared to negotiate with respect to all the other points which are still at issue. To us in the Western World, I do not think I need try to persuade your Lordships how important it is to have a State like Israel in the Middle East, particularly at the present time. References have been made to the question of defence, but your Lordships know as well as I do that a State of that description in the Middle East is of tremendous importance to the peace of the world—as against any ambitions (let me put it that way) by other forces which, to put it very mildly, are not very well disposed towards the Western powers.
My Lords, I think we ought to face up to the fact that no country in the world faces Israel's security problems or has so much at stake. Since independence in 1948 her population has increased fivefold. In an area of development, few countries can show Israel's record in agriculture, health conditions, education and industrial development. It is practically the only country in the world that has emerged to independence since the war that has faced these problems at once and has tackled them in a system of democracy.
There is one thing I should like to add. I think it should be said. There is an attempt made to defame the present Prime Minister of the State of Israel—who, incidentally, is here to talk to many 282 important people in this country; and I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I leave the Chamber for a few hours later on in order to hear what he has to say. He is speaking in Central Hall, Westminster. As your Lordships know, I am against terrorism of any kind and for any purpose. But I think we must be fair. I was informed that on a radio interview Mr. Begin a few days ago explained the line that his friends took when he said that under no circumstances did they plan attacks on women, children or civilians.
I think the House is entitled to know some facts that I came across in the course of some professional inquiries I have been making in respect of what happened at the time of the King David Hotel incident. I came across them not very long ago; I am saying this with the consent both of the people who have been in touch with me and also of the doctor concerned. I want to wipe away the suggestion that no warning was given. I propose to read a letter from a Dr. Crawford in Bournemouth. I quote:It was very kind of you to phone me today and I sat down at once to write to you".I met Dr. Crawford at another venture of Israel which is well known to many people—the Magem David, which is the Shield of David Ambulance and Health Services. I happened to meet him at a conference held in Bournemouth. Casually he told me that he knew something about this. He says in his letter:Further to our recent conversation in Bournemouth, I am writing to confirm that the officer"—he spoke about an officer whose name, I am sure, is known to those who were in Palestine—who wrote to me in 1946 concerning the King David Hotel 'incident' was Major-General Dudley Sheridan Skelton, CB, DSO, FRCS, formerly DGMS in India, Hon Physician to HM The King and to HE the Viceroy of India. He retired from the forces about 1937"—I think that it is of great importance that this attack should be properly and effectively met—when he was given the rank of Brigadier and was ADMS in the SE Command. It was in this area that I met him in the course of my duties as Assistant Medical Director of the Emergency Medical Services Hospital at Preston Hall Sanatorium, Maidstone, and I worked with him until my transfer to Bournemouth as Medical Superintendent of Douglas House Sanatorium in 1943, but we remained in contact with each other for some years.283In 1946, he was head of a hospital in Palestine near Jerusalem and was a frequent visitor to the King David Hotel; apparently he was there on the very day of the explosion and he wrote me that 'a warning' was passed on to the officers in the bar in rather jocular terms, implying it was 'Jewish terrorist bluff'. But despite advice to 'ignore the bluff' he decided to leave and thus was out of the hotel when the explosion took place.I kept his letter for many years, but unfortunately, after the death of my wife in 1970 and my own severe illness in 1971, I sold my house and went into a flat and because of limited space I unwisely threw away a lot of my accumulated papers and correspondence, so the letter is no longer available; and Brigadier Skelton has long since died.I hope these facts will be of some help to you. Many of my friends knew this story at the time but few have survived; my sister-in-law will remember it clearly as she was friendly with the Brigadier and lived with us at the time. If you think it worth-while, I could contact her"—I did ask him to contact her and she wrote a letter confirming what Dr. Crawford said.
As your Lordships are well aware, I do not approve of terrorists of any kind. The Prime Minister of Israel explained a few days ago what happened and I hope that the letter I have read out now will, in all fairness, answer the accusation that has been made about this incident. I am very grateful for the attention the House has given me.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ The Marquess of SALISBURY
My Lords, may I first add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carver, on what we all agree was a notable contribution to our discussion, and add my hopes to those of previous speakers that we shall have the opportunity of hearing him on numerous occasions in the future. I hope that the noble Lord who has just spoken will allow me not to follow what he has said. I want to speak exclusively on the proposition put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton. In view of the number of speakers, I shall try to be as brief as I can and I will not follow up the detail of the noble Lord's argument and his very impressive report on the conduct of the elections in Rhodesia. He and others who have also been there will be covering this aspect.
I was also very much encouraged to hear Lord Carrington's brief report on the findings of the noble Viscount, Lord 284 Boyd of Merton. It seems to me that the combination of what he said and what the noble Lord, Lord Paget said indicates that there is general acceptance that in Rhodesia a fair basis has been found to pursue discussions with the new Government. From what has been said everybody is agreed that a new situation has now arisen, one on which we must try and build. There seem to be encouraging signs within Rhodesia that many of those who might have been opposed to Bishop uzorewa are rallying round.
I should like to confirm, from the information that I have, what the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has already said, that many of the terrorists are coming over to the Government's side, some because they have seen the success of the elections, that they have worked well, and some because—as always in Africa especially, although in other countries as well—it is wise to be on the winning side. Also, apparently, the amnesty offer by the bishop has encouraged many of them to lay down their arms. All this goes to show that there is every chance that the new Government will get off to a good start.
As has already been pointed out, it is important not to lose time on these occasions; things can go wrong. I very much hope the proposed new initiative that the Foreign Secretary is starting will take place very rapidly, and that if there are any prospects of success it will be followed up with immediate action. We all know that he has a difficult task to perform; but ultimately, as he said, it is our responsibility, and ours only, to secure a solution to the Rhodesian problem. I know we all appreciate that he has to have consultations, that he has to try to reach agreement with as many people as possible, but in the end his recommendation is the one that is going to stick.
Therefore I very much hope that reports I have seen in the Press that he intends to wait until after the Commonwealth Conference before coming to a decision will prove groundless. There are indications that the majority of the Commonwealth do not intend to recommend recognition. If our Government go to the conference in Lusaka and have a formal resolution put to them not to recognise, surely their task is going to be much more difficult. 285 Is it not better, since it is our responsibility, that we should go ahead—if indeed it proves possible to do so—as soon as the Government are satisfied that they can reach an agreement with the new administration in Rhodesia and recognise them and follow this up with the removal of sanctions?
It is therefore with great pleasure that I support what the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has had to say. Apart from the international side, there are cogent reasons within Rhodesia itself why it is important that decisions should be taken as rapidly as possible. They are also—if I may suggest it—tied up with the need for white support for this emerging country. Criticisms have been made that the whites have too big a share of the vote in relation to their numbers. This is not an uncommon development within the Commonwealth as it has emerged. The situation in Kenya and Zambia was, I believe, somewhat similar when they were first given autonomy. One must remember that the proposed constitution in Rhodesia is a transitional one and no one anticipates more than the proposed 10 years. During that time—
§ Lord AVEBURY
My Lords, may I intervene; at the end of the 10 years, the proportions of black and white in the legislature can only be altered by a committee of five, of which the Chief Justice and three whites form three, and since the Chief Justice himself will be white the whites will have a veto on any alteration in the proportions.
§ The Marquess of SALISBURY
My Lords, I think the noble Lord is perfectly correct but I do not see that is any cause for concern, with a majority of Africans in control, and I would not have thought that any minority would wish to have a confrontation; but the noble Lord may have a different view and I am not in a position to look that far into the future. So far as white representation is concerned, there are these two reasons: first, the one I have mentioned, the need for support for the emergent Administration. They are new to these responsibilities; they have to cover a very sophisticated economy and they have to provide food not only for themselves at the moment but for some of their less fortunate neighbours. At the present time, if my figures are correct—I 286 have tried to check them—the Africans farm something over 53 per cent. of the country and produce rather less than 28 per cent. of the product. With the problem of feeding 6 million people, it is surely important that the white farmers should stay until the Africans are able to conduct their farming in a more efficient way.
Secondly, there is the problem of the growing black population which has been referred to. They are increasing in enormous numbers and they are all going to want employment. If they are to achieve that, the country will require a massive injection of capital from abroad and if that is to be properly applied I would suggest to your Lordships that a white element in the country will be required to see that it is put to effective use. So for these reasons, both internally and externally, it seems to me that the whites ought to be encouraged to stay. The guarantee they have got for this period is in the substantial number of seats they have been given, and they do need some encouragement. That, again, is a reason why I hope negotiations will take place in the very near future. I am told that a number of farmers, particularly in the difficult areas, are wondering whether it is worth planting another crop at this point in time for the next growing season, which will start in October or November. If Rhodesia is to avoid a chronic shortage of food in the near future, these white farmers have to be given hope.
There is an additional problem we must not forget: that is the security forces and their composition. At the moment they are largely dominated by the white leaders but from next month I imagine there will be a substantial change in control. Let us remember at the same time—the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has already pointed out this—that they are a formidable army at the moment and they are providing stability not only in Rhodesia but in the whole of Central Africa. That is a stability which I should have thought we could ill afford to do without.
It is entirely due to the white element that this is so, for 80 per cent. of the troops are African. They are the same people genetically as the terrorists; but just look at the difference in the quality of their performance! So that is important. Equally, within the country they owe allegiance at the moment to the 287 State and not to a faction: in other words, they are not a private army—that is the danger the country could face if the present control of the security forces was too much diluted. So I hope that at least during the transitional period while the new government is getting going it will be accepted that there is a need for a white content within the security forces.
Finally, my Lords, I should like to say just a word about sanctions, which is a subject covered in the proposition put by the noble Lord but which has not been touched on very much today. Much was said last November in the very long debate we had then about the need to carry out our international obligations. However, it is quite clear from what came out in that debate that everyone (including ourselves, if the Bingham Report is correct) has been guilty of double standards. In that respect it seemed to me that the legal arguments used on that occasion were decidely selective. Surely, ultimately if we could achieve a return to legality, as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, we would then be in a position to say whether or not sanctions should continue. This must be important because, looking at the composition of the United Nations and at what is going on in Africa itself, it is surely clear that it is in the interests of the Soviet bloc and their supporters in the Organisation of African Unity to keep sanctions going on as long as they can, or at least until they can achieve their objective, which is to secure Rhodesia for their puppets, the Patriotic Front.
I cannot see, unless we can take steps along those lines, that there is any hope of bringing sanctions to an end. Therefore, it seems to me that we must try to achieve something within the framework of any agreement we reach with Zimbabwe Rhodesia to ensure that as a result of it we no longer apply sanctions.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, would the noble Marquess give way: This is a matter of genuine puzzlement to me, as it was when I was listening to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary. What does the noble Lord mean by "a return to legality"? As I understand it, every member of the Smith regime since 1965—every policeman, every civil servant, 288 every member of the armed forces and every judge—has broken an oath to the Queen. How do you return to legality in the present circumstances?
§ The Marquess of SALISBURY
My Lords, I think the situation is governed by the Act of 1965 dealing with it. Presumably what Parliament has done it can undo. It is perfectly possible to give immunity. It has been done in the past and in fact I believe there is a case going on at the moment where this has happened. Surely it is perfectly open to Parliament to take whatever steps are necessary to safeguard the position and to guarantee the future of those concerned, if it should be necessary. I hope, in conclusion, that we shall be able to take urgent steps to try to resolve this situation which has bedevilled us for so long.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, I, too, would like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Carver, on his maiden speech and also to say how glad I am to find myself following the noble Marquess, without whose assistance I have been led to believe it would have been difficult for me to get into Rhodesia—a country where I was in danger of being declared a prohibited immigrant. That, too, is a subject I should like to talk about and I would start by referring your Lordships to Chipinga, which is a small township in Rhodesia near the Mozambique border. I am aware that Rhodesia is a subject on which I am considered to have somewhat eccentric views, in so far as I believe that the recent Rhodesian election was not free and fair, whereas other observers think otherwise. I am frequently asked what I saw and heard but others did not which led me to this conclusion.
In Chipinga I had an experience which I think I can say with confidence no other observer underwent. I found myself there with my assistant—probably the only non-Rhodesian in town—on the evening before polling began. We were invited to go up to the Chipinga social club to have a meal. That is one-storey building about a mile out of town and it was full of troops in their uniforms, with guns everywhere. There was a heavy amount of smoke in the atmosphere and a fair amount of drinking was going on, but in spite of the somewhat "wild west" atmosphere of the place I 289 was able to have a perfectly rational conversation with a white Rhodesian who was there, who knew my name and why I had gone to the country, about the problems of Rhodesia. After about a quarter of an hour the conversation, pleasantly and not unnaturally, widened out and I happened to let slip that I was of Indian parentage. I have never seen a man's mood change so rapidly. A look of instant hate came into his eyes and he looked at me and said, "My God, there's an example of British degeneracy—curry merchants in the House of Lords!" I do not know whether your Lordships find this story disgraceful or amusing. Frankly, I find it a little of both, though I must admit that at the time I was extremely upset, and I have truly asked myself since it happened whether it warped my judgment in any way. All that I saw and heard in Rhodesia far outweighed in my mind what was a silly, racial insult.
I arrived in that country, without an invitation from the Government or anyone else, on 12th April, my assistant having arrived there a week before. I did this on the basis that I thought—as many of your Lordships who have fought elections will agree—that elections are not fought, won and lost on election day, but during the campaign beforehand, and I thought it essential to see as much of that campaign as possible. We travelled in seven of the eight out-Rhodesian provinces. We talked, of course, to the black leaders of the transitional government, to ministers, to civil servants, to people such as the International Red Cross and, also, to dwellers in the townships, in the tribal trust lands and in the protected villages, and I took time to come to my conclusions.
I like to think that, as opposed to some foreign observers, I went to Rhodesia comparatively open-minded. I had never spoken about the subject before, or written about it. The trust which I control has, indeed, given £60,000 to Bishop Muzorewa, but I did not arrive with any preconceptions and I hope—and, indeed, I like to think—that my open-mindedness was preserved on television. A few days after I arrived there, South African television interviewed me and asked me what I thought of the show so far and, at the time, I made fairly guarded noises to the effect that on the basis of what I had seen it did not seem 290 to be too bad. Then, when I had come to my conclusion and before I made any public statement, I told the Government first.
This was not at the nightly briefings which the Government held for foreign observers. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Paget, who did participate, I do not believe in lending my voice to other people's propaganda exercises. But I had private meetings with the head of the election directorate, with a senior official of the Foreign Office and, finally, with the co-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. P. K. van der Byl, in which I told them of my conclusion, which was that the election was in no way fair and free.
I am not going to get involved in the constitutional argument and talk about the basic consitutional flaws which people think there are in the 3rd March settlement. One does not have to go to Rhodesia to form an opinion about those. But what I think is a second and very fundamental objection to the election, is that there was no test of acceptability given to the black population about the terms of the 3rd March settlement. The whites had such a referendum; the blacks did not. Indeed, what appears to have happened is that we had an attempt to by-pass a black test of acceptability, in that the blacks were merely asked which of a set of leaders they would prefer to lead a government based on the terms of the 3rd March settlement.
I asked continually in Rhodesia why no black referendum had been allowed. I received various and, it seemed to me, unsatisfactory answers. Chief Chirau said to me that the whites were the givers and the blacks were the takers. Therefore, there was no need to ask the blacks for their opinion. This, I should have thought, was quite simply a naive point of view. I was then told—and this came out continuously in talks with white officials—that there was not a black referendum, because the blacks were too simple to understand the terms of the constitution. If that was so, I wonder how it is that people thought the blacks were able to differentiate between the policies of the various political parties who were standing in the election; between the policies of the two main ones, the UNAC and ZANU of Sithole. It would, in my opinion, have required a medieval theologian 291 to distinguish. I was very much struck on this point with what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said in the debate last Thursday. He said:… the electorate must be given a rational choice, and if it is not given a rational choice based on differences it will not be able to exercise a choice at all". —(Official Report, 17/5/79; col. 125.)If that is true then the election in Rhodesia does not pass that test.
A further basic flaw was that there was no provision during the election campaign for those opposed to the settlement to persuade others to their point of view. I am not talking about the violent supporters of Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo, but I simply invite your Lordships to consider the proposition that it is possible to come to the decision—and I think this is mine—that, while not being a supporter of Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo, nonetheless, having examined the points in the 3rd March settlement, it is deficient in various respects. If, having come to that conclusion and living in Rhodesia, I attempted to persuade others to that point of view, I was liable to detention; to being, in fact, imprisoned. There was no opportunity at all for what one might call positive abstention, and this is particularly important because there had not been a referendum of the black population. How was one meant to get across a quite honestly held point of view, that the settlement was deficient?
Then, if, by any chance, you were meant to play a part in organising the elections and decided that for conscientious reasons you did not want to do so, terrible things happened to you. There was a case—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Boyd, will know of it—where 15 teachers in the Shabani region were sent an instruction to become polling clerks. They wrote back and said that they did not want to participate in this election. They were arrested and put into prison, and I have a copy of the letter which they wrote from prison asking for bail to be stood for them, and a copy of the bail document. Indeed, they were then let out on bail but, subsequently, they had to stand charges.
There was throughout the country at this time propaganda at what I consider to be a totally unacceptable level, in order 292 to persuade people to vote, and it was based entirely on a false prospectus. The Government slogan was "Use your vote and stop the war". This was a cruel hoax on a desperately war-weary population and, not unnaturally, it was a very potent one. But one thing that is certain as a result of this election, and this election alone, is that it will not stop the war and that would have been known beforehand. This was a totally false prospectus.
But, over and above this, I found evidence, which I have published in a report, of official intimidation on a very great scale indeed. I am not just talking about what I might call social intimidation. A lot of people said to me "I know that this election really isn't up to much. It doesn't really solve our problems. It isn't what we want. But, what with one thing and another, it would be simpler if I went round to the polling station and so I did". I am not talking about that.
Back to Chipinga social club again. There was a white farmer who was clutching a gun at the time, and he kept on cocking and uncocking it in a rather unnerving way. He told me that he had 250 people on his farm and he said to me "You know, tomorrow morning when I get back off patrol I am going down to my farms and see how many of my kaffirs have voted". If I repeat that statement in your Lordships' Chamber, will it make the farmer sound like a learned seeker after truth? I can only tell you that nothing on earth will convince me that that man's employees had any other choice but to go to the poll. Taking another example, if you were travelling on buses in the Mrewa area of Rhodesia, troops got on the buses and asked who had voted and who had not. Those who said that they had not voted were taken off the buses, marched to the polling stations and made to vote before they were allowed to go back onto the buses. In the Buhera and Mangwende tribal trust lands, troops went around saying to people "Go to vote or we will bomb your homes". I am telling your Lordships of only a very few cases, of many of which I have evidence.
Then in Sipolilo on Good Friday—and this is a tale about which I am amazed, and which I stumbled across virtually by accident—the troops came and they said 293 to the kraal head that they wanted him to take his people to a "How to vote" meeting. The polls were open on the following Monday and throughout Rhodesia during this campaign there were teach-ins on the voting system. "You make a cross this way, you make a line that way and that is how we cast our vote". There was a slogan that was being repeated at meetings throughout the land. I said to the kraal head, "Come to the meeting", and he said "No". He and his people were not interested in the election and did not want to go. The security forces went away, but then returned and they opened fire and killed 15 people—not 18—who included my informant's two children. I have told you of only some examples of some of the terror exercised by the security forces.
Over and above that there is, of course, the intimidation and terror committed by the private armies, the auxiliaries, of Bishop Muzorewa and the Reverend Sithole, and there are plenty of cases of similar terror committed by them. Of course, there is also the terror of the guerrillas. I do not just mean the awful, bestial business of letting off land mines under vehicles taking voters to the poll. There was also considerable intimidation by them, and in Matabeleland and Victoria, where they were particularly active, there was a low poll, which, I suppose, is a demonstration of how severe their intimidation was. Sensible people have said to me "That is all right, then. The intimidation of one side has cancelled out the intimidation of the other". That is, of course, nonsense and merely justifies the view that it was impossible to hold a fair and free election in the circumstances prevailing in Rhodesia last month.
But the one thing I do not make a great case about is malpractice within the electoral process itself; the actual putting of the cross on the ballot paper in the ballot booth. Had this been a British election, had I been an election agent watching it, there were some things that I should have complained about. There were one or two polling stations which were, frankly, run disgracefully, and where, as I pointed out to a Ministry of Information official at the time, there was considerable evidence of under-age voting. Generally speaking, however, the polling process itself was not bad, and one or 294 two polling stations would have passed muster in any democratic society in the world. The point I have been making is that by the end of the campaign there was no reason for anybody to attempt to tamper with or perpetrate fraud on the electoral process.
It may be that a very large number of people in Rhodesia wanted to vote for one particular party rather than another. All I say is that it is impossible to conclude, from the April election, how many, because of the circumstances which I have described to your Lordships. It may be that this was a freer and a fairer election than those which have been held in other parts of Africa or other parts of world. In answer to that, I will say only that so far as the foreign observers were concerned, that was not a question which the Rhodesian Government ever asked us. They never asked whether this was a freer election than those held in Uganda, or Tanzania, or the Soviet Union or Chile. They asked, "Is this a free and fair election, which we believe that it is?"
It may be argued that although it was imperfect it was a step in the right direction. If it is believed that a fraudulent election can he a step towards democracy, then I have no argument with that point of view. It may be that there are greater considerations relating to the conduct of the elections which impel Britain and the United States to lift sanctions and to grant recognition to Bishop Muzorewa's Government—or even creeping recognition which, as far as I can understand it, involves either the Bishop breaking his word or a sort of grandmother's footsteps during which one keeps taking a few steps at a time, hoping that the Nigerian Government or the American black electorate do not notice.
Last week I was invited to Washington to give evidence to the House Sub-Committee on Africa, and I certainly found that it was easier in the United States to find people who said, "Yes, of course we know that the elections were a shambles, but for this, that or the other reason we are going to have to lift sanctions and grant recognition". On these other reasons I am not expert, and it would be foolish of me to attempt to pronounce. I have no sophisticated knowledge of East-West relations, defence, economic matters and so forth. I only know that if, 295 because of these other considerations, it is decided to lift sanctions and to grant recognition, then it is not open to the Government to do so on the basis that these elections were free and fair, because they were not.
I have been asked why I alone, apparently, saw all these things, whereas 70 other foreign observers and 200 journalists did not. I am not in the least bit defensive about this. I have a report which lists places, the names of firms, dates and numbers. If anybody can contradict those, please let them do so, but if they cannot do so it seems to me that the question is not one which should be directed at me but at the other observers of the Rhodesian elections. What were they doing during their stay in Rhodesia if they did not see the kind of things which I have outlined in my report?
I have also been told several times during the past few weeks that I am the stooge of Mr. Mugabe, whom I do not support, of the extreme Left, which I despise, of the Liberal Party, which I do not, of Mr. Garfield Todd, who excites my admiration, and of the Reverend Sithole, who does not. I am not a stooge of any of them. My position is simple. In Salisbury on 19th April, Mr. Smith said to the foreign observers there assembled, "Go home and tell the truth as you have seen it". In my report and in my speech to your Lordships today, that is all that I have tried to do.
§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, could he help us about his very interesting report which reached the Library only this afternoon. He has mentioned numbers and has invited us to refute them, if we can. Can the noble Lord tell us whether he was able to check the figure of 1,000 detainees, which he mentions on page 20, and the three-quarters of a million people forcibly removed to protected villages, which the noble Lord mentions on page 19?
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Earl could give me the first page reference again.
§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
My Lords, on page 19 there is a reference to the three-quarters of a million people 296 who were forcibly removed into protected villages, and on the following page it is stated that there were not less than 1,000 detainees. Can the noble Lord tell us whether he was able to check those figures?
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, generally speaking, I stand by the figures which I have given in my report, but I am afraid that I cannot see those figures on pages 19 and 20 of my edition of my report.
§ Lord AVEBURY
My Lords, they are not to be found on those pages. The noble Earl has given the wrong reference.
§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
My Lords, for the convenience of the House, may I say that the last sentence of paragraph 1 on page 19 states that:Reliable sources within the country estimate that there are not less than 1,000 detainees".In paragraph 2 on page 20 there is a sentence which reads:Under the emergency legislation, some three-quarters of a million people have been forcibly removed from their homes into protected villages".My question is whether the noble Lord was able to check either of those figures.
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, regarding the second figure, I believe that I have as good evidence as I am likely to get. On the first figure, I say in the text here that because the authorities have not given the figure, one is able to rely only on estimates given by others.
§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the Catholic Peace and Justice Commisison to which he refers, told me that they considered the elections to be completely fair and open?
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, I was not aware of that but it does not alter my view. People have been telling me for the past several weeks that these elections were fair and free. I still think that they were not.
§ 6.7 p.m.
The Duke of DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, it is with very great diffidence that I speak in this debate, particularly as so many of the points which one wished to raise have already been covered with far 297 greater eloquence than I can command. If I may follow the noble Lord who has just sat down and say one word about the elections, it seems that the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, is the only person who has found the elections to be unacceptable. Everybody in this House, with the possible exception of the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, has total faith in the integrity of Lord Boyd. When we see his report, I have no doubt we shall find what we have already heard: that in the circumstances the elections were as free and fair as could possibly be expected.
I found the same thing and would quote only one name and one organisation—an American organisation called Freedom House, headed by Mr. Justin Bayard, who is a very distinguished and prominent member of the black civil rights movement. He and his nine-man delegation were totally satisfied with the conduct of the elections, although he is a man who, by instinct, would probably have wished to find the elections unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, as he is a man of honesty and integrity, his findings went the other way. Therefore, I think we can take it that the elections can be accepted as just and fair. Only those who are unreasonable would disagree. In discussing the future of Rhodesia, everybody in this House and elsewhere is agreed on the aim, which is to establish a free, prosperous, peaceful, multiracial State that is recognised throughout the world and can take its place among the comity of nations. What we are discussing, and where we differ in shades of opinion, is how best that can be brought about.
I should like most warmly to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, on his brilliant speech which stated the case for immediate recognition, a case that was most ably supported by my noble kinsman Lord Salisbury. I am not in a position to contradict anything that Lord Paget said, because he was there and I was not. He must therefore be in a far better position to speak on it than I am. Nevertheless, I query whether he has not possibly underestimated the strength of the Patriotic Front. I must confess I found it somewhat curious that the speech of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary contained no reference to the Patriotic Front and their activities and 298 backing. Indeed, while it is perhaps impertinent to criticise, I thought that the tenor of his speech concerning the future of Rhodesia tended to minimise the problems that lie ahead in achieving recognition for a multiracial Rhodesia.
Lord Paget has told us that Mr. Mugabe behaves like my colleague the Duke of Plazatoro. I was slightly vexed by this reference, as I had intended to use it myself. The noble Lord also tells us, which I found elsewhere, that Mr. Nkomo is deteriorating. Both may well be true, but the fact remains that whatever the leadership may be, the Patriotic Front commands enormous support in the continent of Africa and among the Organisation of African Unity. If there is to be lasting peace in Rhodesia the régime there must be universally accepted and must be accepted by the other countries of the OAU. We may say that they are a pretty scurrilous lot: they accepted General Amin's grossest delinquencies without dreaming of expelling him from that body; they raised no hint of criticism at Dr. Banda's close friendship with, and virtually entire reliance upon, South Africa—he is equally acceptable—but nevertheless they are a body to be contended with and sooner or later the regime in Rhodesia will have to be recognised by them, as they will have to be recognised by a largely Third World dominated United Nations.
So we would be unwise to underestimate the opposition that recognition will present. At the moment of course that opposition is far wider. Opposition to recognition has been expressed by our colleagues in the EEC and indeed by the Southern Africa Committee of the Commonwealth Secretariat, which includes both Australia and New Zealand. If we give Her Majesty's Government and my noble friend the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister a breathing space, I have little doubt that they will be able to persuade our colleagues in the EEC, and certainly the old Dominion countries within the Commonwealth, of the justice of the cause of Bishop Muzorewa's government and get them to change their view and to be prepared to recognise that government. But this will certainly take some time and speaking at this moment, opposition to the recognition of Rhodesia is not confined to African States.
299 Timing is of course of the essence. The noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, put the case for immediate recognition brilliantly, but I wonder whether immediate recognition is in the best interests of all the peoples of Rhodesia. If we were to recognise them and the Americans were to recognise them, might we be guiding Mr. Nkomo, and to a lesser extent Mr. Mugabe, into the hands of the Russians? Here one is on very delicate ground because one simply does not know. We do know that Mr. Nkomo has been to Moscow, and from statements issued by him since that visit there is no doubt that he regards Russia as his friend and ally and it is clear that should the situation arise he might well turn to them for increased support, or to their Cuban lackeys. It is imponderable. My noble friend the Foreign Secretary will be far better informed, as will Mr. Cyrus Vance, of the danger that lies in this field, but after what happened in Angola we cannot be sure that this will not happen.
One thing is certain: the Patriotic Front will not give up lightly and in particular the support of the so-called Front Line States will take a lot of weaning away. President Kaunda has gone to great lengths to support Mr. Nkomo's guerillas; he has provided them with training bases in his own country at (to put it mildly) extreme inconvenience. They have caused havoc in his country and they must be a real thorn in his flesh, but owing to his belief in the justice of Mr. Nkomo's cause—which I suppose no one here shares—he is prepared to put up with this grave inconvenience. It is interesting, and indeed rather dramatic, that the next Conference of the Heads of Commonwealth States should be taking place at Lusaka with President Kaunda as its host.
There are those who argue for time—and it was implicit in what the Foreign Secretary had to say this afternoon that Her Majesty's Government do not wish to recognise immediately, and we are led to believe that the Prime Minister would like to postpone any firm decisions until the holding of the Conference of the Commonwealth Heads of States in August. She may well be right and here I would address my remarks particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Paget. He gave us a most graphic description of how the political tide was 300 flowing in Bishop Muzorewa's direction. If that is the case—and I have no reason to doubt it; I have read it elsewhere in the Press and heard it from other sources—surely there is a great deal to be said for giving that tide time to flow ever stronger towards the Bishop; and in the intervening weeks between now and August the defections of the guerillas, of which we have heard and which are extremely encouraging and which my noble kinsman referred to, may well increase and the Bishop's position when the conference is finally held will be strengthened by clear evidence that Africans of all denominations are in favour of Bishop Muzorewa's régime.
