§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Arthur Bottomley)
I have it in Command from the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Southern Rhodesia Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Eiwyn Jones)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
It may be helpful to the House if I begin by endeavouring to place the Bill in the context of the present legal situation in Rhodesia. I do not need to remind the House that the purported declaration of independence on Thursday last by the then Government of Rhodesia and the subsequent handing down of a new Constitution by Mr. Smith and his associates were illegal, ineffective, and in all respects invalid. The House will also bear in mind that Mr. Smith and the rest of the former Ministers have been dismissed from office. Accordingly, the present position, as I see it, is as follows.
The Government of Rhodesia is Her Majesty acting through the Governor who is appointed by Her Majesty. This is the broad position, and it corresponds to that which obtains in all British Colonies, of which Rhodesia is one. But the powers of the Governor of Rhodesia are much circumscribed by the Constitution under which he acts. In the first place, he has not himself legislative power. The power to enact laws rests with the Legislative Assembly, but, of course, the Governor must assent to any Bill before it can take effect as law.
The executive power in Southern Rhodesia is vested in Her Majesty and— I am quoting from the relevant Section of the Constitution, Section 42:may be exercised on Her Majesty's behalf by the Governor or such other persons as may be authorised in that behalf by the Governor or by any law of the Legislature.688 The Governor's executive powers derive from the Constitution. For example, he appoints the Ministers and the judges; he summons or prorogues, or dissolves, the Legislative Assembly, he exercises the prerogative of mercy, and so forth.
Secondly, he exercises the executive power under a number of Southern Rhodesian laws. But the Constitution requires the Governor, broadly speaking, to exercise his powers in accordance with the advice of his Ministers. However, as I have said, there are now no lawful Ministers in Rhodesia.
I will add a word about the third function of government—the judicial function. The Constitution of Rhodesia gives the judges security of tenure. They cannot be removed from office, except for inability to discharge their functions or for misbehaviour.
The House will have read with pleasure the statement reported in today's Press and made by Rhodesian judges yesterday that the judges of the High Court will continue to perform their duties in accordance with the law. There can be no doubt whatsoever what the law means in this context. It means the law of Rhodesia as established by and under the Constitution of 1961, or, of course, any Act of this Parliament.
I now turn to the Bill. Its first purpose is expressed, as the House will see, in Clause 1, and it is purely declaratory. The Clause declares that Southern Rhodesia remains a part of Her Majesty's Dominions and that the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom have the responsibility and jurisdiction hitherto existing in respect of it. I will say a word in a moment in explanation Of the expression "Government of the United Kingdom" which is contained in this Clause.
The second purpose of the Bill is to give Her Majesty's Government power to make any Orders in Council which may appear necessary or expedient as a result of the rebellion with which we are now faced. The Orders in Council which the Government have in mind, besides one relating to the Constitution, will deal with a number of matters about which I will say a word in a moment.
I will first deal with what the Government have in mind in regard to the Constitution. As I have said, the Governor has no legislative powers. It 689 is therefore proposed to fill this gap by conferring on Her Majesty full legislative powers to be exercised by Order in Council. At the same time it is proposed to render invalid any action by the Legislative Assembly of Rhodesia since 11th November. In regard to executive power, it is proposed to do two things— first, to provide that the executive authority in Southern Rhodesia may be exercised on Her Majesty's behalf by the Secretary of State; and, secondly, it is proposed to free the Governor from the limitation imposed on him by the Constitution to which I have already referred —that is to say, that he is bound in general to act in accordance with the advice of his Ministers. This may not be strictly necessary as at present, as I have said, there are no lawful Ministers, but it may be as well to make the position transparently clear.
Looking at the Bill in greater detail, I think that I have already explained the purpose of Clause 1. I want to say only a few words about the phrase "Government of the United Kingdom". These words have been expressly chosen for a number of reasons. The House will have in mind the words which are customarily used by this Parliament when it passes an Act to give independence to a Colony. The recent Malta Independence Act is a good illustration. It provides thatHer Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom shall have no responsibility for the government of Malta.On this occasion we are are asserting exactly the contrary proposition. We therefore say that the Government of the United Kingdom maintains responsibility and jurisdiction in respect of Rhodesia.
Secondly, the phrase "the Government of the United Kingdom" in the case of Rhodesia has important implications. The first is that British Ministers do advise the Queen on a number of constitutional matters relating to Rhodesia, in particular the appointment of a Governor and amendment of the Constitution under Her reserved powers. The second is that the Government of the United Kingdom are responsible for Rhodesia's external affairs and has, for instance, been answerable in the United Nations for what has been going on in Rhodesia.
The right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) indicated on Friday that he 690 would prefer a reference to the Crown. This certainly, if I may say so, would be technically correct. But it would not establish the points which I have just made with the necessary clarity.
