§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
I beg to move,That, in view of the grave danger to all the populations of Central Africa inherent in a policy which may well destroy the most thriving economy in Central Africa, that of Rhodesia, and of the repeated expressions and acts of loyalty to the Sovereign by Rhodesian Governments and by the constitutionally elected Smith régime. Her Majesty's Government should reconsider its whole Rhodesian policy and, in particular, the policy of sanctions.If anything makes it clear that a Motion of this kind should be before the House now, it is what the Prime Minister said a few moments ago.
§ Mr. Fell
What the Prime Minister said represents the gravest statement we have yet had from the present Government on this terribly difficult situation. Let us make no mistake about that. It is the first time that we have heard threats bandied about in the House about deterrents—[Interruption.]—and about the possible use of force by the Smith régime. So far as I am aware, the Smith régime has made no reference to the possible use of force by that régime. Yet we are now embarking on what I can only call a highly dangerous and highly provocative policy. [Interruption.]
§ Several Hon. Members rose——
§ Several Hon. Members rose——
§ Mr. Fell
I trust that hon. Gentlemen opposite will forgive me if I do not give way but continue with my speech.
It may be that the Prime Minister is right in saying that legally it would not be an act of war, but make no mistake that it would he the bloodiest act of civil war, and from that there would ensue a holocaust in that part of Africa with literally our own British people fighting against British people in Rhodesia. That would be the result of it. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hope that we can conduct this debate in a dignified manner which is worthy of the House of Commons. Bursts of anger or other universal comment, as it were, are understandable, but individual shouting is not, and I deprecate it.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove) rose——
§ Mr. Fell
I will not give way at the moment. I hope now to bring down the temperature of the House. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may think this is a laughing matter, but I do not. It so happens that I was fortunate in the Ballot and have won time in the House. That procedure has been protected by generations of Leaders of the House and by generations of Speakers for back benchers. It also happens that what I intend to say this afternoon I recognise to be highly controversial. I hope, therefore, than hon. Members will forgive me and bear with me if I do not give way, particularly to interruptions, but try to put the point I wish to make as quickly as possible. Repeated interruptions only make things more difficult and will delay me making this point. I wish to be as brief as I can because hon. Members on both sides of the House also wish to speak.
I hope to bring the temperature of the House down a little by, first, giving my heartiest congratulations to Her Majesty's Government for their brilliant conduct—which was full of guts, determination and courage—at the United Nations concerning the matter of Fiji.
§ Mr. Fell
If hon. Gentlemen opposite will listen to me they will see to what I am referring. I wish to talk about the United Nations and its resolution on Rhodesia. The House will see that the resolution on FijiReaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Fiji to freedom and independence in conformity with the provisions of the Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.The resolution further…requests the administering Power"—that is, us— 1444to take, as a matter of urgency, measures to repeal all discriminatory laws and to establish an unqualified system of democratic representation based on the principle of one man, one vote'.Britain, perhaps because America was on the same side in this matter, opposed the resolution. Indeed, only Britain and America opposed it. This is surely somewhat in contradiction to the support which Britain gave to the resolution on Rhodesia. I wonder what would have been the position had Fiji been an island off the coast of East or West Africa. We know perfectly well what the situation would have been.
§ Mr. Charles Longbottom (York) rose——
§ Mr. Fell
I am sorry, but I will not give way now. I wish to complete this part of my remarks and, if pressed, I will give way later.
The Security Council resolution of 22nd November on Rhodesia called on the United Kingdom Government to…quell this rebellion of the racist minority.It also called on Britain…to take all other appropriate measures which would prove effective in eliminating the authority of the usurpers and in bringing the minority régime in Southern Rhodesia to an immediate end.It further called on the United Kingdom, since the Constitution of 1961 had broken down,…to take immediate measures in order to allow the people of Southern Rhodesia to determine their own future consistent with the objectives of General Assembly Resolution 1514(xv)".Why did Britain support that resolution? Did she do so because of the aims and objects of the Charter of the United Nations, because she believes in the United Nations—in the reason why it was set up—or because of one reason only; the reason of fear? The reason why Britain had so little confidence in herself and so little respect for herself was that she could not stand out on any issue against the might of the Afro-Asian group in the United Nations.
It might help the House if I read Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter. Unless this Article is upheld the 1445 United Nations will continue to be a shambles, as it is now and as it has been for years. Unless it is upheld the United Nations will continue to forget its principles and indulge all the time not in principles but in politics. Thus, one has the situation, which has gone on all the time, of the United States voting in the United Nations on matters according to her own particular political interest. On this occasion the political interest was gaining the support of the Afro-Asian group in the United Nations.
Article 2(7) states:Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State…This was a matter within the domestic jurisdiction either of Rhodesia or of the British Government. It was certainly not a matter within the jurisdiction of the United Nations under the terms of the Charter.
When will some great Power have the courage to stand up at the United Nations and do something that may be unpopular there but which will, by sticking to the original principles and aims of the United Nations, give that organisation some chance of working? The House may think it unusual for me to try to find a way for the United Nations to work, but when faced, as we are in this country, with two sides of the House determined to try to make the United Nations work, I suppose that we have to see whether we can find a way of doing it. But we shall not do it until members of the United Nations have some regard for United Nations principles.
The history of the United Nations is a history of failure. It has failed in every major undertaking. It failed in Hungary and in Korea, in Cuba, in Vietnam and in Indonesia. It failed in Katanga and in Suez. It has failed in every major undertaking——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hope that the hon. Member will not go too wide, otherwise we may debate the whole of the history of the United Nations, and this would take us away from Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Fell
I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for your intervention, because it brings me back. I was going into this at some little length because I pray that 1446 the Commonwealth will not fall into the errors of the United Nations.
The Commonwealth at the moment is on a brink. Indeed, the Prime Minister expressed his fear on 23rd November about the multi-racial Commonwealth disappearing under the weight of the Rhodesian crisis. I think it true that if Britain, as the centre of the Commonwealth, and if other Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand——
§ Mr. Fell
And Nigeria—perhaps the hon. Member would like to stand up if he wishes to interrupt.
If those other Commonwealth countries are to have the whole of their policies dictated to by the majority of the members of the Commonwealth, whether they are right or wrong, the Commonwealth must fail. In other words, if the Afro-Asian group within the Commonwealth is to dictate to the whole of the Commonwealth, and the rest of the Commonwealth is to accept that group's diktat on every occasion, right or wrong, the Commonwealth must disintegrate. The Prime Minister was right in fearing that action over Rhodesia might lead to much worse things than people had, perhaps, at first thought.
I want to refer to British responsibility for Africans. A Commission which reported in 1929 on Closer Union of the Dependencies in Eastern and Central Africa stated:The general principles of native policy were ably reviewed in the Report of the Parliamentary Commission. In Chapter II of that Report it was pointed out that the obligation resting on those responsible for the government of those territories should properly be regarded as a threefold trusteeship:—First, for the moral and material development of the native inhabitants;Secondly, for humanity as a whole (the duty here being to develop the vast economic resources of these territories for the benefit of the whole world…Thirdly, for the immigrant communities, whose initiative, knowledge, and material resources are necessary instruments in the fulfilment of the first two tasks.I believe that definition of the basic responsibilities towards Africans is unquestionable. Some may think that more 1447 should be put into it, but that was the view then expressed. I believe that these requirements have been well and truly lived up to by the British Commonwealth.
Imperial rule of the Colonies has been good, but there is an extraordinary and wide distinction between those Colonies which were run as Imperial Colonies from the Crown in this country and those Colonies—of which Rhodesia is the outstanding example—which were early given control of their own affairs.
The same report from which I have quoted also says:The remoteness of the controlling authority from the scene of action is in itself a great source of weakness.This is no doubt why Rhodesia was given almost complete independence 42 years ago.Local opinion when it comes into conflict with a distant authority has always the advantage of more direct and immediate contact with reality. When it comes to a real struggle, opinions derived from the reading of books and despatches have little power to withstand those formed by contact with life, and the Imperial Government tends in consequence to surrender in the end to the more full-blooded convictions of those on the spot. Public opinion at home suffers from the same disability. Confronted with the emphatic assertions of those who have first-hand acquaintance with the facts it easily becomes uncertain of itself, vacillating and divided, and consequently ineffective as a controlling force.That is true of the Colonies. It is true of the present Malawi, it is true of Zambia, to a lesser extent. It is true of Kenya, and of other such Colonies in Africa. Because of the reasons pointed out in that Report, the Africans are usually in no such good case in any of those Colonies directly ruled from here as the Africans in Rhodesia, the truth being that many thousands of Africans have gone to seek employment in Rhodesia from those other former Colonies, not least, some 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 from Malawi.
In view of this and the transformation that has taken place in Rhodesia over the last six years, we cannot lightly say that the British Government has in fact been responsible for all that has been done in Rhodesia. Indeed, we must say precisely the reverse. What has happened in Rhodesia? Basically, this was a sparse land of many nomadic tribes, living under witchcraft, divided, massacring each other 1448 in tribal wars, subject to the most terrible diseases, incapable of coping with animal diseases in their herds, such as those caused by the tsetse fly. They were decimated, and were not increasing. They were living a life of the greatest fear, not only of each other—[Laughter.] The hon. Gentleman may laugh at this, but does he believe that the Africans were in a happy case in 1894? If the Under-Secretary believes that, let him say so.
§ Mr. Fell
Indeed we are. That was perfectly clear from the statement by the Prime Minister this afternoon. I accept that we are living in 1965, but anybody who disregards history disregards it at his peril. Let us look at the history, whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not. Through settlers going out from this country and missionaries in large numbers going out from this country, over the course of time the plagues and ill-health were overcome. In the course of time the tribles stopped killing each other and massacres ceased to take place. In the course of time Rhodesia was built up into the greatest and most successful country in the whole of Africa.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
I should like to follow the hon. Member's argument. If he is saying that advancement of Rhodesia apropos the indigenous population was so great, why were the Smith Government not prepared to take the Africans into their confidence and allow them the franchise which they would enjoy in their own Government?
§ Mr. Fell
I am grateful for that intervention, because once again it will take me on a little faster, and I have much to say. The simple answer to the question why the Rhodesians are not keen to give what the United Nations wants them to have—[HON. MEMBERS: "What we want them to have."]—I am glad to hear that it is what all hon. Members opposite want, although it is not what the Prime Minister wants—[An HON. MEMBER: "Answer the question."]—one man, one vote in Rhodesia straight away. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what the United Nations is after. If all hon. Members opposite and the Prime Minister say, "Oh, not today", will they please tell me who knows best when the Africans will be qualified to govern Rhodesia? 1449 [An HON. MEMBER: "Not the hon. Member."] We in this country say they are the Rhodesian Government who have had control of affairs for 40 years.
§ Mr. Fell
No, I cannot. The fact is that the Rhodesian Government—this theory was borne out in the statement I read earlier—through their experience and enormous success in building up this great country, better employ Africans from all the neighbouring States than those States can employ them themselves. They therefore have vast numbers of Africans going into Rhodesia for employment, and Rhodesia has built itself up under the Government it has had for 42 years into the greatest and most successful economy in the whole of Africa north of South Africa. That is the truth, and no one can deny it.