I recognise that I am on delicate ground here, but the Bishop has one grave disadvantage as the leader of a country to its independence. For better or for worse he is regarded throughout the Third World, and certainly throughout Africa, as Ian Smith's man. This is no time to discuss the merits and achievements of Mr. Ian Smith but the fact remains that his name is a highly emotive one. In the countries of the OAU he is regarded as the epitome of white racism and white domination and it will be hard for the Bishop to live down his association with Mr. Ian Smith. That will be something that he will not be allowed to forget. That is a further reason for postponing recognition.
On 1st June the Bishop becomes Prime Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and for the first time he will be "his own man". Until now he has been seen as Ian Smith's man. It is interesting to note that he has given certain indications that as soon as he becomes his own man he will take an independent line and will do all he can to cast himself free from the influence of Mr. Ian Smith and his colleagues. So it may well be that the two months between now and August which the Bishop will have to show himself as the new leader of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia will be extremely beneficial and the whole of Africa—indeed the whole of the world—will be in a position to see that once he has been put in the position of Prime Minister he is beholden to no one. I put that forward as a second reason for postponing recognition.
He is faced with very grave difficulties. If one looks at the other countries which are our former colonies in Africa, we see 301 that they have all achieved independence under the leadership of a man who has brought them to independence and a man to whom the whole of the nation can look and who commands the whole of the nation's loyalties: President Kenyatta in Kenya; President Banda in Malawi, President Kaunda in Zambia, and as indeed in Tanzania. Unfortunately for the Bishop, not only has he never been put in prison by the British Government but also he is not a great nationalist leader. We know now from the elections that he commands the overwhelming support of the Africans but he does not have the glamour of having to fight for independence; he has been granted it at the behest and through the good wishes of Mr. Ian Smith and his Government. As I say, he will have very great difficulty in establishing himself on a par with the other Presidents of African countries who are his neighbours.
I should also like to say a word about elections. We make great play of elections; we always have. I think all the countries which achieved their independence had elections on what is known as the Westminster democratic system. But they do not really work in Africa. If you look at all the countries that were our colonies, can you find one where now 10 or 20 years later a Westminster style democracy is maintained? I have checked. The only one I am not sure about is the Gambia in West Africa.
§ A noble Lord: Botswana.
The Duke of DEVONSHIRE
With that possible exception—I am not qualified to speak there—all the countries that used to be administered by us have either opted for military rule or for presidential rule. Where political parties are allowed only one is permitted, and opposition as we understand it does not exist; it comes from within the framework of that political party. The truth is that the African people do not like the role of opposition. Noble Lords opposite may say they are not the only ones. But in Africa it is carried further. There are no pickings. I do not wish to be unkind, but the role of opposition simply does not appeal to them, and this was all too clearly shown by the recent elections. The Reverend Sithole contested those elections. He did not do at all well—he won only 12 seats— 302 and his immediate reaction was to say that the elections were rigged. So although I suppose we must go through—I am almost tempted to say—the charade of holding elections, we are deceiving ourselves if we think they will have any lasting effect.
As the years go by in Rhodesia it is certain, I think, that the pattern that took place in Kenya and Tanzania will be followed. Both those countries began by having at least one European in their Cabinets. Here in Rhodesia there will be far more. But there is little doubt that what happened in those countries will happen in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and that white influence politically will steadily deteriorate. This is indeed to be welcomed and can only be expected. But I think one is optimistic if one thinks that in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia a totally different pattern of government after independence will be created than has been created in any other African State that was formerly our colony.
There is, fortunately, little danger of an army takeover, as has occurred in Ghana and Nigeria, in that at present and for some considerable years to come the army will be dominated by white leadership. But politically we must expect increasing Africanisation, and to make it more complicated it is bound to be backed by tribal feeling. It may be considered indelicate to refer to the strength of tribal feeling that exists in African States, but it is there and we ignore it at our folly. It is for that reason—and I hope noble Lords will not think I am unduly cynical—that it seems to me highly dubious that should the Patriotic Front ever achieve any position of authority in Rhodesia it would hold together. I think the alliance between Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe is a perfect example of adversity making strange bed fellows. Already there is severe friction between their respective guerrilla forces, and should the Patriotic Front ever win an election or take a leading part in African affairs I have little or no doubt that the Patriotic Front would wither and their respective leaders cease to be on the same side and become bitter enemies. However, this is to digress.
The point I wish to try to make is that while I accept the strength of Lord Paget's argument, that it is no good seeking advice 303 if you are not going to take it, and that therefore if we intend to grant recognition regardless of what is said and what we are told in August in Lusaka then we had better to do it now. At the same time for the two reasons I have given—one, that the intervening period will give time for more Africans in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to defect from their respective guerrilla bodies and join the bishop's party, and secondly, because it will give an opportunity for the bishop to establish himself as his own man—I think the balance of interest lies in delaying recognition at least until after the Commonwealth Conference. Whether President Carter can manage to stall Congress as long as that is a different matter. If the Americans were to give recognition it would be difficult to know whether we should follow.
One final thought, and here I seek advice. Recognition and the lifting of sanctions have been taken together in the same sentence. Is it possible to divorce them? Would it be possible to lift sanctions—which would bring immediate and enormous relief to the hard-pressed Rhodesian economy, and everyone who lives in Rhodesia, whatever colour they may be, would benefit from the economic results that would immediately flow from the lifting of sanctions—while delaying recognition of the bishop's Government? I suppose I could put it this way: the lifting of sanctions without granting recognition would be recognising Rhodesia de facto but not de jure. The fact that it was not de jure might give comfort, or might antagonise less, the OAU and the front line countries than full de jure recognition. It may not be possible to do the two separately, but if it were I see a strong argument for lifting sanctions at once, thereby benefiting the whole of Rhodesia.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, may I add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carver, on a remarkable maiden speech, and may I also add congratulations for his efforts in the Rhodesian crisis and attempts at assistance to solve that crisis in the last few months.
My Lords, at the risk of raising the blood pressure of certain noble Lords on the other side of the Chamber, I would like to begin my speech by quoting from 304 Karl Marx. Marx was accustomed to saying,History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce".I would suggest that 1970 was tragedy, 1979 was farce. I have been reading the Queen's Speech of 2nd July 1970 and would challenge any noble Lord opposite to tell us where the difference lies between the Queen's Speech as spoken in this Chamber last week and that of 1970. I have no doubt that noble Lords opposite, and particularly those on the Front Bench here and in another place, have every determination to follow through the measures of that Speech. I believe they will fail as lamentably, and even more tragically, because of the ensuing nine years, as they did between 1970 and 1974. I should like to say for a moment why. In this respect, I am pleased to see that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has returned to the Woolsack because I should like to take up a point which he made—I can do so only briefly—last week in his speech on the gracious Speech when he referred to the relationship between community rights and individual rights.
The central point that I should like to make concerning the whole of the gracious Speech and, indeed, the whole of the policy that has been put forward over the past few weeks by the Conservative Party, is that it is running right against the trend of history. I say that for the following reason and I think that the noble and learned Lord will take this point. Over the past 100 years organisations and institutions have been becoming greater and greater and more and more powerful. As a consequence, the individual looking for liberty has increasingly had to seek that liberty in communal action. That is why the institutions in industry, commerce and finance have been matched by an increasing power in the trade union movement. That is still happening. That is what divides our two parties and that I believe is what will bring to an end the hopes of the party opposite in both Houses. It will bring them to an end not because they do not intend to carry out their measures, but because they will come up against the hard force of historical reality.
In a nutshell, what they are trying to do, is to introduce or to strengthen elitism in this country. After all, they 305 have the Cabinet to do it. They have the good chaps from Greyfriars School along with their fag from Marks and Spencer. One awaits only the arrival of someone from Keyser Ullman to supervise the books and then we shall have the whole team. Therefore, they have the team for the elitist approach which they are putting forward—and one must admit they are successfully putting it forward—to the country. Perhaps I may sum the situation up in a quotation from an author who I am sure is much more popular on the opposite side of the House than Karl Marx. T. S. Eliot said:Only the fool fixed in his folly may think he can turn the wheel on which he turns".We are living in the age of the big battalions. We are living in an age in which talk about a few pence off income tax, the reduction of subsidies and so on really does not make any difference to the centre of power, and nor did it between 1970 and 1974. What happened to all that investment that was being released in this country to regenerate our industry? British investment in Western Europe increased five times. In this country it hardly moved. That, I suggest, is what is likely to happen this time, but this time we have other and more profound challenges to that same doctrine.
We now have what is popularly known as the silicone chip or perhaps better known as micro-electronics. Are we going to pass that over to private enterprise? Are we going to allow that to become a toy when it is estimated that 10 to 15 per cent. of our workforce will be put out of work over the next decade? Are we going to allow organisations like ITT, which I have been observing recently in the United States, with their slush funds, to dominate the economy of this country and those of overseas countries? Are we going to allow the hundred largest companies in this country to go on increasing their share of manufacturing industry? In 1950 their share was one-fifth; today it is one half. Those are the issues which I should like to debate further with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor as regards where the majority of individuals in this country have to seek their liberty and freedom from the massive commercial and industrial organisations which increasingly dominate their lives.
I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady 306 Elles, that foreign policy is the extension of domestic policy and that only with a sound domestic policy can we have a sound foreign policy. That is why I have begun from this point because it is the same philosophy that has been portrayed to the people of Britain in domestic affairs, that dominates the philosophy of foreign policy which has been put forward and is being put forward both during the election and this afternoon.
It is not just a question of the number of votes that are cast; it is not just a question of constitutions or the freedom of the Press or even the use of Government funds by the South African Information Department to swing opinion behind the policy of apartheid. There is something much deeper, and that is the growth all over the world of the multinational corporation which cannot be said to be based in any country because different parts of it are to he found in different countries. Such firms are constantly moving around and it is that power which is at the centre of the Rhodesian issue.
I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, has left the Chamber, although I quite understand him doing so because he sat here for a long time. However, he will remember the arguments that we used to have over the Central African Federation, where the issue of Rhodesia was initiated. The Central African Federation was an attempt, principally by the large copper corporations of Northern Rhodesia in conjunction with commerce in Southern Rhodesia, to build up in central Africa an economic block under the domination of large-scale capital. That was the type of argument that the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, myself and my friends had during the 1950s. The result tied the economies of what are now Zambia and Rhodesia inextricably together and then left Zambia 13 months after independence with the demand that she should untie those knots in order to follow the British policy of applying economic sanctions against Rhodesia. However, that has not been forgotten. The copper companies like Anglo-American, Selection Trust and the American conglomerate Union Carbide were mainly responsible for the breaking of sanctions with the import of chrome to the United States. The activities of Shell and BP—and when are we to hear 307 what happens after the Bingham Report? —are now openly categorised by a learned judge with Shell and BP as being in breach of sanctions in Rhodesia.
I should like to substantiate my remarks about the importance of this economic issue in Rhodesia, which, I believe and would suggest to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, is the central issue between the present regime and the regime of the Patriotic Front in exile. Let us listen to these words:In a few years, or even a few months, the Government of Rhodesia will be black. We will not forget those who ignored our suffering, scorned our rights, and, in complicity with the fascist regime of Mr. Smith, took our minerals, bestowing wealth to the white minority and sentencing the black majority to poverty and physical depravity".Words from whom? Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe, Sithole? No, my Lords. Those words were spoken by Bishop Muzorewa when he recognised that his people were determined to throw off the economic yoke of the white monopoly of political power, backed by economic power, in the country of Rhodesia.
I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that he considers this very real, complex and difficult problem within the context of the whole of Southern Africa, because here there has been an important and crucial shift in policy over the past nine months; since the overthrow of Mr. Vorster and the coming to power of Mr. Botha as Prime Minister, there has been a deliberate shift in foreign policy. That foreign policy is now more interventionist than it has been for many, many years. It is now the objective of the South African Government, clearly supported by the massive money that can be called upon by its information department, to build a South African empire in Southern Africa.
In Namibia a bargain was struck between the West and the front-line States, a bargain which the front-line States delivered—SWAPO agreed to elections—but which the Western States have not been able to deliver, and I freely admit that that is through no fault of the noble Lord sitting opposite. Nevertheless, it is a factor in the situation that the Western Powers have not been able to deliver the South African Government, and fulfil their part in the United Nations' plan.
308 Again in Namibia the same large-scale economic interests are involved; for example, there is Rio Tinto—about which the noble Lord knows—defying the United Nations by its operations with the Rossing mine, and today Anglo-American is raping the country, taking out diamonds as fast as possible, irrespective of the way it is mortgaging the future of the country and preventing further diamonds being exploited in the future.
In Zambia, the Rhodesian regime, supported by South African arms, is invading a fellow Commonwealth country, a friendly Commonwealth country, to such a point as to be able to blow up a house just half a mile from the President's house, a house that I was in just six weeks ago. What do we say here in this Britain which is at the heart of the British Commonwealth? Where are the protests about the invasion of a fellow Commonwealth country by an illegal regime for which we say we have responsibility? Where is this responsibility?
§ Lord HANKEY
My Lords, is not the noble Lord looking at this rather one-sidedly? What about all the guerrillas coming from Zambia, blowing up aeroplanes and goodness knows what, and trying to stop the elections?
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, I should be delighted to answer that question because in my opinion—and I have said this consistently for 10 years—what you call the guerrillas, or what are called out there the freedom fighters, are doing the job for which the British Government are themselves responsible. There was a rebellion in Rhodesia. What did the British Government do?
§ LORD HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, I am just about to finish and I shall willingly give way for as long as noble Lords like. The guerrillas the noble Lord speaks of were and are acting against a regime which has revolted against Her Majesty the Queen. I ask: what are the British Government doing? Those guerrillas have been losing their lives doing the job that the British Government have always said is their responsibility.
§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord. He is always very courteous and has a marvellously good temper, as have so many on his side when I interrupt them. When he says that the guerrillas are doing, so to say, God's work in trying to overthrow the rebel government, what does he call it when they fight each other, which is what is happening?
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
Indeed, my Lords, I fully recognise the force of that point. Those of us who have had any influence in Rhodesia—and, again, the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, will bear this out—have been trying for 30 years to bring together a single nationalist movement in Rhodesia, as in Tanzania and eventually in Kenya and in other countries, and we have failed. I do not deny that for one moment. However, it is still our responsibility to go on trying. Otherwise the future of that country will be too awful to contemplate.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, will not the noble Lord agree that the leaders of the guerrillas were asked several times to partake in the elections in Rhodesia? Repeatedly, they said that they wanted an answer only through the sword. Further, early on in the noble Lord's speech he appeared to be saying that the Africans regarded the whites as taking their minerals and impoverishing them. Human life started in Africa a long time before it started in Europe, and the Africans have had a long time to set up their own institutions. If the white man had not come, they would never have got them.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, I am delighted to be interrupted at any time, but it would help if the questions were pertinent. Of course, there has been a refusal by the Patriotic Front to attend a conference, but it was the Patriotic Front which said that it would go to a conference first when the Smith regime said it would not. Then what happens? Smith and Sithole go to Washington and what is the news on the same day that they announce that they have changed their minds and that they will attend a conference? Rhodesian planes have bombed Zambia—this on the very same night as Smith announced in Washington that he would go to a conference. 310 That has been Smith's tactic throughout. If noble Lords have followed the story, they will know that that is how Smith works—he always has.
I turn now to Rhodesia itself. I shall not go into any detail here because I could not match the excellent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis. He had one advantage that I did not: he went to Rhodesia. Many people have asked me why I did not go to Rhodesia to observe the elections. There are two reasons. First, I think it wrong to give that kind of recognition to the Rhodesian regime. Secondly, I am a prohibited immigrant in Rhodesia. I consulted the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor on this privately in the corridor a few weeks ago and, with his usual Puckish sense of humour, he told me that noble Lords here would certainly raise many objections if I were to be molested or put in prison in Rhodesia. Indeed, many of my friends have said that for years, but I am not of the martyr type and have no intention of inviting that fate. Although a Member of the British Parliament, I am still a prohibited immigrant of one of the Queen's colonies, and I ask noble Lords to think upon the implications of this—
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will forgive me for intervening on a matter of the habits of the House, not the merits of what he is saying. I believe that as a general rule we never refer to conversations which we have with other noble Lords outside the House. If it were to be a general practice that what we said in the corridors outside were repeated on the Floor of the House, it would make our civilised communication very difficult indeed.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, perhaps the sense of humour of the noble Lord opposite, of myself and of the Lord Chancellor are different. If I have in any way offended my noble and learned friend, I apologise immediately; I do not believe that I have. We had a good joke about it, and it was told in that spirit.
I was going to ask whether there was anyone taking notes on behalf of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton. Perhaps I may address myself to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary and ask two questions arising from the report of Lord Boyd and his team of observers. The 311 first question is: did he visit any of the detainees in prison?—because they were members of the Opposition and it is customary to talk to the Opposition. There is a precedent for this. When the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, was Colonial Secretary, I visited Central Africa, before I was a prohibited immigrant. This was when the present President of Malawi, Hastings Banda, was imprisoned in Gwelo. I was enabled to see him and his colleagues in that prison, and I was able to discuss matters with him in complete privacy. I would ask that question first, and the second is—
§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. He asked whether the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, who is not here, saw the detainees. I think I can say that my noble friend Lord Crawford saw 96 detainees at Bulawayo when he had been told that there were 900. No doubt he will make his own speech in his own time, but he was not in the Chamber when I interrupted the noble Lord, who I knew would want an answer to his question.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, I did not know that; that is why I was asking the question about the Boyd Report. My second question is: did Lord Boyd or any of his team go to Lusaka and Maputo to see the leaders of the Opposition, Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe?—because they also are parties to the political future of Rhodesia. It would seem to me obvious that this is part of the job of any observers.
Without going into any details of how the elections were conducted, there is one central, crucial fact that I should like to put to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. It is that the Five Principles have not been fulfilled. They have not been fulfilled for a simple reason, and one does not have to leave these shores, or even this House, to discover it. It is that the constitution has not been approved by the whole of the Rhodesian people. It has not been disapproved of. But they have not had the opportunity to approve or disapprove of the constitution. If Members opposite are going to maintain the stand that they took when they were previously in Government—the stand which the Labour 312 Government also took—which has been a bipartisan stand insisting upon the fulfilment of those Five Principles before recognition is granted then recognition cannot be granted in present circumstances.
I do not see the danger of recognition being granted now. I see the danger of recognition being granted and sanctions lifted after the Lusaka Commonwealth Conference. I would remind the noble Lord what happened last time he was in office. I would remind him of the rows that his Leader had in one week with President Nyerere of Tanzania and with President Kuanda of Zambia. I would remind him of the disastrous Singapore Conference of 1971. I would remind him of their insistence upon supplying South Africa with arms. I would remind him about the support which the Conservative Government gave to the Amin rêgime when Obote was overthrown. Indeed, I would remind himv—if he needs reminding—that when he was Minister of Defence he was most persuasive in getting large armament contracts for the Shah of Iran.
Finally, I would refer to the comparison between the situation in Rhodesia today and that in 1975–76 in Angola. If the noble Lord is genuinely concerned about the future of white settlement in Rhodesia, and about British interests in Rhodesia and in Central Africa as a whole, and if he is concerned—as I believe he is—with the difference between what can now be British influence and what used to be British power, then I admit that he has a very grave difficulty. We have left him with a very complex legacy.
The front page of the New York Herald Tribune says today:Lord Carrington reassured Mr. Vance that the government intends to move gradually on Rhodesia … leaving the first major shift of policy up to the Carter administration".I would suggest that he must do more than that. I would suggest that there is a positive step that he can take. As he has said himself, there is a new situation since the elections. Now Bishop Muzorewa has more political credibility than he had previously. Let the Foreign Secretary use his influence with Bishop Muzorewa to bring him together—it may take time—with the leaders of the Patriotic Front. I know that it is difficult. I know that it may be impossible. But let him try. Let him try to complete what was at one time 313 started—a reconciliation between the different branches of the nationalist movement. I say this because nothing short of that will allow peace to break through in Central Africa; and anything short of that will lead to disastrous chaos throughout that region.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Lord GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, I am not capable of competing with the previous speaker, although I propose to say a few words later about Rhodesia. The first half of the noble Lord's last sentence was the only cheerful, and a somewhat balanced, picture of the situation that he gave us. I know that the thesis he announces is in fact a historic one, and one which is treated by scholars with respectabilty, but he might have given us a little more encouragement in a little less time.
I should like to join with other noble Lords in congratulating the maiden speaker upon his outstanding speech. It is very rarely that we hear someone who knows so much, who gives us all that knowledge in so comprehensive a form, and who thinks so quickly as does the noble Lord. It was a most remarkable performance, and I hope that we shall hear many such performances repeated.
My Lords, first may I congratulate very warmly (if that is proper) the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on obtaining this extremely important post in Government; and I think it is a great compliment to your Lordships' House that he should exercise that post in this House. It is, I think we may like to say, perhaps, a compliment to him as well; but I feel that the Government have said something to us of great encouragement, both by leaving him here constitutionally, as it were, and by asking him to lead this extremely important branch of our Government from this House. I am sure we shall all wish to do our best to help him, even, on many occasions, those who may not agree with him politically. May I also echo what has been said to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. I am sure we all agree that he has served us with great fidelity and great expertise. When I have been working up to a supplementary question to be addressed to him I have always found that he has usually answered it before I have had time 314 to ask it. I am sure we are all deeply grateful to him.
I should like to speak briefly about three subjects. The first one will be the Common Market, on which I have just one small remark to make; the second will be the Middle East; and the third will be Rhodesia—and I shall try to make them all extremely short. On the matter of the European Community, as someone who was in and out of negotiations on that subject for about 15 years, may I say that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has described exactly the difficulties under which we operated in all negotiation, but particularly in the negotiation of the Community agricultural policy. The point was that that policy was going to be difficult for us anyway; and because in 1955 we had felt ourselves strong enough to do without the Common Market, so to speak, we were always behind in our efforts later on to get back to the position we might have reached had we decided in 1955 that we wished to join as full members. I am not criticising the Government of the day; it was understandable. But it has put us in a position of disadvantage ever since. On that particular point, and on the point that we needed to do something about it, there was no difference of opinion recently, to my mind, between the then Government and the then Opposition.
But, my Lords, where I must differ on this matter from the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, is on the matter of handling, the matter of style, the matter (if you like) of diplomatic technique. A great American President, Teddy Roosevelt, is said to have said,Speak softly but carry a big stick".We went into these negotiations with a very small stick, but we did not speak softly. We spoke very loudly, which was much worse still; because if, in diplomacy, you are trying to get something out of somebody which he does not want to give you, the last thing to do is to be rude. But for some inexplicable reason—and I do not say this from any party point of view; I say it from a technical point of view—the previous Government chose the tactic of sailing into our friends in the Common Market as though they were our enemies. So to the disadvantage we were in already we added the disadvantage, to put it crudely, that we looked as though we did not like them; so we were further behind still. The point one must make—I 315 say again, without any basic party views on matters generally—is that that was bad diplomatic practice, and that is why one has welcomed the different stance which the present Government have adopted.
I should now like to go on, equally briefly, to the Middle East. I was glad to read in the Official Report of the proceedings in the other place that the Government had made an encouraging and friendly statement to President Sadat on the initiative which he took. But as I ventured to say in November last, it seemed to me that the attitude that we were taking, partly in Government and in the public but even more in the media, was to commend the initiative of Mr. Begin and President Sadat politely and then to rush after all the reasons why it was all extremely difficult—and I particularly criticised the media on this point. What seemed to be missed about the whole affair, but which was not missed by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, today, was the truly unique nature of what had happened. I venture to underline this for a moment because what this initiative by Israel and Egypt did was suddenly to present to people like ourselves, who have always been very cautious not to offend either in order to keep some position in Israel and Egypt, a situation in which we could heartily commend what an Israeli and an Egyptian, or an Arab, were doing together. This had not happened for 30 years. As I say, the significance of this seemed to be somewhat missed.
My Lords, if we may look at this a little further, let us look at it by comparing the attitude of President Sadat, in particular, and also Mr. Begin, and the other Arab countries. One sees that the Arab initiative through Egypt was a matter of immense courage, immense imagination and immense hope. Then you go across to Damascus and you see Mr. Gromyko in full flight to tell the Arabs that they must not do anything of the kind. Here, unfortunately, the courage of the more moderate Arabs has for the moment somewhat forsaken them. One must hope very much that this is going to be a temporary phenomenon, because if there is one group of people to whom peace would be profitable in that part of the world it 316 would of course be the money-owning Arab States. So one must hope very strongly that that gradually dawns on the Arab leaders in the countries other than Egypt, and that, while the connections with the Palestinians perhaps prohibit active support of the Sadat-Begin peace, at least there may be a certain degree of neutrality while this great work, which also owes so much to President Carter, proceeds.
If I may be a little brash, while I have given a few words of advice to the Arabs may I also give some, for which I hope he will forgive me, to my noble friend who spoke so eloquently about Israel. I have worked for a considerable time with Israeli colleagues, and of course all of us know a good deal about Israel generally; and I should like, very sincerely and in really friendly style, to give my noble friend one word of advice. The people of Israel are overwhelmingly able, ingenious, brave—I could list whole lines of virtues with perfect sincerity—but this leads them sometimes politically to overrate the market, to try, prefectly honestly, to acquire out of a situation more than that situation will carry. Then opposition begins and whatever was started perhaps does not end so happily. As I say, I think this is a result of an over-intelligent (if I may put it like that) use of great virtues and strengths. I would just put to the people and to those who run the Government of Israel the thesis that three-quarters of a victory won with content is worth much more than a whole victory won with resentment. I am sure that this is an important proposition.
My Lords, my last subject will be that of Rhodesia, again a subject in which one has from time to time been in contact. I will not venture on the difficult scene of recognition and so on, but I have one or two ideas which I should simply like to leave with your Lordships as an ingredient of the very difficult situation with which the Government are dealing. Before I do that, may I again express (I think one can say) gratitude to the Foreign Secretary for resisting on two occasions the great temptation to rush ahead too soon on the basis of the Muzorewa Government. The Government resisted the temptation to suspend sanctions at one moment and they have also resisted the temptation to recognise.
317 I have every conviction that these two decisions were absolutely right. It was extremely tempting to rush into something which would have damaged us with the Arab countries and further. There may come a time when we shall have to do something that not all the people in Asia and Africa will commend. We cannot be run by them; we must be run by ourselves. But at this moment it would have been quite wrong to rush into the scene without consideration, without asking a lot of questions and without them sitting down and having a good think with ourselves. I am glad that things went that way.
My Lords, I think it was the noble Duke who said that he would not presume to comment personally on Mr. Ian Smith. I will do so, because I believe that Mr. Smith —and I am careful fo call him politely by his proper name and not abusively as many do—is still a kind of image of the Britain that the Africans do not want. This may not be fair any more; I do not know. But I am sure that this is the case. I think that it would be a great and positive act if, when Bishop Muzorewa finally takes over, Mr. Smith were to announce that, having brought Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to the point where there is a majority black Government, he would wish to retire with honour—and I emphasise "with honour"—from the scene so that there will be no feeling of a residue of some of the policies which were pursued in time being pursued any further. I say this with all respect to him; but I believe that as a public relations sentiment, if you like, there is something in this.
I would also add two other thoughts. One is that, given the bad feelings that there have been both between same Africans and the British and some Africans and other Africans, I think—and I leave this as a suggestion to the Foreign Secretary—that we may have to, or would be wise to, if we make progress, have some kind of (shall I say?) charter of—not non-intervention; the stock phrases are inadequate—perhaps abstention or something stronger, a covenant, perhaps, among all those concerned that there will be no more killing. We should have that firmly. Things like non-intervention and so on have become so weak in a rather tough world that we want something even more clear and more emphatic as a kind of oath of the people that fighting shall not go on any more. It 318 is so devasting for the ordinary people of Rhodesia who would rather get on with tilling their vineyards. If we could do that then—and I am only speculating—maybe a new feeling could come into Rhodesia, a feeling of at least "live and let live", if not something better. It is because I feel that we want to progress in some of these ways that I have simply not made any propositions but put out these ideas as a speculation upon which other people can, I hope, think more expertly and more thoroughly.
There is one other point which has not been mentioned today with which I will close. After all the damage that people have inflicted upon each other—and this is not particularly aimed at the British—I think that there will have to be another look at aid to restore some of the institutions and places in that country. One cannot in these days go to a Government and ask for money on a sort of Marshall Plan magnitude. This would not be right; but it would be right to start thinking of ways in which the parts of Rhodesia that have been badly damaged in all this conflict could be helped from the more prosperous countries so as to be able to put themselves together again —without any dogma but with a practical eye on what needs doing now and on a reasonably big scale.
My Lords, this has not been a tidy discourse; but I have felt that one might be able to help with a few more ideas on Rhodesia. I can only end by expressing my very warm wishes—as I am sure are those of the rest of the House—for real progress and real reconciliation on the whole Rhodesian front.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Lord ALPORT
My Lords, it was my misfortune that I was unavoidably unable to reach the House in time to hear the speeches of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. I apologise to both of them and to the House as well. But I can at least offer my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carver, on his excellent maiden speech. It was clear and concise in the best traditions of the Staff College at Camberley. We hope that we may hear him often again.
Like those who tried to discern the great and ominous events of the future in 319 Roman times from the entrails of a chicken, we today seek to interpret the future of our country from the composition of a new Government. The procedures are liable to some degree of inaccuracy in both cases. Let me say that the most favourable omen that any of us could hope for is the appointment of my noble friend Lord Carrington as Foreign Secretary. No doubt, we will have plenty of advice to give him in the days ahead which he will sift, winnow and discard as his judgment dictates. As I am afraid your Lordships may know only too well, I have offered advice at intervals over nearly 20 years here on the subject of Rhodesia—some of it, I hope, good; some of it, no doubt, bad. Let me on this occasion shortly try to give one or two comments on the present position of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
I think it most important in the first place that we—that is the new Government—should not get the problems of Southern Africa out of proportion in relation to the rest of the world. First, it would be intolerable, in my opinion, if the wholly self-interested illusions of a quarter of a million Europeans, nearly 50 per cent. of whom have gone to Rhodesia since 1965, who are Afrikaaners, Greeks, Portuguese, Germans and embittered refugees from other parts of the Commonwealth, should succeed in destroying through their emotional appeal as our so-called "kith and kin", Britain's nexus of international, economic and cultural relationships which is represented by the Commonwealth. We should remember, my Lords, that the present constitution of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia is, from the point of view of the Europeans, less favourable than could have been achieved 17 years ago if the Rhodesian Front under the leadership of Mr. Smith had not destroyed the party of Sir Roy Welensky and the late Sir Edgar Whitehead, which stood for the multiracial solution advocated by successive British Governments.