Clause 2 is the main Clause of the Bill. It confers powers to make the Orders in Council which have become necessary as a result of the illegal declaration. Under Clause 2(1), such Orders in Council may make such provision in relation to Southern Rhodesia as appears to Her Majesty in Council to be necessary or expedient. The particular purposes for which that general power is to be used are set out in subsection (2) of the Clause. First, the Bill gives power to make Orders in Council for suspending, amending, revoking or adding to any of the provisions of the 1961 Constitution. As a result of the illegal declaration, although the constitutional status of Rhodesia remains as it was before, it has become necessary for Her Majesty's Government to take power to operate some of the constitutional functions and to ensure that measures which the illegal regime may purport to effect under the Constitution have no validity. Given the situation with which the Bill deals, powers of this sort are necessary, in my submission, but it is impossible to see the precise use which may have to be made of them.
For example, it will be necessary to provide that no laws may be made by the legislators of Southern Rhodesia and no business may be transacted by its Legislative Assembly. Provision will be made for the Secretary of State, by order in writing under his hand, at any time to prorogue the Legislative Assembly. In addition, it is contemplated that power will be conferred upon him to exercise or control the exercise of such of the executive functions of the Government of Southern Rhodesia as he may consider expedient.
The House will know that, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in the debate on Friday, it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to suspend the 1961 Constitution at this stage. Indeed, the Bill does not give the power to do so. Clause 2(2,a), as the House will see, refers to suspending, etc.any of the provisions of the ConstitutionIt does not permit the total suspending or revocation of that Constitution or the 691 making of a new constitution. The House will also note—lest that contention may not be entirely acceptable—that Clause 3(3) states in terms thatthe expiration of Section 2 of this Act shall not affect (b) the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia 1961 as in force immediately before the expiration of that Section.That subsection clearly implies that the Constitution will remain in force albeit with such modifications as this House and Orders in Council may have made, and a similar argument applies to revoking any of the provisions of the Constitution.
Clause 2(2,6) provides for modifying, extending or suspending the operation of existing United Kingdom legislation in relation to Southern Rhodesia or persons or things belonging to or connected therewith. The position arising from the illegal declaration has made it necessary, first, to remove Southern Rhodesia from the position of privilege which it enjoyed as a loyal Colony and, secondly, to make special provision for the protection of loyal Rhodesian citizens. The powers in this subsection will enable Her Majesty to remove Rhodesia from the Commonwealth Preference Area, by an amendment of the Import Duties Act, 1958, and to confer on loyal Rhodesians additional rights to obtain citizenship by an amendment of the British Nationality Act, 1948.
As I said the other day, it is also proposed to restrict the return of alleged fugitive offenders to Rhodesia by amending the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881, so as to enlarge the discretion given to the Secretary of State and to give a similar discretion to Colonial Governors in respect of fugitive offenders whose return is claimed.
Orders in Council under Clause 2 (2,c), which is also admittedly in broad terms, may also impose restrictions on transactions relating to Southern Rhodesia. Under this power it will, for example, be possible to make the requisite Order relieving the Minister of Agriculture from his obligations under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement to take an annual quota of sugar from Southern Rhodesia. Such an Order would also cancel the current contract under which the Sugar Board has agreed to buy sugar from Rhodesia in pursuance of the Agreement. No other Orders in pursuance of this power are at present 692 contemplated, but, as the House will understand, it may be necessary to impose further prohibitions or restrictions at a later stage. In the presence of rebellion, we can never be sure what course the rebellion may take or what steps may be necessary to deal with it.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
Is it intended that this power of varying enactments will relate to Section 3 of the British Nationality Act, 1948, which places very severe limitations upon criminal liability?
§ The Attorney-General
All I can say at the moment about that matter is that it is under active consideration. I do not think I can say any more at the moment.
I should point out that the Orders in Council which may be made under Clause 2 may apply extra-territorially. The House will see the relevant words in the last four lines of page 1 of the Bill. The Orders may apply extra-territorially in the sense that they may regulate or prohibit actions in foreign countries or on the high seas by persons who are amenable to our laws. This means that if, for instance, a United Kingdom citizen sought to evade the provisions of this Clause by entering into the transaction with the illegal Government in a foreign country, he would still be caught by the provisions of this Clause.
Clause 2(3) authorises Orders in Council under Clause 2 to include necessary consequential provisions, and it provides that such Orders may be made to take effect from 11th November, 1965, that is to say, the date on which the illegal declaration was made. The House will accordingly see that this permits a certain, though a limited, measure of retrospection. That is regretted on this as on all occasions, but the House may think that it is necessary in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, with the sudden pronouncement, in the very course of negotiations, of a declaration of independence. In my submission, this power is necessary to enable us to establish beyond doubt the invalidity of certain actions taken in Southern Rhodesia since the declaration of independence. An example is the new constitution which the illegal regime has pretended to give to the Southern Rhodesian people.