We are now in a position in which we say that we have to go on ruling Rhodesia until such time as Rhodesia agrees in some negotiations on what she is to do about bringing one man, one vote to Rhodesia. We had negotiations, and I shall not say much about them because this matter has been gone over time and again. Mr. Smith was given only the choice between Scylla and Charybdis. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Smith was given no other choice. A double-headed coin was tossed. Does anyone wish to interrupt?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
Order. If the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) does not give way, the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) must not persist.
§ Mr. Fell
The negotiations finally broke down because it was impossible for Smith to agree to a suggestion that there should be a Royal Commission to go into all this and in any case when the Royal Commission reported, whether it reported in favour or against Smith, the finding would not necessarily be accepted by Her Majesty's Government. That is an impossible situation. Everyone knows that when living in a country such as Rhodesia, which is surrounded by nations that are African-dominated, and 1450 living in a country around which one has seen country after country given independence over the last few years and watched with horror and sometimes disbelief thousands upon thousands of Africans being slaughtered in the course of Uhuru—for Uhuru does not mean freedom so much as it means death— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]
Hon. Members had better look at the facts. Can they tell me how many were slaughtered in Zanzibar? Will they tell me how many were slaughtered in Ruanda Urundi? Will they examine their consciences and tell me how many have been slaughtered in the Southern Sudan? Would they like to make a guess at the numbers of families in the whole of Central Africa who have been slaughtered in the past 10 years? I should not like to guess because we do not know the figures. What we do know is that there have been, not tens of thousands, but hundreds of thousands.
§ Mr. Fell
In the whole of Central Africa, and I am including Zanzibar. We do not know the exact figure, but we know that vast numbers have been slaughtered. whether there had been vast or small numbers, I should have thought that the hon. Member would be most interested and would have some fear, as the Rhodesians have, about handing over their country——
§ Mr. Norwood rose——
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Norwood) must not persist if the hon. Member in possession of the Floor refuses to give way.
§ Mr. Fell
I should have thought that the hon. Member would have some fear such as the Rhodesians have about handing their country over to a régime dominated by Africans in the light of the tragedies which have surrounded them over the past few years. Quite apart from anything else—[Interruption.] Hon. Members know that in the past I have given way every time I have been interrupted.
§ Mr. Fell
I do not wish to give way again, because I have already spoken for a long time and I do not want to detain the House for very much longer, but I still have a certain amount to say.
We have the position in which Mr. Smith, because he could not accept the premise of the British Government that he should have independence only provided that he was prepared to say that Africans should be given final control of the country, was forced to declare U.D.I. It is all very well for us here to say that the pressures were not there, but it is very difficult for us to know the feelings of the Rhodesians. It is very difficult for us living in Britain which is not surrounded by countries that continually have blood baths.
How do hon. Gentlemen think the people of Rhodesia felt when they were reading about the Congo troubles? They are not very far away to the north. How do they think the Rhodesians felt when they heard about the blood baths in Ruanda Urundi and Zanzibar? If we were in the position of the Rhodesians, in the last country to gain its independence, we would not be willing to allow Her Majesty's Government to tell us when there should be universal suffrage and the basis on which it should be given.
§ Mr. Longbottom
I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. I am sure that he is not trying to mislead the House, but surely the issue is not a matter of our dictating to the Smith régime as to whether independence should be given or not. We were acting on the 1961 Constitution which was already there and which did not envisage, and never has envisaged, African majority rule for a considerable number of years. My hon. Friend is making a mistake when he says that it is an issue between making a U.D.I. or handing over majority rule to Africans.
§ Mr. Fell
After all, I expect a certain amount of unanimity on this side of the House. If my hon. Friend will recall the five points laid down by the Prime Minister he will see what I am getting at. The five points were perfectly clear. They make it impossible for me to see how Smith could accept on the basis of those five points.
§ Mr. Fell
The fact is that a position was reached when Smith could not agree to the terms of the Prime Minister. [Hors. MEMBERS: "To the Royal Commission."] Yes, which, as I have said, was a choice between Scylla and Charybdis. The Prime Minister said that if the Royal Commission reported that Smith should have immediate independence on his own terms the British Government would not accept the Commission's recommendation. What, therefore, was the use of it? It was ridiculous to suggest a Commission in those terms. Of course I concede that no Government can say, "We are appointing a Royal Commission and this Commission can overrule anything that we say." Why was a Royal Commission proposed? It was simply to gain time and to cause delay. I am not disputing that a Royal Commission should have been offered. What I am saying is that it was not possible for Smith to accept it any longer.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I can see the point that the hon. Member is making. As far as Smith was concerned the terms of independence were unacceptable, but when he had the substance of independence as long as he did not declare it, what was the point of declaring it?
§ Mr. Fell
I should have thought that the hon. and learned Member would realise that the reasons were all sorts of factors which were apparent to those who were living in Rhodesia—for instance, all the muddle of the Federation. The truth is that Rhodesia came to the final position where she no longer trusted Britain and no longer trusted our Prime Minister. Therefore, under the greatest pressure from the Rhodesians in Rhodesia, Smith declared independence.
Now we have the situation where sanctions have been imposed. As a number of my hon. Friends asked in the debate on the Bill a few days ago, and not only they but the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot), if sanctions did not succeed, what then? The answer was either more sanctions or, secondly, force if more sanctions do not succeed. These are the only logical possibilities if the Government are a Government at all and believe in their policy. It is no good backing the United Nations in a policy of destruction of the Smith régime unless the Government have the 1453 courage and determination to carry out that plan. Does anybody really believe that sanctions will succeed in bringing down the Smith régime? They may succeed in destroying the Rhodesian economy and driving back to Malawi and Dr. Banda 50,000 Africans who would have no work to do and no houses to live in.
§ Mr. Fell
I am glad to see that at least some hon. Members on the other side—[HON. MEMBERS: "One Member."]—have a major concern for the Africans who will be the first to be hit and hit hard by sanctions and by everything that the Government are doing.
Now we have the follow-on which was suggested by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and myself in that previous debate. We have the follow-on of the first hint of force. I do not go further than that, and I do not want to exaggerate the position as far as force is concerned. If the Prime Minister of a Commonwealth country believes his life to be in danger, or if he is under heavy and dangerous pressure from Communists and other subversive elements, and if he has not the strength to govern and protect his own country and for that reason applies to us to send him help, I believe it to be almost impossible for the British Government to refuse him. But I also believe that it is odd to send out Javelins to help keep the internal security of Zambia. Indeed, we were told this afternoon that it is not for internal security. It is as a deterrent to stop any attacks on Zambia.
I want to know who wants to attack Zambia. Rhodesia's biggest customer in Africa is Zambia—there is a 30 per cent. trade each way. It is Smith who wants to attack? Smith may be a straight talker, and some would say that he is too straight for the Prime Minister and the politicians in this country do not understand such things, but, by heaven, he is no fool. 1454 The last thing that Smith wants to do in this situation is to destroy Zambia. The British Government have just cut off all imports from Rhodesia and they are trying to cut off exports to Rhodesia as well. They are doing everything they can, and professedly, to bring down the economy of Rhodesia, with no idea of what they will set up in its place—they have not got to that stage—so how can anyone really imagine that Rhodesia, under the threat of having her economy destroyed, will try to get rid of one of her best customers? Of course not. Only a fool would use that argument.
We heard the argument used today that if there is interruption of supplies to Zambia from Kariba we would regard this, apparently, as an act of war and we would send British troops. At least that is what I understood from the Prime Minister's statement, that we could not ignore that and would have to attack—[Interruption.] I am sorry, but this is what was said, and we must examine it carefully for a moment. Did it not occur to anyone in the House, when the pylon was blown up the other day, a few days before President Kaunda asked for troops, that this was another move in the direction of the use of force? [An HON. MEMBER: Of course."] I am glad that it occurred to someone.
§ Mr. Fell
If subversive elements of some kind unknown did damage the Kariba dam to such an extent that power supplies were stopped to the Copper Belt in Zambia, what would the Prime Minister do about that? Would he go in without the permission of the Smith régime, which this afternoon he called the régime in de facto control?
§ Mr. Fell
Of Kariba, exactly. Will he go in without the permission of the Smith régime and by force take over the protection, as we might put it, of the Kariba dam? This is getting precious close to what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and I forecast the other day. We get very close to a situation in which a reason may be found for Britain to use force against the Smith régime.
§ Mr. Fell
No; I have very nearly finished.
As I have said before, I do not believe that the Smith régime had any alternative. I am getting heartily sick of the cant and hypocrisy which spouts from Ministers in various positions in this country. To describe the Rhodesians as people committing treason, as revolutionaries, putting them in the light of men who loathe Britain, of people who would do this country an ill, of people who have no respect for the institutions of this country or, indeed, for Her Majesty the Queen, is to make a monstrous assertion and a monstrous distortion of the facts. Yet, time and again, we have heard from the Government Front Bench epithets being thrown at the Rhodesians which were never used against the revolutionary rulers of Zanzibar, epithets which have seldom been used against our enemies.
We are now talking of our friends the Rhodesians, the friends of Britain and, what is more, the friends of the Africans—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Can right hon. and hon. Members not get it into their heads that there is another side to the picture, that, if we backed the Smith regime, if we had strong enough leadership to stand up to the Afro-Asian group, and we had guts enough in this country to recognise the Smith régime as the de facto Government of Rhodesia, we might well save the lives of tens of thousands of Africans in Central Africa, we might well save the whole of the economy of Rhodesia from destruction, and we might then save Rhodesia from, perhaps, becoming a part of South Africa, which none of us wants to see. We might in that way give some hope 1456 to the forces of common sense in Central Africa.
This breakdown of law and order is not a feature of Central Africa alone, but I should be out of order if I were to stray in this debate into other parts of the world. Nevertheless, it is, in fact, a greater danger to the future peace of the world than the nuclear bomb has ever been. We see the callous disregard of principles, the extraordinary way in which the United Nations has descended into becoming the political mouthpiece of the majority powers in the United Nations. It is extraordinary how the United Nations ignores all sorts of troubles unless there happens to be political kudos in doing something about them.
What did the United Nations ever attempt to do about Tibet? Tibet is not Central Africa, of course, but the example is still good. We know that the United Nations did nothing. What did it attempt to do about Zanzibar?—nothing. So history of failure has gone on. I fear what will happen if the United Nations becomes an organisation run by countries who happen to form the majority group. The United States of America has the same vote as the Congo or Ghana, on the principle of one man, one vote? Is it not stupid?
Yet, in this situation, when the United Nations no longer has respect for principles of law and order but only for the principles of majority politics, when there is no leader left in the world outside France who has enough faith in his people to take an independent line——
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
The hon. Gentleman talks constantly about the Rhodesians and dealings with the United Nations. Will he please say something about the millions of black Africans instead of about the white people? Does he never talk about the black Africans? Have they no place in the economy? Does he speak for them? Mr. Smith does not.
§ Mr. Johnson
But when the hon. Member speaks about Rhodesia he speaks about the white Rhodesians. What about the masses of Africans who live there?
§ Mr. Fell
I do not intend to continue listening to rather ridiculous interventions like that when the hon. Member has made no attempt to follow my argument, which is that there is a very distinct danger that if one man, one vote were introduced quickly in Rhodesia it could lead to untold hardship, not only for the whites but for the Africans, too. That is a point of view, although the hon. Member may not agree with it.