Some 12,000 corpses, black and white; the advance of Communist influence in Southern Africa; the terrifying uncertainties of the present day are the sum total of Mr. Smith and his friends' achievements. How he can claim a continuing role in the political direction 320 of the country to which he has done so much harm (let us be fair, with the help of misguided friends here) is to me an example of unparalleled arrogance—"not in my lifetime"; "not in a thousand years". Anyone who had made those his watchwords and his commitments in public life in this country would no longer be in public life.
But I recognise there is now a new situation in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia today. I have never doubted that the election which took place last month would be far more convincing than critics outside Rhodesia generally supposed. Indeed, I advised your Lordships in that sense a couple of years ago after my last visit to Salisbury. I also remember that in 1962 Mr. Nkomo and, I think, Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Sithole organised a "do it ourselves" election or, more accurately, referendum, to coincide with the European election of that year. The Europeans were astonished on that occasion at the efficiency of the arrangements; and, more particularly, they were impressed by the urge of Africans to cast their votes. No doubt then, as now, there was pressure, intimidation and impersonation perhaps, and other irregularities; but I have no doubt then, as now, the voting represented the general wishes of the people who were involved.
If I may at this point, I should like to say that I have some experience of Mr. Sithole's capacity for walking out of a situation which does not fulfil his personal expectations. He followed Mr. Nkomo out of the constitutional conference of 1961 less than one hour after it started by pre-arrangement, and Her Majesty's Government should assess him as such. He shares, in my view, culpability with Smith, Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe for the lost opportunities of the past and the present dangerous situation which exists.
The evidence of the credibility of the election in Rhodesia last April is in my view different from the impressions advanced by observers on the spot. Before 21st April only a handful of people in this country had heard of the existence of one of the contending parties, the United National Federal Party. The only reference to its existence, that I saw, was one mention in the Financial Times. Yet this party achieved equal representation 321 in the new transitional government as Mr. Sithole's long-established ZANU. It has elected nine members in its support. Despite the intimidation of Mr. Nkomo's guerrillas, despite the powerful UANC machine; despite Mr. Sithole's appeal, despite the private armies to which reference has been made, Chief Kayisa Ndemini's party, less than four months old, without any real financial backing, won substantial representation in the new Parliament. I am sure that in doing so they reflect accurately the aspirations of the people of Matabeleland from whom all their representatives are drawn.
But while I have no doubt that the results of the April election represent a genuine response by Africans and Europeans to the chance of choosing from the political options available to them, I am certain that no African of any party would, given a free choice, have been prepared to accept a Parliament in which nearly a third were European Rhodesian fronters led by Mr. Smith. I have no doubt that Prime Minister-elect Muzorewa wishes those Europeans who can and will contribute to the future of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, with loyalty, to remain in that country. I have no doubt that he is prepared to pay a price for the help that they can give. But the price which frankly was asked of him during the constitutional discussions earlier last year, and which is enshrined in the present constitution, is too high, in my view, in terms of the political realities of contemporary Africa. I suggest to your Lordships that before recognition is possible not only must there be full and continuous consultation within the Commonwealth, with the United States and the EEC, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has already promised, but three things in addition are necessary.
First—and here I follow my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire—Mr. Smith and his henchmen of the Rhodesian Front must take a rapidly diminishing role in the Government in Salisbury and remove themselves from the public life as soon as possible. The Africans have already demonstrated by their selection for the new Parliament that the old Rhodesian front guard are not acceptable to them. Secondly, there must be a return to legality on the initiative of the new Zimbabwe-Rhodesian Government recognised by the British Government and 322 the British Parliament under appropriate conditions. Thirdly, the new African majority Government must give evidence of its ability both to sustain effective control of the country and to promote a revised constitutional settlement reflecting the realities of the racial, tribal and continental situation which now exists in Central Africa.
I should like to suggest that towards the achievement of all this it is essential that a British presence should be established in Salisbury, and that presence should be led by a distinguished and experienced diplomat. Such a mission would not have diplomatic status nor would it imply recognition, but it would do something which in my view is of immense importance: it would put at the disposal of Prime Minister Muzorewa and his African colleagues advice and information which would relieve him of his present dependence upon the Smith faction and upon the Government of the Republic of South Africa. I would add, if I may on a personal note, that I only wish that Sir David Scott, Her Majesty's Ambassador in Pretoria, was available for this desperately difficult and in my view important role.
To sum up, my Lords: I believe that for the first time since "Tiger" and "Fearless" there is a chance of avoiding disaster—the ultimate disaster—in Rhodesia. Much depends on the wisdom and statesmanship of Bishop Muzorewa. But I also believe that if we have the patience to undertake the most thorough process of preparation and get the timing right, we—that is Her Majesty's Government—can bring to a successful conclusion this potentially disastrous postscript to the long and honourable story of the British Commonwealth and Empire.
One of my fears is that the situation in Southern Africa, which has occupied so much of this debate, will also absorb too much of the time and energies of the Government, to the detriment of our effort to help to solve far more ominous and dangerous problems in other parts of the world. I implore the Government to realise that the most imminent danger to this country and to the whole of the Free World lies in the developing situation in Afghanistan, Iran and the Gulf.
As your Lordships perhaps know, last September I was able fortuitously to see at first hand the alarm which the Soviet 323 take-over in Afghanistan created throughout Asia. Moscow has played its "joker" —to use the terminology of the BBC's programme "It's a Knockout"—and there are sinister implications, because, if there is anything which could knock out the immense power of the Western Free World, it is the loss of access to the oil resources of the Middle East. I do not think there is any need for me to take my argument beyond that. With a weak and quixotic Administration in Washington, Europe which has not yet produced a coherent policy of action in defence of its vital interests, a Commonwealth which does not claim political cohesion and a United Nations Organisation whose rules of membership have so diluted the realities of political power as to reduce it to a role of being little more than a social and charitable body, there is a vacancy in the ranks of international leadership.
My country—our country—is not now the most powerful in economic or military terms, but it is still the most stable, with a unique record of constructive political leadership in every continent. Is it possible that at this critical juncture in the affairs of the world, when the seeds of a world war are not only being sown but are germinating in the oil areas of the Middle East, this island of ours could prevent another catastrophe? This is the measure, in my opinion, of the task which lies ahead of my noble friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, and there is no one in this House to whom I am more happy to see it entrusted. I only hope that the strong emotions and sincerely-held opinions on the Rhodesian situation will not seek to force him and Her Majesty's Government into lines of action which will compound the mistakes of the Rhodesian illegal rêgime and destroy what may be the last opportunity this country has of resuming its rightful role in the leadership of the Free World.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Lord NOEL-BAKER
My Lords, I join in the congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carver, and in conveying gratitude to my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts. This has been largely a debate about Rhodesia, and on Rhodesia-Zimbabwe I offer only one serious, if seemingly frivolous, observation. I was for many years in another place with my noble friend Lord Paget of Northampton, 324 who moved his amendment so admirably this afternoon. I voted on innumerable occasions in the same Lobby with the noble Lord; but never there and never here have I found a single political issue on which we shared the same opinion. I am in much greater agreement—indeed, in very broad agreement—with the noble Lord, Lord Alport, who speaks with such authority on Rhodesia-Zimbabwe and who has given us such an admirable speech this afternoon.
This is also a debate about defence. I should like to mention, if I may take the time, the nuclear deterrent. I make only one observation here: it is a plea to the noble Lord the Secretary of State. He is going to Japan. I hope he will take the time to pay a visit to Hiroshima, to visit the Peace Museum and talk with survivors of the bomb. It will only take him half a day and I urge, with all the emphasis at my command, that he should make that pilgrimage.
I turn to one other simple and, as I think, important theme: the growth of the power of the Soviet Union and its allies, and the menace which so many people think it holds. I start with two brief lessons from my personal experience in the far-off past. In 1905 the British Admiralty launched a new super-battleship, the Dreadnought. It threw away the mastery of the seas. In pre-Dreadnought ships we had a margin of a four-to-one superiority over the German Navy but, of course, as anybody might have foreseen, when we built Dreadnoughts Germany began to build them, too. In fact the programme announced by the Kaiser's minister, Admiral von Tirpitz, was acceptable from our point of view. But in 1908 a British private manufacturer of arms Mr. Mulliner of Coventry, who made mountings for naval guns, came back from a visit to Germany and said he had learned that von Tirpitz was building secret Dreadnoughts. The story was without foundation, but the loyal Opposition in another place took it up without examining the facts. They moved "no confidence" Motions; they won a by-election on the cry of, "We want eight and we won't wait". They created a panic which swept the country from end to end. The Government gave way and built the eight. They started the Dreadnought race between Germany and Britain.
325 By 1909 the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, said that the most serious single cause of tension in the world was the Dreadnought race. In 1912 Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, said that if the Dreadnought race went on we should have war within two years. In the same year, the Kaiser's Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, wrote him a minute, with the precise warning which Sir Winston had given. But in an atmosphere of fear, suspicion and hysteria, no one would listen to the voice of reason. The Dreadnought race went on and in 1914. as Sir Winston predicted, the war began. When the war was over, Sir Winston said in his book that there had been no secret Dreadnoughts and von Tirpitz had said nothing that was untrue. But all the politicans of that day—Lloyd George, Sir Edward Grey, Arthur Balfour, Bonar Law—all agreed that Mr. Mulliner had played a very serious part in the causation of the war. I recite that past event to show how dangerous it is to make unsupported allegations about the armaments of a rival power.
My second lesson I tell more briefly. It so happened that, in the years 1919 to 1924, I was in almost daily contact with what was happening inside the Soviet Union. I had constant warnings of the burning indignation which was caused by the Western intervention in their civil war. The present rulers of the Kremlin are all old men. They remember that three-quarters of a million Western soldiers fought on Russian soil for the Tsar against the revolution. They remember that that intervention prolonged the civil war from a few weeks to three full years, with appalling devestation of their country as a result.
I turn to the substance of my argument and I express my gratitude to Mr. Harry Dean, of the Armament and Disarmament Information Unit of the University of Sussex, for the help which he has given me. He has given me some calculations which I shall cite. He has sent me a copy of a most remarkable paper by a US Congressman, Mr. Aspin—a paper fully documented from official US sources. I start with the combined armies of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Almost exactly a year ago, on 26th May 1978, Colonel Stanhope, the military correspondent of The Times, printed a study of this subject 326 and he showed that the combined armies of the NATO powers had a margin of 9,000 troops more than the combined armies of the Warsaw Pact. Mr. Aspin makes a similar calculation, but he reaches a more striking answer. He says that the margin in favour of NATO is 133,000 men—a very large margin indeed.
Of course, it is true that the Warsaw Pact has a great many more tanks than NATO, and it is also true, as Hitler proved, that tanks can be decisive, especially if they are joined by bombing aircraft. But Mr. Harold Brown, the Defence Secretary of the United States, said not long ago that he agreed with General Jones, the Chairman of his Chiefs of Staff, that he would not swap the US Army for its Soviet counterpart. He said, also, that the NATO tanks were increasing in numbers much faster than the Warsaw Pact tanks. He said, too, that the NATO tanks were better. He said that NATO had 17,000 anti-tank missile launchers and 40,000 sophisticated missiles to meet a tank attack. On aircraft, Mr. Brown said that in what he call avionics, in pilot training and in flying time the US Air Force was far superior to the standards of the Soviet Union—and in the air it is quality that counts.
There has been gloomy talk about the Soviet Navy and the menace that it presents in every sea. Not long ago, I had a five hour talk with Admiral La Roque of the US Navy, Retired. Admiral La Roque was the victor in 15 naval battles in the Pacific war. He holds every decoration which the United States can give. He told me that the tonnage of the US Navy is 5 million. The tonnage of the Soviet Navy is 2½ million. He said that the United States had, in the British, French, Italian, Norwegian, Greek and other navies, very powerful and well-trained support indeed. Mr. Aspin says in his paper that the rate of new naval construction now going on by NATO is far in excess of new construction by the Soviets, and that that is true of submarines as of other vessels, too. In Admiral La Roque's Defence Monitor, which he sent me a week ago, I find this fact that in 1972 the cost of the United States Navy was 24 billion dollars. In 1980, it will be 44 billion dollars. That almost doubling of the expenditure is not 327 all due to inflation. It is an increase in real resources, too.
What is the overall picture of the comparative strengths of the NATO and the Warsaw Pact forces? Here I quote the statistics given to me by Mr. Harry Dean. He says that over the last 10 years the percentage increases on each side have been as follows. In total manpower in the forces, NATO has increased by 4 per cent.; the Warsaw Pact has increased by 2 per cent. In tanks—this is over 10 years and we are now accelerating—NATO has increased by 60 per cent., while the Warsaw Pact has increased by 63 per cent. In tactical aircraft, NATO has increased by 10 per cent.; the Warsaw Pact by 14 per cent. But on the aircraft, we must remember what Mr. Harold Brown said about the quality and training of the crews. The Soviets are increasing their expenditure, but so are we, and we say that our armaments are directed against the Soviet Union. In 1974, our military budget was £3,600 million. In 1979–80, five years later, it is £8,558 million. That more than doubling of expenditure is not all due to inflation. There has been an increase in the real resources that we are devoting to the armaments which we maintain, and we are pledged to make a 3 per cent. increase every year in real resources from now until 1984.
May I give one last figure, which I think blows to glory the legend about swarming hordes of Russians ravening and overrunning the West, if ever they get the chance. Colonel Stanhope's study, which I quoted, states that if one compares the combined forces—Army, Navy and Air Force—of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, NATO has a margin of 1,100,000 men more than the Warsaw Pact; a very substantial margin indeed.
May I venture to say a few words about the Government's pledge to seek what they call in the gracious Speech:real measures of arms control".With all respect, I think that the phrase" arms control is a contradiction in terms. The words are a genteel way of saying that you mean to keep the arms and control them. But that is precisely what you cannot do. In April 1915, I was present at Ypres when the Kaiser's army launched its first chlorine gas attack. I saw the Hague Convention on 328 the laws of war—a great achievement of arms control—perish as Canadian soldiers gasped their lives away, yellow froth coming from their mouths. The atom bomb violates every principle of accepted international law, built up over three centuries after Hugo Grotius wrote his book. But we had the atom bomb and we used it, and today we have nuclear stocks that could obliterate mankind.
What is needed today in foreign affairs is a sense of realism. I join the appeal of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, that the Foreign Secretary should not confine his attention to Southern Africa alone. We need a sense of realism. It is not realistic but blindfold folly to drift on in an arms race that may end in nuclear war. There is only one realistic alternative to the arms race. That lies in the transformation of the society of the world from armaments, war, poverty and hunger to disarmament, peace and human welfare: a transformation urged in the Final Document of the Special Session of the United Nations a year ago. I believe that the new Secretary of State, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is personally, and by his experience, qualified to lead the world towards this goal, and I pray that he may direct his greatest efforts towards that end.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Lord BARNBY
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, has given us an impressive example of his capacity for memorising things, and I am sure that we all admired his speech. As for myself, this debate on the gracious Speech has given us great pleasure and has been a cause of jubilation on this side of the House. I seize the opportunity of the small courtesies provided by the gracious Speech to express my admiration for the performance of the mover and seconder and for the elegance and matter of their speeches, which was indeed thought provoking. They hold out great promise for the future. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, in his scarlet uniform gave added glamour to the scene. I hope that he will maintain the true conservatism that we expect. We certainly had it in his grandfather, who as the Chairman of Committees in this House, invariably wore a frock coat when on duty.
May I also congratulate Lord Carrington on his appointment as Foreign 329 Secretary. He has had a long period in this House. I remember listening from these Benches to his excellent speech as mover of the Address. He also was in a scarlet uniform. I find it hard to believe that that was 34 years ago. He showed political promise, and that conspicuous promise has been significantly fulfilled.
Last Thursday, on reassuming his high office for a second time, the Lord Chancellor gave us a superb reminder of his talent and his traditional rhetoric. The week before, having taken the Oath and shaken hands, I passed quickly to the Library to confirm my memory that I had performed the same exercise when his father was in a similar position, after having assumed his second tenure of the same high office. I was surprised to find that that was 44 years ago—a splendid example of two generations holding two terms of office. Surely that must be almost unique.
I now turn to the gracious Speech, and I wish to record dismay at the proposal to project the person of the Monarch into the insecurity of the communities indicated. With reference to Iran, I hope that should he desire it, the recent ruler of that country, with whom we have had a rewarding relationship, will be granted asylum. Then I wish to mention Somalia, a country with which we have had long and happy relations. They are oppressed from external sources including, from some alarming reports we have had, Cubans as well as Russian-trained terrorists. They are in an area where already Russian influence seems to have penetrated effectively. In the Yemen, in Afghanistan, in Iran, in Ethiopia and now with this pressure on Somalia, one is puzzled at the lukewarm support and general attitude which Britain seems to have taken.
I turn now to South-West Africa, where Communist pressure, again with Cuban support, both Russian-trained and armed, has disturbed the desire of the native population for independence. SWAPO have shunned the conference table and prefer the gun. The flexible attitude of the Republic has been impressive against the double standard of the United Nations. Anyhow, so far as the agreement recorded in November last is concerned, it has demanded concessions 330 by the South African Government to which they could not be expected to agree.
Many people will wonder what is the position now of our representative on the Committee of Five detailed by the United Nations. If I correctly understood the Foreign Secretary, he suggested that the proposals put forward in November should be resurrected and another election arranged. One finds it hard to believe that that is something which will bring the hoped-for independence.
Years ago—I think it must have been after World War 1—I voraciously absorbed a pamphlet which indicated the possibility of a conjuncture of a large part of Southern Africa. This was to be done with the agreement of Portugal, our oldest ally. It was represented as being a large area of great fertility and a treasure house of minerals. It would have comprised, in addition to Mozambique and Angola, Tanzania, Malawi, what were then the Rhodesias, the Union, the then Protectorates and South-West Africa. But it would have been guided by Britain. Today that is what Soviet Russia is seeking to control.
There is a similarity between South-West Africa and Rhodesia. Both places are pressed by external forces armed by Russia and preferring the gun to the conference table. Yet the West is supporting them. Why? I submit that Russia is a danger which should be opposed everywhere and by every means. Likewise, any and all opposition to Russia should be supported by Britain; and I include South-West Africa, the Republic and Rhodesia. This surely should be British policy and British interest, even in face of the risk to trade with the rest of Africa—trade where quality, price and delivery will always be the deciding factor. Or again over the problem of the black vote in the USA.
I urge the Government to return to traditional Conservative principles and to put British interests first. Let British leadership return to what it produced in former years. Leadership is what is wanted today and if that is given, much else, many other countries and individuals, will follow. In spite of the fact that so far as one can tell from this debate, the reasonings of procrastination or action at the present moment in Rhodesia are 331 nearly balanced, I believe that it should include swift and all-embracing support of the new black Government in Rhodesia, the six points having been fulfilled, and thus avoid the possibility of its moving into the Soviet sphere.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ The Earl of CRAWFORD and BALCARRES
My Lords, I listened with very great interest indeed to the opening speech of my noble friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and I found myself in a wide measure of agreement with the arguments which he adduced. I also found myself in complete agreement with the priorities of foreign affairs policy which he outlined in his opening speech. If I may say so in opening my own very brief remarks, the noble Lord brings an experience to the office of Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary which very few people in this country can rival. I would like to extend to him my very warm good wishes in the daunting task which lies ahead of him.
I also listened to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carver, and again I listened to that with very great interest indeed. He brings a fine career in the military field which I think—and I can speak for the whole House—will certainly ensure that whenever he addresses the House he will be listened to with great interest and respect. During the time when I had the honour of serving at the Ministry of Defence the noble Lord, Lord Carver, was then the Chief of the General Staff and we had adjoining rooms. In our two different spheres we worked I think one could almost say day by day over a period of two years, and during that period of time I learned to respect the quite remarkable skill of analysis which I think we witnessed today in the House, and also his quite outstanding ability of exposition which again we heard in the House. During that period of time I learned to share and understand the great authority which he commanded both in the military field and in political circles. I only hope that this, his first speech in the House, will be followed by many others because I am sure the whole House will always listen to them with great interest.
I am in fact tempted to follow him in some of the points which he made on 332 defence. Indeed, I am tempted to follow my noble friend Lord Carrington on the wider range of foreign affairs, but there are so many speakers that during the very brief remarks I wish to make I will concentrate only on one subject, namely that of Rhodesia. It is right that someone from this side of the House who had the opportunity with other noble Lords of attending the elections in Rhodesia should give his impressions. I think the task of anyone studying those elections was really twofold. First of all, one has to ask oneself whether the authorities in Rhodesia, namely the transitional government, were genuine in their wish and their desire to hold a free election and a fair election or whether there was a hidden intention to distort and rig the results. Secondly, an observer of such an election, in the circumstances which exist in Rhodesia at the moment, must ask whether in fact the authorities were physically able to hold a free and fair election.
Like other noble Lords, I spent five days during the course of the election visiting cities and rural areas, visiting the tribal trust lands, visiting areas close to the borders of Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana, visiting polling stations in safe areas and also visiting areas which were guerrilla infested. I am bound to say that I reached the conclusion without any doubt in my mind that the actual mechanics of the election, namely the secrecy of the ballot, the security of the boxes, the conduct in the polling stations over that period, a long period of five days, were exemplary. I have been slightly surprised by the way that some critics of the election tend to dismiss this as being unimportant. In fact, it is the very heart of the democratic process, and it was I believe a substantial achievement of the transitional government that the mechanics of the election were conducted in such a manner. Indeed, it is difficult to think of many countries in Africa—and, to be frank, I cannot think of any African country of the Commonwealth—which could conduct, and does conduct, the democratic process as well as it was conducted in those elections in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
The two guerrilla or terrorist or liberation units—whatever one likes to call them—ZIPRA and ZANLA, the guerrilla wings of the Patriotic Front, 333 had declared their deliberate intention to disrupt the election. As the noble Lord, Lord Paget, said, the transitional Government met that challenge head on. They decided that irrespective of the amount of intimidation, of the threats to the polling stations, they would establish 700 polling stations throughout the length and breadth of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and they would guard them. In fact, there were attacks on the polling stations. We were told—I could not check this myself—that during the first two nights there were eight mortar attacks delivered against those polling stations. But the fact is that those polling stations throughout the entire five days of the election were held open for the electors from early morning until the closing time in the afternoon. That was a great achievement for which the transitional government deserve great credit.
What I admit is far harder to judge is whether, in an atmosphere of fierce terrorist intimidation and widespread terrorist or guerrilla infiltration—and there are something like 12,000 guerrillas in Rhodesia and something like 40,000 outside in Zambia; whether in an atmosphere of intimidation and abductions and beatings and murders; at a time when kraals are being burned and people are being forcibly removed to remote areas in order to stop them voting; at a time when the Patriotic Front, having been repeatedly invited to take part in the forging of the constitution, having refused to do so and having declared their intention to destroy the election, and having been banned—whether in those circumstances it is possible to hold a fair election.
I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, and I am perfectly prepared to accept that there might have been pressure by employers to persuade or encourage their employees to vote. I can only say that, having talked to dozens and dozens of people going into the polling stations and coming out having voted, this was a complaint which was never made to me by any single voter. Certainly I was told that in the rural areas transport was provided by employers to take their employees to the polling stations, but to me, like the noble Lord, Lord Paget, this does not seem to be such a very terrible thing. Political parties here certainly do their very utmost to 334 provide transport to get the electorate to the polling stations. I am bound to say that I did not see this intimidation on people to vote, although it is certainly true that the whole media, controlled by the government, encouraged a high poll.
The noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, made in his speech, I thought, some very grave charges indeed. It seems to me that someone who has been to witness an election should not come back with allegations, but should be in a position to substantiate the charges which he makes. Perhaps he is in that position, but I understood him to say earlier in the debate that 15 people had been murdered by Security Forces—I see that the noble Lord nods in agreement—for telling people not to vote. The noble Lord made that allegation—I think that he used the figure of 18—in a television programme in which I took part with him, and he has repeated it today.
I should like to ask him whether he went to the village where this scene must have been widely known. Did he substantiate the facts by talking to all the people in the village? If not, why not? I have had only a very brief opportunity of quickly reading the report which he has lodged in the Library and I am bound to say—perhaps I am wrong and if so he will forgive me—that I find no reference to that very grave allegation in the report. I accept that I have read it only briefly and perhaps such a reference does appear in the report. However, I think that an observer ought to substantiate the position.
Perhaps I may give an example. We were told by the authority that a lorry containing 41 persons returning from voting had been blown up by a land mine. Forty-one people had been injured and four people—women and children—had been killed. Of course, as an observer, one of my colleagues immediately went to the hospital and spoke to all those people involved in the scene and is able to substantiate the facts.
Again, there was some dispute between my noble friend Lord Lauderdale and the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, about the number of detainees. I see that in his report the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, says that "reliable sources"—we are not told who they are—within the country estimate that there are not less than 1,000 detainees. He may or may not be right. However, 335 I was told by the representatives of the Patriotice Front who came to see me, that 904 persons had been detained in Bulawayo just before the election. When I went to Bulawayo, the authorities told us—myself in the company of other observers—that 96 persons had been detained and they gave the dates. Immediately after the briefing I went up to the authorities—I am not quite sure with what authority—and said that, as a Privy Councillor, I expected the right to be able to see any security situation in Zimbabwe/ Rhodesia and I wished to go to the prison not in a matter of three or four hours but straight away. I must say that I was impressed by the fact that they immediately picked up the telephone and arranged for me to visit. A car was there straight away and it is interesting to note—because nothing is easier to hide than situations in prisons—that the number of detainees was identical to the number of which the authorities had informed me and all the details about the days on which people were detained were identical to the information given by the authorities.
§ Lord CHITNIS
My Lords, with your Lordships' permission I should like to deal with the two matters raised—that is the Sipolilo incident and the number of detainees about which, since the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, asked a question, I have been able to make inquiries. Let us take the Sipolilo incident first. The noble Earl has asked a question and I am sorry if the answer is long. I should like to tell your Lordships exactly how I discovered the incident. I said in my speech that I discovered it almost by chance. I was setting up a meeting with some people and was told that it was a great pity that so and so was not there but something awful had happened and he was unable to be with us. I thought that the chap had 'flu or something similar. The conversation proceeded and at the end, only because conversation lapsed, I said, as a matter of interest, "Why isn't so and so able to be here?" I was then told this tale which frankly I could not believe because it was a tale so awful and of such horror. I then asked if I could see the chap. I have spoken to him and I know that the story is true.
Secondly, as regards the number of detainees concerned, I think that there is 336 an etiquette about these things—I am not a professional diplomat or politician—which, frankly, I do not know and which I would disregard. The figures which I have quoted in my report came from the International Red Cross.
§ The Earl of CRAWFORD and BALCARRES
My Lords, the noble Lord has said that he stands by that information. I think I am right in saying that it is not in his official report. However, I cannot dispute it. He has substantiated it as a fact and not as an allegation, in which case I feel sure that the noble Lord would have reported it to the Election Supervisory Commission which will have inquired into the matter. The Election Supervisory Commission—and I do not think that he of all people would query its independence and impartiality—has said that in its opinion the election was fair. I cannot believe it would reach that conclusion if, in fact, those types of murders took place.
Although no one told me about being intimidated into voting and although I accept that the media were encouraging people to vote, I am bound to say that I spoke to many people and the way they spoke about the intimidation by the Patriotic Front was almost universal. There were gunfire attacks on people going to vote and they showed great bravery in voting. I flew over roads which had been made quite impassable for any form of transport by trees being brought down and culverts blown.
In the circumstances of that type of intimidation, it was really quite a remarkable achievement that the turnout amounted to something like 64 per cent. of the electorate. I simply do not believe that one can intimidate 1.8 million people to vote against their wishes. Also, one cannot intimidate people and then have an election with such an incredibly spontaneous atmosphere. It was an atmosphere of exhilaration—a carnival atmosphere. People poured in to vote from great distances. I think that that is perfectly natural. The black Africans have been striving for the right to vote for too long. Here, they had for the first time the opportunity to exercise their vote. I believe that what we saw in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia was a turning point because what we have witnessed—and it is irreversible—is a dramatic transfer of power from the 337 white minority to a black Government elected on universal suffrage. Overwhelmingly it was a vote for the parties taking part which wished to end the war and it was a vote, I should have thought, against those parties—the Patriotic Front —which wished to destroy and tried to destroy the elections, and whose intention is to win Zimbabwe-Rhodesia by force.
It seems to me unacceptable that sanctions which were introduced against a white minority Government elected on a very narrow white franchise, consisting of something like 20,000 persons, should now be continued against a black majority Government, elected on universal suffrage on a high poll and with a vote of 1.8 million people taking part. A whole sequence of British Governments have laid down principles on which they said they needed to be satisfied. The only one of those principles which has for far too long been outstanding is the first one. I remind the House of the words,The principle and intention of unimpeded progress to majority rule, already enshrined in the 1961 Constitution, would have to be maintained and guaranteed".Now, we have seen not only progress to majority rule, but the actual implementation of majority rule in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. I think that, that being the case, the Government should now reach an absolutely firm decision not to renew sanctions. I am not saying that they should announce that decision at this particular moment. However, we in this House must realise that sanctions are not neutral.
The Government of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia have as their prime objective the task of ending the war. In present circumstances sanctions can only perpetuate the war. Apart from ending the war, the greatest task which the new Prime Minister has is, in fact, the reduction of unemployment, because unemployment is the great recruiting sergeant of the terrorists, and he desperately needs capital investment in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. He desperately needs to embark on agricultural and educational schemes and the restoration of the clinics in order to raise the standard of life of people whose lives have been destroyed by the war.