693 Subsection (4) permits subsequent revocation or variation of Orders in Council. Subsection (5) requires that Orders in Council under Clause 2 shall be laid before Parliament after being made. Unless during the 28 days following the making of an Order it is approved by Resolution of each House of Parliament, the Order will expire. The intention of this subsection is to provide that each Order in Council shall be effective as soon as it is made and to ensure that as soon as practicable the House has a full opportunity to debate the provisions of the Order and to signify approval. If an Order were to continue in force for 28 days without being approved, it would, of course, lapse.
I am able to assure the House—and I suspect that the House will want this assurance—that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to provide early opportunity for Parliament's consideration of all Orders which are made under the Clause, and, of course, in particular the all-important Order relating to the Constitution.
Clause 3 provides that this Measure will be of temporary duration. Clause 2, which, as I have explained, is the operative part of the Bill, will expire at the end of one year after the passing of the Bill, unless it is continued in force by an Order in Council, which must be laid in draft before Parliament and approved by Resolution of each House before it can become effective.
Orders in Council under Clause 2 will lapse when that Clause itself expires and laws that have been modified by such Orders in Council, such as the Fugitive Offenders Act and the British Nationality Act, will then revert to their previous form. But the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia will retain the form which it has immediately before the Clause expires—that is to say, it will remain as modified by any Order in Council under Clause 2.
As to the last Clause, the House will observe that, although the Bill gives power to extend Orders in Council to dependent territories as well as to the British Isles, this is only for the purpose of effecting an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament extending to those territories or for making provision relating to British ships and aircraft.
694 I hope that I have set out sufficiently the reasons for the Bill and have explained its various provisions. I have sought to show—and I am confident that the House will accept—that the Bill is necessary and necessary now. It may be that some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen may think that the Bill gives the Government powers that are too wide. But I must say, with all the emphasis at my command, that Her Majesty's Government feel that it is imperative to ask Parliament now for adequate powers to enable them to deal with a dangerous situation, the future course of which it is not possible now to forecast with any degree of certainty.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman sits down, could he give an assurance that no Order in Council will be introduced which the Government believe is not capable of being fully implemented?
§ The Attorney-General
The Government will introduce such Orders in Council as in their opinion they deem necessary to deal with the situation and will expect all loyal Britons to rally to the law, whether in this House or in Rhodesia.
§ 4.1 p.m.
§ Sir John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
No one can deny the gravity of the situation which faces the country. I should like to acknowledge that the country has a difficult problem to deal with both in relation to Southern Rhodesia and the responsibility of the Crown, the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom for Southern Rhodesia, and to the international situation which is developing in relation to this problem. Both these are matters of which every right hon. and hon. Member must be fully conscious.
Certainly the Opposition are fully conscious of them and, therefore, believe that in these circumstances Parliament should help the Government to take special powers for dealing with this emergency. We are anxious, in these 695 difficult and dangerous days, to maintain the national unity which we have had heretofore, the national unity which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has spoken for up to now and which was emphasised from these benches on Friday in the debate which is a background to the Bill and the problem that confronts us.
We on this side recognise the Government's need for special powers in this situation, that they need them quickly and that they will need them during the period of the emergency. The Attorney-General made clear, as is obvious, that it is the intention of the Government to take these powers only for the purpose of dealing with the emergency and as an interim measure, and that any long-term solution, particularly a constitutional solution, for Southern Rhodesia must be found by further legislation in this Parliament and is not to be sought by the use of powers being given under the Bill.
We recognise, too, that no one can say exactly how the situation will develop. Anything may occur. For that reason it is obvious that the Bill must be drawn up in reasonably wide terms. It is for these reasons that we do not oppose the Bill in principle. We are very ready to help it on its way. We trust that the House can pass it expeditiously and soon, and we hope that the national unity can be maintained.
We as an Opposition are ready to give our support to this Measure. We hope that this will assist in re-establishing a constitutional and legal Government in Rhodesia, and also that it will show to the world and those who are anxious about the determination of Britain to deal with this problem, that this country, which is responsible for dealing with the problem, can be left to deal with it.
We are grateful to the Government also for advising us in advance of their intention to introduce the Bill and for giving some of us the opportunity to see it. We are particularly grateful that, after the discussions we had, they have acceded to some of the suggestions we made, and I am sure that this will assist the passage of the Bill. First, we are very grateful that they agreed that the Orders in Council should be subject to affirmative and not to negative Resolution. I am sure that 696 this is important. Obviously, in a matter of this sort, Parliament should be in control of all these Orders and the affirmative procedure is the right way to deal with it.