The world is in a sorry case, for no longer does any nation stand up and say what it believes to be the truth. No longer is there any faith in institutions. Even the Commonwealth is going the same way. The only great leader left——
§ Mr. Fell
—who has the guts to say what he believes is General de Gaulle in France. [Laughter.] It may be that hon. Members opposite are so tight-minded and so narrow-minded that it is impossible for them to recognise the enormous job which General de Gaulle has done for France in a very few years because of his faith in France and himself. I do not say that General de Gaulle is good for Britain, but it is a good thing to have a General de Gaulle in the world, for at least we have one man who has the guts to stand by his principles and beliefs.
We in this country have a Prime Minister who is in some ways the greatest Prime Minister this country has seen. He is the greatest personal public relations man that we have ever seen as Prime Minister. His name is known from Downing Street furniture removers to striptease in the Scilly Isles. The Prime Minister appears more than any Prime Minister has ever appeared before in people's private homes. Some people have even been rude enough to call him the goggle box wonder.
§ Mr. Fell
I am sticking to the point which I want to make. But the Prime Minister, in my opinion, has made an unbelievable mess of affairs outside this country. Quite apart from his errors in taxation and everything else in this country, his greatest error has been in his handling of foreign affairs. In Vietnam, for political purposes of his Administration——
§ Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)
On a point of order. May I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to rule that this is not a foreign affairs debate?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
The hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) is tending to go a little wide. He should keep to the Motion.
§ Mr. Fell
I accept that completely. I will close on this note: I am grateful to the House for having been so patient in listening to a speech which was bound to be full of much controversy. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will do something constructive about what follows his policy, for it we go on in the direction which he has taken at the moment it is almost impossible that war between this country and Rhodesia, or civil war, call it what we may, will be avoided. After Mr. Smith has made some suggestion that an approach might not be unwelcome, is it not possible for some action to be taken? Even the Prime Minister has hinted at that possibility. Can the Prime Minister not rise up and be a big enough man to take the initiative? He will not suffer in the eyes of the British people. For the first time he will gain real stature for being a man. For the country, make no mistake, is not solidly behind the Prime Minister in a policy which could bring the whole of Central Africa to ruination.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
It may be wholly right that the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) should put on record his views about the Rhodesian situation, because if ever a nineteenth century case were espoused in this House in the middle of the twentieth century, his garbled version and the half-truths which he has given this afternoon represent a classic example.
What he and a minority of his hon. Friends fail to face is that when they talk 1459 of Rhodesia and Africa they talk of a white minority and not of the vast African majority and of the many white people who have settled there and who accept a multi-racial society. What about the people now living in Kenya and accepting the society there? Who would have thought a few years ago that we should see a suitable type of society developing in Kenya such as that which is developing under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta?
It is because of this position that the world is moving not on an axis of East-West but on an axis of North-South. We have to come to terms with it. When the hon. Member talks in a derisory manner of the Afro-Asia bloc, he is talking about two-thirds of the world's population. In the world of tomorrow we shall be the white minority and the coloured people will be the majority. Not only are they numerically the majority, but possibly they will be economically superior, too. We must face this situation. The hon. Member talked about tribal factors in Africa and about some of the things which have happened there, but we have not much to boast about in our society when a so-called cultured nation in 1939–45 in Europe sent six million people to the gas chamber. These facts, which must be faced, are the key to the issue.
If this country fails to topple the Smith régime and to replace it by constitutional Government which will guarantee eventual majority rule in Rhodesia, we shall not only fail the British people but we shall fail in the eyes of the world, and any threat that now exists from elsewhere of intervention in Rhodesia might come in greater measure.
A great many hon. Members welcome the further measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today, not only those in relation to establishing a force in Zambia, but also the categorical assurance he gave about the Kariba Dam and its protection on British territory. This is essential.
Much has been said lately about whether or not sanctions can be successful. A recent article in the Sunday Times stated that possibly sanctions could have succeeded against Mussolini if they had been applied effectively. We must see in this case that they 1460 are so applied, by this country and by the rest of the world. We must face squarely the issue of oil sanctions and, if necessary, be prepared to blockade the ports to stop oil going into Rhodesia. We can assist other nations which might be short of oil, even at great cost. But it is either this course or—and we must face this—military intervention which may come.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
The hon. Gentleman has referred to the Prime Minister's statement about sending troops in certain circumstances if anything happened to the Kariba Dam. Would it not have been better if the Prime Minister had said that the troops would go if it could be shown that electricity from the dam had been stopped by some action of the Smith Government or the Smith country?
§ Mr. Orme
That would surely be closing the door after the horse had bolted. We tried to take that line before U.D.I. We tried to prevent it to the last, but it still came. In view of that lesson, we should take preparatory action now for the protection of the Kariba Dam.
I am the last person to advocate the use of force for its own sake. But there comes a time when one has to face up to the responsibility. I speak now not just as a Member of Parliament but as a former Service man as well. This is not an issue that one takes lightly.
We must ask ourselves whether other African States and other nations will stand back from this situation. What will happen if intervention comes, say, from North Africa? Do we begin scurrying about saying that we have some responsibility? Britain must be firm now. We must either say that this territory is British and our responsibility or that we can do nothing about it and will leave it to be settled as the world thinks best.
Surely we want to build a multi-racial society in Rhodesia—and that is one of the most difficult things to do. The white immigrant population in Rhodesia is exceptionally recent in arrival; two-thirds have gone there since 1945. That is one of the prime difficulties. Nevertheless, if we ignore the 4 million Africans in the country we shall also in effect ignore two-thirds of the world as well. Can we 1461 afford to do that in 1965 when this country is trying to take a moral stand on the situation?
Derisory mention has often been made of the United Nations. What would any hon. Member put in its place? What hope have we without some form of world organisation, with all its faults and warts? Are we not to attempt to make it work? Are we not at the moment carrying a majority of the United Nations with us on this issue? Britain must maintain her stand and hold that support.
It is for these reasons that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, when asked directly today whether or not we would take action to protect our interests on our soil, gave the only answer posaction. The issue must be faced. This is not only a question of using force to reinstitute the 1961 Constitution. It is a question of action to protect our own livelihood and interests against the illegal régime and illegal Army and Air Force in Rhodesia.
Does any hon. Member doubt that had this been any other British territory, and one which did not have an Army and Air Force, we would not be governing it now directly and that the people who had attempted to set up an illegal régime would be under restriction? It is only to prevent bloodshed that military action has not taker. place. But African States ask, "If this is your territory, why do you not do something about it and replace Smith?" It is a difficult question to answer.
Nevertheless, I believe that Britain is prepared to face the situation that is developing. I believe that the minority in this House opposing action against Rhodesia is getting smaller and I hope that hon. Members in that minority will test the feeling of the House tonight by dividing on this issue. Let us stand up and be counted on this moral issue facing the nation.
There are right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite whose stand on this issue should not be derided. The support that they have given to the Government is an indication that the vast majority of our people support the actions taken so far and the stronger actions that the Government propose. An indication was given to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today that the harder the action taken the greater support he will get.
1462 We cannot allow the Smith régime to be maintained by default or to establish a position where Mr. Smith can go on sneering at Britain as he does now. However, I think that the champagne party in Salisbury is ending. We must bring it to a quick end. We can only do that by establishing ourselves in the right and negotiating, when the times comes, not with Smith and his rebels but with people of all races in Rhodesia who have stood by Britain and constitutional action throughout this period.
This debate is very welcome. I have listened to all the debates on Rhodesia since the crisis began. I have noticed a greater tone of seriousness entering into them. We have had tonight some nonsense from the hon. Member for Yarmouth, but he has only succeeded in exposing the weakness and barrenness of the case of those who support Smith and his allies in this country. In this House there is overwhelming support for the action taken by the British Government.
I hope that arrangements can be made today with President Kaunda about the despatch of troops and that we can get action to make economic sanctions really tough so that we can bring down this illegal régime and replace it with constitutional Government.
I do not know how anybody in 1965 who has been elected to the House of Commons on a democratic franchise can deny the principle of "One man, one vote" to anyone else in the world, but the time has come for those who take that view to stand up and be counted. I am prepared to say that. I support the actions which I want the Government to take and they should say what action they want. I believe that the British people will come down firmly on the side of constitutional government and action by this country.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Brooke (Hampstead)
I find myself wondering which is the greater danger to a successful outcome of this terribly difficult situation—the Left wing of the Labour Party, or speeches like that of my hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). I thought that my hon. Friend used his luck in the Ballot to singularly small advantage this 1463 afternoon, and I disagree so fundamentally with the terms of his Motion that I feel impelled to speak.
There is grave danger to Africa, as the Motion says, but it arises from the inexcusable act of the former Rhodesian Ministers. They can hardly have thought that theirs was a lawful act, but they may have imagined that it was a domestic one. It was not. It was a decision taken in a world setting, and neither they nor we can opt out of that fact. The eyes of the Commonwealth and of the world are upon us, and rightly so, to see whether we—and that means this Parliament of ours here—have the firmness of purpose, based on understanding of realities, to handle a perilous crisis with wisdom. In a free Parliament, of course, any Motion can be tabled, but understanding of realities demands that this Motion be either withdrawn or defeated.
The Motion refers to expressions of loyalty. Expressions of loyalty are of less than no value when contradicted by actions. Refusal to recognise the Sovereign's representative in Rhodesia is an act of direct disloyalty to the Sovereign.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Does my right hon. Friend consider that the guarding of the representative of the Sovereign by a theoretically rebel régime is a good position for the representative of the Sovereign to find himself in?
§ Mr. Brooke
I do not think I am called upon to express a view on that. I am addressing myself to the terms of the Motion. The Motion speaks of expressions and acts of loyalty, and here we see glaringly an act of the grossest disloyalty. It is better that these things should be said plainly than in veiled words.
§ Mr. Fell rose——
§ Mr. Brooke
No. I have given way once.
This to me is the essence of our dispute with Mr. Smith and the other ex-Ministers, and all the actions of this Parliament of ours must be designed to lead the people of Rhodesia to realise the enormity of the act of disloyalty which has been committed by those ex-Ministers in their names. We 1464 can still remain friends with the people of Rhodesia, white and black, because so many of them do not yet realise that. This crisis will be resolved—and Rhodesia will resume her forward march to a great future—when and only when public opinion among the wiser and more responsible people in Rhodesia has gathered enough strength to declare that it will not be led into isolation and eventual disaster by extremists any longer.
By the normal development of thought, that process will be shortened if we make our firmness of purpose absolutely clear, without wavering and, equally, without talk of violence or force. Rhodesian people with non-extremist views face in these coming days the destiny of having to take a great decision. Those who have to take great decisions in this world look around them to see what support they will have at the moment of truth. Inaction on our part, inaction such as the Motion calls for, would leave those people without hope, and, I would judge, drive them into the extremists' camp. Firmness here will strengthen their resolution and help to convince them that if they will take courage there is a hand of British friendship held out ready for them to grasp.
Let us think not only of Rhodesia but of Zambia, on which, through no fault of Zambia or the Zambian people, events in Rhodesia are throwing tremendous strains, as the Prime Minister said. I understand how difficult it would be for Members of Parliament to visit Rhodesia at this present juncture with much hope of their visit being beneficial or productive. But these difficulties do not exist in the case of Zambia, and I cannot help thinking that visits by responsible Members of this Parliament to Zambia and all its peoples just now would do nothing but good in helping to make known there our feelings and our desire to give them all the friendly help we can, and also, of course, in bringing back to Westminster the fullest understanding of their points of view.