One reads that the American Secretary of State, who is over here at the moment, and some of the Commonwealth countries 338 are against lifting sanctions. Of course, my noble friend must listen and must weigh up the arguments. Equally, he must probe the arguments of those who are against lifting sanctions. Are some of them, perhaps, afraid of losing face, having backed a loser? In Zambia, for instance, are they afraid of the noose being tightened around their neck?— because Russian influence is very strong, as it is also in Mozambique. Are they complaining about the white roll—namely, the fact that the Europeans have 28 votes? If so, one should remind them that, as an opening gambit before negotiations, the Anglo-American proposals suggested 20 seats for the Europeans. It is also worth remembering that Kenya and Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania all had white rolls when they were recognised as independent sovereign nations.
I listened to the speech of my noble friend Lord Alport with great interest and respect. But there was one point on which I disagreed with him. He said that the new government of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia should revise the constitution. I do not think that that is practical. That constitution resulted from an immensely difficult negotiation; it was hammered out on the one side recognising the aspirations of the Africans and on the other side recognising the fears of the Europeans. The Anglo-American proposals are dead. The elections which have taken place have their own dynamic and the government's task is to build on them.
In conclusion, while fully recognising the need for intensive diplomatic discussions within the Commonwealth, with Francophone African countries, with the European Economic Community and with America, and with so many voices urging my noble friend the Foreign Secretary to be cautious and to take no precipitative action, I, for my part, should like to emphasise the importance of boldness and of acting with a degree of speed. If he delays for too long, the disillusion among the African population which will follow that exhilarating election will be very real indeed. If, in addition, the white population sees the war and sanctions continuing, their expectations will be hurt. There will be a drifting away from Zimbabwe-Rhodesia of the European population and our hopes of a multiracial society will be destroyed. We now 339 have a chance to build on the elections and to move towards the political and economic rehabilitation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. I would urge on my noble friend the desirability of acting boldly, forcefully and fairly speedily.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Lord AVEBURY
My Lords, I should like to join with those other noble Lords who have expressed their warm congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carver, on his incisive and expert maiden speech. I only wish that we had been able to separate the debate on foreign affairs from another one on defence, to which the noble Lord has made such a significant contribution, so that it could have been followed by others who would have liked to comment on the many points that he raised. However, inevitably, the debate has centred on the problems of Southern Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington—whom I should also like to congratulate on his first appearance as Foreign Secretary at the Dispatch Box—set the tone of the debate by discussing these matters at some length.
With great respect, I should like to begin by agreeing with him that the problems of Namibia and Rhodesia are closely inter-related and that if internationally acceptable settlements can be achieved in those territories, it would set the pattern for peaceful change in South Africa itself. I very much welcomed the noble Lord's reaffirmation that the best solution for Namibia is that of elections in accordance with the proposals of the five powers; that is to say, elections which are held in accordance with Resolution 385, allowing for:United Nations supervision and control of free and fair national elections".One of the problems in Namibia, with which I shall deal later, is that the Western Powers have allowed that original resolution to be watered down, and ambiguities have crept in which have led to disputes between SWAPO and South Africa. That, in turn, has allowed each side to stall, and therefore there has been a failure to reach agreement on how progress should best be made.
However, obviously the most important subject that we have to discuss this evening 340 is that of Rhodesia. I should like to begin by taking up one point mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres. He said that unimpeded progress towards majority rule had already been attained under the previous constitution; whereas I would acclaim that unimpeded progress towards majority rule is not even attained under the present arrangements, for the reason I gave in an intervention earlier, when I pointed out that even after the 10 years, which is provided for the Government of National Unity, there can only be a change in the number of white seats in the Legislature if the Commission of Five Wise Men agree, or if the majority of them agree—the Commission being made up of the Chief Justice, who is himself bound to be white, two whites and two blacks. Therefore, in that body there will always be a built-in majority of three whites to two blacks and until the Chief Justice is black himself, which is a possibility in the remote future, there could never be a majority of people who represent the ethnic composition of the country as a whole.
However, far more important is the question whether the fifth principle has been satisfied. I beg to disagree with the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres, on that as well, as he will not be surprised to hear. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships of the wording of the fifth principle. It is that:The British Government would need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole".It was because the Conservatives adhered to that principle just as much as Labour ever did, that the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, had the Smith-Home agreement of 1971 tested by means of the Pearce Commission. When the noble and learned Lord, Lord Pearce, reported that the people of Rhodesia as a whole did not regard the Smith-Home proposals as an acceptable basis for independence, the Conservative Government of the day dropped those proposals and the Prime Minister moved a resolution in another place reaffirming the desire of that House to achieve a settlement within the Five Principles.
If I have understood the policy of this Government correctly, it is not that they are saying that after all these years we ought to resile from the fifth principle, but 341 rather that they have, in fact, been satisfied by the elections which have just been held under the agreement of 3rd March. They reason—and we have heard something of this in the debate today —that since there was a high turn-out in the elections, and since all the candidates who stood in this election (and of course ipso facto the parties for which those candidates stood) were in favour of the constitution under which the elections were being held—in public, at least, though some of them may not have been too enthusiastic about it in private—then this meant that all the voters too endorsed the settlement and wanted it to be recognised in the outside world.
I think that argument is demonstrably false because people are continually acceptingpolitical settlements and trying to make them work simply because they are the best they can get, even though they really wanted something different. To take an example quite near home, many of us in this House are opposed to the hereditary principle but we do not, for this reason, decline to speak and vote in your Lordships' House. In next month's European elections I would imagine that many of the voters will be men and women who keenly opposed our entry into Europe. But now that an elected European Parliament is coming into being, whether they like it or not they might as well exercise the rights they have been given. We in the Liberal Party are constantly pointing out the undemocratic nature of the electoral system, but that does not stop our contesting elections held under that system. So it would not be surprising if the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia exercised the powers they have been given although they would like some different powers.
As for the point that all the candidates and the parties in the Rhodesian election were in favour of the constitution, this serves to underline the point which has been made by many observers, including the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, that the elections were neither free nor fair because no person or party opposed to the 3rd March agreement was allowed to stand or even to raise his voice. It was agreed on all sides, including even those who attended at the invitation of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society, which I think it would not be unfair to describe as a fanatically pro-Smith pressure group, that the 3rd March agreement was hardly 342 mentioned at all during the campaign, and did not become a perceptible issue in it.
This is not only the view of the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, but was echoed by those noble Lords who went with the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, to whom I have had the opportunity of speaking. They said that at none of the meetings, and in none of the literature, was the constitution itself an issue. It was not put to the people. I heard that said by one noble Lord who went as an observer, and it struck me, as it must have done others, that most of them—not of course, the noble Earl, Lord Crawford—unlike the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, had never fought an election in their lives and perhaps did not quite know what to look for.
It was alleged by these noble Lords that the constitutional background was far too complicated to put before an unsophisticated rural electorate. The Smith/Home proposals were not all that simple, and your Lordships will recall that when the noble Lord, Lord Pearce, had thoroughly investigated the understanding of the people of those proposals he came to the conclusion that the great majority of those who gave their opinions had a sufficient understanding of the proposals to enable them to pass judgment on them. I think that the voters in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia would have understood only too well for Mr. Smith's liking that 28 out of 100 seats in the House of Assembly were reserved for whites—a factor which the noble Lord, Lord Alport, rightly said was too high a price to demand from the majority in terms of contemporary political realities; that the blacks had one vote, the whites two; that the constitution could be only amended if not only all the blacks but at least six of the whites decided that it should be; that the police, the army, the judiciary and the public service will remain under white control virtually indefinitely. It was because these simple facts would have been readily understood by the people if those issues had been put to them in the terms of a referendum, that Mr. Smith and his stooges decided not to risk testing their acceptability by putting the constitution to the black voters as they had done to the whites. Therefore, I must conclude that even if the mechanics of the election had been quite 343 beyond criticism the fifth principle would not have been satisfied. It was not a Left-winger but the noble Lord, Lord Carver, who stated baldly that the constitution does not give genuine majority rule.
How are we to form a judgment about the question of whether these elections were free and fair? We have not had the opportunity of reading the report of the mission which the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, undertook. It would have been very useful if we had had it this afternoon. We have not had any written report from noble Lords who went at the invitation of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society, and I gather it is not their intention to make any written report. So we have the thorough and painstaking report of the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, and we have that of Professor Claire Palley, who did not go herself but who is very familiar with the Rhodesian scene and had some penetrating things to say about the constitutional and political background. There is also a good deal of testimony of responsible observers who are not politicians but who have been in the territory recently. I have to say from this evidence that I personally would conclude that, although it may be possible to hold elections in a country which is engaged in a civil war, I do not think that the conditions in Rhodesia were such that free and fair elections could take place for the simple reason that normal political activity there was unthinkable.
If we contrast this with Namibia—and I am glad to continue with the theme set by the Foreign Secretary that these problems are interrelated — the United Nations Secretary-General said in respect of Namibia that before the electoral process can begin it is necessary that conditions be such that they will facilitate it, and he went on to specify a general cessation of all hostile acts. It would be necessary before free and fair elections are conducted in Rhodesia for that to be the case there too. I do not think you can hold democratic elections in a country where there are something like 1,000 people in detention. I have seen one figure which is much larger than that quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis. I think it was International Defence and Aid who published a list not so long ago which contained 1,900 names. Some of 344 these may have been released since that list was published. But I think it is not to be argued or disputed that there were a very large number of people who were opposed to the elections and who were locked up for the whole of the period during which they were conducted.
There is the evidence that the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, has mentioned this evening for the execution of some people during the elections, and the intimidation by the semi-official forces under the control of Bishop Muzorewa and the Reverend Sithole; the fact that 90 per cent. of the land area of the country is under martial law; that perhaps as many as three-quarters of a million people are in the so-called protected villages. I gather that there is some dispute whether this figure is accurate or not. Whether it is three-quarters of a million, half a million or a quarter of a million, it is a very large number of people who have been forcibly uprooted from their homes and made to live in areas under military supervision. So I think it is hardly surprising under these circumstances that there was a high poll.
The stories of a 100 per cent. turnout on some of the farms which were given to the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, and repeated in some of the Rhodesian newspapers were reminiscent to me, at any rate, of the elections which are conducted in Eastern Europe. I believe that in Rhodesia, as in the Soviet Union, a great many people voted for the good of their health and, just as in the Communist countries—and this is not disputed by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford—the whole apparatus of the newspapers, radio, television, the armed forces, employers and the public service was mobilised to rubber stamp a stooge parliament behind the skirts of which the real powers are going to continue in operation. The whites, who I think stand in a similar relationship to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, as the Communist Party does in the Soviet Union to the people of that country, know that it made absolutely no difference whether Bishop Muzorewa or the Reverend Sithole won the majority of the 72 black seats, because they were well aware that the victor would be unable to touch the entrenched provisions which maintain the whites in control. As Mr. Christian Anderson, the co-Minister of Justice said in the debate on Second Reading of the Constitution Bill: 345Those who attack the constitution have simply been unable to get it into their heads that there is no way in which the white community is prepared to risk the loss of what has been built up ".But it certainly made a difference that the turn-out was high. It was 114.8 per cent., in one constituency (Mashonaland West); in that case going even better than the Communists, who never achieved more than 100 per cent. But I think that it was correctly recognised by the Smith régime and the black internal parties that the bigger the vote, the better the chances of persuading the outside world to lift sanctions and to recognise the new Government. Unsophisticated tribesmen in Sussex and California would be unable to distinguish between a big vote and endorsement for the constitution under which the election was held. That was a correct assessment, and it was also rightly foreseen that the enormous pressures on everybody to vote would be seen by the external observers simply as trying to help people to exercise their democratic rights, and not as having any political overtones.
It was, however, equally predictable that there would be very strong opposition, particularly among the Commonwealth nations, towards any moves for recognition following the elections. If there is to be what Robert Stephens in the Observer christened "creeping de facto recognition", the Prime Minister will have a hot reception in Lusaka, and we see that that will be not only from the black nations, because some of the white Commonwealth countries were parties to the representations made on their behalf this week by the High Commissioners in London to the Foreign Secretary.
I believe that the international repercussions of following Tory inclinations (some of which we have heard this afternoon) are too appalling to contemplate. At worst, they include not only the break-up of the Commonwealth, but also the spread of Soviet influence in Africa, so that ultimately, when the countries of Southern Africa attain genuine majority rule, they will look to the Soviet Union rather than to the West as their friends and allies.
Apart from the fact that we ought to find it intolerable that our Governments 346 should prop up these white oligarchies while the Soviets pose as the champions of democracy, we might also consider where our true economic interests lie. A free Zimbabwe might deny her chrome to the West, and a free Namibia might deny her uranium, to mention only two examples. Our relationships with the rest of black Africa are bound to be adversely affected if we are always seen to be on the side of the white minority régimes or their puppets. As has already been pointed out to your Lordships, our trade with black Africa now amounts to £1,300 million per annum, which is more than twice the size of our trade with the Republic of South Africa.
Finally, I want to point out that while our attention has been mainly concentrated on the events in Rhodesia, the South Africans have been bent on imposing their own internal settlement in Namibia, contrary to Resolutions 385 and 435 of the United Nations, the latter being based on the proposals of the five Western Powers, which the Foreign Secretary mentioned. The Western plan provided for a cease-fire, for a 7,500-man UN transitional assistance group to supervise the restriction of all forces to base, the repeal of discriminatory laws and release of political prisoners, free and fair elections for a constituent assembly, and finally the adoption of a constitution leading to independence.
Now South Africa has rejected the cease-fire and election terms proposed by the United Nations and they have announced that a so-called "interim Government" is shortly to be chosen from among members of the constituent assembly which was elected in December 1978. Systematic agression has been perpetrated against Angola and Zambia by South African forces, and as recently as 12th May the Administrator General issued a decree placing Windhoek and large areas of the north of the country under martial law, which allows suspected persons to be detained for up to 30 days without access to a lawyer. Prior to that, on 27th April, 47 leading opponents of the régime were taken into custody. In fact, all those who are opposed to the continuing South African occupation of Namibia have now been either arrested or exiled, just as in Rhodesia all opposition to the internal colonialism of the Smith clique has been similarly crushed.
347 Mr. Justin Ellis of the Christian Centre says that South Africa's judgment is that Western resolve on the issue of achieving internationally acceptable settlements in Namibia and Rhodesia will crumble,and that black Africa, economically weak and militarily impotent, will be unable effectively to confront South Africa. Thus the stage seems set for the progressive alienation of Africa from the West and an increase in Soviet and Cuban involvement in the conflict".The régimes now taking office in Namibia and Rhodesia are not acceptable to the people of those countries as a whole, but are merely the least unacceptable of the limited range of choices offered to them. I believe that these régimes can survive only with the aid of South African military and economic might, and are destined to become protected zones for stopping the spread of black liberation to South Africa. It is very much against the long-term interests of the West, and of Britain in particular, to encourage, or connive at, the formation of this system. Conversely, it is in our interest to promote the emergence of stable democratic Governments in Southern Africa which undeniably command the support of their people as a whole, and thus genuinely qualify for recognition by the international community.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Lord BALFOUR of INCHRYE
My Lords, my first words must be to congratulate the Government upon their formation and to wish them well. When one surveys the problems that they have I believe that congratulations might well be diluted with prayer for the future. I also wish to add my thanks to that already expressed by the Foreign Secretary to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for many years of courteous, considerate treatment of his opponents as much as of his supporters.
I believe it is a pity that our parliamentary business has been so arranged today that when I rise just before nine o'clock there are still 17 speakers to come. I think, too, that it is a pity that the debate, which had the label of "foreign affairs and defence", has in fact lapsed almost entirely into a debate on Rhodesia. I look at the sparseness of the Chamber which seems to me to contain noble Lords whom I hope I may describe without offence as the "live and the dead". The 348 live are those who intend to speak, and the dead are those who have already spoken. We also have a few who are still breathing, the poor Whips on the Front Benches; and they will have to take down what other noble Lords say while the Ministers are absent.
The debate is supposed to cover foreign affairs and defence, and though I regret the way that it has turned out, we have had the advantage of one most illuminating and brilliant maiden speech, by the noble Lord, Lord Carver. I am sure that all those who listened to the noble Lord heard wise, experienced words. I am quite sure that those who did not have that advantage will read what Lord Carver said in Hansard tomorrow.
My Lords, if I may be forgiven, I will not mention the name "Rhodesia" in my few remarks, which will not detain your Lordships very long. I refer particularly to the words in the gracious Speech from the Throne:They will maintain the effectiveness of Britain's nuclear deterrent".It is on that subject that I should like to say a few words. I so agree with what our Foreign Secretary said, which was reinforced by what Lord Goronwy-Roberts said: that any agreement for the limitation of nuclear weapons is an agreement to be welcomed by the civilised world. But the danger of strategic inter-continental ballistic attack remains so long as intercontinental means of delivery continue to exist. To all of us, such a conflict is, I think, too terrible to contemplate.
I was looking at the report published in the Daily Telegraph of a study by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. It is a study which I understand was not meant to be published, but was leaked. That study found thatup to 165 million Americans could die and that the rest would live on 'in the economic equivalent of the Middle Ages'if a total nuclear inter-continental strategic war was pursued. The same issue of the Daily Telegraph covered a most interesting statement made to the NATO Defence Ministers on Russian strategic missile strength. I need read only a very few words:… NATO defence ministers meeting here yesterday [heard] that the Russians 'in every category of capability be it nuclear, chemical, land, sea, air or space' were gaining in ascendancy".349 Even so, my Lords, I do not think we need panic at that, because if we cannot achieve parity (which I do not believe we shall) our forces must be able to inflict such destruction in retaliation that no country can contemplate such an inter-continental missile war. I think we can abandon the talk of parity. I was interested in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker. He went back on the history of parity and quoted, as I had already written in my notes, words which I think are very appropriate when we think of parity. He went back to the early 1900s, to the Dreadnought race with Germany, whenWe want eight and we won't waitwas the cry which went through the country. Parity, I think, is an obsolete word in modern warfare, For the word "parity" I would substitute the word "sufficiency". Sufficiency is what we have to substitute for parity. In a conflict of total nuclear war, the concept of parity is irrelevant and sufficiency is the key word: sufficiency to launch retaliation such as to make a war so terrible to those who initiated it that Sir Winston Churchill's words, which are repeated in the gracious Speech from the Throne, come true:The nuclear bomb is a great deterrent".Having said that, as I hope, there will never be a strategic nuclear attack because I hope it will be ruled out by general world consent, there is the possibility of more limited tactical war with limited use of nuclear weapons, probably in the field of Europe. A good many noble Lords will remember the old staff college bromide:Strategy starts where diplomacy ends: tactics start where strategy ends",and it is true in this particular connection. For such a tactical war we need air, sea and land forces with power to repel the enemy and to deliver our own missiles in that tactical war. Here I come to my misgivings over the Royal Air Force striking force and defence ability. I fear that in quantity of material and in manpower we are inadequate, and in the final event we cannot say, "It does not matter; we rely upon NATO". In the final event we have to rely upon ourselves. When I say that, it is no disparagement of NATO but is the final truth we have to face.
350 My Lords, the fighter strength of this country is, I believe—and I would be glad of contradiction—somewhere between 70 and 100 fighters. You can vary the figure upwards from 70 to 100 by taking into account certain reserves and certain aircraft which are not actually serviceable at any particular moment. As well as that shortage of striking force, our squadrons are undermanned and overworked. On the one hand, we demand from our air crews technical and electronic knowledge which, to me, is a completely incomprehensible maze. In the fields of radar and in the complex radio-controlled weapons—air to air, air to sea or air to land—these young men have developed high skills at speeds which most of us, certainly those connected with the last war, never thought possible.
I recently had the privilege of staying at a fighter station in the East of Scotland. I saw these young men at their work. At that station, and possibly at other stations, for 24 hours of the day and night for 365 days of the year there are two fighter aircraft ready to go up within minutes to do shadowing work over the North Sea. The Russians do the same shadowing work. I asked some of our pilots what they did when they met the Russians. They said: "We fly alongside each other, and we fly very close." I asked: "Do they ever signal to you?" He replied: "They sometimes wave; but if there is a grim-looking figure in the rear cockpit they look straight ahead. They have a commissar on board."
I have spoken of the work that these young men are doing. On the other side of the picture, the new pay scale of the Government will, I hope, help; but I share the doubts of the noble Lord, Lord Carver, that it will be sufficient to attract highly-trained electronic engineers either to join the RAF or, if trained by the RAF, to make the Service their long-term career. But their conditions of life, by Government and Parliament support, need to be rectified. So short-handed are some of the squadrons that leave entitlements cannot be fulfilled. There is too little time to relax by overworked personnel. As the noble Lord, Lord Carver, truly said. family life is difficult for our married airmen, be they commissioned or other ranks. The wives nearly all have to go out to work. Married quarters are often 351 inadequate or unobtainable, and the small extras that make the home a welcome haven are very parsimoniously provided by Her Majesty's Government. Yet the morale and spirit of these young men is wonderful. These are young men risking their lives almost daily, yet they are enthusiastic about their work, proud of their skills and proud of being members of the RAF.
My Lords, I conclude by saying this—and I hope that the Minister will kindly take note. There is in the Services a fount of goodwill; there is pride and the devotion of young men to their duty. But we must not trade too long on good-will for, finally, the fount of goodwill dries up. The policies outlined in the gracious Speech encourage us in the belief that the defence of our country in the fields of strategy and in the fields of tactics will be recognised as vital to our national safety.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Lord GREENHILL of HARROW
My Lords, I should like to join with others in congratulating the noble Lord, Field Marshal Lord Carver, on his maiden speech. It was certainly no surprise to me. Few people have served their country more effectively in war and in peace and it is very good to be able to share his wisdom in this House. I should like also to extend my congratulations to the new Foreign Secretary, whose qualities and experience will, I am sure, enhance our reputation and our success in our international dealings. I am glad that he has appointed such a particularly well-qualified team of Ministers to his Department. Some people have said that there are far too many junior Ministers. That is a matter of opinion, but I hope that the size of the new contingent will ensure that Ministers attend not only to the fashionable subjects but apply themselves also to the essential and less glamorous activities which in the past have sometimes been neglected.
While speaking of Ministers, I should like to join with those who have paid a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. I enjoyed working with him in the Foreign Office more than 10 years ago and I was delighted to sit with him in this House and to see how skilfully he handled his responsibilities. My information from 352 inside sources is that he actually reported the proceedings of this House to the former Foreign Secretary.
To return to the present, I hope that the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State, Mr. Hurd, who I believe will be responsible, will pay particular attention to British representation at the United Nations and at the United Nations Committees. Proper representation at important committees can do a great deal to maintain and improve our influence, and I think that there has been justifiable complaint in the past—and particularly about the recent meeting of UNCTAD at Manila—that our ministerial representation has been inadequate. The new Minister should, in my view, do a good deal of travelling. Rightly or wrongly, ministerial visits have become an integral part of modern diplomacy and the so-called "Socialist" countries and our friends have both made much more of this tool than we have, to our detriment. Now there is a chance for us to repair this damage without the risk of the travelling Minister being suddenly recalled to take part in a division in the other place, which offends and mystifies the host country.
Our reputation abroad is in my experience at a very low ebb and there is an important job for Ministers to do by selective visits. There is no risk, I am sure, of the new Government instituting some further inquiry into the working of the Foreign Office, but now that the question of Civil Service staff reductions has arisen I hope that the Foreign Office will be given credit for its past good discipline compared to other less conscientious departments.
It is inevitable that Rhodesia should occupy a central part of this debate. It is an immediate problem facing the Government and it is the one by which they will be quickly judged both at home and abroad. There was a time when I had some special knowledge of it; this is no longer so and I am content to accept the view of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, on the recently conducted election, although I wonder whether a democratic election will be able to be held in Rhodesia for many years to come, whether under United Nations supervision or in any other way. But, given the facts, I think that the recent election met the standards which we require and I shall be very glad to study Lord Boyd's report.
353 There seems to me no risk that the Government will attempt to proceed with recognition in isolation and without proper prudence. There are important questions of international law arising from the mandatory resolution of the Security Council. These must be respected and our treaty obligations must be observed. As for consultation with others, the Secretary of State has made it clear that this will proceed. I remind him that, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, it was pressure from certain members that led Mr. Wilson's Government to make its initial errors on sanctions and which again and again blocked attempts in the 1960s to get a settlement when the possibilities were very near.
As for the EEC and the other industrial countries, I think that we are entitled to expect support from them, since several of these countries have in practice played a perfunctory role in observing sanctions and it is time for them to be franker with us and with the world. I do not see a settlement of the Rhodesian question happening very soon, and I was particularly impressed by what the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, said. I followed his line of argument very closely and agree with it.
My Lords, it is late and there are other points I should have liked to develop. I was very glad to notice that the Secretary of State mentioned Japan. I think that the previous Government somehow neglected their relations with Japan and I hope that the new Government will repair this omission and will work with Japan in both political and economic affairs.
I shall confine myself to just one further point. Looking ahead into the 1980s, we see that our policy and our diplomacy will be much affected by what I believe is called "the pluralist society"—in other terms, the crowding of the world stage with an ever-increasing number of powers whose strengths, political, military, financial and economic, compel attention and demand satisfaction. This is obvious to all, and the trend is irreversible. Speed of communication, growth of education, accessibility of technology, the enhanced value of certain raw materials—all these things contribute to this process.
These developments, of course, have the effect of diminishing the influence of the 354 giant powers, but the existence of many competing countries of generally comparable power brings severe difficulties. They vastly complicate the conduct of international relations and create problems which the United Nations machinery has certainly not yet solved. What surely is demanded is a degree of consultation and co-operation between like-minded countries which they have yet to develop. Unless this co-operation is developed, our individual governments will be pushed around and our individual interests will suffer. In the latter part of this decade I think it can be argued that there has been not an increase but a decline in the harmonising of policies even among the Western industrial democracies. Time and time again they have failed to act together in matters of critical interest, and your Lordships will no doubt recall incidents in which that has happened. I know it is much easier said than done and is particularly difficult in times of recession. One of the main contributory causes is, of course, the lack of leadership. Problems can be vastly ameliorated or exacerbated by personalities, and I happen to think that the personality of our new Foreign Secretary will be especially helpful.
Years ago, it seems, in the 1950s, the American State Department had an absolute phobia about what they used to describe as "ganging up". The great diplomatic sin was to "gang up" against someone who threatened your interests. They made exceptions in the case of the Soviet Union but seldom anywhere else. Personally, I think the 1980s ought to be the decade of "ganging up" and the technique of doing so ought to be the first call on our diplomacy. Only in this way can damaging constraints on our policies be avoided. The developing and non-aligned countries are well ahead of us in these techniques. What I am suggesting is not a recipe for confrontation but it means in fact merely maximising one's bargaining power and so ensuring stable and lasting solutions. The United Kingdom can and must play a leading part in this.
This debate has not allowed time to cover the very wide subjects which it ought to have done, and I hope therefore that we may have another opportunity to debate these matters when the Rhodesian question takes up less of our time.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Lord ORR-EWING
My Lords, I think that the last speech only underlines the fact that we have not organised our affairs in this House as well as we might have done. I cannot help feeling that it is not very wise, when there is not a great deal of business coming in front of us, to try to concentrate 40 speeches on matters as wide as foreign affairs, Rhodesia and our whole defence arrangements into a single day's debate. I cannot help feeling that we should have liked to hear the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, and so many other expert speakers at much greater length and in greater detail. I hope that the Front Bench will put this matter right at a fairly early stage.
Understandably, this debate has concentrated much on Rhodesia, because of recent events in that area, and because of the forthcoming Commonwealth Conference. I could not help reflecting what an advantage we have in this House in having a Foreign Secretary who came to this House and first took responsibility when he was 27 years old, has served for a third of a century in various capacities with a brief and very distinguished and successful break of service in Australia, and has come back to serve as our Foreign Secretary. Whatever the make-up of our House, there is great advantage in having some hereditary Peers with experience and expertise, such as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has, and I cannot help feeling that there are very few parliamentary institutions which have effected such success. It is interesting to reflect that he came here when he was 27, he has given 33 years' service to us, and is still under the age of 60, which I believe he reaches next week.
Like others, I had intended to develop all of the matters arising from the Defence White Paper, because we were owed a defence debate when there was an intermission due to the general election. But I have exorcised that from my speech in the interest of brevity. I wish to concentrate on another matter, because it is also of supreme importance to the Free World, for after seven years of negotiation between the USA and the USSR the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty—that is to say, SALT II—is now due to be signed by Mr. Carter and Mr. Brezhnev in three weeks' time. I think that most of 356 us would welcome some kind of agreement, provided that it is reasonably watertight and effective.
I do not know—none of us in this House can know or can influence the position—whether Congress will ratify the treaty in its present form. But it might be asked: Why is this treaty of concern to us? I think that it is of concern to us for two reasons. First, the USSR has been deterred from even greater subversion and aggression in recent years only because of the unity of NATO, where the most powerful link is the USA, and, in the last resort, because of anxiety about nuclear retribution. After all, last year we saw the occupation by the USSR of Afghanistan. We have seen a revolution in Iran, much of it certainly encouraged, if not promoted entirely, by the USSR. We have seen the sponsoring by the USSR of the Cuban invasion of some 11 African countries, armed and carried there, and supplied and serviced, by the Soviet Union.
By barring the front doors alone the Iron Curtain, the Free World has bought time, but has surely allowed the Soviets to spread their Communist doctrine into much of Africa, into Indo-China and the States around Indo-China and, more recently, into the Middle East. Britain therefore has a vital interest and will have a greater interest still in SALT III, when this comes to be discussed and drawn up, for it is SALT II which concerns the transatlantic strategic arms, and SALT III will concern the Euro strategic weapons.
I think that two questions emerge. First, is SALT II verifiable and is it phrased in hard, accurate and easily defined terms? Secondly, will the USSR cheat and, if so, will the President of the United States take early action before the Standing Consultative Commission, which is made up of a US Commissioner and a Soviet Commissioner, to draw attention to any transgressions which arise? I will go on to show that there have been many transgressions—they may be minor but they are important—in the last five years by the Soviet Union against SALT I. I was not comforted by the fact—nor would your Lordships have been—that only 48 hours ago the President stated that there had been no transgressions by the Soviet Union against SALT I.