Let me return to the subject of Rhodesia. The extremists who gained power at the last election there have blinded themselves to a fact of history which we as the Mother Country of the British Empire have had to learn by hard and long experience. It is that a minority 1465 cannot indefinitely try to govern an indigenous majority, without provoking outbreak; which will in the end make it impossible to carry on government without using the methods of a police State. The only solution, if violence and bloodshed are to be avoided, is to press forward with the higher education and training of the indigenous majority.
The Rhodesian people have just cause to be proud of a splendid achievement in the material development of what less than 100 years ago was a savage land. That achievement now has to be matched by educational developments on a wide scale and up to the highest levels, in which. I trust, Britain will be ready to help generously.
Out of this present crisis, we and Rhodesia can sink into the vale of misery or we can rise to a fresh plateau of hope. It depends on firmness here and courage there. This Motion may serve some useful purpose because, whether it is voted on or withdrawn, it will show how few in the House of Commons are the individual voices which call for no action.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Rowland (Meriden)
It is a pleasure to follow the statesmanlike speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke). I was in Lusaka last year when British troops flew to Tanzania and Kenya and I remember the sense of relief in the European community in Zambia at that time that some kernel of security, in the shape of British troops, was going to be in East Africa. I am glad that the last British Government agreed to the request by the Governments of Tanzania and Kenya, because not only was it necessary but it established a highly desirable and useful precedent in the light of what we are discussing today. I think that it makes it easier for the British Government of today to justify sending troops to Zambia.
I welcome the Prime Minister's statement for several reasons. First, because President Kaunda asked us for troops. Like many other hon. Members on both sides of the House, I believe that the West, if one may use the term without embarrassment to President Kaunda, is fortunate in the character and statesmanship of the President of Zambia. We must make no mistake about it, Zambia 1466 is an important country to the western world, as well as being an important country in her own continent. I welcome the statement also because other nations, not members of the Commonwealth, might otherwise have sent forces, and I see no British, Zambian or African interest being served by the presence of non-Commonwealth forces in Zambia. I welcome the statement because I believe that the European community in Zambia will welcome it. We must never forget them. In all the talk of kith and kin about white Rhodesians, let us never forget that such talk of kith and kin is equally valid to white Zambians.
I welcome the statement, because the Kariba Dam may need protection. The power from Kariba is vital to Zambia's economy and, at one remove, it is vital to Britain's economy. Something like half of our copper comes from Zambia, and without that copper, which is as vital as oxygen to the human body, the British economy would be severely affected. These are my reasons for welcoming the Prime Minister's statement.
Having said this, I am puzzled by some of the responses of the Leader of the Opposition. I can never tell, on some occasions, whether he is being obtuse or weak. I set off by thinking the former and then I remember that he is a man of great ability and can only conclude that it is the latter.
The Prime Minister said, quite simply, I thought—this was one of the clearest statements the Prime Minister has made on this situation—that we could not "stand idly by" if Rhodesia were to cut the power supplies to the Copperbelt. In my opinion, this means that British forces might have to take defensive action in response to offensive action. In other words, if power is cut off by the Smith régime I regard that as an offensive action by Rhodesia against Zambia. This means that any attempt to take over the southern side of Kariba, from which the power is transmitted, would not be an offensive action by British or Zambian troops but would be a defensive action.
§ Mr. Rowland
My hon. and learned Friend has anticipated a question which I shall ask later of the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations. I fully take the point. Let us be under no illusion about this. If the power were cut off, this would be an offensive act against Zambia. Therefore, any response by British forces, involving the crossing of the frontier, would in my opinion, and I am sure the opinion of the Government, not be an offensive action, but a defensive action, in response to offence by the other side. Yet the Leader of the Opposition's probing on this question seem to be remarkably similar in its stance to the line taken by the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). I hope that the similarity of these two stances may make the Leader of the Opposition think again.
The reason why we have to make it quite clear to Smith that we cannot allow him to cut off the power to Zambia is quite simple. As and when sanctions begin to bite in Rhodesia, one of the major trump cards which Rhodesia has is to be able to say, "If you do not call off the sanctions we will endeavour to wreck Zambia's economy". This is an obvious response by Smith to growing economic difficulties, and the only response to that is to make it clear that if Smith tries this he will not succeed physically, because we will pre-empt the southern bank of Kariba. I trust that the Leader of the Opposition, as he thinks over this situation, will realise that the British Government's policy on this is quite clear and that there can be no policy oher than the one being pursued.
I suppose, like some Shakespearean chronicle, that the hon. Members for Lancaster and York, not to mention the lesser dukedoms on Tonbridge and Surbiton, will once again have to come to the rescue of the Leader of the Opposition and prop him up into some sort of stance suitable for his important rôle in the current crisis.
I should like to ask the Minister of State a few questions, and I shall understand, when he speaks later, if he does not feel able to answer them, because these are delicate matters and may not be capable of precise answer at this time. I should like to ask him if the presence of British forces in Zambia will, in any way, be conditional on no other troops being present there from any other coun- 1468 try? Secondly, can British forces be made available for internal security, possibly on the Copperbelt and possibly under Zambian command, if the Zambian Government so requested? Thirdly, I should like some assurance that British forces stationed in Zambia do not accept the siren invitation of Mr. Smith to cross the frontier and enjoy, as I have done, the swimming pool at Victoria Falls Hotel. I do not think that it is appropriate for British forces to franternise with an illegal and rebel régime.
Fourthly, are we in touch with the Zambian Government with regard to Zambia imposing trade embargoes against Rhodesia? The Prime Minister said that we were in touch with many other countries on this matter. I should like to know if Zambia is one of them. Next to ourselves, Zambia is the most important market for Rhodesian goods, but I personally would understand if we feel that we cannot expect Zambia to engage in outright trade sanctions against Rhodesia.
Fifthly, would the Government be prepared to consider guaranteeing the security of the Kariba Darn, even if Smith does not cut off power? I come to the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). In this highly charged situation, even without the power being cut off by Smith—and I think that this is unlikely to occur unless he is desperate—there is the possibility of sabotage of this great installation. There is no doubt that if the worst were to happen, this would be the greatest manmade disaster ever known in Africa.
I should like some assurance that if, for any good reasons, we have some doubts about the ability of either the Zambian authorities, or Smith's régime, to guard the security of Kariba, the British Government would feel that it would be legitimate to take some action, even although power had not been cut off.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is rightly continuing his determined policy of gradually squeezing the Smith régime and hoping that some sense will prevail. I think that this policy—we must face this—may well straddle both sides of a General Election in this country. It is therefore important, regardless of the 1469 outcome of the next General Election, that the Government continue to have the support of the Opposition in this matter. The Opposition had a remarkable record of decolonisation in Africa when they were the Government. Most of British Africa is free because of the actions of the Conservative Government. I think that the Conservative Opposition must remember this and be true to their own past and true to the present demands on this nation when they consider their final response to today's important and grave announcements by the Prime Minister.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
The hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland) has spoken in very moderate tones and very strong terms. I pay tribute first to the sincerity with which he expressed the views that he holds, different though they may be from mine. This is inevitably a rather controversial debate. The Prime Minister's statement at the beginning of the debate has, again perhaps inevitably, tended to raise the temperature.
I should like, while I can, before embarking on more controversial subjects, to congratulate the Government at any rate upon two matters. It was with great relief that I learned—it was announced yesterday—that financial aid to the multi-racial university in Salisbury will go forward. I think that this is extremely important if we are to maintain the concept of multi-racialism in Central Africa. I should also like to pay tribute to the courage which the Prime Minister showed yesterday in speaking of the possibility of a Parliamentary delegation going out to Rhodesia. The more contacts that are encouraged between responsible circles in Rhodesia and the people over here in the next few months, the better chance there will be of finding a solution.
We have travelled a long way in the three weeks since the breakdown of the Smith-Wilson talks led the Government to embark upon their present adventure vis-à-vis Rhodesia. On 11th November the Prime Minister scouted the idea of oil sanctions. Oil sanctions are now, I understand, the subject of international study. On 12th November the Prime Minister, in a courteous reply to an intervention of mine, told me that he thought that the sanctions then pro- 1470 posed would be quite enough for the job. We heard him this afternoon reel off a list of other items to which sanctions are to be applied, which rather reminded me of Tom Lehrer's famous record about lithium, zircon, tantalum, and I do not know what other strange objects he cited.
We were told that the Rhodesian crisis was a strictly domestic Anglo-Rhodesian matter, but at the United Nations when we could not get our resolution accepted we found ourselves, in the view of the Government, obliged to accept the resolution moved by two other Powers, even in circumstances where our French allies thought it wrong even to vote at all.
We were told that troops would not be used, that there would be no question of force, unless they were invited in to restore law and order. Today we have been told that in certain circumstances, where a vital British interest is concerned, they might have to move without the breakdown of law and order or without invitation—that is to say, to the Rhodesian side of the Kariba Dam. We have moved a very long way in three weeks, a very short time.
Let me say a word about the economic measures to which the Prime Minister referred today. We have now got virtually a total economic embargo on Rhodesia imposed by this country. I have just seen on the tape what the administrative statement about these measures contains. It includes even a prohibition on the payment of pensions to retired people in Rhodesia. The House knows that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has made it perfectly plain that we could not go along with punitive sanctions. I cannot think of anything more punitive than the refusal to allow payment of pensions to retired people in Rhodesia. This is pretty tough stuff.
§ Mr. Zilliacus rose——
§ Mr. Amery
I should like to get on a little before giving way. I dare say that in the course of the debate I shall have to give way, but time is short and many hon. Members wish to speak.
I was told personally on 12th November that the sanctions then proposed would be enough for the Government's purposes. Plainly it is now conceded that they are not enough and that nothing short of a 95 per cent. embargo—those 1471 are the Prime Minister's own words—will do the trick.
The information that I have is that the sanctions formerly proposed would have taken 18 months to two years to take effect. I do not know what the estimate for the new measures is, but I would still think it will be quite a long time.
Let me say a word about the sending of troops to Zambia. We all recognise that the Government were faced with an extremely difficult and unpleasant decision, with the odds very finely balanced on both sides. There were great dangers either way. I do not know whether the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in his persuasive way, will be able to get President Kaunda to agree to the sending of troops on our terms. Let us assume for the moment that he does not. I would urge the House not to be unduly worried if the right hon. Gentleman fails in the mission which has been entrusted to him. Let us not exaggerate the peril too much.
I realise that if the right hon. Gentleman fails there will be a possibility that troops from other African countries will be sent, but I would remind the House that the logistic problems of sending troops from Egypt, from Ethiopia or from Ghana to Zambia are enormously complex. All the fuel on which modern forces depend for their air and road transport has to come through Southern Rhodesia. The food on which they would rely would have in large measure to come through Southern Rhodesia, unless it was transported over dust roads, impassable in the rainy months, from Dar-es-Salaam. It would be an almost impossible operation for the African States concerned to move the forces and maintain them there for themselves. The forces that operated in the Congo for the United Nations were able to operate only because the United States provided the transport and the necessary infrastructure. I cannot believe that the United States would undertake transport of this kind if the Government here were to advise them not to do so.
Nor do I believe that the Soviet Union would, or indeed can, undertake this task. As I ventured to remind the House the other day, when the Russians tried to support Mr. Gizenga's operation in Stanley-vine in the Congo, 1,500 miles nearer to 1472 their own bases in Egypt than Rhodesia is, they found themselves unable to do it, partly from lack of fuel, partly from lack of food, partly from all the difficulties that attend the carrying out of operations that far from one's own base.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I think we can all follow what the right hon. Gentleman is saying about the difficulty of mounting a force. Will he tell the House whether his objection to the use of any kind of force is based upon the difficulty of doing it, on the one hand, or on the wrongness of doing it, on the other?
§ Mr. Amery
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I think he knows perfectly well that I believe, as I understood the Government believed, as the Prime Minister appears to believe, that the use of force would be wrong. On the other hand, I had understood that it was the view of certain people—I do not know whether it is the Prime Minister's view; it is a view which has been widely reported in the Press—that, if we did not go into Zambia, other countries would, with a view to using force.
Therefore, there are many of us on both sides of the House who are very anxious to see the Prime Minister's initiative in Zambia succeed and who hope that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will be able to persuade President Kaunda, precisely because we are afraid that if we do not send forces to do nothing other countries will send forces to do something. I hope I make myself clear. All the same I am advising the House not to worry too much if the right hon. Gentleman fails in the mission which has ben entrusted to him, because it will be very difficult for the African Powers, based on Zambia, to undertake an operation against Rhodesia, and I do not think that the great Powers, who could make it possible, are likely to intervene.
But let us suppose for a moment that the right hon. Gentleman succeeds. Let us suppose that President Kaunda agrees to the sending of troops on the terms which the Prime Minister described at the Dispatch Box earlier this afternoon. Here I must say that there is one point which makes me very anxious indeed. As I understood him, the Prime Minister said 1473 that he could not stand idly by when we had forces in Zambia if there was a cutoff of the power installations situated on the Rhodesian side of the Kariba Dam.
I may be wrong, but, as I understand it, that can only mean that British forces will be used to take physical control of the installations on the Rhodesian side of the Zambesi. We are, of course, dealing with a hypothetical situation. We have not yet received permission to send our troops to Zambia, so I do not want to raise the temperature too much about this, but I think that this would be putting ourselves in a position which, as I ventured to say at a public meeting the other day, could lead to a British civil war in Central Africa.
I do not think that we can allow our troops—an R.A.F. regiment, or whatever it may be—to be sent to Zambia with any ambiguity about their rôle; and if part of their rôle were to be that in certain circumstances they might have to invade Rhodesia to seize certain strategic points, we should be putting a strain on their loyalty which would make the Curragh mutiny look like very small beer indeed.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Is the right hon. Gentleman really saying that if Mr. Smith and his colleagues were to take active steps against the Kariba Dam on the Rhodesian side of the border we should do nothing about it, that we should stand idly by and let it happen? Is that what he is saying?
§ Mr. Amery
If the hon. Gentleman had not bothered to intervene, I would have dealt with that point in any case. It seems intolerable that we should send our troops with a remit which could envisage the invasion of Rhodesia. Indeed, it would be quite contrary to everything the Government have said up to now, contrary to every assurance that we have been given, and on the basis of which assurances we have let a number of their enabling Bills and other Measures go through.
In what circumstances is it conceivable that Mr. Smith would wish to switch off the power installations on the Rhodesian side of the border? I can think of only one set of circumstances, and it is here that I should like to seek an assurance from the Government. I accept that we should send troops to protect the régime in Zambia, but it would be intolerable if 1474 that régime took advantage of the protection afforded by the presence of British troops themselves to undertake the subversion of Rhodesia from Zambia, whether by subversive broadcasts, by sending gangs, by shipping weapons, or by tolerating other people using Zambian territory for this purpose. This would make us vicariously involved in aggression against Rhodesia, and this is something that we could not tolerate.
§ Mr. Richard
Did I hear the right hon. Gentleman aright? Did he say that in his opinion broadcasts from Zambia to Rhodesia in an attempt to overturn the illegal régime there would be subversion, and that if Britain acquiesced in that, or if, from Zambian territory, from Bechuanaland, or from any neighbouring territory, she engaged in such broadcasts, she would be doing something wrong? What would we be doing wrong?
§ Mr. Amery
I apologise for not knowing what experience the hon. Gentleman has in these matters, but there is a great difference between news broadcasts, and broadcasting stations beaming appeals to the African population to strike, or to rise in revolt, or to do things of that kind. If the Zambian authorities were to use their radio stations to incite the African population in Rhodesia to disorder, it would be intolerable if at the same time we were affording them protection against retaliation which might fall on them if this subversive agitation were to be pushed too far.
I think that we have to ask ourselves what every staff officer has to ask himself in any military operation—what is the object of the exercise? The object of the exercise, as explained by the Prime Minister, is to defend Zambia. To defend Zambia against whom? Against Mr. Smith? I do not think so. We had better speak about these things frankly. They are bandied about in the Press every day, and there is no reason why we should not discuss them. I think we all know that troops would be sent to protect what is a reasonable and moderate Government in Zambia against extremists at home and against Afro-Asian countries situated further away which are importunate in their demands to be allowed to go to Zambia to "have a go" at Rhodesia. This is a strange commentary on the effects of majority rule in Zambia. It is 1475 not uninteresting to note that the only way in which the democratically elected Government in Zambia can be maintained in a crisis may be by the intervention of British military forces.
I am not against introducing a barrier of British forces between Rhodesia and the extremists further to the north. I see the point of this. I fully support the Government on this proposition, if the other conditions which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has sought to put are accepted, though from what the Prime Minister said about the Kariba Dam they are not.
The question that we have to ask ourselves is, is it really practicable? Will we in fact be able to interpose a barrier of this kind? Suppose an offer is accepted. Suppose we send an R.A.F. squadron and a detachment of the Royal Air Force Régiment. What will happen in a month from now? The appeasement of Afro-Asian opinion is like a descending path. It is all very simple and easy at the beginning, but as one goes on, it becomes narrower. There are boulders and thorns in the way, it get steeper, and fairly soon one finds oneself on the edge of the abyss.
What will happen if, in a month from now, the same pressures are exerted on President Kaunda as were exerted earlier this week? What will happen if his extremists at home, and his Afro-Asian friends outside, say, "The R.A.F. Régiment is not doing much about Rhodesia. We want to send our troops to Zambia to help"? What will President Kaunda do then? Will he come and ask us for more troops? If he does, what will we do? Will we reinforce the forces we have already sent there? If we do, how far do we take this argument? To what extent do we say that the right thing to do is always to have British forces there to keep things under control? If the United Nations try to take charge and say that there must be an invasion of Rhodesia, do we say that it is better that we should undertake it? If there is to be shooting, do we say that it is better for Rhodesians to be shot with British bullets?
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
Several times during his speech my right hon. Friend has referred to the possibility of British troops invading Rhodesia. 1476 May I ask whether he accepts the proposition that at the moment Rhodesia is still one of Her Majesty's dominions? If he does, how is it possible to regard British troops moving into Rhodesia as an invasion?
§ Mr. Amery
My hon. Friend has raised a fundamental point, and with his great knowledge of history he will recall the dilemma which confronted officers in the British Army over the Ulster problem in 1914. He will remember what many gallant officers, for whom I am sure he has great respect and regard, felt about it at the time, and how this country was nearly brought to the verge of civil war. I do not wish to see this happen again. My hon. Friend may say that technically it would not be an invasion, but he knows as well as I do that, de facto, it would be. All the signs are that it would be ourselves who invaded, and I do not wish to see a situation brought about in which British troops are caused to fight and fire upon other British troops.
§ Sir John Vaughan-Morgan (Reigate) rose——
§ Mr. Amery
My right hon. Friend will forgive my not giving way he will probably be speaking in a moment.
I cannot find it in me to condemn the Prime Minister's decision to try to support President Kaunda, except for his statement that British troops might be used to seize the Kariba Dam. But it must be realised that what the Government are proposing—if their offer is accepted by President Kaunda—is a widening of the breach, and an increasing of the tension. If British troops are to be admitted to Zambia this might provide a precedent for a closer involvement between South Africa, Southern Rhodesia and Portugal in their military arrangements.
§ Mr. Amery
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is very well informed on these matters. I understood that there were three airfields which could be used for this purpose, but 1477 I would not wish to cross swords with him. If President Kaunda accepts the Government's offer, although we shall secure a certain breathing space it will not last for very long. Pressure from the United Nations and the Afro-Asians will mount again quite soon, and further measures will be called for, so it is very important that if the Government succeed in gaining time they should make the best use of it. When we spoke on these matters three weeks ago I urged that we should gain as much time as possible. My feeling today is that we should make use as quickly as we can of any time gained in order to reach a settlement with the Rhodesians before things go very much further. [HON. MEMBERS: "What Rhodesians?"] With the de facto authorities in Rhodesia.
What will be the basis of any settlement? It would not be practicable to think in terms of unconditional surrender. Nor do I think that most hon. Members, on either side of the House, would wish to see the unconditional surrender of the de facto authorities in Salisbury. Nor—much as I would like us to be able to do so—can we go back to 1961. In history nothing is more difficult than to go back. We cannot talk about resuming our colonial rôle because we have never exercised it in Rhodesia. If British troops go to Zambia now it will be the first time in history that British troops have been to Zambia or to Southern Rhodesia, with the exception of a few fugitives who escaped from Tanganyika during the First World War.
Nor will it be practicable to undo the declaration of independence. We cannot get the de facto authorities in Rhodesia to go back upon this. The task is to bring the Rhodesians, by diplomatic means, to take steps which would justify not the approval of this House but the recognition of this House of facts as they are. Can we bring them to an acceptance of the five principles? I am not sure. But I am pretty sure that with an effort we can prevent an extension of apartheid in Rhodesia.
In spite of the strong measures that they announced this afternoon there are signs that the Government are thinking again. Their decision to continue to support the Salisbury University and their talk about a Parliamentary delegation are the right kind of measures to pursue— 1478 these and not sanctions. We must seek to end the rebellion by agreement between both sides—not by coercion but by conciliation.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)
The right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) has very strong views on this matter. This is the place where those views should be expressed. Nevertheless, I very much regret his reference to the Curragh Camp incident 50 years ago. Differences of opinion undoubtedly exist in this country about this issue, but in my experience in my constituency and in other parts of the country there is not the slightest doubt that most of our people are behind the Government, as are the vast majority of the Opposition at this time.
§ Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan
As my right hon. Friend did not give way to me and the hon. Member has been courteous enough to do so, I should like to say now what I was going to say to my right hon. Friend about the Curragh incident. I was going to ask my right hon. Friend whether the same sentiments did not apply to our kith and kin in Rhodesia who have sworn loyalty to the Queen if they are ordered to take up arms against British troops.
§ Mr. Rees
I fully agree with the right hon. Member for Reigate (Sir John Vaughan-Morgan) on that point.
I now turn to another question. Undoubtedly, as the economic sanctions and other measures take effect at some pitch or other there will have to be discussions, but the reference by the right hon. Member for Preston, North to a recognition of the de facto Government, and of independence, is something which I am confident is not accepted by the vast majority of public opinion in this country.
I now want to deal with what was said by the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). Among the many incredible arguments put forward by him was one that up to about three weeks ago, when U.D.I. took place, the alternative for the Smith régime was majority rule or U.D.I. This was not the case on that occasion. There was room for manoeuvre, and it will be to the detriment of the world as a whole that U.D.I. was taken despite 1479 all the efforts made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
Further, the hon. Member for Yarmouth and the right hon. Member for Preston, North chose to see the sending of troops to Zambia as an indication of the weakness of President Kaunda's Government. Although there may be elements of truth in this, in a new State such as Zambia there are wider questions which all the people in this country should accept. We can no longer forget—whatever hon. Members like the hon. Member for Yarmouth feel about it—that there is a world public opinion in the United Nations, and that at this moment we are at the bar of this world public opinion. We must give consideration to this fact.