357 I ask whether SALT II is verifiable. I would say that it is partially verifiable. Russia will have to open her frontiers—and that she will probably never do—if we are to be certain that every detail has been properly obeyed. As missiles become more and more sophisticated, it becomes more and more difficult to ascertain whether Russia is keeping to the exact terms of the treaty. It has become even more difficult since the North Iran sites, which played an important part, are no longer available to the Free World for monitoring this treaty.
The treaty limits the number of nuclear warheads which are packed into the nose of a missile, but how can we be sure of the number which are packed in? This is not verifiable, either by satellite or by any other means. Too often the wording of these treaties is woolly. In the rush to obtain agreement the words are left woolly, perhaps for political purposes, and the two sides interpret the words in different ways.
One thing that the NATO nations and Britain in particular want to make clear is the right of the United States to transfer technology to its allies, and at the moment this is not clear in the SALT discussions. In particular, we want the transference of knowledge about the cruise missiles. These have a range of nearly 3,000 miles, so they are strategic rather than tactical missiles, and they have multi-nuclear heads. Can we be sure that this can be looked after in SALT III?
The second question which I put is whether Russia will cheat. I think that it would be unrealistic if we answered by saying anything but, Yes, so long as she can get away with it. Russia has cheated on SALT I, as I shall go on to show. She has cheated over Helsinki. How many of the terms drawn up and signed at Helsinki have been honoured? What has happened about the exchange of political prisoners, or about the liberty to leave Russia if one wants to do so? And what about the exchange of newspapers in our two countries? A host of other agreements have not been abided by. I think that Russia will cheat and that she will cheat again, unless she is most carefully watched.
SALT I was signed in 1972. In 1973–74, right up to 1977. Aviation Week and other 358 United States journals published details of alleged violations of SALT I. These are summarised in Aviation Week—which is published by Bob Hotz, an outstanding contributor to the Free World's knowledge of aerospace—dated 6th March 1978. At least seven violations of SALT I are listed. The information is also published in greater depth in State Department Document No. 7. It is called SALT I Compliance, and dated 21st February 1978. It is surprising, by virtue of those publications and that acknowledgement of cheating, that the President should have been so misinformed as to say that this had never happened. One there-fore must begin to think that political considerations are overcoming the strategic considerations which are wrapped up in this treaty.
There is joint United States and USSR representation on the Standing Consultative Commission. If a matter was referred to them after it had been published, there was often a delay of one year, or even one and a half years, before the United States Government raised queries with that Commission. After raising them, the Soviets would often go on cheating for a few months and then stop. Sometimes they would deny the allegations and sometimes they would have a counter-claim. But do not let the Free World lightly consider that everything is settled because we have signed a treaty. We have signed a treaty with a closed economy which will not allow inspection, which makes it more difficult to find out what is going on. Do not let us take any comfort from that source.
I believe, incidentally, that the USA Government have never taken a single issue to that Commission which has not beforehand been published in one of the American journals. How can the Free World know exactly what is happening? The minutes of the Standing Commission are, by its terms of reference, completely secret. Clearly the USSR does not want publicity for its transgressions. Of course, one can understand that. If you are posing as a great peace lover, despite what has happened in all parts of the world, and despite the May Day processions through Red Square, you do not want to be caught cheating on arms. During the seven years of negotiation of SALT I the United Kingdom, West Germany and other NATO countries and 359 other allies have made strong representations and yet there are no signs that the anxieties expressed in those representations have ever borne fruit in the terms that we know of in SALT II.
So I would urge the noble Lord our Foreign Secretary to probe deeply with his right honourable friend the Minister of Defence and to urge the USA to be robust in monitoring these undertakings in the interests of the Free World. Will he ask them to be robust, too, in putting the safety of the Free World, which they lead and on which so much depends, above the short-term political ends, and to take every opportunity of exposing the USSR, whenever and wherever they cheat.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ The Earl of LAUDERDALE
My Lords, like other noble Lords I join in paying a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Carver, on his limpid lucidity, his beautiful logic and his marvelously balanced judgment, to further instalments of all three of which we shall look forward as time proceeds. We shall do so with pleasurable anticipation. Again, like other noble Lords, I must join my good wishes to a great personal favourite of this House, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on elevation to his present office. I do not think he will take it amiss from me when he reads it in Hansard, since he is not here at the moment, if I say that we all know that in his heart of hearts he is really a Whig. That may account for a subtle if not necessarily a malign slippage from the unqualified promise of the Tory Manifesto which said that the Government will have a duty to return Rhodesia to a state of legality, to move to lift sanctions and to do its utmost to ensure that the new independent State gains international recognition. From that unqualified undertaking we now have one hedged about with qualifications about consulting the Commonwealth, and so on, and indeed now it is our objective rather than our duty to achieve a return to legality—not indeed ourselves to "bring about" a return, but with others to "achieve" a return to legality, in conditions that attract international recognition.
On the matter of consulting the Commonwealth, I must echo the anxiety expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Paget, when he asked whether it is 360 prudent that Her Majesty the Queen should visit Lusaka. There Mr. Nkomo's forces are at least as strong as, if not stronger than, those of the Zambian Government; I wonder whether the same anxiety should not also be expressed about the Queen's project to visit Botswana.
At any rate I hope that my noble friend will beware of a good deal of African bombast which is already going around. There have been rumblings from the Commonwealth but Nigeria did not even send observers. Kenya did send observers, which is overlooked by many people—and Kenya has not rumbled at all. Botswana and Malawi, who know a great deal about the situation, have both been silent and abstainers from these rumblings, and of course Uganda is silent also. When we hear the boasting by Nkomo that, "We can impose our own sanctions", let us remind ourselves that he and Mugabe said that they would disrupt the elections and failed singly to do so. And when we learn of the Libyan threat to train 2,000 terrorists, let us remember also that Libya got her fingers badly burned in Uganda in her endeavours to support General Amin. So do not let us be overwhelmed by what I would call the bombast, some of it from some countries of the Commonwealth, and do not let us overrate the situation in regard to Nkomo and Mugabe themselves. Would we not be rather distressed if the Americans told us we had got to talk with the IRA? Here is an analogy which we should take to heart.
It is always a pleasure to hear the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. Many tributes have been paid to him today and I must add mine. He is ever courteous, never lacking in humour, sometimes even informative. He has said today that we must beware of African opinion. The last time he and I had an exchange on this subject across the floor of the House he defined African opinion in effect as that of the Organisation for African Unity. But he was not able to tell me then, what I have since learned, that only four or five of the OAU States have any kind of democratic Government which would have the sort of claim on our attention that has the new Government of Rhodesia.
The insurgency must be seen in perspective. The scale of terrorist losses is 361 truly formidable. More than two and a half thousand of them were killed last year and more than 1,100 more in the first three months of this year. More than 2,000 came "on side "—that is, surrendered—before the elections took place. When I interviewed several of them they said they came on side because "one man one vote" had now been obtained. With some 12,000 terrorists supposed to be in Rhodesia in the months leading up to the election only one" incident" of any kind—which can include blowing up a tractor—occurred for every four terrorists in four months. Four-fifths of them were and are inactive; some have actually been encouraging people to vote.
Those are aspects of the picture which came to my attention when I visited recently as a guest of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society. I am not a member of it, but being invited I felt that one ought to take the opportunity to go. As an old newspaper correspondent I am fairly familiar with going to a completely strange country and fairly soon finding one or two fixes in the situation whereby one judges and dissects the official propaganda. I applied the old newspaper techniques in aid of my researches while I was there.
Perhaps I should just say that I think the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, is a brave man. I do not agree with very much he has said or written, but to be the odd man out when the opinion so widely expressed by so many observers is almost unanimous does require courage. I hope he will accept that I mean that, although I did interrupt him earlier and I hope he did not take it too much to heart.
We are told that the electorate was cowed and indoctrinated. Well, as an old newspaper-trained observer I say this: There was a choice of at least four parties, and in one part of the country five. When people come singing and dancing to the polls that is not because they are frightened. There was full freedom to spoil the ballot paper and at the count I attended I only saw two or three. It is worth mentioning that the Roman Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, which is by no means sympathetic to the régime, by no means whatever, has expressed to me the view that it considers that the elections were fair and free.
362 I believe there were three motives at work among the voters. Most of them did not want to miss out on this Western big juju. It seemed a pity to miss whatever it was. Then there was a vote for peace; finally there was a vote from frustration: they said: "This at least is something we can do to stop the rot". But, there are issues here which are far wider and I believe more serious than those of mere politics, and those issues I hope will command the sympathy of all quarters of the House. I refer to simple considerations of humanity. Those dictate the early lifting of sanctions. The fertile soil for the disenchanted, uprooted, frustrated and aspiring young who are so readily recruited into the "mujibas" as they are called, is indeed unemployment, rising expectations, and frustrated restlessness of those with a tribal background and a more or less peasant economy confronted with the industrial society's wealth and the opportunity that, at the same time, it is felt it denies them.
It is urgent—indeed, it is very urgent—on grounds of humanity alone that certain critical requirements are met now. There needs to be a crash programme to re-open 80 per cent. of the senior schools which had been closed by the insurgency; and a crash programme to resume and extend vocational training for young men who have been away. They have had their fun and run with the guerrillas and now they might well be induced to settle down if they had the opportunity to be taught a craft. The same is true of the need for a crash programme to give access to A-levels and therefore to an eventual share in the top administration. Finally, to make all those things possible, there is an urgent need for the inflow of capital to expand the economy, to develop the mineral resources, to pursue reconstruction and—this has been mentioned by others—to encourage the white population to stay. There are, of course, strategic overtones in the whole issue which it would be tedious now to go into. However, perhaps it is worth drawing attention to the words of Mr. Andrew Young who said:Of a dozen raw materials that our society depends on to keep its technology going, about eight are found predominantly in Rhodesia, Namibia, Botswana, Angola—right there in that middle belt of Africa".That is worth hearing in mind as well, of course, as the simple fact of Simonstown and the Cape route.
363 I had never been to Rhodesia before and because I had never been there I have never tried to make a speech on the subject. But, having had a quick look, instead of writing a two or one volume book I have to make this speech tonight. As an old newspaper man I have the impression that this is a watershed in Southern Africa, and that delay could mean disillusion and loss of dynamic. I am reminded of Walter Savage Landor who wrote:We talk on principle, but we act on interest".I believe that both on account of principle and on account of interest we should urge the Government to stand by their unqualified election Manifesto pledge and accept that they have a duty to return Rhodesia to a state of legality and move to lift sanctions as soon as possible.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, I think that this debate has proved two things: first, that although foreign affairs and defence are related, we need separate days to discuss them and, secondly, that when noble Lords put down their names to speak, they should indicate their subject so that we might have some sequence in the debate. I apologise to the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, that I shall not be following him, but that is an indication how the debate is spoilt because there is not sequence in the discussions.
I propose, though necessarily telegraphically, to discuss the prospects of détente, disarmament and peace in the world. I shall be asking the Government some questions, of some of which I have given notice. During the election I said that my greatest fear of a Conservative Government would be their effect on détente, disarmament and peace. I was a little reassured by the thought that Conservative Governments are always less reactionary in office than they are in opposition and that, to my regret, Labour Governments are always less socialist in office than they are in opposition. However, as I have looked at the gracious Speech, my fears have been renewed. There is no reference whatever in the gracious Speech to the great opportunities which now exist for disarmament in the world. There is only one platitudinous sentence which refers to the peaceful solution of disputes.
364 In the world today there are two threats of major wars. There have been local wars. I have counted 47 cases of hostility between nations or within nations since the last world war. But the two major threats are between China and the Soviet Union, and the confrontation between the Soviet Union and its allies and the West. I think one can say tonight that there are signs of hope in both these cases. China has offered negotiations to the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union has promptly agreed. Therefore, my first question to Her Majesty's Government concerns the following. I hope that they can give us an assurance that they will do their utmost to encourage a settlement between China and the Soviet Union.
Similarly, in the confrontation between East and West there are hopeful signs. There has just been the visit of the French President to Moscow, where the Soviet Union and France agreed:To co-operate in a programme for détente and disarmament".There is the enormously important SALT II agreement, which will limit missiles in inter-continental space. Despite the decision in the Senate of the United States of America, I hope that there will be no doubt that SALT II will be signed. If it is not, the effect upon the possibilities of détente in the world would be great; we should plunge again into the cold war. I welcome the fact that Her Majesty's Government have welcomed SALT II, and I hope that they will do everything to mobilise the countries of Western Europe to bring, pressure for its signature.
There has been some unease among the member States of NATO about SALT II because it does not deal with the threats of the Soviet weapons, SS20 and the Backfire Bomber. However, SALT III will deal with those weapons, which are effective within Europe and which are not inter-continental. I want to urge tonight that nothing should be done to escalate the missile conflict within Europe before SALT III meets and comes to conclusions. I hope very much that the Soviet Union will respond to the German Chancellor's appeal that in return for Western encouragement of SALT II the Soviet will apply limitations to SS20 and the Backfire Bomber.
But we must also show restraint. Recently there has been a visit to this 365 country of the West German Chancellor, and he has met our Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher. There are reports in the Press that at that meeting our Prime Minister agreed to accept in this country the cruise missile. Western Germany has said that it will not provide sites unless other countries do so. I hope those reports are not true. I hope we can have an assurance from the Government tonight that they are not true.
The question of the possible siting of a new missile in this country makes relevant the fact that we already have missiles here, the Polaris submarines. I welcome the fact that in the Labour Party Manifesto in the recent election these words were used:In 1974 we renounced any intention of moving towards the production of a new generation of nuclear weapons, or a successor to the Polaris nuclear force. We reiterate our belief that this is the best course for Britain".In the early 1990s the Polaris submarine will become obsolete. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will fulfil that hope voiced by the Labour Party that no successor to the Polaris nuclear force should be implemented.
§ Lord ORR-EWING
My Lords, would the noble Lord consider trying to make the same appeal to the USSR, which is building missile submarines, one every five weeks at the moment? Is it wrong for us to build any more and right for the USSR to do it?
§ Lord BROCKWAY
Certainly, and I have often done so. In view of the vast superiority of the Soviet Union and of the United States of America, the existence in this country of nuclear weapons is just trivial in any war situation. In addition, it is a threat to all our people. If war occurred and we had these nuclear weapons, Great Britain would be one of the first targets for the Soviet Union to attack, and 12 Soviet missiles could destroy the whole of our population. I want to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will agree not to proceed with further missiles in this country before SALT III has been able to discuss this problem.
There is even an opportunity before the SALT III discussions. There are the 366 talks in Vienna, which have been bogged down. But the Warsaw Pact has now called for a conference this year of European countries, and of the United States and Canada as members of NATO, to agree on ways of reducing military confrontation. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have responded to that appeal from the United Nations Secretary-General and, if so, what the response has been.
I want to pass on from that to much greater opportunities. We have had during the past year the Special Assembly of the United Nations on Disarmament, at which the leaders of every country in the world declared in favour of large steps towards disarmament. I want particularly to draw attention to the terms of reference which that Special Assembly suggested for the committee in Geneva which is to implement its discussions. The Assembly proposed to the Geneva Committee as terms of reference:Abolish all armed forces, except for internal security and United Nations peace-keeping force".That is a tremendous proposal. Are our Government in favour of it?
To the committee at Geneva the British Government made a series of radical proposals. I want to congratulate my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts upon the way he put these forward at the Assembly of the United Nations. The first proposal was for negotiations on strategic arms with the objective of reducing, and eventually eliminating, nuclear weapons. The second was a comprehensive test ban treaty with verification. The third was the establishment of nuclear-free zones in the world. The fourth was the prohibition of chemical and radiological weapons. The fifth was a continuing review to prohibit further weapons of mass destruction, and the sixth was for negotiations for limiting conventional weapons.
Those proposals were made not only by our Government, but by 15 Western Governments which supported them. They are now being discussed at Geneva. The United States of America and the Soviet Union have gone even further in their proposals than Great Britain. President Carter has said that he is in favour of a 50 per cent. reduction in nuclear weapons in the world, and he 367 has also said that if SALT III is signed, there should be a reduction to zero. President Brezhnev of the Soviet Union has proposed that there should be destruction of all nuclear weapons and of all weapons of mass destruction, and that there should be a phased advance to complete disarmament. I want to ask the Government whether they endorse the British proposals which are now before the Geneva Committee, and also whether they will support the more radical proposals that are being made.
Once again, one need not wait until conclusions of the review by the committee at Geneva. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Waldheim, has sent a letter to all the member States of the United Nations. He asks all of them for their proposals on a programme of general disarmament. Again, I ask the Government what response they have made to that letter from Dr. Waldheim. It may be a little early for them to have made that response already, and if that is the case, what are their intentions?
My Lords, the Soviet Union has replied. It has replied that its ultimate goal is general and complete disarmament" under strict international control"—and those words are very important. In addition to that ultimate goal, it has said that there must immediately be a ban on all nuclear weapons and on the development of weapons of mass destruction;the guarantee of security to non-nuclear States; the reduction of the military budgets of permanent member States of the Security Council, to be followed by others.
I conclude by asking this. The core of this matter is whether we believe in the sincerity of the Soviet Union and of President Brezhnev. The last Foreign Secretary did. He wrote me a letter saying that he believed that President Brezhnev was as sincere as President Carter. The speeches of our Prime Minister before the election suggested that she did not share that view. If the Government do not share that view as to 368 the sincerity of the Soviet Union in making these disarmament proposals, I suggest that they should call the bluff of the Soviet Union. It has declared itself in favour of these proposals. All right; let it express willingness to attend the conference to implement them. That would be a test of the Soviet Union's sincerity. We now have, not a Utopian, not an idealistic, but a realistic opportunity for disarmament in the world. I hope we shall seize that opportunity.
§ The MARQUESS of LINLITHGOW
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, will he allow me to say this? I, unfortunately, like so many noble Lords, remember well my distress as a much younger man when I heard exactly what the noble Lord has just been saying, but in a different context—in terms of bombing cities, and so on, as opposed to nuclear weapons. I remember exactly the same arguments being produced in 1937, 1938 and 1939 as those that the noble Lord has now put forward. We have been caught once—and we were very nearly caught completely at that time—because we were ready to accept the sincerity of an opponent who in fact had no sincerity whatsoever in terms of his own plans for conquest. Nothing that the noble Lord has said has persuaded me otherwise—and this is the question I should like to ask him. Is the noble Lord aware that Mr. Brezhnev's expression of sincerity may be just as insincere as those of the people who were threatening us in 1938 and 1939?
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, I would say this. The great difference is that now we have all the Governments of the world pressing for disarmament. It is no longer Utopian idealism or romanticism; it is now realism. There has been the Special Assembly of the United Nations, followed by the committee in Geneva which is now working out these problems with practical proposals before it. What I am asking is that our Government should seize this opportunity. If the Soviet Union is insincere, put it to the test.
§ 10.9 p.m.
§ Lord HANKEY
My Lords, I was constantly at the first disarmament conference in the 1930s, but I do not propose to follow the noble Lord in the complicated issues to which he has referred. I should like to start by congratulating my noble friends Lord Carrington and Lord Goronwy-Roberts, with all respect, on the admirable speeches they made today. I think that if we could have our foreign affairs continue to be conducted with realism, commonsense and in a friendly atmosphere of consensus, it really holds out the best hope for this country.
I am worried at the dramatic change in the balance of power which has been taking place in recent years and I think that, while being as short as I can, I must draw attention to what is going on. Iran, obviously, is the latest example which one thinks of. It has a Marxist State, recently seized in a coup d'étât, on the North-East, Afghanistan; it has a more or less Marxist State to the South, Iraq. I do not think that the Iranians are going to get any joy from the Ayatollah Khomeini. He seems to me to be a remarkable religious bigot. The future seems to be most uncertain. I just wonder what is going to succeed him when the present Government there fails.
I note that Russia will be short of oil, according to all expectations, in the 1980s. This brings me to look at the situation across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly under pressure. Twenty-five per cent. of the known exploitable reserves of oil available to the free world are in Saudi Arabia. On the other side of Saudi Arabia, South Yemen has become the principal Soviet satellite in the area. Our friends there are mostly in concentration camps run, I am told, on the best Nazi lines by East Germans. Aden bears out what appears to be quite a rule: that when the British move out, the Russians tend to move in. They did it in Egypt and, fortunately, the Egyptians got rid of them. They have now moved into Ethiopia and, with Aden and the port of Massawa, they have control of the Red Sea, which is the umbilical cord of the British Commonwealth.
I am sorry to say this, but I think we have been very remiss in withdrawing 370 from East of Suez for reasons with which I could never agree. We have to consider how to rectify the errors which have been made over the last 15 years. I recall that the naval mission to India is Soviet-run; about half the Indian Navy consists of Soviet ships and the Soviets have a base not far from Madras. Then, I go to Mozambique, now Maputo. I look across the continent to Angola. I notice, as in Ethiopia, that there are Russians and Cubans there. I say to myself: "What is the Organisation for African Unity doing about this? If the British had sent troops to those countries they would have howled to the housetops." There is a dangerous degree of "doublethink" going on in the world and I do not think that we can afford to neglect this. It ought to be shown up. The Organisation for African Unity does not impress me with its real concern for African rights and independence.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to intervene, when he speaks of the presence of Russians and Cubans in Angola, is he aware that it has been established by the Americans themselves that there were no Russians and no Cubans in Angola until the country was invaded by the South Africans?
§ Lord HANKEY
My Lords, I think that that is burking the issue. There is no use in putting one's head in the sand. I am interested in what is happening and in what is going to happen. I do not think it was the fault of the South Africans that the Cubans came in. I am astonished that the British and the Americans and the other European Powers allowed Cubans to be moved into that part of Africa. If the Americans or the British had done it, half the world would have shrieked in protest—and the noble Lord would have done the same, and perhaps he would have been right. We must not have "double-think" in these matters.
§ Lord AVEBURY
My Lords, would the noble Lord also criticise the French for their involvement in some of the countries in Africa? Is he saying that it is not right for independent countries in Africa to invite in foreign help from whatever source they think fit?
§ Lord HANKEY
My Lords, the process of foreign Powers getting themselves invited into Africa is a dangerous one. I do not think that, having set these countries free, we want them to become the pawns of other Powers. I think it is a dangerous process and I think that we should resist it. I recall in Mozambique, or Maputo, they gave every assurance to the Portuguese that when Frelimo took power they would be able to stay there. When Frelimo had taken power, the first thing they did was to throw all the Portuguese out without a penny. Exactly what happened in Angola I do not know; but I think it was something similar. If one visits Portugal, as I have done, one will see masses of people who have suffered these misfortunes.
§ Baroness LLEWELYN-DAVIES of HASTOE
My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord knows that the Portuguese have been invited back to Mozambique, Maputo being the capital of Mozambique, but not many of them have yet gone.
§ Lord HANKEY
I do not think many have gone, and one of the reasons is they do not want to live in a Marxist State. This brings me to oil. I mentioned the oil in Saudi Arabia. Iran has one-tenth of world production. If anything happened to Iran to reduce the availability of Iranian oil permanently, it would be extremely serious for the Western world. However, I am thinking today principally of the communication lines by which the oil has to reach the Western Powers. I recall that over 40 per cent. of the oil used by the industries and the armed forces of the NATO countries has to come round the Cape of Good Hope and through the Indian Ocean. Oil was the Achilles heel of Germany in the last war and I think that it is probably NATO's Achilles heel now.
I make no apology for drawing attention to this because it is not inevitable that the next war is going to depend entirely on nuclear weapons. I think it will in fact do so, but it is quite possible that we would be so damaged by economic pressure of this sort that we would find it very hard to resist Russian pressure in some sphere or other where our vital interests are concerned. This is a major danger. Therefore it is essential on the 372 broader strategic and political grounds that we should retain control of these maritime communications. I hope that we shall send forces back East of Suez as soon as we have some forces to send there. I do not suppose at the moment we have many.
It was a real act of betrayal of our national interests when we withdrew the Navy from Simonstown. If ever the Soviets got into Simonstown the balance of power would really change in an alarming manner. There is no question of that of course at the moment; but one has to look to the future. I look more to the future than to the past, and it is high time that we began to busy ourselves with these issues.
There are issues other than human rights which ought to be looked at in connection with Southern Africa, although I am afraid that Mr. Andrew Young does not seem to see them. It is not just a matter of oil. As one noble Lord has already mentioned, there are a great many economic sources in central and Southern Africa which are essential for our industries and for the employment of our people. I recall that all through sanctions the United States has continued to buy Rhodesian chrome. That is a remarkable fact. There are many products besides chrome which we need from this area. This means that we need those industries to continue functioning efficiently.
This brings me to Rhodesia. I warmly agreed with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. I thought he put the issues just right, but I am not going to needle him on this subject. If I mention Rhodesia, it is to comment on some of the things which have been said in our debate. First of all, may I say how remarkable is the number of observers who have been to Rhodesia and seen the elections, who are Members of this House. The noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale (he is not in his place at the moment) is a most experienced observer. I have seen him on the job in many foreign countries, and his testimony is always worth hearing. He is a man of great judgment and ingenuity in collecting information. I am sure that the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, whose views we respect so greatly, will give us a most 373 interesting report and I also hope that it will be coming out soon.
I do not want to add to the length of this debate, but I must say briefly that I personally think sanctions should be removed as soon as possible. I do not sec what other occasion there will be to remove them, and the longer we wait the harder it will be to do and the more controversy we are likely to arouse. I do not think it is very sensible to say that we do not like the constitution or that there are too many whites in the Government. Rhodesia has voted by a large majority in favour of the present set-up. They have been able to choose between a number of different parties. It is not true that Mugabe and Nkomo were excluded. They were invited to come in and did not do so. They both declared war on the election but were prevented from doing so and have been thoroughly and deservedly humiliated. I do not think that we ought to be bamboozled into paying a great deal more attention to those people. They are not our friends. They are under Soviet influence and control. Mr. Cledwyn Hughes, whose views I greatly respect, went to Rhodesia not long ago and reported back that there was no chance of any alternative agreement. I am sure that is the position today.
The longer we keep sanctions going, the longer we give hope to Messrs. Nkomo and Mugabe that if they only keep on fighting and get some more Russian arms and money they will be able to make more trouble. Therefore, I think that we would be wiser, as soon as we have completed the consultations now going on, to take action as quickly as we reasonably can. I think that as we initiated sanctions and asked other people to do so, we should take the lead in removing them, which we are entitled to do.
I think one is entitled to consider what are the motives of those who want sanctions to continue. I am slightly surprised at the American attitude but I believe, as so often happens, that they are thinking of internal American politics. These are very important to them. The President wants to be re-elected next year and I am sure he is thinking of black votes. This is not a consideration which 374 ought to carry much weight with our own Government, though naturally we like to keep close to our American allies.
The African States, especially the Marxist ones, probably do not want any white men or any Europeans to continue to have any position in Rhodesia. Certainly the Marxist ones do not: they always want to exclude the Anglo-Saxons and their friends. So I have three comments on this. First, the presence of the Europeans in the Government was approved in the election. So far as I am concerned, it is now a democratic reality and I do not see any further reason to question it. Secondly, the Europeans are certainly essential during a transitional period, if Rhodesia is not to disintegrate before the new Government has gained experience. We have to consider: Do we want this Government to disintegrate or not? If we do, get rid of the Europeans and continue sanctions and it will disintegrate sooner or later. All Governments make mistakes after a time and they are sure to get into a mess, but, in my opinion, they will get into less of a mess if people of the experience of Mr. Smith and his colleagues remain and co-operate honestly with Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues.
Thirdly, the continuance of a successful multiracial Government in Salisbury is very important in South Africa. If there is chaos in Rhodesia and the whole thing breaks down, it will minister to a Maginot Line mentality in South Africa. They will dig themselves in, they will totally resist the outside world and they will give up all the nascent tendencies of liberalisation which we now see. I repeat the word "nascent". I do not want to exaggerate. On the other hand, if we have a real régime of multiracial harmony in Rhodesia, approved by the removal of sanctions and recognized even just de facto by the sending of representatives from this country and other countries, this will encourage the moderate people in South Africa to press their case inside that country.
So I earnestly hope that we shall not try again to get Nkomo, Mugabe and their Marxists into the new régime in Salisbury. It has been disastrous all over Europe to have the Marxists in the Government. I was intimately mixed up with the Yalta agreement and Poland. 375 The Marxists faked the elections, they threw everybody else out of the Government and it was a terrible state of affairs. I have lived through another Communist revolution in Hungary. We saw what happened in Czechoslovakia. But I do not want to go back so far. You have only to look at what has happened in Vietnam, quite recently, and in Mozambique and Angola. It is not a very desirable state of affairs.
We must learn by experience. There is no good to be obtained by getting those people back into Rhodesia, unless they go back in a sensible frame of mind. Continued sanctions merely encourage the African States to hope that they can "down" the new democratic régime in Salisbury, and therefore that makes the problem worse. Consequently, I urge that as soon as we reasonably can we ought to get rid of sanctions. I do not see what other occasion we can expect to find as good as the present one. If the great experiment in Salisbury fails, and if the Europeans leave in the end, the Cubans and Russians are bound to move in. I do not think that the black population of Rhodesia is in a position to run the great industries, the power schemes, the mines and so on, with any reasonable efficiency. I do not see that they would have any alternative. They would get the Cubans and the Russians to go and help and that would be a disaster. I am very willing to leave this to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and I shall look with great interest to see how, with his well-known wisdom, he settles these problems.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Lord CHALFONT
My Lords, I should dearly have liked to follow the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and to test some of his rather cosy assumptions about the desire of the world powers for disarmament. Like the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, I attended disarmament con-Jerences, in my case for six often weary and frustrating years, and I can only say that this desire for universal disarmament was not, to me at any rate, very evident in the attitudes of any of the great powers who took part in those conferences. However, I shall not follow the noble Lord. I have another subject upon which I should like to speak. But 376 perhaps before I do so I may be allowed to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on his assumption of his great office. He has had many compliments paid to him today, all of them deserved. My own contribution will simply be to say that I can think of no-one in either of the great political parties in this country, or even outside them, who will discharge the great office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with such a potent combination of toughness, elegance and intellectual distinction.
May I also add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Carver, on a notable maiden speech. Lord Carver is what his friend and mine, the late Captain Liddell Hart, would have called an educated soldier. The clarity of his expression this evening and the maintenance of his objective throughout his speech is what one would have expected from a soldier of such immense distinction, and I hope that we shall hear from him very often in your Lordships' House.
May I make one other brief point in passing which has been made before. It is, without elaboration, that I hope that in future we shall be able on these occasions to have separate debates for defence affairs and foreign affairs. I know that this has been said often, so I shall not dwell upon it.
The present Government are likely to be responsible for the foreign and defence policies of this country for most, if not all, of the 1980s. It will be a precarious and dangerous decade. It is the period which, in my view, will almost certainly determine whether we shall reach the end of this century without a third world war.
It is tempting to reach for the broad brush and to talk about such things as relationships with China, the emerging super-Power of the 1980s, and about Rhodesia, of which we have heard a great deal this evening. One might even wish to talk about British policies in Latin America, an area which seems to have been treated somewhat equivocally by the previous Administration. Incidentally, I know that on this particular subject your Lordships are to hear later from the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, who, as chairman of Canning 377 House, has done so much to promote political and cultural relations with some of the more important Latin American republics.
However, in the comparatively short time during which it is proper for a Back-Bench Member of your Lordships' House to speak in this debate, I want to concentrate on a subject which I believe, without exaggeration, to be the most important single foreign policy issue facing the new Government; namely, the proposed agreement on nuclear weapons between the United States and the Soviet Union—the draft Treaty, usually referred to as SALT II, upon which the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, has already spoken so eloquently this evening.
I was interested, and perhaps I should say a little disturbed, to hear the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, say in the course of his most impressive and encouraging speech that Her Majesty's Government look forward to the early signature and ratification of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, in a characteristically elegant and lucid speech, welcomed what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, had said. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, was even more fulsome in his welcome of this statement.
I am sorry to strike a discordant note in this chorus of welcome for SALT II. My own welcome for it is, I am afraid, less cordial, and I believe that the more familiar one becomes with the provisions of this treaty the less welcome it may seem. Therefore, I should like to spend the few minutes which I have this evening just saying briefly what this agreement is, why I believe it to be a defective agreement—and, in some ways, even a dangerous one—why I think that those dangers are of enormous importance not only to the Americans and to the Russians but to every single one of us and, finally, what I think Her Majesty's Government should be doing about it.
First, what is SALT II? In its present form, the form in which, substantially, it will be signed by Mr. Carter and Mr. Brezhnev, if it is signed, it is a treaty, a protocol and a statement of principles. It is very complicated, very technical, very long, but its principal and main effect is to place a limit on the number of 378 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles; that is to say, on the number of missiles and heavy bombers which may be held by the Soviet Union and the United States. It also, incidentally, places certain limits on the number of nuclear warheads which may be carried in those delivery vehicles. There are many other provisions in this treaty, some of them very abstruse, very technical, concerning such things as the testing of missiles and warheads and the transfer of technology to third countries; but basically SALT II is, as I have said, a treaty limiting the total number of nuclear missiles and bombers in the Soviet Union and the United States.
What, your Lordships may well ask, can possibly be wrong with that? Let us get one thing straight first. This is not a measure of disarmament. In fact—and this may come as a surprise to some of your Lordships—it will permit both sides to have more nuclear weapons than they have at the moment. Just to put this into perspective let me give your Lordships one set of figures—only one this evening, I promise. If we take only one category of weapons, that is to say inter-continental missiles without multiple warheads, intercontinental missiles with one warhead each, and if we take 1985 as a reference point, by that time the United States will be entitled, even under the provisions of SALT II, to have weapons with a total yield of up to 1,000 megatons; that is to say the equivalent of 1,000 million tons of explosive. The Soviet Union will be entitled to have 6,000 megatons—6,000 million tons of explosive—and that, my Lords, takes no account of possible stockpiles of more than 1,500 multiple warheads on the American side and 6,000 multiple warheads on the Russian side. So can we at least dispose of one fallacy in this argument, that this is a treaty which limits strategic nuclear weapons. It does not; it allows them in fact to grow between now and 1985.
The next point concerns the balance of power in that growth. Your Lordships may have noticed in the figures which I have just mentioned a slight disparity in favour of the Soviet Union—in fact more than a slight disparity. Here I follow something that the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, was saying: this disparity could be tilted even further against the West if the Soviet Union were to cheat 379 and secretly contravene the provisions of the treaty; for example, in such a thing as the number of warheads allowed in each missile. I do not suggest that the Russians will cheat, although from what the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, has said about violations of SALT I, the first part of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty does not fill one with a great deal of confidence. But I do not say that they will cheat. All I do say is that if they did cheat there is no way under SALT II of detecting the fact that they are cheating. There is no provision in this treaty for international inspection or verification, and I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, who unfortunately is not in his seat at the moment, placed great emphasis on the need, in a comprehensive test ban treaty, for international inspection. Then why not in a treaty of the importance of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty?
Perhaps I should say—because this will come out over and over again in this debate, which will become more and more intense, especially in the United States—there is no certain way, even with all the modern means of satellite photography and electronic surveillance, of calculating the range of a cruise missile, for example. There is no way of calculating the number of warheads in a single launcher. There is no way of determining whether a given missile carries a nuclear warhead or a conventional warhead. There is no way of doing that without international inspection, and there is no provision for it in this treaty. During my experience in Geneva, in Moscow, in Washington and in New York in the 1960s I became convinced of the truth of one of the basic axioms of arms control and disarmament negotiations. I am convinced of it now. It is that an agreement which cannot be effectively verified may well be more dangerous than having no agreement at all.
This combination of imbalance between the two sides and lack of verification in the treaty has already led many responsible American observers to conclude that in the worst possible case, if all went wrong, the Soviet Union might in the 1980s achieve a high degree of nuclear superiority, indeed that they might be able to destroy a large proportion of the American land-based missile force using relatively few of their own nuclear weapons. We must add to that the fact—this is perhaps 380 most significant of all to us in Western Europe—that SALT II, as the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has already conceded, deals only with those Russian weapons which can reach the United States of America; it does not deal with the Backfire bomber or the SS20 missile, both of which can be used to deliver nuclear weapons of immense power on targets in Western Europe and in this country; they are totally unaffected by SALT II. It is all very well for the noble Lord, Lord Brockway (I am sorry to refer to his speech continually when he is not present), to say that these matters would be dealt with in SALT III. But, my Lords, the axiom of all international negotiation, especially in arms control, is that each step must guarantee security to both sides. It is no good taking risks in one stage of an arms control negotiation in the interests of some problematical Utopia in the future.
One typical reaction to all this kind of argument—and I understand it well; it is brought about, I think, by an understandable psychological reluctance to face the appalling implications of nuclear war—is to say, "But, surely, no sane person would risk a nuclear war. No political gain could possibly compensate for the massive destruction that would follow, and therefore all this talk of nuclear superiority and strategic superiority has no meaning". This is, in my view, a profoundly dangerous form of mental confusion. If nuclear weapons and the calculation of this kind of balance existed in some kind of vacuum it might be possible to dismiss them in that way. But, my Lords, they do not exist in such a vacuum; they exist in a world in which the Soviet Union—and here the noble Lord, Lord Carver, provided us with his own immediate experience in these matters—has built up a gigantic military machine at all levels, and it is, furthermore, conducting an aggressive and expansionist foreign policy which can be and is being supported by the application of effective military force anywhere in the world.
A focal point of Soviet strategy is, and has been for many years, Western Europe. Let us be clear about this. This does not simply mean that the Russian forces on the northern and central fronts in Europe are in a position to overrun large areas of Western Europe in a surprise attack; although they are able to do that, that is not what is important. It means also— 381 and the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, made reference to this—that by dominating contiguous areas such as the Middle East, the Soviet Union can outflank and isolate Europe from the rest of the world. To dominate the contiguous areas such as the Middle East it has set out to achieve positions of power and influence in such countries as Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq on one side; Yemen, Ethiopia and Southern Africa on the other; and to neutralise Turkey to the north. We can see all that happening before our very eyes. At the same time the Russian leaders are determined to isolate the only world power which seems to understand their strategy—China—by pressures on Pakistan and India, alliances with Vietnam, and by exercising their influence and dominance in North Korea. That is the strategic background against which we must approach the question of nuclear weapons and the SALT agreement. It is not a strategic vacuum: it is a dangerous and precarious strategic situation which affects every single one of us.
The Soviet Union does not want nuclear war; the Soviet Union does not want war at all. It has recognised that it can achieve its aims without firing a single shot, if it can face China and the West with decisive superiority in every aspect of military power. For some time now we have been unable to pose a serious conventional defence against Soviet attack in Europe. We are conventionally inferior. We are unable to meet, at its own level, Soviet military operations anywhere in the world. For example, the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, has mentioned the presence of Cubans in Africa. He said that they were present in 11 African States. My own intelligence is that they are present in 13 African States and that there are 50,000 of them present there and that there is nothing the West can do, or at least has done, about it.
In the past the Soviet Union has been deterred from a more decisive and adventurous attack on Western interests almost entirely by the superiority of the American nuclear striking force. That has implanted in the Russian mind the very strong possibility that, if they go too far, the United States might use its nuclear weapons in defence of the vital interests of the West. That superiority has now disappeared and if present 382 trends continue it might soon give way to a decisive Russian superiority instead. In those circumstances the Soviet Union would be able to pursue its foreign policies totally unhindered and confident that the West would be unable or unwilling to resist it. It seems to me, to say the very least, strange that, faced with that strategic situation, the United States should be contemplating now an arms control agreement which will at best freeze the balance in its present state and, at worst, open the way for the Soviet Union to complete its total military superiority over the West.
Finally, your Lordships may well say that, even if all that is true, there is very little that Her Majesty's Government can do about it. These are, after all, bilateral negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Mr. Carter will sign the treaty whether we like it or not. But that is not the end of the matter. Recent public opinion surveys in America show that when people know the implications of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty they begin to have doubts about it. In the American Senate there is a deep sense of concern among a considerable number of senators with many of whom I have discussed this matter. As your Lordships know, it requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate to ratify President Carter's agreement on the treaty. So, if 34 American senators either reject the treaty or demand its amendment, it will not be ratified. President Carter and his advisers have pointed out that that will damage their credibility, that it will damage relations with the Soviet Union and that it will brand the United States as warmongers. I very much hope that Her Majesty's Government, and especially the noble Lord who is now Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, will look at these propositions with a very cold and calculating eye.
If SALT II is a bad and defective agreement—and the noble Lord must satisfy himself upon that point—it would be dangerous and foolish to ratify it, whatever may be the short-term effects in Washington and Moscow. As the noble Lord has said, we have our own interests to consider, both as an independent nation and as a member of the European Community. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has clear and realistic views about these matters. 383 I can only ask him to ensure that on this very complex, highly technical and abstruse subject, he does not take all his advice either from his own official sources or from the United States Administration. There are many powerful voices in the United States, including those of such distinguished former statesmen and officials as Dr. Kissinger, Mr. Walt Rostow and Mr. Paul Nitze, all of whom are known personally to the noble Lord, who have serious doubts about the wisdom of signing this treaty—at least as long as Soviet foreign policy shows itself hostile and aggressive towards the interests of the West.
There are others who say that even if the treaty is signed and ratified, the United States must take steps to ensure, by the planning of its own future nuclear weapons systems, that the Soviet Union cannot achieve nuclear superiority behind the smokescreen of SALT II. Therefore, I should like to ask the Government—and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, might even be able to answer this when he replies to the debate—to give an assurance that before Her Majesty's Government give any further support, either by word or deed, to the signature and ratification of this treaty, they will seek at first-hand the views of many people on both sides of the Atlantic who believe that SALT II is not in the best interests of the Western Alliance as a whole; and who are convinced that even if it may carry some immediate short-term benefits for the United States Administration, it is certainly not in the best long-term interests of Western Europe or of this country.
Finally, before I sit down, may I say how delighted I was to hear a passage in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—I think it was a throwaway passage, but nevertheless to me a significant and welcome one—in which he said that British interests are British interests whichever party we belong to. I hope that we are now entering an era in which we shall not be afraid to speak openly of British interests and, indeed, to defend them vigorously. If Her Majesty's Government will make that the heart and the driving force of their foreign and defence policies, they will deserve and they will get the support of the great 384 majority, not only of your Lordships' House, but of the people of this country.
§ 10.53 p.m.
§ Lord PLUNKET
My Lords, I must apologise that I shall not be following the last speaker, but I am sure that all noble Lords have been extremely impressed by his lucid exposition of Soviet strategy. I shall be talking about Rhodesia. The remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, were extremely pertinent in the context of Rhodesia. I shall confine my remarks to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Today, we have heard it called Rhodesia, Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. I do not think it matters which we call it; we all know what we are talking about. I shall talk about Rhodesia because I still live there; I have been there for over 20 years. I believe that perhaps the point of view of someone like myself should be brought to the attention of this House.
It is extremely difficult to make a fresh contribution to this debate on the subject of Rhodesia. It is very possible that I shall reiterate some of the remarks of previous speakers and in the short time that this debate will continue—I hope not too long a time—I may take the words out of some other speakers' mouths. However, I believe that that will only serve to strengthen what will be a common point of view. I should like at this stage to say how pleased I am that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is now our Foreign Secretary. He is a person who understands Rhodesia, and he has been out there many times. I can assure him that the appointment is very much welcomed in Rhodesia.
I said a little time before the last election, in common with a lot of other people, that the election was totally irrelevant. I said that because I felt that the proposed constitution left far too much power in the hands of the very people who were committed to minority rule, and this was supposed to be a majority rule constitution. In particular, the Patriotic Front were deliberately excluded from the election. I hear a noble Lord say that they were not, but indeed I must say that at this moment of time their names are not even allowed to be printed in the Press. We may well take the view, however, that they excluded themselves, but that is the position.
385 However, as the election got wound up I became satisfied that in fact a great many blacks did want to vote. As we know from the election, a great many did in fact vote. I felt at the time that there was no point in trying to prevent this election taking place, and there were people at the time who felt, as I had earlier, that it was irrelevant. This was because it was action of some kind, and we had got into a great impasse. The high turn-out in the election was totally unexpected. I would make the point that it was vastly greater than the turn-out before the Commissioners of the Pearce Commission. I mention that because you will recall that when the commissioners made their report they came to the conclusion that the proposals that had been put forward were not acceptable to the people as a whole, but they did that on the advice of a very small proportion of the population.
I am sorry that the report of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, and his six colleagues was not available before this debate for us to look at, but we understand, because it has been said, that the general consensus of opinion of those observers was that it was as free and fair an election as could possibly have been held at the time. In contrast to that, the report of the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, plus one assistant, says that the election was not free and fair. So we must make up our minds about which of those reports we are going to believe and place reliance on. I think that all agreed that there was indeed intimidation by the Government. But how much intimidation? It is claimed by some that 75 per cent. of Rhodesia is now under the control of the Patriotic Front. This is an argument to show that the Patriotic Front have large support. However, people like that cannot have it both ways. How came it that there was indeed then such a large turn-out at this election? The reason is that there was no doubt whatever that people did in fact want to vote.
I want to make another comparison, and that is again going back to the Pearce Commission. Your Lordships may remember that at that time what I then thought were excellent proposals were put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. Those proposals were being sold by the whites to the blacks as proposals that should be accepted. It has been 386 suggested that at the last election some farmers had guns in their hands, but I hope that that accusation will not be made against me.
I felt at the time to which I refer that the proposals should have been accepted, and I arranged for my staff and employees to go into the local village when the commissioners were there to hear evidence. When they returned I asked them how they got on and they said, "We voted as a family", and I was dismayed to hear that they had all voted, "No". That "No" vote was organised by the Bishop. It was not so much a vote against those proposals; it was a vote against the involvement of Mr. Smith in them. Therefore, I feel that it is misleading to try to equate an African election with the type of election that took place nearly three weeks ago in this country. At the time of Pearce the word went out, "Vote No". At the last Rhodesian election the word went out, "Vote", and they have voted. My reading of that vote was that, first, it was a vote for peace—the population are sick and tired of war—and, secondly (and it was second, I think) it was a vote for majority rule. The people are now looking to the so-called Government of national unity for peace, and I feel that it is incredibly important that the British Government should realise this and should take action to ensure that it does not become a Government of disunity.
In the past I have broadly been a supporter of British Government policy since UDI. I was appalled by the folly of UDI. I find RF policy over those years intolerable. The country is nearly ruined economically, and we are in a state of civil war. As your Lordships can imagine, my views are not particularly popular among whites in Rhodesia, and perhaps they are not all that popular among certain blacks, because a gang of ZANLA in fact burnt down my house. But had the RF not been so intractable, there would have been no ZANLA. But past Government policy, I feel, has run out of steam. It has been a chilly and negative approach towards what we always regarded as good black nationalists, simply because they made a deal with Smith. I might remind your Lordships that they were not the only people who have been trying to make deals with Smith.
This negative attitude has, very unfortunately, been taken in Rhodesia as 387 active support for the Patriotic Front. I think it absolutely essential that our new Government in no way are branded in this regard. As many speakers have already said, it is a unique opportunity for a fresh start, now that we have two new Governments.
The only cards which I feel the British Government hold at this moment are recognition—which is sometimes called return to legality—and the removal of sanctions. These cards, I feel, can be used more than once; but, once played, they are gone. But they can, I feel, be kept separately and played independently. At this moment I think it is very important to try to continue the momentum which has followed as a result of the two new Governments—and I shall come back to this point in a moment.
I feel that the Bishop must be encouraged to demonstrate that he is in a position to act independently, and that he can bring peace. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, laid emphasis on the danger of whites leaving in greater numbers—I feel this is what he meant—if Mr. Smith and his supporters are turned out of their present offices. My reading of the situation is that over these past few years, when we have had such heavy guerrilla incursions, what has in fact driven farmers off the land has not been the guerrillas so much as their being unable to farm economically and unable to make themselves a living. It was not terrorism which was [...]driving them out: it was their lack of livelihood, though now that the whites have accepted majority rule, I do not feel that if their power is diminished that will continue the great exodus which is taking place at the moment.
In addition to the Bishop being encouraged to demonstrate how he can act independently of Mr. Smith, I would hope, indeed, that Mr. Smith will very shortly retire. I may tell your Lordships that there is quite a large number of detainees still in Rhodesia; they were not released before this last election, and they are still being detained now. I can even instance one of my own senior staff who I visited in prison. He has been there for some time, and one can appeal to no one—no appeal court or person—in order to have his case reviewed. In addition, there is a very important case now pending in which 388 the judiciary is in conflict with the security forces, who are acting under martial law. I feel it is important that the Bishop should be able to exercise control over those affairs; and if it is seen that he is in fact leading, then, when those conditions obtain, I feel that the time will have come to remove sanctions. What will happen if sanctions are removed? I would say that the Bishop would then be on even terms with the Patriotic Front; he would not be in front of them.
Unfortunately, the fact that we now have a new Government is not going to bring an end to the war, but it is a new situation and it will break the present stalemate with the Patriotic Front. But it is my own feeling that they must be brought into negotiations. In the last election, as your Lordships have heard, Chief Ndemini, who up to a very short time ago no one had even heard of, in fact won nine seats. He is a Matabele. My reading is that, in fact, he received those votes because he was a surrogate for Nkomo.
Whatever form negotiations take, what we do not want is another Geneva. Therefore, I feel that it is up to the black leaders to organise another conference or to handle the negotiations. They must do this themselves. I do not think it is important, or even right, that the British Government should get themselves involved in this. It is a Rhodesian problem and those leaders must sort it out themselves. I think it essential that they sort it out. The noble Lord, Lord Hankey, drew attention to how disruptive Communist parties can be at conferences of this sort. That is why I feel that we must allow the black leaders to sort this out themselves and not ourselves get involved. If the Patriotic Front will not take part, then they are shown up to the world for who they are.
In this two-stage lifting of sanctions and granting legality, I would say of the return to legality that the reason why we are not going to grant it immediately to the Bishop is because it is an extremely complex matter. I recall a meeting addressed by Mr. Luce, myself and a representative of Dr. Owen—a meeting which I think the noble Lord, Lord Carver, attended—where this question of the return to legality was brought up. We were not given a proper answer by Dr. Owen's representative; 389 indeed, we are still waiting. I feel that that is some indication of how complex the subject is.
Lastly, I should like to stress the urgency. I think there is a feeling in the House that because there was this vote and the Bishop got in we can, in fact, wait for two months before we do anything. I believe that this is a totally false impression.
§ Lord PLUNKET
My Lords, I myself was in touch with Salisbury this morning and I was told that the situation there was as bad as it has ever been. I spoke to Mr. Todd today and to another Rhodesian who confirmed this. Part of the reason why there is this feeling that all is going well is because most observers were out during the time when 60,000—I think that was the number—additional whites were drafted into the security forces. They blanketed the guerrilla activities at that particular time. During that time, commercial and industrial life in Rhodesia practically came to a standstill. Therefore, it would be quite impossible for that sort of situation to go on.
It is a by-word that Colonials talk of Britain as "home". I use the word "Colonials" advisedly because I believe that the legal position of Rhodesia is that it is a self-governing Colony, now in a state of rebellion. We cannot allow the rebellion to be superseded by a civil war. The new Government in Rhodesia striving for genuine majority rule is ideologically leaning to the West. I suppose that in a way I have a foot in both camps. As a Rhodesian citizen, I want to see links with Britain re-forged; as a British citizen, I want to see Britain's responsibility honestly discharged. Perhaps I am biased, but I do not think that it would be improper for the British Government to hope that they are now dealing with a future leader of the sovereign independent state of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, a future firm member of the Commonwealth.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Lord NEWALL
My Lords, this evening and, in fact, for most of the day, we have been discussing two enormous subjects, but I hope to be as brief as usually I am. I do not intend to cover a routine world 390 tour to bore your Lordships, as the noble Lord, the Foreign Secretary, mentioned, nor I hope do I fall into the category mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, as a latent or rampant extremist. I want to cover two aspects only, which are both really requests to the Government, neither of which concerns Rhodesia.
About two months ago I visited Cyprus. I was very fortunate to spend two weeks there, one week in each half as a guest of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. I talked to Mr. Kyprianou, and I talked to Mr. Denktash. I saw most of the Ministers on both sides, and Opposition leaders. I visited factories; I saw the Greek Cypriots on the Turkish side, and the Turkish Cypriots on the Greek side. I spent 24 hours in the sovereign bases, where I was thoroughly briefed. My wife visited many of the schools, hospitals and other organisations there.
I could discuss several aspects of the many problems, but I will mention only one overriding impression I had, and that is that the Government let Cyprus down. We let Cyprus down in the 1960s and again in 1974. There was a policy that if things were left alone the problem might disappear. It was a policy of inaction. I was extremely surprised by the warmth of feeling towards this country, but always there was an undercurrent that if more had been done at the time the situation would be a lot better now. There is no doubt that our reticence has caused a lot of hardship, and it is now time to heal the wound that stretches right across the whole Island, small and beautiful, as many of your Lordships will know. Obviously, the recent talks must be very much welcomed, and the 10 point agreement is very encouraging. We hope that the resumed talks on 15th June will be held in a spirit of conciliation and concession.
One of the 10 points which was highlighted concerned Varosha. Having been able to see Varosha from the roof of one of the hotels—and it looks as though a neutron bomb has fallen in this area—if there is some agreement on Varosha, where about 40,000 Greek Cypriots still hope to return, I think it will be a big step forward. It will add a lot of weight to the talks, even if it may take a long time to produce other conclusions. There is a great deal more to be done. 391 The recognised government is Greek Cypriot. It has no influence whatsoever over any of the Turkish Cypriots who suffer, albeit as a result of their leader's policies. They suffer from a trade embargo; from a travel embargo; and they suffer from money and cash problems. There is an enormous lack of charitable benefits which are normally available to many deprived countries. So my plea to the Government is to take some positive steps soon to help the talks to keep on the right lines and to look into the methods of encouraging charities and to look at Northern Cyprus as well as Southern Cyprus. There are many hardships which could be alleviated with some guidance which probably the Foreign Office could give. Even school books are desperately needed in some areas.
There are many wider issues which make some initiative even more urgent. The divided Cyprus itself is only part of the story. The Turkish mainland has many economic problems which, if not resolved, could cause great difficulties. The Greek mainland has many problems, most of them economic. There is a dispute still over the Aegean and it must not be forgotten. Not least, there are the overall needs of NATO in the light of reduction of bases in other areas. In other words, Cyprus has become even more important recently.
From the military point of view, the sovereign bases in Cyprus fulfill a very important role. They provide a bridge between the two sides, employing both Greek and Turkish Cypriots working alongside one another, and they assist the charities in the South. The position of Cyprus has to be seen as an important link in NATO's chain of bases, as I have already mentioned, especially with Iran and other areas denied to us. From the British point of view, Cyprus is a wonderful training area for all three Services, and this aspect alone must save many frustrating and wasted training hours waiting for suitable weather conditions in other areas. The bases are highly efficient and very well organised, with room for some areas of expansion should the need arise. They are highly valuable properties which we nearly gave up under the last Administration.
Finally, I come to the broader concept of our Forces' problems. In discussions 392 with different ranks in our Forces, I have been very much struck by the keenness, the professionalism and the ability of so many of our highly skilled soldiers, sailors and airmen. We all know of their previously inadequate personal rewards, which have now been brought up to a realistic scale by the present Government, but there is still an element of crisis which pay alone, however welcome, will not wholly dispel.
The crisis is one of job satisfaction. We advertise the Forces as "professionals" and we know they are; and then we expect them to prepare for battle with aging vehicles—some even bastardised to keep others running—with out-dated equipment, often vital to their role, and frequently a shortage of spares and equipment. The noble Lord, Lord Carver, brought his own expertise to bear on this subject in his excellent maiden speech—and who am I, as a mere retired captain, to question a field marshal? Surely these professionals need a better deal than this.
The last Government ran down the equipment, with arguments concerning teeth and tail, and they could not see that cutting down the tail would be bound to affect the teeth. So I hope that the Government will respond as fast as possible and look into the other side of the crisis—the crisis of confidence—which is caused mainly by the lack of job satisfaction in many branches of our Forces, in that a lot of equipment needs replacing now. Of course it will be expensive, but it must be done.
Perhaps I should add that the Northern Ireland problem also adds to the crisis by taking so many soldiers away so often—separating husbands and wives and holding so many additional exercises to retrain the soldiers, which again causes additional separation of families. We do need more equipment, more spares, more tanks and many other things far too detailed to go into at this moment. I do urge the Government to look at this aspect with great speed. As for Cyprus, I hope that the apparent lack of interest shown by the previous Government will not be repeated and that some strong initiatives will be taken to relieve the situation, so helping to create a good atmosphere for the new talks which start on 15th June.
§ 11.23 p.m.
§ Lord RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I make no apology, even at this late hour, for trying to repair what has been an omission—there are many of them, of course, in the very complex issues we have been discussing today. Like my right honourable friend the Leader of the Opposition in another place, I had great difficulty in finding the reference to overseas aid in the gracious Speech. It is there all right, all 17 words:My Ministers will have regard to the need for trade with, and aid to, the developing countries "—my Lords, a sotto voce aside, a gesture to the hoi polloi, who just happen to represent two-thirds of our world.
Usually I have no complaints about brevity—I try to practise it myself—as we see it in the book of Genesis:And God said, Let there be light: and there was light".I wish that applied in this case; but actions speak louder than words. Make no mistake, my Lords. The reconversion of the Ministry of Overseas Development into a department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not just an administrative convenience. It is a major act of policy, the meaning and the consequences of which will not be missed in developing countries. This Government have masked the hopeful light of universal enlightenment in a dark lantern of the Foreign Office, to be shuttered and unshuttered as political expediency dictates.
It has happened before under a Conservative Administration, because, of course, the Ministry of Overseas Development had been created in 1964, with my right honourable friend Barbara Castle as Minister in the Cabinet, so that when the Conservatives came in it had to be made a ward of Chancery, where orphans belong. It was taken out of pawn by the Labour Government in 1974, and I assure Members opposite that I do not have to be reminded that it went back into the FO, with Mr. Reg Prentice as Minister of State, in 1975. If I may say so, that was a mistake on both counts. However, the Ministry's autonomy was restored with the appointment of my right honourable friend Judith Hart. Her role won the respect and admiration, not only of people like myself who care about and think we understand the nature of aid, but of her colleagues in the Commonwealth, in the EEC, in the 394 United Nations and its agencies and among the beneficiaries, who are of course the people of the developing world. It was she who steered the new direction of aid, with emphasis on help to the poorest—not only the poorest countries, but the poor in the other developing countries as well. It was she who worked so arduously and so effectively to give meaning and substance to the Lomé Convention, which extended the European Community commitments beyond the associated States to 46 developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, to secure for them the preferences and the advantages of aid.
In the direst days of economic stringency, her Ministry not only maintained but increased its aid budget. It rose in 1978 and 1979 to £714 million and it was intended that that should increase to £926 million by 1983. Do not blench, my Lords. That is still less than our undertaking, with other advanced nations, to reach a target of 0.7 per cent. of the gross national product of the advanced countries to be available for overseas development.
And the increases were very proper, because the OPEC price rises which had complicated our situation, and which are our justification for so many restrictions and restraints, had, in fact, crippled the developing countries. The bitter irony was that those countries which were looking, for example, to the miracle grains—the high-yielding wheat and rice strains—to relieve their food problems were being held to ransom by the oil situation. The high yields needed fertilisers—from oil; they needed pesticides—from oil; they needed herbicides—from oil. Extended cultivation needed tractors, and tractors needed oil. Essential irrigation needed pumping, and pumps needed oil. Those countries needed help. So did the poorest of the poor countries, such as the countries of the Sahel, which were afflicted by drought, and Bangladesh, which was drowned by the floods. So did countries beset by hurricanes and riven by earthquakes. The Ministry established a disaster unit to make contingency provisions and to co-operate with the United Nations Disaster Relief Office.