Two or three weeks ago, in terms of U.D.I., I received a reference comparing it to Sarajevo. This would not be out of place again now. Big social movements are afoot in this world and we must keep abreast of them and in contact with them. This is why I support wholeheartedly the policy of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Government. What gives me even more courage is that they receive the support of both sides of the House, which is extremely important at this time. If this House splits on this issue in a big way it could mean the end of the British Commonwealth of Nations as it has developed in recent years.
I now turn to the wording of the Motion, and to a matter referred to by the right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke). As a relatively new Member I hope that I shall not be thought pompous if I say that the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman was statesmanlike and that it happily belied to some extent the image which unfortunately built up about him in recent years. I sincerely do not mean that unkindly, because on another issue in this House in recent months he has shown the same basic statesmanship.
The Motion refers tothe repeated expressions and acts of loyalty to the Sovereign by Rhodesian Governments.I should like to emphasise that this is not loyalty. The loyalty which is expressed by the present Rhodesian Government is the sort of loyalty which one gets in women's magazines. It is the loyalty 1480 to a "Crawfie image". It does not comprehend the essential strength of the Crown in this country: it treats the Crown as if the Queen were something of an African Indaba. I regret this wording in the Motion. The loyalty of the Southern Rhodesians is not to the Crown but to themselves and to many of their very reactionary opinions.
The reason I want to speak this evening is to say something about the future. It is very easy for us at the moment—quite correctly—to be concerned with the nature of troops in Zambia and the purposes for which they are there. Because of the economic sanctions and in other ways, it will not be long—it may be only months—before all of us will have again to think about the future of the multiracial society in this part of Africa. I want to refer first of all to racial discrimination in this part of the world and then to education and the need to do something about it.
The attitude of white people to Africans in Southern Rhodesia is something which we in this country find it difficult to understand. Only the other day, a representative of the Rhodesia Government in this country—at least, from their office in London—spoke at Oxford. I repeat this not with any joy but because it reveals an attitude and shows the difficulties we have to overcome. It shows also the reason for the support which the Smith régime enjoys from a certain type of person in Rhodesia. He said that the Africans in Rhodesia breed like rabbits and added, "… with due apologies to rabbits."
That anybody could possibly talk in this way in the twentieth century is incredible. There are undertones of this sort of remark in comments by the rebel Government in Rhodesia concerning the weaknesses of the Kaunda régime, such as, "These people cannot govern themselves: they are inferior people and it is only the white people who know how to govern". The history of the last 50 years in Europe shows that this is not so. White people make mistakes as much as black people. We should run a society in that part of Africa which will give all races a chance to work together.
The question is, how to deal with this. We should be deluding ourselves if we did not realise the strong racial feelings 1481 in this part of the world. It will not be solved by economic or military sanctions, much as I support them. There is no way out of these; it must be done. But when the shouting is over, we shall have to do something about this society in Central Africa. The only hope for the multi-racial society is to do something about education. Figures have been given about the number of black people who receive primary education and figures are bandied about comparing that with other parts of Africa.
The plain fact is that there is not scope in this part of Africa at the moment for the emergence of black Africans to take over the Government of that country, to participate in the industry and commerce of their country. I have not been to this part of Africa, but I am told of the demarcation between white people in the central area of Salisbury and the shanty townships on the outskirts. The Prime Minister said in his recent television speech:We have made proposals for an interim period of working under the existing constitution, through which Africans would be taken into multi-racial Government, trained as junior Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries and so on.He went on to refer to a dynamic programme for education and training of teachers.
This is excellent, but what I ask for is that the Government at the moment should remember amid the immediate issues that the contingency educational plans should be made at the moment so that they can be undertaken at the shortest possible notice. This applies not just to academic education, although this is vital to a large degree. In the last 50 years, we have considered academic education, particularly university education, in Africa as a whole, at the expense of industrial training. We must do far more to train Africans not just to take their part in Government—important though this is—but to raise the economic and social status of their people in that society.
In this country now, there are industrial training boards for the major industries, colleges of advanced technology and other institutions. We should at this moment bring in the people who work in these institutions into this Rhodesian picture. We must bring in the industrialists, the trade unions—I know that many 1482 trade unions already play a part in this respect—specifically, now in Southern Rhodesia.
I think, also, that we ought to give some thought to the education of white people in this part of Africa. What has happened is that so many of the schools and colleges which have developed in Rhodesia are aping or believe that they are aping what might be regarded as some of the better educational institutions in this country. However, in the aping, in the brightly coloured blazers, they are not getting the essence of our excellent institutions. They are copying the worst elements—the snobbishness and all that goes with it.
The quality of General Certificate of Education examinations, the quality of training needed in the circumstances of that country—I do not mean at the new multi-racial university—must be looked at. Concentration on black education to the exclusion of white education will lead again to this racial discrimination.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
In dealing with this point, which is a valuable one, I hope that my hon. Friend will not allow the fact to be overlooked that the so-called Rhodesian Government in the last year spent £10 per head per African pupil and £104 per head per white pupil. There is no doubt that this is one of the major considerations in education, and perhaps my hon. Friend will want to refer to it in this part of his speech.
§ Mr. Rees
This is, of course, true. Of course, more needs to he done and there is a great difference between the two types. I was seeking to do two things: first of all, to deal with the content of African education and to maintain that it should be better, and secondly, to point out that we are forgetting the content of white education.
Lastly, there has been a great deal of discussion in this country over the last twenty years—some of it not without electoral signficance—about the development of a new lower-middle-class in this country. It has arisen out of the structural changes in industry and commerce. Large numbers of people in this category have moved to Rhodesia. In Rhodesia at the moment—because of these large numbers who have moved there since the war—the subtopians from England have come face to face with African 1483 nationalism and have been found wanting. It is not only the people who have gone there who are found wanting: it is we in this country as well.
There are large numbers of people in this country who, if faced with racial problems which they do not comprehend, would behave in the same stupid way. We are suffering not just a racial problem in Rhodesia: there is a racial problem here as well, underlying this whole matter.
We in this House can show, as I believe we have done, with very few exceptions, that we understand this. We can talk about our kith and kin, we can argue, as we have done, that we are all in this together, but we have come to a point as dangerous as that reached at the time of Sarajevo. A moral issue is involved in Rhodesia. We cannot ignore this or sweep it under the carpet. We have at long last to face up to it. There is only one way to get it right in Rhodesia and that is to declare that the Smith Government in its present form is illegal and must end. But one day we must talk.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes)
Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House if I intervene at this stage. I do not propose to make a long speech, because other hon. Members wish to speak. I regret to say that I think that the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) made one of the most reactionary speeches it has ever been my misfortune to listen to during my membership of this House. It was a depressing speech—[An HON. MEMBER: "So is the present situation."] The hon. Member sees no value in the United Nations. He sees no value in a multi-racial Commonwealth. These are two world organisations in which mankind, in all its diversity, pins its faith.
§ Mr. Fell rose——
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Member for Yarmouth was particularly ungenerous in giving way to interventions but I will give way to him later on. If these organisations fail, if the Smith régime succeeds, if the hon. Member's philosophy 1484 prevails, there is very little hope for the future.
§ Mr. Fell
The hon. Member said that I had said that I had no faith in the future of a multi-racial Commonwealth. I was merely referring to what the Prime Minister said three or four days ago. Of course I have no faith in the future of a multi-racial Commonwealth if it is based on unsound principles.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Member made a long speech, and the House must judge the sense of what he said. I do not think that there can be any doubt about his views on the United Nations or the Commonwealth.
His Motion suggests that the measures which we are taking to restore constitutional government in Rhodesia will represent danger to Central Africa. If the population of Central Africa is in jeopardy today this is a direct result of the illegal action of the Smith régime. This was action taken with one thing in mind—the indefinite entrenchment of white supremacy in Rhodesia. This is the irresponsible action which has heightened tension throughout Africa. Pressures are rising for us to take firm action. This is the direct result of the rebellious act of the Smith régime.
In considering the perils which Smith and his colleagues have created in Central Africa, we must consider the hundreds of thousands of United Kingdom citizens and Europeans who live in other parts of Africa. None of us in the House can be sanguine about either their safety or their jobs if Africa becomes racially inflamed because of the seizure of power by the white minority in Rhodesia. I know that this is causing deep concern to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House. I know from conversations that hon. Members have heard from British people who are living in countries to the North of Rhodesia and that many of them have appealed for the British Government to take strong and decisive action. They believe that the consequence of not doing so would be to put their future in these African countries in jeopardy.
Both in Kenya and in Tanzania Europeans have expressed their concern about the Rhodesian crisis. A letter was published a few days ago from a number of 1485 prominent European citizens in Kenya. They made no attempt to suggest that Europeans in Kenya enjoyed a Utopian life. They were quite honest in the views which they expressed in that letter. May I quote a short paragraph from it:The Kenya Government has succeeded in face of enormous difficulties in creating a genuine feeling of stability and an atmosphere in which every man, whatever the colour of his skin, feels free to get on with his job, to earn his living and to bring up his family in peace.Are we to jeopardise by our inaction the possibility of Europeans all over Africa —and there are as many of them outside Rhodesia as there are in Rhodesia—living in harmony with their African neighbours.
The hon. Member referred to the economy of Rhodesia. We all acknowledge readily the efforts of all races in Rhodesia in building up a successful economy there. I say "all races in Rhodesia" because they have contributed to Rhodesia's development, the European in the provision of capital and "know-how" and the African throughout the centuries in hard work and labour. This has been a muti-racial effort in Rhodesia.
It is not the United Kingdom which has sought to destroy what the hon. Members calls a thriving economy. It is Mr. Smith and his colleagues who by their action have raised in people's minds the question whether in present conditions Rhodesia remains a place where one can guarantee with any assurance that development will go on. It is Mr. Smith who is responsible for the threat to Rhodesia's thriving economy. The Zambian economy, too, has been thriving. Zambia is now threatened with economic destruction as a result of the illegal declaration of independence. Throughout Central Africa, and indeed throughout the world, there is general support for our action. Many wish us to go further. No one has applauded the rebels except themselves, the hon. Member and a few others.
We have heard a good deal about Western Christian civilisation and its preservation by the Smith régime. It is a strange thing that all the Churches in Rhodesia, without exception, have opposed his régime. As a Churchman, I tremendously admire the courageous 1486 stand made by the Churches of Rhodesia against the illegal act which has been committed there.
We have acceped and we will discharge the responsibility for bringing this rebellion to an end. What is the alternative which the hon. Member for Yarmouth has in mind? Does he expect the British Government to accept this as a fait accompli? The world will not accept it. This rebellion cannot succeed, and the sooner the illegal régime ceases to exist the better for Rhodesia.
The Motion refers torepeated expressions and acts of loyalty".The right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke), in his impressive speech, referred to this. Indeed, this was so in the past. Successive British Governments have acknowledged the debt which we owe to Rhodesians, both black and white, who stood with us and the Commonwealth in two world wars. In her message of 10th November the Queen acknowledged with gratitude the assurances of loyalty to the Crown expressed by the then Prime Minister of Rhodesia and other Ministers. She went on to speak of her confidence that they would demonstrate their loyalty by continuing to act in a constitutional manner. Within 24 hours these men had committed a supreme act of disloyalty. This is the reality of the situation in Rhodesia when the hon. Member for Yarmouth speaks of loyalty.
What is wanted is not these spurious expressions of loyalty which are emanating from the régime but a corporate act of loyalty which would return Rhodesia to constitutional Government. In this the rebels could do no better than follow the admirable example set by the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, who is still at his post in difficult circumstances. I am sure that the House will once again join me in repeating our admiration for the stand which he has taken for loyalty and for constitutional government in Rhodesia. The hon. Member's Motion refers to the "constitutionally elected Smith régime". Originally they were constitutionally elected as Members of Parliament. No one disputes that. But they have also been constitutionally dismissed for unconstitutional action. There can be no question of that. I take it that the hon. Member accepts that.
§ Mr. Fell
No. The hon. Member is very kind to give way to me, but he asked me a question. Of course I do not accept any such thing. The Governor is not governing Rhodesia. The Smith régime is, whether the hon. Member likes it or not. As the Prime Minister said this afternoon, the de facto Government in charge of the Kariba dam is the Smith régime. It is the illegal régime, and the legal Government of Rhodesia now is Sir Humphrey Gibbs, the Governor. There is no question about that.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Member for Yarmouth asks us in his Motion to reconsider our whole policy on Rhodesia, and in particular the policy of sanctions. No one on either side of the House enjoys imposing sanctions on Rhodesia. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has explained to the House that the purpose of the economic measures which we have felt compelled to take is not to destroy the Rhodesian economy but to do the minimum of long-term damage while ensuring that Rhodesia returns to the path of law and order with the minimum of delay.
In this process there are some who have shown concern about the African population of Rhodesia in the context of our economic measures. Of course, we all regret the effect on loyal Rhodesians, African and European, of these economic measures, but we believe that there is no evidence to suggest that they wish Britain to stand aside while Mr. Smith entrenches his régime. Genuine concern for the long-term interests of Rhodesia should lead one to advocate quicker and sharper action to bring the rebel régime to an end.
§ Mr. Hughes
My hon. and learned Friend has obviously given a great deal of thought to this problem. I am sure that if he will consider that point in the context of the measures which we are taking he will see why we believe that they will be effective. These measures are certainly not vindictive. As my right 1488 hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on 12th November:Every measure has to be judged and must be judged against its ability to restore the rule of law and the functioning of a democratic constitution in Rhodesia.Her Majesty's Government are determined to do what is necessary to achieve this end and, as the House knows, our measures are kept under constant review.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today outlined certain further measures which have been put in force. I do not propose to discuss in any detail the Government's decision to assist in the defence of Zambia. This has already been discussed and my right hon. Friend has answered a series of questions on the subject. I would further remind the House that units are being sent to Zambia at the express request of the head of a friendly Commonwealth Government. I am sure that all hon. Members will acknowledge our admiration for the progress which Zambia has made since here independence and will understand the Government's desire to assist at this time of great anxiety for Zambia.
The right hon. Member for Hampstead made a number of helpful suggestions and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) also referred to the need for educational advance in Rhodesia. This is indeed a matter which we have very much in mind. The House will recall that, when he visited Rhodesia in September, my right hon. Friend took with him the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development to see what could be done to raise the educational standards there and to show our appreciation of the importance of this matter.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I think the hon. Gentleman made a slip of the tongue a moment ago which I suggest it is important that he clears up straight away. He said that troops are being sent. I thought that, as matters stand at present, a final decision on whether or not to send them has not yet been taken.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. What he says is the case. The units which are at present under consideration, I should have said, and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary will by now have commenced his discussions with President Kaunda in the terms 1489 which were outlined by the Prime Minister when he made his statement this afternoon. As to our policies generally, these are clear. We believe that they are honourable policies and that they are in the long-term interest of the people of Rhodesia.
A number of hon. Members have asked about the long-term attitude of the Government towards the final solution of this problem. They were well summed up by the Prime Minister on 23rd November and are worth repeating. I hope that they will be repeated in Rhodesia so that all European Rhodesians may pay heed to them, for my right hon. Friend said:… as soon as the people of Rhodesia are prepared to return to constitutional paths, as soon as the Governor feels that there is an opportunity of, perhaps, forming a Government among those who will act in a constitutional manner, we would want to deal with those people, without any recrimination or any rancour about the past, on the basis of a resettlement in Rhodesia. starting from the 1961 Constitution with such amendments as, I think, the whole House would agree to be necessary to give effect to the five principles, leading up, I would hope, as quickly as possible to free elections in Rhodesia and then a discussion as to how we can give effect to the question of gradual and unimpeded progress to majority rule."—[OFFIcIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1965; Vol. 721, c. 258/9.]The purpose of Her Majesty's Government's policy, therefore, is to bring about conditions which will enable Rhodesia to go forward to legal independence, surely an objective on which the whole House must be united. We must not at this stage be deflected by a small minority, unrepresentative of opinion in this country, who apparently wish to see the Crown, the Government and this House flouted in circumstances which would place Rhodesia in dire danger. The rebel régime have, by their illegal acts, prejudiced the future of all in Rhodesia. It is their acts and policies which threaten to destroy the thriving economy of Central Africa.
The hon. Member for Yarmouth asks us in his Motion to reconsider our Rhodesian policy. I submit that what is being requested is that we should abandon our aim of returning Rhodesia to the rule of law. This would really mean—and I ask the hon. Gentleman to bear this in mind—abandoning 4 million 1490 Africans and a substantial number of moderate Europeans in Rhodesia, as well as prejudicing the future of those Europeans who live in countries in Africa outside Rhodesia.
Above all, if we were to abandon our policy it would mean that we would risk abandoning the Commonwealth as well. It has been the policy of successive British Governments to do all in their power to build up a multi-racial Commonwealth, and I believe that this has been and remains a noble ideal which is shared by hon. Members in all parts of the House.
I ask the, hon. Member for Yarmouth to tell the House whether he wants us to abandon the Commonwealth and to flout world opinion because, make no mistake about this, if Britain does not act decisively now Commonwealth and world opinion will reach its own opinions about the state of our nation and our Parliament.
The House should, therefore, do nothing which would bring comfort to those who have rebelled against the Crown and who have offended the great mass of mankind by their unconstitutional action, and the abhorrent measures which they have taken in Rhodesia to sustain it. We therefore ask the House to support the Government in their action to restore the rule of law and the stability of the area and to nut Rhodesia once more on truly democratic paths. This, we trust, will not be long delayed, and we hope that we will find a solution which is acceptable to all races and which we could with honour and confidence recommend to the House.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
One of the most significant passages in the Minister's speech was that in which he quoted from a letter written by Europeans in Kenya. I think he will agree, from his knowledge of some of the signatories to that letter, that it was not a letter signed by radical progressives but by many people who utttered sentiments similar to those which we heard from the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) in the days before Kenya was granted independence and who foresaw nothing but doom if Her Majesty's Government handed over independence. That people who felt that 1491 way have now taken it upon themselves to try to assuage European fears in Rhodesia is the significance of this missive.
Though most of us would disagree with what he said, the hon. Member for Yarmouth spoke with his own conviction and gave vent to his feelings. He talked of the witchcraft, the diseases and the deserts of 1894. He paid tribute to the work of the European population in bringing forward the standard of living of the indigenous people all over Africa, and in Rhodesia in particular. That may be so, but it does not in itself grant them a right to hold up the political progress of the indigenous peoples. The Europeans who went to Africa were prompted by very mixed motives. They were not always 100 per cent. motivated by altruism. In many, altruism was a very high factor, but in others it was not so high. Many of them made a great deal of money, and many of them made a lot of money for this country.
When the history of British colonial rule in Africa is written it will be an honourable history only as far as we allow the tale to go full circle, and show that while we are prepared to pay tribute to what has been done in such countrires as Rhodesia by the European population we have been willing to hand it over to the indigenous peoples, while those Europeans who wish to stay could do so under a democratic Government and in a multi-racial community.
I did not share in the adulation of a former Prime Minister with his "wind of change" speech, because it seemed to me that the wind of change was merely a belated recognition of the inevitable and not a timely encouragement of the desirable. An interesting feature of this debate is that those who, like the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) and the hon. Member for Yarmouth, have been most insistent in supporting in one way or another what is now happening in Rhodesia, are often the same people who are prepared to see in every democratic movement in Africa some form of Communist subversion.
The people who are encouraging any Communist subversion in Africa are those of the type of Mr. Smith and his sympathisers here, because if the people of 1492 this country are not prepared to take steps they believe in there are other countries that will willingly say, "We will hold out the hand of friendship and help because of certain principles" If that view were taken, we would be helping to push suppressed people into the influence of whatever persuasion might come from Communist sources.
In this discussion of the Rhodesian situation generally, there has been much reference to what happened in the Congo. I think that the lesson to be learned from the Congo tragedy is that there we had a colonial Power which abrogated its responsibilities and failed to bring forward the education and development of the people. It then pulled out, leaving a country incapable of governing itself in an orderly manner. If we are to look for other Congos, I suggest that we have to look at places like Rhodesia with a Smith type of Government, where 77 qualified Africans were refused admission to the administrative grade of the Civil Service last year. That is a complete reversal of previous policy, even under Sir Edgar Whitehead.
We would look for a potential Congo situation in a country under a Smith type of Government, where the introduction of fee-paying to the schools achieved a slowing down in the development of African education and a tendency towards segregation because, obviously, only one section of the population can afford the fees. It is this kind of action, this suppression of democratic rights of the indigenous population, that could lead to a possible Congo explosion.
It should be noted that British Governments of both parties have asked the Smith régime to accept steady progress to majority rule. That was asked of Mr. Smith before the days of the U.D.I. It was not a case of Scylla and Charybdis, as the hon. Member for Yarmouth tried to make out. It was not a question of a straight choice of "one man, one vote tomorrow" or U.D.I. That was not the choice presented to Mr. Smith.
A point that concerns me greatly is the Government's determination to pursue a bi-partisan policy on Rhodesia. I understand the natural desire for such a policy, but a bipartisan policy is not necessarily virtuous of itself; it is only virtuous if it is also the right policy. I 1493 sometimes suspect that in overemphasising the need to achieve a bi-partisan policy the Government have not been as firm as they might have been. While not underestimating the difficulties there are with a small minority in the Conservative Party, I was astonished by the reaction of the right hon. Members for Bexley (Mr. Heath) and for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) to the Prime Minister's statement today about the conceivable situation in which force might be used to maintain power supplies to Zambia. There are real dangers of over-emphasising a bipartisan policy as opposed to a right policy.
The hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland) spoke of control over the Kariba power works. The Prime Minister's statement was very moderate and reasonable, and not the extreme statement it has been made out to be by some hon. Members who have spoken in support of this Motion. The Kariba scheme was an international project, the British taxpayer contributed largely to it. Much more important is the fact that control over these works was vested jointly in Rhodesia and Zambia by an Order in Council. We still have the power to legislate for Rhodesia in external affairs, and it would be quite possible for this Parliament by Order in Council to revest control over the Kariba power works jointly in Zambia and this country. It would be quite possible and quite constitutional for us to take control there. The Prime Minister has not gone as far as this, and it is quite wrong to speak as though his statement today was terribly extreme and dramatic. Other possibilities are still open to us.