But there were other means of helping the poorest of the poor. In 1978, the Government previous to this one decided 395 to convert into grants past aid loans incurred by 17 of the poorest countries—retrospective terms adjustment or RTA. This took care of something which I have felt very strongly about and have called "feeding the tapeworm". If one has a tapeworm—I hope that your Lordships have not—it grows on what one eats. One can starve a tapeworm by not eating, but one can die of hunger in the process. Loans are the tapeworms of poor countries. They grow with the debt charges. A country borrows to pay the debt charges and the tapeworm grows again. If it does not borrow, it starves its own development. What this country has done—and all credit to us—is to purge the tapeworm.
If the tortoise-like withdrawal of the Ministry of Overseas Development into the Foreign Office of conventional expediency politics means what I fear it means, aid can again become the pourboire of politics: to try to buy—bribe is the truer word—the favours of those who are prepared to become accommodating and penalise those who are not. We are going to apply absurd labels. We are going to say that those who do not conform to our presently self-evident interests are disqualified, that those who are the poorest of the poor are unimportant.
Be warned, my Lords. Thirty years ago I was in Libya on a United Nations mission. The caretaker government at that time was British, preparing for the handover to King Idris. Apart from the green belt of Tripoli, it was a meaningless desert. Famine was rampant. The desert tribes were being forced into the towns to find food. It was like the Sahel of recent times. We, the British, were the quartermasters, dispensing relief from many countries. We were good quartermasters, but we were doling out relief then to a politically meaningless people. Be warned, my Lords. He who comes as a beggar to your gate may be the Gaddafi who tomorrow may turn up with the bailiffs to foreclose the mortgage. Gaddafi, the desert Bedouin of 30 years ago, the protector of Amin, is the most intransigent, the most mischievous character in OPEC, which holds all the cards in the oil situation.
What I am saying is that you cannot judge by the appearances of the present. 396 You do not know upon whom one day you may depend. In dealing with aid—and I have been dealing with it for 30 years in all parts of the world—you do what is right because it is right. You give help because people need help. You encourage development because people may produce the resources on which our livelihoods may depend, or provide the markets for our trade. It is not charity that we are doling out. We are investing in a future, in a world reduced to a neighbourhood in which we have to get along together.
Remember, above all, that the beggar's thanks is the beggar's curse. People do not want to feel patronised. They want to have and to keep their self-respect. If you expect gratitude, you will be disappointed and you will have a grievance about ingratitude. If you do not expect gratitude, you will be surprised at the gratitude that you will get. That is what the Ministry of Overseas Development, undeterred by political expediency, has shown to be possible. That is what we ought to be aiming for. That is what I hope that the present Government, by again giving the Ministry of Overseas Development its rightful place, will in fact secure. My Lords, you do not barter goodwill in this way by simply treating it as a political issue.
§ 11.34 p.m.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, who has just sat down will excuse me if I do not follow him by dealing with overseas aid. Overseas aid is, of course, a very noble purpose, but I know of instances where overseas aid has not gone into the right pockets. This happens especially in Africa. Instead, I shall change the bowling for three or four minutes and speak about Northern Ireland where I have many roots, which I visit quite frequently and where I have interests. Today's debate is about defence and foreign affairs and I believe that Northern Ireland should be part of it. I shall also speak about Rhodesia for precisely five minutes.
First, Northern Ireland. I should like to welcome, as I am sure all your Lordships would, the right honourable Member for Spelthorne, Mr. Humphrey Atkins, on becoming Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. We all wish him well. He brings 397 a fresh mind to the problem but he will be bombarded with all sorts of conflicting advice. My advice to him is to remember two things. First, that everybody in Ireland, North and South, is heartily fed up with terrorism. I should say that 99 per cent. of the population are absolutely fed up and wish for nothing better than an end to it. The other thing is that what would appear logical to most people and most nations is no certainty in Ireland. We had the power-sharing under Mr. Heath's Government, which was entirely logical. It should have solved the problem, but the IRA and certain loyalists continued the bombings and violence and therefore I can see no point—in fact, I can see a danger—if the new Secretary of State embarks on any new political initiative, as he may be urged to do. Before any new political initiative can be started there must be an end to the violence. The violence will end eventually and then we can have a new initiative.
There is something which I should like to see the Secretary of State do. It cannot be called a political initiative, but I should like him to restore to the local authorities in the North of Ireland those powers which were transferred to Stormont, before the Stormont Government ceased to exist. Of course, there would be dangers from mischievous propaganda, but with proportional representation being practised in local elections, discrimination would not be so easy to practise, especially if we had—as we would—the ultimate power here at Westminster. It would be a beginning and by giving the people of Northern Ireland more control over their own affairs, as in fact is called for in the gracious Speech, there would eventually come about a Government in Northern Ireland, which would take some time, I suppose, but it would be a Government which would be agreeable to all denominations, all creeds, all people, and would have, I am sure, close and friendly ties with the South of Ireland.
I will now change horses and speak for a few minutes on Rhodesia—I nearly said that I shall not be like some noble Lords who have spoken for half an hour. I have spoken on Rhodesia very many times and I have visited quite a few States in Africa. In these elections in Rhodesia we have seen a really remarkable achievement in the democratic process: it is an achievement unparalleled in Africa. Here we 398 have the beginnings of a multiracial society for which everybody has been asking, actually coming to fruition. As we have heard, the Six Principles have been adhered to: some people refer to them as Five Principles, but I thought there were six, although perhaps I am wrong there. We have also heard (apart from the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis) the overwhelming mass of evidence that the elections were carried out fairly. The great majority of foreign observers thought so, including, I understand, about 250 journalists.
I understand, though we have not had the opportunity of reading it yet, that the report of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd, confirms the fairness of the elections. Lord Chitnis appears to be the odd man out. I am quite sure he was sincere in his remarks, but I think I cannot take his arguments seriously, as apparently the only odd man out. He did say, why did not the black population have the opportunity in a referendum to decide on the constitution? Well, how many people in this country understand the constitution? I would hazard a guess that certainly not more than 30 per cent do. If you have any experience of tribal Africa, or even the West Indies, how on earth could many of the people be expected to vote on various constitutions? It would be quite beyond them. It is easy to vote for a leader, but a constitution can be a very complicated matter.
What worries me is that the Prime Minister in the other place and the Foreign Secretary here—and I congratulate him on his appointment—said that the objective of the Government is to achieve a return to legality in Rhodesia in conditions which will secure wide international recognition. Presumably that means the agreement of the United Nations. As Russia has the power of veto in the Security Council, and as the controlling majority in the Assembly is the Afro-Asian bloc, surely that is going to be very difficult. The extraordinary thing is that the majority of these countries in the Afro-Asian bloc, especially in Africa, are the reverse of democratic; they are absolute dictatorships, many of them cruel and corrupt, with a complete disregard for human life and human rights. I cannot see them agreeing to recognise the new government.
399 It is amazing when you think that countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania dare to criticise the elections in Rhodesia and the transitional government. They have no democratic elections themselves; they are dictatorships; from my slight knowledge I would call them corrupt. I am surprised that they dare to criticise. Their record of government is shocking, in spite of the legacy of good government that we left them.
I should like now to answer two or three of the criticisms. One criticism is of martial law during the election. But whose fault was that? It was that of the guerrillas. The guns were pointing outwards. The guns were there to protect the voters, not to intimidate them. The guerrillas wished to intimidate them. The chief criticism appears to be of the 28 white seats in the new Parliament, together with the white control of defence, the judiciary and the administration. Well, I understand that this is to be only a temporary situation. If that were not so the usual pattern in Africa on independence would follow. Rhodesia would suffer the fate of the rest of Africa on achieving independence—that is, the breakdown of government, famine, wars and pestilence. It would be utterly disasterous.
The leaders of the black majority have realised that and have asked the whites to stay. I think that every black Government have white advisers. They have white technicians and engineers, and they could not do without them. However, they are usually expatriates who may have little interst in the country; who are there on a short-term basis and are interested chiefly in what salaries the country has to offer. But how much better is the situation in Rhodesia. Many of the whites in Rhodesia were born there; they know Rhodesia and its problems and people intimately. Their commitment to that country would be far more valuable than as expatriates.
Before I conclude I should like to point out that the British Government have been given a very strong mandate by the British people. What the British people yearn for—and they have been yearning for it for years—are a Government that will take decisions. For too long we have drifted along like a river, always taking the 400 line of least resistance. As we have heard today, Rhodesia is a British responsibility. We were responsible for the imposition of sanctions through the United Nations; therefore the matter must be treated as our responsibility, and we should likewise take the lead in lifting sanctions.
As we have heard today, Rhodesia has one of the fastest growing black populations in Africa. It is fair to say that it has one of the highest standards of living for the African—a standard of living far higher than that of the African living in any black republic. Therefore, although I understand all the political difficulties regarding formal recognition, as other noble Lords have said, in the interests of humanity would it not be better to lift sanctions now to allow trade to flow freely? Rhodesia is feeding Zambia. I am afraid that if we do not lift sanctions this remarkable achievement in African democracy might not come to pass—it might be throttled at birth. If that happened it would be an absolute tragedy. Formal recognition could be given later, after the Commonwealth Conference at Lusaka. However, I ask the Government definitely to lift sanctions now. If this experiment fails, history will judge the British Government and, I am afraid, the British Foreign Secretary, very harshly.
§ 11.49 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to confine my contribution to matters concerning the South-West Atlantic. Before I do so, I should like to recall the early hours of the morning of 4th May last. When it became apparent to me that the Conservative Party were going to win the general election with an overall majority approaching a landslide I suffered—no doubt in common with many Labour Lords and Baronesses opposite—considerable sadness. For then I realised that no longer would the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, be fielding and guiding my clumsy attempts to contribute. It was very largely his example and encouragement which stirred in me an interest in these matters and, indeed, instilled in me a great affection for and interest in your Lordships' House. As ever, I am deeply grateful to him and, indeed, to all his noble colleagues for the many kindnesses and forbearance during the latter part of the forty-seventh Parliament, my first Parliament.
401 However, any sadness that I feel is mitigated by the knowledge that no less a champion of British interests in the South-West Atlantic than my noble friend Lord Carrington is now Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Indeed, on 10th May last year my noble friend Lord Carrington asked this Question in your Lordships' House:My Lords, since the Argentine Government have been advertising for tenders for fishing the territorial waters around the Falkland Islands, and since increasingly fishing is becoming important in that part of the world—and around the Island of Thule as well—and since there may also be oil on the Falkland Islands, will the noble Lord assure the House that the Government will robustly defend our commercial interests?"—[Official Report, 10/5/78; col. 980.]My noble friend was, of course, referring in part to the fact that in May 1977 Argentina declared a 200-mile fishing right around the Falkland Islands. Despite United Kingdom official protests, Argentina subsequently contracted fishing rights in this area with Japan and West Germany.
It must be as apparent to noble Lords as it is apparent to me that the commercial and strategic importance of these waters is evidenced by the attention being paid to them by nations other than the United Kingdom, and in particular by the merchant fleets of the Warsaw Pact countries. The South-West Atlantic fishing grounds are being exploited con-centratedly by the merchant fleets of Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, East Germany, Japan and West Germany. At this very moment there are two Polish supply ships permanently based at Port William in the Falkland Islands. Yet there is not one British fishing vessel, or any other vessel for that matter, in sight.
In the light of that, I beseech the Conservative Administration as a matter of urgency to review, report back upon and act upon the desk survey by the White Fish Authority, which was commissioned by the former Administration, and to do so in conjunction with the most admirable report of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. Although I appreciate that the survey has been on the Minister's desk only since 14th May last, many believe, as I do, that time is of the essence.
Noble Lords will recall that early last December, as a result of a Question tabled by my noble kinsman, the Earl of 402 Lauderdale, it was learned that Her Majesty's Government had received a hydrocarbons survey of some 200,000 square miles around the Falkland Islands. Furthermore, on 13th March last the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, declared that the results of the survey would be forthcoming "in the near future". Bearing in mind that some six months have passed since Her Majesty's Government received that survey, may I ask the Minister whether the Conservative Administration will be as coy as their predecessors were about informing your Lordships' House of the result of this survey?
Noble Lords may recall that on 16th January this year I asked Her Majesty's Government whether they would be good enough:to inform your Lordships' House of the nature and extent of the scientific co-operation agreement between Her Majesty's Government and that of Argentina, particularly in light of the fact that they have already been good enough to inform a delegation of the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands on 7th January this year".In part, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, was good enough to reply:I am not yet in a position to say what are the results of that consideration by those Governments; but as soon as it is clear what the conclusions are by those various Governments, a full statement will be made to the House in accordance with the noble Lord's very proper request."—[Official Report, 16/1/79; cols. 845–846.]As I understand it, the most recent talks between Her Majesty's Government and the Argentine Government, held in New York between 21st and 23rd March of this year, have broken down. Furthermore, I understand that the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands have rejected the British/Argentinian proposals for scientific co-operation. One cannot but guess at the reasons.
Maybe one of the reasons was that Her Majesty's Government were seen to be attempting to place a cloak of spurious legitimacy around the illegal occupation by a foreign power of a British dependent territory, namely, Southern Thule, under the guise of scientific co-operation. While enlightening your Lordships on these matters, would the Minister be good enough to confirm the very good news that the Argentine has now requested the exchange of Ambassadors and that Her Majesty's Government plan to agree to that exchange?
403 However, as with so many matters of a political and economic nature, it is when one considers the defence aspect that the importance of political and economic investment in sensitive areas of British interest and influence becomes clear. I believe fervently that for any British Government to relegate the defence of the South Atlantic to a minor role would be a monstrous act of almost unthinkable short-sightedness. As reiterated in the gracious Speech, it has long been British defence policy to confine its defence resources to NATO. Other than Hong Kong, the Cyprus sovereign bases, Gibraltar, and Belize, there are virtually now no other British defence commitments outside the NATO area.
Defence circles in NATO have long wished to see their responsibilities extended beyond the southern boundary of the Tropic of Cancer in order to safeguard the vitally important sea route around the Cape of Good Hope. At present some 70 per cent. of all NATO strategic material, and some 80 per cent. of the West's oil resources, come round the Cape of Good Hope. I am of course tying a knot in Lord Hankey's argument on this point. Sadly, for political reasons, such a move to extend NATO's southern boundary has never been countenanced.
Yet what do we see happening at the moment? The Soviets are moving fast. Their navy is operating along this route at will, with facilities for land bases in Africa emerging. Reliance by the West on a continually friendly and stable Southern Africa would be foolhardy. Similarly, the political complexion and stability of Governments in South and Central America cannot be relied upon. Any revision of the Panama Canal Treaty, by no means out of the question, or any unforeseen event closing the Panama Canal, would make the Cape Hope route the only sea route linking vital naval and merchant shipping between the east and west coasts of the United States of America, let alone any other international commerce.
Reliance on the Continent of Africa and South America for naval bases has become a less than certain proposition. Yet within the vast area of the Southern Atlantic the Falkland Islands offer a unique base for monitoring Soviet shipping in peace and 404 for controlling and defending allied shipping in war. NATO's reluctance to extend its southern naval boundary offers the Warsaw Pact a free hand to inflict crippling damage to Western allies' economy at a stroke. The strategic military requirement in the Falkland Islands is for a naval anchorage and for an airfield that can serve supply and strategic aircraft. But at present our defence forces in the Falkland Islands consist of one platoon of Royal Marines and an airstrip that could land Hercules aircraft, but is not long enough to allow them to take off again. And even then, as your Lordships well know, mere British presence in the Falkland Islands is being threatened by political indifference and what appears to be deliberate economic erosion.
In the light of the continuing Soviet presence in Africa, and their continued determination to usurp, by all means possible, stable government in Central and South America, and bearing in mind the dramatic increase in the strength of the Soviet naval and merchant naval arm, would the Minister be able to reassure your Lordships' House that a Conservative Administration place the highest priority on a review of NATO's defence commitments in this area?
I appreciate that I have burdened the Minister with a number of questions, and while I realise that it is the height of bad manners to disturb someone on his honeymoon, my only defence is that I have given the Minister notice and that I believe the questions to be not only important but, despite the hour, timely. Fundamentally, what I am asking of the Minister concerns values far higher than matters of mere global security and beyond sterile foreign relations or international trade. I ask whether a Conservative Administration are conscious of their trust to protect the smallest, the loneliest, and most vulnerable and the most loyal British community. As ever, no one could put it as well as did my noble and learned friend the Lord High Chancellor of England, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, when he asked in your Lordships' House on 25th January last year, as reported at column 341 of Hansard,is it not a fact that these islands of English-speaking people in or near the South American continent are not simply relics of colonialism, but small peoples whose rights and culture and right 405 to self-determination should be accepted, irrespective of the character of the regimes to which they are neighbours? Will Her Majesty's Government—I am sure they will—constantly bear in mind that British people all over the world"—and indeed Britain's future—are not for sale?
§ 12.3 a.m.
My Lords, I want to follow my noble friend Lord Newall in speaking about the problems of Cyprus. I too feel that we have let down the inhabitants of that island very badly in the past, and there is no reference to Cyprus in the gracious Speech. I hope that that indicates something good rather than bad, because, although in the last two gracious Speeches introduced by the previous Government specific reference was made to the island, nothing was done about it. I ask only that Her Majesty's Government will confirm that they still accept a special responsibility as a guarantor under the 1960 treaty not only of the independence of Cyprus, but also of the rights of both communities as set out in the 1960 constitution.
We all welcome the achievement of the Secretary General of UNO in bringing about a successful meeting between the leaders of the two communities at which agreement has been reached for the resumption of continuous negotiations for a final settlement. I have here a copy of the 10 points of that agreement, and I should like to read them out to your Lordships for the record. They are not very long. They are:
- "1. It was agreed to resume the intercommunal talks on 15th June 1979.
- "2. The basis for the talks will be the Makarios/ Denktash guidelines of 12th February 1977 and the UN resolutions relevant to the Cyprus question.
- "3. There should be respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens of the Republic.
- "4. The talks will deal with all territorial and constitutional aspects.
- "5. Priority will be given to reaching agreement on the resettlement of Varosha under UN auspices simultaneously with the beginning of the consideration by the interlocutors of the constitutional and territorial aspects of a comprehensive settlement. After agreement on Varosha has been reached it will be implemented without awaiting the outcome of the discussion on other aspects of the Cyprus problem.
- "6. It was agreed to abstain from any action which might jeopardise the outcome of the talks, and special importance will be given to initial practical measures by both sides to promote goodwill, mutual confidence and the return to normal conditions.
- "7. The demilitarisation of the Republic of Cyprus is envisaged, and matters relating thereto will be discussed.
- "8. The independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic should be adequately guaranteed against union in whole or in part with any other country and against any form of partition or secession.
- "9. The intercommunal talks will be carried out in a continuing and sustained manner, avoiding any delay.
- "10. The intercommunal talks will take place in Nicosia."
My Lords, there are one or two very important points there. There is not only the question of the early return of Varosha, but the statement that both sides now agree to keep,The independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity … adequately guaranteed against union in whole or in part with any other country …In other words, the Greek side has publicly given up the idea of Enosis and the Turkish side has publicly given up the idea of any union with Turkey. I understand that, to emphasise the importance of point 6, which called upon the parties to abstain from any action which was likely to upset either side, the London representative of the Turkish Cypriot authority, Major Muftuzade, will be asking the British Press to soft-pedal on points of controversy until something comes out of the new talks.
I had the opportunity to revisit the North of Cyprus in company with my noble friend Lord Newall and his charming and very hard-working wife. I believe that my noble friend is the only Member of your Lordships' House who has spent a length of time with both communities. We had the chance to be taken into Varosha and, as my noble friend has described it, it looked as if a neutron bomb had fallen. There is no human habitation there other than a very few Turkish soldiers, but the buildings, with very few exceptions, are not particularly dilapidated. I believe they could be inhabitated again within weeks rather than within months once an agreement is made to return Varosha to the Greek Cypriots. While we were in Cyprus we met a number of British residents in Kyrenia and in Famagusta. They seemed to be very happy. They had some grumbles, but I think that is natural. We asked Mr. Denktash in the course of two long interviews we had with him what was the situation concerning the compensation claims of British owners of property in the Turkish sector. We were 407 told that compensation could be paid immediately in Turkish currency. For those who wanted payment in sterling, agreement on a rate of exchange was being negotiated in Ankara between the British Embassy and the Turkish government. The reason for this is because the Turkish Cypriot authorities have no access to the Central Bank of Cyprus and cannot call on the foreign exchange facilities available there. May I ask Her Majesty's Government whether any progress has been made on those negotiations?
One important matter which became clear during our visit is the serious shortage of English teachers in the North of the island. I think that the British Council have supplied five at present. There is no Greek being taught there and, presumably, no Turkish being taught in the South of the island so that the generation now going to school will not be able to communicate with each other except through a third language. That language ought to he English. There is also a very poorly equipped British Council library in the British High Commission building in the Turkish sector of Nicosia, which I visited. There were not much more than 1,000 books there compared with, so I am told, some 20,000 hooks on the Greek side. Communication between the two communities in the future is going to be of vital importance if a peaceful settlement is to be reached.
I have taken up this matter with the director general of the British Council. He is fully aware of the problem but is restricted both by the present political situation where Her Majesty's Government have given no official recognition to the Turkish Cypriot community and by lack of funds. I urge Her Majesty's Government to give special attention to this problem of spreading the teaching of English in the island.
I am also pleased to have read this morning in the latest English news bulletin, dated 16th May, to reach me from the North of the island, that formal talks were held last week with an EEC delegation which visited the North of the island to discuss seven projects for which the Turkish Cypriots are seeking aid. This is very welcome news and a sign that at last the North of the island may be going 408 to get some financial help other than from Turkey. An earlier bulletin that came today reported that the 10th Islamic Conference held in Morocco last week adopted a resolution on Cyprus which expressed the hope that communal talks would be resumed and supported the principle of equality for the two communities.
My Lords, before sitting down, there is one final point on another subject. It is one that is not very pertinent to this debate but this may be my only chance to mention it in reference to the gracious Speech. I am absolutely delighted that the gracious Speech tells us that the Scottish devolution Act is to be repealed. I believe I made the shortest speech on the Second Reading of that Bill because I could not find anything good to say about it. In fact, I consigned the Scotland Bill 50 fathoms deep to the bottom of the sea. In my dislike of that Bill, I also consigned the noble and learned Lord who guided the Bill through the House, the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, to the bottom of the sea. I am most glad and relieved that the noble and learned Lord is still with us. But I am also extremely happy that the Scotland Act is about to sink to those depths.
§ 12.15 a.m.
§ Viscount MONTGOMERY of ALA-MEIN
My Lords, I should like to join with others in congratulating my noble friend Lord Carrington on his appointment as Foreign Secretary. I presume that it may be due to his influence that such a large section of the gracious Speech was devoted to foreign affairs. I should also like to congratulate the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, on his brilliant maiden speech. I was privileged to do my National Service immediately after the war with the First Royal Tank Regiment which was commanded in the Desert Campaign by the noble Lord. He had already become a legend in that regiment and part of the folk lore. There was even a song about him, which was quite respectable, but I do not propose to sing it at this late stage in the proceedings.
I regret that I have no knowledge of Cyprus, Rhodesia or Africa, but I have learned a great deal about these subjects. I cannot therefore follow previous speakers. I should like to take my 409 cue from the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and, in doing so, thank him for his kind remarks. I should add that he is an immediate past president of Canning House, a position he filled with great distinction and dynamism. I have had the privilege of collaborating with him in a number of industrial promotions overseas.
I should like very briefly to translate your Lordships across the South Atlantic to Latin America, a continent where our colonial legacy is minimal but the opportunities are numerous, increasing, and where we are missing the boat. Our European partners, who in this context are very much our competitors, seem to be taking developments in Latin America much more seriously. Our trading position compared to these industrial nations has been declining for many years and is now down to only 3 per cent. One reason is that France, Germany, Italy and others are all increasing their investments in Latin America, whereas Britain is not. I hope, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government will encourage new investment in that area.
Turning from the general to the particular, I should like very briefly to mention three countries. First of all, Chile, where very sadly the record of the Labour Government has been somewhat doctrinaire and rather short-sighted. In the past three years Chile has undergone a miraculous economic recovery from the totally bankrupt position that her Government inherited in 1973. Britain has been trading with Chile for 160 years and until 1974 maintained the closest relationship. During the past five years we have seen the removal of both the ambassador and the defence attaché. Both of them should be restored as soon as possible.
Currently we only grant ECGD cover for 180 days; there are no medium or long term facilities, which is an absurd state of affairs. Chile is carrying out a major programme of industrial reinvestment and capital plant re-equipment, and has foreign exchange reserves in excess of one billion dollars. For every other country with which we trade, ECGD facilities are considered on economic criteria alone, and this should be so for Chile also. France, Germany and other industrialised countries have not been so short-sighted and are taking 410 advantage of our failure. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, will have something positive to say on this.
Crossing the Andes, we come to Argentina, where again we have no ambassador, which is most unfortunate but this is no fault of ours. In the context of Argentina, I should like to take up the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Morris, on the Falkland Islands, particularly the latter part of his remarks. Of course, we must respect the wishes and safeguard the rights of the islanders, but the fact is that the islanders may well be unaware of the massive progress that is taking place around them and which they can do nothing to stop. I sometimes feel that the Falkland Islanders are not unlike someone living in a small thatched cottage with a lovely view, faced with the prospect of electricity pylons being erected in the neighbourhood. Of course it is disagreeable, but in the end it is hound to happen; progress cannot be halted.
What has been happening in the South-West Atlantic is that the marine wealth is being exploited by everyone except the two main interested parties, Britain and Argentina. The fact is also that the Argentine claim, however unsound it may be in law, will not go away. We should therefore be working in the closest possible harmony with Argentina: first, to control the area and, secondly, to develop it together and not allow so many other nations—referred to by my noble friend Lord Morris—to fish the area indiscriminately. Obviously, if we were able to reappoint an ambassador in Argentina and receive one here likewise, all these negotiations would he greatly facilitated.
Before leaving the question of Argentina. I should like to pay tribute to the last Minister of State in another place, Ted Rowlands, for the way in which he conducted the negotiations in this delicate field. I had many conversations with him and also with the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts; and although there may be other matters on which we disagreed, such as our attitude to Chile, to which I referred earlier, invariably we were in agreement about the South-West Atlantic.
Thirdly, my Lords, I refer to Mexico, where we have no political problems and 411 where we have enjoyed friendly trade relationships for many years. The point about Mexico is that in the last two years it has suddenly become a major world oil power, and therefore we must increase our commercial activity accordingly. Last year a major British industrial exhibition was held in Mexico City, and British industrialists are following up the many opportunities, which will undoubtedly lead to greatly increased business. In these circumstances, I wonder whether we have sufficient senior commercial and other staff in our embassy to cope with the volume of traffic, and I think this matter needs investigation.
Finally, returning to Latin America as a whole, we need more high-level official visits. Although there have been a number of visits during the last few years by members of the Royal Family, which have been immensely successful, there have been very few visits at the highest political level. No Prime Minister in office has ever visited Latin America, and only one Foreign Secretary. I believe that a visit now, during the lifetime of this Government, by the present Prime Minister would be an unparalleled success, as indeed would be one by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary. I hope it will be possible for these to be realised. The Conservative Government were elected on a platform of the need for change. I would venture to suggest that one most welcome change would be a greater awareness by Her Majesty's Government of the immense opportunities for Britain in Latin America.
§ 12.25 a.m.
The Marquis of HEADFORT
My Lords, I rise tonight to draw the attention of your Lordships' House to the current problem of refugees from Vietnam, which faces the colony of Hong Kong. I have been resident in Hong Kong for a number of years, and therefore feel perhaps more than slightly qualified to speak on this subject. I raise this problem, because its solution can be reached only through the initiative and determination of Her Majesty's Government. Hong Kong is an exceedingly small place, and is subject to two massive inflows of migration. With a total population of less than 5 million at the beginning of the year, they are now forecasting immigration of 412 up to half a million people this year. It is as if 5½ million people were to arrive in this country in a single year, before next spring.
We need to distinguish between two streams of migration, the first from China and the second from Vietnam. Immigration from China is now running at a rate never known before. Some immigration into Hong Kong has always been acceptable. Fifty a day has been a figure that the Hong Kong Government has frequently mentioned; that is, about 18,000 a year. Last year immigration from China, both legal and illegal, amounted to over 100,000 people. This year, the 50 a day quota for the year was reached during January, or, if we count only the legal immigrants, by mid-February.
Immigration at this rate is intolerable. Both Her Majesty's Government and the Governor of Hong Kong had raised this with the Chinese People's Government. Recently some slight reduction in legal immigration has been noticeable, but over 200 people a day are still being sent in with travel documents. Illegal immigration this month is running at about five or six times this rate. Some 7,000 illegal immigrants were detained and returned to China in the first half of May alone, but probably more than three times this number got in undetected. It is within the power of the Chinese People's Government to reduce this flow and allow Hong Kong to digest the swollen influx of the last two years. Thereafter, great problems of social adjustment, housing construction and urban development will remain, but, in the light of past experiences, one can reasonably be confident that these problems can be tackled if China restricts the flow.
The Vietnamese refugees present a completely different set of problems. They are foreigners and even those of ethnic Chinese origin have lived in Vietnam for generations. The solution to the problem of the Vietnamese refugees is not absorption into Hong Kong, but resettlement elsewhere in permanent homes. This is an international problem. Hong Kong is prepared to—and, indeed, already has—played its part. Some 15,000 refugees have already been given permanent residence in Hong Kong. Pro rata this would be matched by 413 150,000 resettlement homes in the United Kingdom. Hong Kong is prepared to continue to accept any with Hong Kong connections of a fairly tenuous kind, but they cannot be expected to do more.
There are now 30,000 Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong. They are in camps. The totally inadequate United Nations staff have processed less than a quarter of these. The Hong Kong Government is contriving accommodation for the rest. The Hong Kong Government cannot enjoy the luxury of bureaucratic delay. The people are on their shores and must live day by day, while the United Nations staff asks questions and draws up lists. The boat people are now arriving in Hong Kong faster than in any other neighbouring territory.