One of the most maligned people in this country in recent months has been the Archbishop of Canterbury, but what he indicated to the British public, through the British Council of Churches, was that fundamentally—and I agree here with the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees)—this is not a matter of narrow political discussion but one of the greatest moral issues that has confronted this country for many years.
We must take a very firm stand in bringing down the Smith régime. I would very much regret it if we were seen to move from one step to the next merely at the behest of other countries, of the 1494 United Nations or of Afro-Asian opinion within the Commonwealth. That would be taking a weak stand. The British Government should be taking policies that we believe to be right; not because of what other people might say or do, but because we believe a stand must be made. The right hon. Member for Preston, North referred to appeasement of Afro-Asian opinion, and I thought that to be an extraordinary phrase. What we have to do is to see that the rule of law is maintained. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Liberal Party has said, it is no argument to say that one must not enforce the law because the lawbreaker is one's cousin.
We are confronted with a broad spectrum of world opinion and opinion in this country which wants to see us take powers to bring down the Smith régime. The hon. Member for Yarmouth would be doing the House a great service tonight by taking this Motion to a Division in order that we can show quite clearly for the first time that the vast majority of hon. Members of all shades of political opinion are determined that this régime shall not be allowed to get away with it.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Norwood (Norwich, South)
I have listened throughout the debate with the greatest interest, especially to the speech by the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). If I had to contrast the two speeches which seemed to take the most extreme views, I would contrast the speech of the hon. Member for Yarmouth with the speech of the right hon. Member for Preston——
§ Mr. Peter Mahon (Preston, South)
Will my hon. Friend please make a distinction and not speak of "the right hon. Member for Preston" when he is, in fact, referring to the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery)?
§ Mr. Norwood
My apologies to my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Peter Mahon). Yes, there should be no confusion between the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery) and my hon. Friend. I referred, of course, to the right hon. Member for Preston, North.
Of the two speeches, I greatly preferred the lengthy, confused, illogical and 1495 often unfair speech of the hon. Member for Yarmouth because, if we consider the more sophisticated arguments of the right hon. Member for Preston, North—I apologise for replying to those arguments—I am quite satisfied that what the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) said is true, that inside this House they command very little support, but outside this House they might be listened to. The danger of those arguments is that some people, perhaps not with the sophistication, the wisdom or the knowledge of this House, will listen to some of those arguments which spoke about disorder in Central Africa. They might listen to legalistic prevarications about whether protecting the Kariba Dam is an aggression or not.
The danger is not that the right hon. Member for Preston, North or the hon. Member for Yarmouth might carry the House with them. I doubt whether they have the courage to carry this matter to a vote. It is curious that the right hon. Member who objects to appeasing the Afro-Asian majority in the world will apparently be only too happy with his hon. Friend to appease the majority in this House. It is because this case might be believed outside this House that we have to look at it for what it is worth.
What was the case raised by the mover of this Motion? It was, in effect, that African people are unfit to govern themselves and that there has been disorder all over Africa. The hon. Member asked if people living in the Congo were content with their situation. It was a rhetorical question and the answer is simple, but we have to ask ourselves whether the people living in Rhodesia can be content with their situation. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Yarmouth will be unlucky if he attempts to interrupt me because twice he refused to give way to me when he was speaking, and I see no reason why I should be more generous to him.
Is it true to say that 4 million people, deprived of all political reality, with their leaders in prison camps isolated at vast distances, and with allegations that some of them are badly treated and completely denied political rights, are in a favourable situation? Would it be right to argue, as the right hon. Member for 1496 Preston, North argued, that we should acquiesce in the denial of their rights? He said that we must not appease Afro-Asia opinion. Mark not that it represents two-thirds of the world's population and that the largest democracy in the world is a coloured democracy. He said that we must reach a basic settlement. The basic settlement is to accept the de facto Government as he called it, the de facto power. The basic settlement is to refuse to regard the rights of 4 million people because they are coloured, and to regard only the rights, if they can be called such, of 200,000 people who enjoy a privileged economic situation.
The fact that the 200,000 men and women of European extraction in Southern Rhodesia enjoy a privileged economic situation is of some importance, but not of critical importance. The fact of vital importance is that they, and they alone, have effective political rights in that community. Is it not hypocrisy in this House to describe that as a constitutionally elected régime? We do not deny the legal nicety. The Minister himself pointed it out, but can anyone in this House honestly argue that it is a régime freely elected, when it has been elected by only 200,000, or fewer, out of a total population of about 4¼ million?
§ Mr. Norwood
I am quite prepared to forgive the hon. Member, but not to give way to him.
We had another surprising assertion from the right hon. Member for Preston, North, that broadcasting—I took the word down—was an aggression. That was an extraordinary word with which to describe the broadcasting of information and news to people in a State, which incidentally has absolute control over its own internal broadcasting system and denies it information from outside. It was extraordinary to accuse the official organs of official Government broadcasting of aggression. We cannot accuse our broadcasting organisation of being subversive and likely to cause aggression in Southern Rhodesia.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
The hon. Member is hardly being fair in that last assertion. I do not want to take up either side, but my right hon. Friend has made 1497 it perfectly clear that in this instance the broadcasts sent to that country were asking people to go on strike, to demolish buildings and so on.
§ Mr. Norwood
We again come back to the point that people will not face reality. We have a sort of evasion and a false distinction. The point is that if we object to broadcasting we should say so, but there is no earthly reason why there should not be broadcasting into Southern Rhodesia.
The great thing about the case which has been made this afternoon is that if this matter should go to a Division it will not have been fairly pressed and the issue will not have been fairly put. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles put the issue squarely. He stated an issue which I commend to the House. I have no wish to speak for more than a few minutes, but beyond all the arguments about the type of negotiations which are possible and beyond all the comments about the sort of disorder which can happen in Central Africa, someone asked during the debate, "Who are we, living in a so-called civilised nation in Europe, to talk about 1,000 deaths in Africa when one nation of Europe has been responsible for 20 million deaths during my lifetime?"
Who are we to talk about the civilised nations of Europe if we turn our backs on what happens in Africa, such as the Sharpeville massacre and the fact that a large number of people are held in detention without trial? What other path is open to Southern Rhodesia but to follow such a course unless at some time they come to terms with the British Government and the need for African advancement, which so far they have resolutely failed to do?
There is a moral issue here. I could not be in greater agreement about it. This House does not sufficiently shout the moral issue, because we fail to face the fact that ultimately there is only one way of regarding one man against another. It is that we are approximately equal—not the same, but approximately equal. But because we engage in a debate of this kind, and hon. Members opposite fail to press it to a Division, we shall give a misleading impression all over Africa and in the world in which we have to live, which is not a European world.
1498 We will give this misleading impression if at any time we fail to maintain what I think it is the wish of the House to maintain—a common united constitutional front in support of the British Government, as they now are, in conducting a policy which I suspect is very much like that which the Opposition Front Bench might pursue if they were in power. We should stand together in this, in order to make it possible, as the right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) said, to ease the difficulties of constitutional and loyal Rhodesians and so make it possible for a settlement to be reached which offers the prospect of African advance.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Sir John Vaughan-Morgan (Reigate)
I shall probably be the last speaker in this debate and probably also the last of those who have spoken today to have been in Rhodesia, as I was there at the beginning of September. It is ten weeks since I was there and spent an evening with that great Rhodesian, Sir Humphrey Gibbs. The views which I heard from him and his very wise prognostications of what was going to happen, and happen to him in particular, have very much influenced my views.
I would say to the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Norwood) that I am fairly certain that the whole mass of my party is as zealous for national unity as he is, but we must still reserve the right to ourselves to comment on and to criticise every action of the Government and indeed every word, for those words can mean much outside this House and they can be misinterpreted. My criticism of what the Prime Minister was saying today is that in the connotation of sending troops to Zambia, which I support, it would have been wiser to have omitted part of his references to another eventuality. I say that in as uncontentious a manner as I can. Those of us who are in the middle of the road on these occasions are always in great danger of being run down by the traffic going in both directions.
There are two points which I will raise if time allows. The first is the subject which my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) raised —the possibility of reopening negotiations. I hope that I have shown that I am not unsympathetic to what has been 1499 done when I draw attention—and I agree with much of what he said—to the admirable letter from Lord Salter published in The Times on Monday. We do not want to be too squeamish as to whom we first have conversation with out there. I support the Prime Minister in any effort he may seek to make to send a Parliamentary mission there. I remind the House—and I do not pursue the analogy too far for obvious reasons—of the first clandestine conversations opened with Michael Collins which led the way to an honourable settlement in Ireland. I will not pursue that analogy too far because that was followed by the assassination of Michael Collins and by civil war; but we must talk some time with somebody and we must not lose any opportunity of bringing this miserable chapter to a close, but it must be on honourable terms.
I want to say something about sanctions and their application. There is a whole gamut of opinion in the House and outside, ranging from those who would do nothing about U.D.I. to those who, as the saying goes, would "throw the book" at the Rhodesians. There are some extremists who would throw not only the book but the bookcase as well. I support the Government's pragmatic approach of throwing, first, chapter one, followed by chapter two, and working their way through the volume only as it becomes necessary so to do.
I believe from my knowledge of Rhodesia—and I have been there six times in 12 years—that the measures so far applied are going to bite far sooner than some people realise. Everyone talks in terms of bringing the economy into a state of chaos. It will not be a sudden crash. There will be a slide, and somewhere along that slide, in my view, European opinion in Rhodesia will begin to change, because this is a very frail European economy. I accept, and with regret, that there will be more Africans who will suffer than Europeans, but there is this difference between the Africans and the Europeans—it is the difference between falling from a high building and falling from a low height. The African has not much of a belt to tighten; the European has. And the European cannot in Rhodesia face unemployment, and unemployment that is without benefit.
1500 The result must be a migration out of Rhodesia to the Republic of South Africa and perhaps back to this country. I, for one, believe that when they have gone we shall find a lot of people left of what I dare to call the old Rhodesians —people who are in the true Rhodesian tradition—and we shall once again find that old country which was not always as liberal as it ought to have been, I agree, but which had a great deal of achievement to its credit—and that is sometimes forgotten. It is all very well to contrast the difference between the expenditure on African and on European education. We know that there has not been enough——
§ Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan
We know that there has not been enough African education, but I have not heard anybody yet suggest that this was a strong argument for reducing the standard of European education.
Despite everything that has been said, I feel that we can be fairly optimistic that the present mood will change. I realise that the inevitable has happened following Mr. Smith's declaration of independence. There is a curious feeling of elation amongst Europeans—what has been described as the Dunkirk spirit of feeling that they are alone. This matches very much what I thought would happen and was told would happen, and that is that U.D.I. happened not only because Mr. Smith was pushed into declaring independence by his own party but because he was pushed into it by a general public which did not always understand what was going to happen, did not understand the consequences, and, above all, did not realise—because of the failure of the Government in this country to make their terms clear at that stage in September—that it was not a contrast between one man, one vote and independence. The Attorney-General appears to be shaking his head, but I heard Mr. Smith in their own Assembly use these words——
§ Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan
The words were,I have given an undertaking to the British Government that I will not disclose the contents of the negotiations.I think that that was a tragic mistake on the part of Her Majesty's Government and one of the causes that led to the build-up of opinion behind Mr. Smith.
§ It being Seven o'clock, the Proceedings on the Motion lapsed, pursuant to Standing Order No. 5 (Precedence of Government Business).