Your Lordships may be aware—it was on the news this morning—that a British freighter had to pick up 900 refugees from Vietnam, who were in sinking vessels. These are now heading for Hong Kong. In the first three months of this year, about 14,000 boat people fled to Hong Kong, but only about 2,000 of these have been resettled elsewhere. In the same period, about 13,000 went to Malaysia and about 10,000 were resettled. Much smaller numbers went to Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. None was allowed into Singapore. Present expectations are that some 75,000 Vietnamese will be in Hong Kong by the autumn, though where they can be accommodated in that crowded place I cannot imagine. They will be resettled only if diplomatic pressure is exerted on both the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the host countries. Only Britain can exert this diplomatic pressure, because Britain is responsible for the foreign relations of its own colony. Hong Kong has been able to tackle many difficult internal problems on its own, but an essential constitutional obligation on a metropolitan country is to conduct foreign relations for its colonies.
I suggest also that it is time for diplomatic pressure to be brought to bear on Vietnam itself to stop this outflow. It is well known all over South-East Asia that refugees pay the government as well as refugee racketeers for the privilege of leaving. As to the mechanics through which these Vietnamese refugees, who are mainly ethnic Chinese but who have lived 414 in Vietnam for many generations, are enabled to leave their native land, we have firm evidence in Hong Kong that this modern trafficking in refugees, which is not far removed from the slave trade of the last century, is totally organised by the Vietnamese Government and provincial authorities.
The Vietnamese central Government have set up a special department to handle the exodus of the refugees. It is headed by a politbureau member who is directly responsible to the Vietnamese Prime Minister. The current charges are between 10 and 12 taels of gold for each ethnic Chinese and 15 taels of gold for each ethnic Vietnamese. Of this sum, two taels of gold is paid for the transportation. Perhaps I should give some indication to your Lordships of the value of one tael of gold. It equals approximately 1,400 Hong Kong dollars, which is about £140.
I feel that I should include details of one case. This concerns a 22-year-old ethnic Chinese woman and a 17-year-old boy. It confirms that the exodus from Vietnam is totally organised for profit by the Vietnamese Government. In November of last year, an older woman was asked if she was prepared to give up all her property. Some time later she agreed, and in December of last year Vietnamese Communist officials came to her home and documented all the property. A short time later, on 5th December, officials came and seized all the property and warned the family to leave that night. Later, under cover of darkness, they were driven by car to a remote beach where there were some 300 other persons. A large junk was waiting. Everybody was again searched by Communist officials, and all items of value, other than one watch and one ring for each person, plus cash to the value of 40 to 50 United States dollars, was seized.
I am happy to report that in due course this family made it to Hong Kong. However, we shall never know how many hundreds, or indeed thousands, drowned in the South China Sea due to the unseaworthy vessels in which they were attempting to flee with their lives but with nothing else.
There is, perhaps, one more thing which I personally consider to be rather sinister. Your Lordships will be aware that there is still a large amount of United States 415 dollars circulating in Vietnam. I am informed that the Russians are able to sell their gold for United States dollars in Vietnam at inflated prices, and it is this gold which is financing this trafficking in human beings. The Vietnamese Government had the effrontory to send a representative to the Djakarta Conference on the establishment of a processing centre for Vietnamese refugees. The situation is bizarre. Here we have a Government growing fat on the expropriation of the funds of its wealthier citizens in return for sending them to sea in boats in conditions that make a mockery of international conventions on the safety of life at sea and on human migration. So many are despatched in this way that tens of thousands survive to cause disruption in every country in the neighbourhood. When the affected countries gather to see what can be done the Vietnam Government coolly sends an emissary to say that there is no intention to cause hardship or burden to neighbouring countries with the refugee problem!
Obviously those who have already left the country will not go back and need to be resettled. But cannot Her Majesty's Government bring home to the Vietnamese that their conduct is totally unacceptable? We are not dealing with the odd dissident or political protestor. To call these people refugees is an abuse of language. The exodus from Vietnam is now taking on the nature of a Government-sponsored mass migration conducted with total disregard of human rights of the people involved and of the wellbeing of neighbouring countries. It is abhorrent to contemplate a Government harsh enough to drive a few of its people to flee at great danger to themselves. It is difficult to find words strong enough to condemn a Government which makes money from encouraging the mass exodus we see today.
We know in Hong Kong that at least two of our neighbouring nations have used violence against these people in an effort to prevent them from landing upon their shores. In one case, naval forces of the country concerned towed the refugee boats out to the open sea and then towed them in ever decreasing circles until the refugee boats capsized. They then prevented the survivors from boarding the naval vessels, even in some cases using firearms. Eventually they had a change of 416 heart and a few of the remaining survivors were allowed to board the naval vessels. It is from their testimony that we know of this horrible incident. I hope the Government in reply will be able to give some assurance that it will lead an international effort to bring home to the Vietnamese Government the enormity of their behaviour, and in the meantime arrange the resettlement of those who have already migrated.
I cannot conclude, my Lords, without paying the greatest possible tribute to the officers of the Hong Kong Government, the Royal Hong Kong Police Force, not only the marine division but also other departments involved. Also to our small but effective Royal Naval patrol boats and, lastly but not least, the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force who, although inadequately equipped, manage to provide maritime surveillance and thus intelligence to the Hong Kong Government of the approach of vessels to Hong Kong.
§ 12.38 a.m.
§ The Earl of KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Carrington on his appointment. I know that he will carry out his very arduous tasks remarkably well and successfully, and I say this with some knowledge as I have known him for 36 years. I should also like to congratulate him on a very fine speech, and while on the subject of speeches I should also like to congratulate the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, on what was to me one of the finest maiden speeches I have ever heard in your Lordships' Chamber.
I feel that Rhodesia must take first place in foreign affairs today, as it affects practically the entire world, and although I very much agree with the Amendment spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Paget, I am glad that it is not going to be pursued because I think that a little more time should be given before what he has advocated is done. I maintain that the Six Principles laid down by successive British Governments for recognising Zimbabwe-Rhodesia have now been met, and further the "rebellion" of Rhodesia was against us and not against the United Nations.
417 If the annual debate on raising sanctions should arise next November, it must be a pretty good bet that we shall then vote to raise them, and if we are going to raise them then, I think we should do it much sooner than that. At least in the eyes of the world we shall appear honest and forthright. The abysmal and disastrous policies of Dr. Owen and Mr. Young cannot be allowed to continue, and it seems to me extraordinary that so many non-Marxist countries seem hell-bent on destroying an independent and civilised country. One can only assume that, like certain Left-Wing elements, Marxist elements, which we have in our own country, there must be the same elements at work in some others. If we are honest with ourselves, a high proportion of member States in the United Nations are dictatorships, and only a small minority have institutions that conform to Western standards of democracy. So really I do not think the United Nations are too well equipped to decide what we should do.
Perhaps it is true that the election in Rhodesia was not 100 per cent. successful, but Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe refused to recognise the ballot box; they tried unsuccessfully to ruin the election. So if it was not 100 per cent. successful it was their fault. As Dr. Luns implied the other day when he addressed the defence study group—and many of your Lordships were present—that it is much better for a Rhodesian to have three-quarters of a vote than none at all, which is what would happen if the terrorists had their way.
May I remind your Lordships very briefly of what Mr. Nkomo said on 1st March:Relations between the freedom fighters and the Soviet Union are excellent. The Soviet Union and other socialist countries enjoy total freedom. They are free from exploitation and all other forms of oppression. The Soviet Union triumphed in the cause of freedom and justice and in the battle for the general welfare of its people. This was the first country in the world to succeed in its struggle against oppression and gain its freedom.While it is true that there are some people from the Left-Wing of the British Labour movement who go to Moscow, and they might talk the same way, no one, I am glad to say, is proposing that the fate of Rhodesia should be entrusted to those people.
418 Perhaps the most revealing part of Mr. Nkomo's statement lies in the following words:Our friendship with the Soviet Union is very close. The people of the Soviet Union are openly encouraging us to dedicate ourselves to fighting for our freedom. Our pains are their pains, our suffering their suffering.I repeat, the terrorists are supported and financed by Russia. Further, my Lords, let us always remember that the Russians are very adept at getting other people to do their foul deeds and dirty work for them. If we ruffle a few feathers now in the Commonwealth the dust will have settled by the time of the conference in August. Anyway, I do not believe that the Commonwealth, the EEC and the United States wish to see Marxism reigning supreme across the whole of central Africa. At present the terrorists—I do not like calling them the Patriotic Front—are disorganised, despite Mr. Nkomo being made an honorary doctor of law at a university in Atlanta the day before yesterday. Many thousands of them are accepting Bishop Muzorewa's offer of an amnesty. So I beg, do not give them time to regroup and reorganise themselves.
This leads me very briefly to defence. Her Majesty's Government are dedicated to increasing our defences and improving them, but one problem is how to pay. We are way down the world list in arms and defence equipment sales. This is perhaps due to the Trihunites, who, although perhaps not quite so numerous as they were, are still quite a force to be reckoned with, and who I am sure will get quite vociferous over what I suggest. Let us sell defence equipment to China, and in particular let us sell them Harriers. Let us build mini Harrier carriers for export to friendly nations, even if their Lordships of the Admiralty do not want them for the Royal Navy, although in this instance I am not sure that they have made the right decision. Let us sell defence equipment to South Africa. Why should other countries reap this rich harvest? By these methods employment would be increased, the balance of payments would be increased, and we should have more money to spend on our own defences as well as on our own welfare.
As regards SALT II, there seem to be widely differing views, and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has put the situation 419 much better than I can. However, the one point that I should like to raise is that Europe must not be allowed to be the meat in the sandwich. Just over a year ago I asked an Unstarred Question about Britain's nuclear deterrent in the 1990s. I believe that we now have only about another 12 or 18 months to decide whether we shall have one and, if we are to have one, what form it will take. I should not like to see France as the only European country to have a nuclear deterrent in the 1990s.
Finally, I turn to civil defence, which really means home defence. There are many people with the right attitude towards this problem and who would like to participate. They need guidance now, before they slip back into lethargy and indifference. The basic need is for two types of volunteer: one type to help in hospitals, schools, rest homes and ambulances; and the other to help the police and firemen. It may well be necessary to convince some of those mentioned that the training of voluntary helpers is not to act as strike breakers and form an alternative body of services. On the contrary, we cannot afford to pay high wages to a large standby body of reserve services. So, the key to good pay is the minimum number of professionals and the maximum number of well trained volunteers to help when the load is heavy. The need is thus great both in peace and in war.
The NATO Review of April, 1979 and the Federal German Concept of Civil Emergency Preparedness said:Efforts aimed at providing funds and manpower for military national defence are inadequate, if they are not complemented by preparations in the field of civil emergency preparedness. Overall defence will always be only as strong as its weakest element.The existing structure of civil aid, helped not inconsiderably by Colonel Raymond ill, should be enlarged and given full support from Her Majesty's Government, so as to fill the gap in our home defence. It is essential to get as many people as possible involved now while the climate of public opinion is favourable.
I hope that when my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal winds up the debate tonight, he will—even if he cannot answer all the points that I have raised—look into my few suggestions, 420 and I hope in a favourable light. I hope that he will simultaneously confirm that this Government will do all in their power to defend and protect the freedom and liberty which we all cherish and value so much.
§ 12.48 a.m.
§ Baroness LLEWELYN-DAVIES of HASTOE
My Lords, I am a little surprised to find myself speaking from the Despatch Box tonight, because it had been hoped that my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts, with his encyclopaedic knowledge of the whole area of foreign affairs, would speak first from this Bench and then also wind up as he has done many times as a Minister. However, it takes rather more than a week or so to get used to being on this side of the House and we discovered at lunchtime that it was procedurally impossible for him to speak twice in this debate. The eagle eye of the Government Chief Whip had discovered a flaw in the arrangements and therefore I stand before your Lordships not nearly as prepared as I should like to have been in such an important debate.
First, with the whole House, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Carver. He made a fascinating and a deeply-informed speech. I should not have been brave enough to call him an educated soldier, but I do think that the whole House will benefit from having such an expert in our midst. When we say that we are looking forward to hearing him many times in the future, tonight we mean it very specially. I thought that his analysis of the post-election situation in Rhodesia was most helpful and his phrase about Bishop Muzorewa leading them forward to a genuine majority rule was a very suitable pointer and a very subtle one. His wise and temperate words about Zimbabwe-Rhodesia were in marked contrast to the speech by my noble friend Lord Paget of Northampton. Indeed, it is very difficult to call him my noble friend tonight. Apart from anything else, he described me and those who think like me on these Benches—and, after all, that is the vast majority of his own party—as,class ridden people suffering from an inverted racialism that hates its own colour".I think that that is going it a bit far. He treated us to a scenario like a primitive wild western film.
421 However, nothing in Rhodesia is simple like that. He referred to the splendid and disciplined Rhodesian Armed Forces. It may sound a bit old-fashioned now, but the Rhodesian Government was in rebellion against the Queen and those British ex-soldiers who are serving there are too. For more than 13 years it has been a treasonable Government and it has now been brought—most unwillingly—to its slightly questionable new constitution because of the actions of the black Africans, the black people there, including the Patriotic Front.
The noble Lord mentioned the wild mountain area up near the frontier with Mozambique, and the burnt kraals there. I think that he has forgotten the recent history of that area, which I know very well, and what happened to the gallant Tangwena people who live there. I knew them very well too. They refused to give up their ancient tribal land, which they had lived on for hundreds of years, to their white farmer neighbours. What did the Rhodesian soldiers do? They burnt down their kraals; they killed their cattle, their only wealth; they destroyed their crops again and again; they demolished their school and, finally, they kidnapped their children and sent them to institutions in other parts of the country. That kind of recent history is still important and still remembered in Rhodesia.
We have always thought of my noble friend as an independent-minded sort of man, but on this subject he appears only to have listened to the propaganda of the Rhodesian Government. He jeered about Robert Mugabe being the Duke of Plazatoro who stayed at home. He had to; he was in prison without any charges for 10 years, along with thousands of other brave Africans. I am deeply sorry that some of the expressions which my noble friend used should appear in the Lords Hansard and, worse still, should be read in Africa, in Canada, in India, in Asia, in Europe and at the United Nations.
The noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, in a most fairminded and constructive speech, pointed out that my noble friend had minimised all the difficulties which still face Rhodesia. It was a most dignified contrast to what my noble friend had said, though I am afraid that his idea of lifting sanctions and recognising Rhodesia in two goes, as 422 it were, would not work—and I think that the noble Viscount had the same idea—because, in effect, it would be recognising the régime. In any case, sanctions were imposed by the United Nations and cannot be lifted unilaterally, either by us or by the United States.
Those are the problems with which the new Government will now have to grapple, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, said, one thing, alas! the election has not done is to bring peace to Rhodesia. That is a tragedy for all the people of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe, but it will not be solved by ignoring the whole of black Africa, India, the EEC, the Commonwealth and the Security Council of the United Nations. We on these Benches believe that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will incline to the views of the noble Duke rather than to those of my noble friend.
We very much enjoyed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alport. He both educates and informs the House whenever he speaks. I hope that it does not do him any harm, but I nearly always agree with every word he says about Rhodesia. I was specially glad that he mentioned Sir David Scott, our ambassador in Pretoria, because he and I served together in the Commonwealth Relations Office as Private Secretaries to my noble friend Lord Noel-Baker when he was Secretary of State. Tonight he showed that he can still make magnificent speeches more than 20 years later.
It sometimes seems as if supporters of the Government, and even noble Lords on the Cross-Benches, really wait for a chance to cheer Mr. Smith and his South African friends and to lose no opportunity to applaud attacks on black African leaders in other parts of the Continent. I hope that the House will remember that when the appalling General Amin was toppled it was not the white countries that did it but President Nyerere, whose people, appallingly poor though they may be and ill prepared for war, were prepared to make sacrifices to do it. What is more, the Tanzanian Government succeeded in this difficult operation with a minimum amount of loss of blood, and they solved the political problems with a great deal of wisdom and statesmanship. Moreover, it was President Kaunda of Zambia who shared the greatest risks in 423 his tough policy against his neighbour. There is a lot to be said for a system of government which produced these two great men of Africa, Presidents Nyerere and Kaunda.
The developing countries are now no longer areas to be exploited, and our hope is that they will be turned into our partners in the fight against their poverty. They need our knowledge; they need our investment; they need our confidence; they need our technical knowhow. If we do not make these available there will be others with less noble motives who will be eager to provide them. This we all know. We are more sophisticated in the world than we were 20 years ago.
There is one subject relevant to this debate which, until my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder spoke, had not been mentioned, and that is the most important subject germane to foreign affairs and defence: aid. I always enjoy my noble friend's graphic language. I liked his tapeworm, and I always remember his description of the increasing world population. I wrote it down. "It is like two Cup Final crowds turning up every day without their rations." That is the kind of thing one remembers from people's speeches. At this hour, the House will be relieved to know that I shall cut my remarks about aid because my noble friend spoke so eloquently, but I want to mention it from this Front Bench so that noble Lords opposite know with what importance we regard it.
As I scarcely had time to consider my own speech, I am afraid that I could not extend the usual courtesy to the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, and give him my points in advance, and I shall quite understand if he cannot answer them tonight. But it is not at all clear from the gracious Speech what the Government's intentions about aid really are. We are in the middle of a grave economic depression, plus the rising oil prices and all the rest of it. This is very serious for the developed world, but it is even worse for the Third World. Now is the time when they especially need to know what will be available to them.
We on these Benches are proud of our record on aid. Since 1975 our new 424 policy, as outlined by my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder, has been directed to the poorest people in the poorest countries. Since 1975 all aid to those countries has been in the form of grants and not loans. We have taken action on debts due on loans, and our aid programme was increasing by 6 per cent. every year in real terms. I must tell the noble Lord—and I hope that he will tell the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who I am glad to see has not stayed until the end, something which I think would have been most unreasonable of us to ask with his responsibilities, though I hope that he will be told—that we are deeply disturbed by the Government's move to place the Ministry for Overseas Development under the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is a serious misconception of our relationships with the Third World to do this and, after all, a lot of the Third World is in our Commonwealth and aid is a crucial element in our whole foreign policy.
There is a difference of approach between a Foreign Office and a Ministry of Aid and Development. Both sides are needed, but there is, and should be, a difference Noble Lords may remember that I served in the Foreign Office and in the Commonwealth Relations Office, and I have been a spokesman for ODM in opposition and in government for what seems like years, and I am sure that it is quite wrong to suppose that the departments should be integrated. The act of putting them together makes the receiving countries doubt the bona fides of the donors. 1 believe that there should be a separate Ministry of Overseas Development. Indeed, I personally believe that the Minister ought to be in the Cabinet, and I disagreed with my own Government about that. But whatever may be the merits of that point, it is all the more essential now, in the increasingly complicated conditions of the Third World, that we should have separate Ministries.
Having dealt with that matter, I should like to ask some questions of the noble Lord. For instance, what is the Government's approach to the UNCTAD meeting now ta[...]ing place in Manila? First reports are rather gloomy. I should like to know what will happen to the 6 per cent. increase in aid planned for the next four years. Furthermore, I should like to know whether the Government will continue our 425 policy of aid to the poorest. Have they committed themselves to extending the Lome Convention—a matter of extreme importance? Will they continue their research into the alternative sources of energy supply for the Third World? Will we continue our contribution to the UN High Commission for Refugees? I should also like to ask for a sympathetic approach to the plight of impoverished Uganda.
Lastly, I should like to ask the Government to be positive in their approach to the Commonwealth. The Tory Party used to be the party of Empire, but we are not so clear that they are the party of the Commonwealth. I have had the privilege of attending international conferences over the last few years, and I have been immensely proud of the mature, constructive, and co-operative participation of our Commonwealth countries to the great problems of our time. No one can consider that the task that the Foreign Secretary is taking on will be easy, but we hope that he will tackle it with his great skill and abilities, so as to consolidate the Commonwealth and inspire the world; and we wish him well.
§ 1.3 a.m.
§ Lord STRATHCONA and MOUNT ROYAL
My Lords, there is at least one matter on which I agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. It was probably the only thing I agreed with him about; namely, that it was a great pity that this debate was not spread over two days and that the two aspects of it which we have been trying to cover were not dealt with on separate days. I cannot possibly attempt to do justice in trying to wind up a debate which involved 40 speakers, including at least six ex-senior figures from the Foreign Office, and seven ex-senior figures from the Ministry of Defence, including the most notable one in the shape of an ex-Chief of the Defence Staff. He gave us, predictably, a brilliantly well-informed and brilliantly well-argued speech, even if I did not altogether like some of the content. I congratulate the noble Lord, and I hope that in the future some of the things that he has to say will be slightly more acceptable to us.
Looking back over the debate, it is perhaps a pity that the authority and wisdom of some of the speeches have not been matched by brevity, in which case I 426 would have found myself in a better position to attempt to reply to some of the excellent points made. But I am sure that at this late hour—a late hour by the standards of any House—noble Lords would not wish me to attempt now to give detailed replies to all the points that have been made. So far as defence is concerned, we shall have a further opportunity before the Summer Recess to return to this subject when we deal with the continuation order for the Army, Navy and Air Force Discipline Act. I should therefore like first to restrict myself to a brief restatement of our defence policy, to emphasise the very great importance that this Government attach to defence.
The first responsibility of any Government must be the protection of their citizens, and the provision of that security which enables them to enjoy the values of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law on which our society is based. Earlier today, at Westminster Abbey, we gave thanks as a nation for 30 years' peace under the shield of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Because we continue to believe that security can best be provided for the democratic nations of the Western World by the collective security that comes through membership of the North Atlantic Alliance, the Government are totally committed to the North Atlantic Alliance and dedicated to the need to join with our allies in preserving the peace and the integrity of NATO territory. One of the problems with NATO—and I have said this before in this House—is that its very success in maintaining peace leads some doubters to question its necessity, and nobody—least of all, I can assure your Lordships, somebody in my position—pretends that defence is a cheap commodity.
In spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, said—indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, effectively answered many of the points that they made, but in spite of what they said—Lord Chalfont pointed out that the threat to our security is regrettably clear. It is of the gravest concern that the Soviet Union continues to devote some 11 or 13 per cent. of its gross national product to its armed forces, and has increased defence spending over the last few years by between 4 and 427 5 per cent. per annum. The last Government admitted that the threat from the Soviet Union had been growing and that the size of that country's armed forces far exceeded any realistic assessment of its defensive need; that is, the countering of any supposed threat from NATO or other countries. But where we differ from them is that their response to the massive Warsaw Pact build-up was to cut our forces, to weaken our defences and to reduce our contribution to NATO. In distinction, our policy, in the light of the clear evidence of the need to call a halt to this process, will be the exact opposite.
However, we have no intention of indulging in an arms race, and we will of course continue our efforts to reduce the tension between the East and West and to further the search for a more lasting peace in Europe through arms control and disarmament agreements. As we said in the last Conservative White Paper, published in 1973,only negotiation from strength is likely to produce equitable agreements"—a sentiment which has been expressed in many ways but which remains fundamental. We must be grateful that the resolve exists within NATO to meet the challenge posed by the Soviet arms buildup, and this resolve was demonstrated yet again at the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers held in Brussels last week.
I would accept Lord Carver's point that NATO is nothing if it is not a transatlantic alliance. As to certain trends in the military balance of power—I do not in the least bit accedt any of the figures that the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, produced, in spite of his remarkable achievement in recounting them all out of his head; and perhaps that is why we do not accept them—the military balance is continuing to favour the Warsaw Pact. The defence Ministers welcome the steps already taken to bring about improvements in the alliance's defence and the deterrent posture but also acknowledge that continuing efforts are needed to support the alliance's common defence.
In particular, they agreed that nations should intensify their efforts to aim at making available resources which will allow annual increases in defence spending in the region of 3 per cent. in real terms 428 in the years up to 1986. Secondly, they welcomed the vigorous steps taken to ensure an effective follow-through to the long-term defence programme. Thirdly, they agreed on the common funding of a new five-year alliance infrastructure programme for the period 1980 to 1984 at a substantially increased level.
Thus, although there are challenges and difficulties facing NATO, there is an underlying degree of resolve demonstrated in the alliance's activities from which we can all take at least some comfort. It will be the objective of this Government to strengthen that resolve and we shall do all we can to promote the objectives of the alliance.
However, it must be admitted that there are difficult decisions ahead on how to improve our own contribution. I would not wish to exaggerate the pace at which deficiencies can be made good. A high proportion of our future defence spending will be devoted to the equipment programme. It will not be possible overnight to produce better equipment but we shall aim to provide a steady programme of improvement which will, in turn, have considerable benefit for British industry and, in order to make the best of our resources, we shall seek to exploit opportunities for collaborating in equipment programmes with our Allies. That has remained a difficult area to which we have all paid lip service but the achievements have been disappointing.
I would mention a particular area where we shall exercise a firmer grip than our predecessors. In the face of the ambitious programme by the Warsaw Pact to improve its nuclear weapons, it is essential that the effectiveness of all three elements of the NATO triad of forces is maintained: that is, the strategic and theatre nuclear systems as well as conventional defence. We must continue to modernise NATO nuclear forces, not only to preserve the spectrum of deterrence in a military sense but also to demonstrate our clear resolve to take together with our allies the steps necessary to ensure NATO's collective security. The United Kingdom has an important responsibility and a role to play in this and I can assure noble Lords that we shall not shirk our responsibilities in this respect.
If there was one element of our defence effort which the Labour Administration 429 mismanaged more conspicuously than any other, it was the most as import aspect of all, the aspect of manpower. We shall not treat in a similar niggardly manner the men and women who make up the Armed Forces. In accordance with the pledge we gave in Opposition we have already implemented the recommendations of the Pay Review Body in full from 1st April this year; and the Chancellor announced this afternoon in another place that the Ministry of Defence cash limit is to be increased accordingly. It is our firm intention to maintain Service pay at the proper levels in the future.
One cannot overstress the importance of this. It was an urgent essential in the face of the serious manning problems in the Armed Forces. Though recruitment last year was quite good, the loss of trained manpower through premature voluntary retirement was substantial, leaving all three services seriously short of experienced personnel. I should love to give examples of that because that is not just a theoretical statement, it is an actual, immediate problem: unmanned aircraft, undermanned ships, and this kind of thing.
The morale of the Armed Forces must be the core of any nation's defence policy. The Armed Forces need to feel that the country appreciates what they do and that they have a secure future. The country as a whole has clearly shown members of the Armed Forces how much it appreciates their efforts by electing a Government which gives paramount importance to defence. We shall secure the future for our Servicemen and women by providing continuity and stability in our defence policy, and by making sure that they know that the Government and the people of this country believe that defence of the realm is a vital if not the most vital task.
It would be wrong of me to wind up this part of the debate without paying tribute to our Forces in Northern Ireland. Nowhere are the high standards of professionalism of the British soldier more apparent than in Northern Ireland. Operations in Northern Ireland remain a major commitment for the army, which continues to provide the majority of assistance and support to the RUC. But both the other two Services also provide essential help. At the moment, for example, 40 Royal Marine Commando is on a 12 months tour in Ballykelly, while 430 RAF helicopters help to provide vital mobility. Noble Lords do not need me to remind them of the skill, determination and resourcefulness with which the Forces carry out their exacting and dangerous task in that country.
I must try and reply to one or two particular points. The noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, raised points about the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. I agree that it is fair to assume that the Russians will only violate an agreement where they are confident that they can get away with it. As regards SALT II, President Carter has said:The stakes are too high to rely on trust or even on the Soviets' rational inclination to act in their own best interests. The treaty must and will be verifiable from the day it is signed.The Americans do not pretend that their verification capability is perfect, but they have said that they are confident that they will detect any violations of the treaty in sufficient time to allow them to decide whether to withdraw from the treaty and start new programmes to prevent a significant adverse shift in the strategic balance. So far as SALT I is concerned, the Americans have monitored Russian compliance with the agreement. They have promptly raised with the USSR any unusual or ambiguous activities that have caused concern. They have stated that in every case activities stopped or they obtained a satisfactory explanation. The SALT II provisions relating to verification are more extensive than those in the SALT I agreement. The Soviet Union has followed the letter of the provision of the Helsinki CSCE final act relating to ICBMs, and these are of course not mandatory.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, sought an assurance that before we came to a final view we would seek the views of people on both sides of the Atlantic who have expressed concern about SALT II. I can assure him that the Government will study the text of the agreement and its implications. The issues raised by the noble Lord are among those which my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has been discussing with Secretary of State Vance during his present visit to London, and the Government have, of course, been in close touch with the United States authorities at all stages of the negotiations.
431 Finally, my Lords, to Rhodesia: as my noble friend has told your Lordships, the Government will be adopting a new approach to the Rhodesia problem. It is their view that fundamental changes have taken place inside Rhodesia. Remarkable progress has been made there. We welcome this and our intention now will be to build on it to achieve a return to legality in a context of wide international recognition. The report of the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, on his mission to observe the Rhodesian election will be made available as soon as possible to your Lordships. The Government will be guided by its conclusions.
My noble friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has already begun the process of consultation with our friends and allies in his talks with the American Secretary of State and with our partners in the European Community. We attach particular importance, as my noble friend said, to high level consultation with the Commonwealth. We are taking immediate steps to keep ourselves informed on a continuing basis about the situation in Rhodesia and to establish an effective channel of communication with Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues. We shall lose no time in pursuit of the task we have set ourselves; that is, to bring Rhodesia back into a normal relationship with the rest of the international community, in circumstances which will give that country the best chance of a more peaceful, stable and prosperous future.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Paget, for saying that he does not intend to press his Amendment but rather that he is to associate himself with the advice given by my noble friend Lady Elles, who said that we should back the Foreign Secretary and not harass him. That was advice which was underlined by the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow.
I said at the start that I would not be able to answer many of the questions raised by noble Lords, and I am well aware that it is not just a tour d'horizon which we have been invited to make this evening. I have not mentioned the Argentine, the Falklands, Cyprus, the Panama Canal, Cape Horn, the Horn of Africa and the trade routes through the Indian Ocean. I can only say that we 432 will study the points that have been made by: noble Lords, covering all parts of the globe, but I think we will have to leave those places for a future time, and perhaps we can discuss them at a more reasonable hour.
On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentience: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.