We are also grateful for what the Attorney-General said today and the Prime Minister said the other day about the expedition with which important Orders will be brought forward for discussion in Parliament. As we understand it, the Government contend that any Orders which the Opposition regard as of particular importance or difficulty should be brought forward not only promptly but at a reasonable time of the day for discussion by the House. I am sure that this will assuage many doubts there may have been about the wisdom of having a 28 day period.
Of course, there may be many matters of a technical and abstruse nature, such as patents, for instance, which have to be dealt with by Orders in Council, and I do not suppose that anyone would insist that they should be dealt with in seven days, otherwise we should be spending the whole of our time in dealing with these matters in a constant stream. But I am sure that the Government and Opposition are in agreement that the really important matters are the matters which are likely to cause high questions of policy and difficulties and will, therefore, be brought before the House promptly and at a reasonable hour.
We are also grateful for what the Attorney-General has said about the suspension and revocation of the Constitution. There have been anxieties about whether it is right that the 1961 Rhodesian Constitution should be suspended for long periods or, indeed, should be revoked. We understand of course now that the Government are not intending either to rewrite the Constitution as a whole or to suspend it as a whole or to revoke it as a whole.
When the Solicitor-General replies, we should like to hear that the alterations that will be made in the Constitution will be only such as are immediately necessary to deal with the immediate situation and that there will not be an attempt, by these powers, to rewrite the whole Constitution and then, under provisions which the Attorney-General has explained, in Clause 3(3,6), leave Rhodesia 697 lawfully under a Constitution which has been largely or wholly rewritten by use of emergency powers. We understand the Government not to intend that, but we should like the Solicitor-General to be good enough to clarify the point.
Clause 1 is declaratory, I suppose, for the purpose of international law, the law of the United Kingdom and the law of Rhodesia. How do the Government see the position upon a matter on which the Attorney-General has apparently been making some pronouncements in relation to whether or not these Ministers who have usurped power in Rhodesia are or are not guilty of treasonable activities? The question has already been indicated by the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) in his reference to Section 3 of British Nationality Act, 1948.
As I understand the position, of course primarily any of those who are acting illegally or who are usurping power in Rhodesia are subject to Rhodesian law. I am afraid that I am not an expert on Rhodesian law, but I understand that neither the Treason Act, 1351, nor the Treason Felony Act, 1848, apply in Rhodesia. The system of law there is Roman-Dutch, and how far the Attorney-General is an expert in Roman-Dutch law I know not. But are we to understand that under Rhodesian law those who usurp power are guilty of a particular offence there equivalent to treason? Perhaps the Solicitor-General can explain that.
There is, of course, the Rhodesian Act of Parliament, the Preservation of Constitutional Government Act, 1963, which the now illegal Ministers passed in order to prevent other people from subverting the Constitution which they themselves have now subverted. To that extent I understand that they would appear to be guilty of an offence under that Act.
I turn now to a matter of great interest to the House, the position under United Kingdom law. Are Mr. Smith and his Ministers in Rhodesia guilty of treason, or treason felony, or any other offence punishable under United Kingdom law? Does not that depend on whether they are Rhodesian citizens or citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies? As I understand the matter, if they are Rhodesian citizens and are not citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, then 698 they are not guilty, by virtue of Section 3 of the 1948 Act, of any offence against the laws of the United Kingdom.
§ Sir J. Hobson
I see the right hon. and learned Gentleman assenting. Perhaps his right hon. and learned Friend will deal with this important matter. It may have only the jurisdictional effect of determining whether such Ministers can be tried at the Old Bailey or must be tried in Rhodesia; but we should have this matter clear and the House and the country should know the extent to which any of these Ministers may be committing an offence against United Kingdom law.
§ The Attorney-General
Our understanding and information is that about half the members of the illegal Government are citizens of the United Kingdom.
§ Sir J. Hobson
I am grateful for that information. Perhaps the Solicitor-General will deal with the position as he sees it and will say whether I am right about the criminal liability in this country of those Ministers who are not citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
This seems to be a matter of some importance. We have the example of Brigadier Skeen, whose treason was committed here, if it be treason, and who is a citizen of this country. If it be treason, then surely all who assisted and promoted his escape on Saturday are also guilty of treason. Can we have an assurance that they will be prosecuted and that no fear of favour will be shown, even if they should turn out to be members of Her Majesty's present Government?
§ Sir J. Hobson
I do not think I ought to be under an obligation to answer that question. I willingly hand it across the Table to the Solicitor-General who will no doubt be answering it. I am not the person to say whether anybody will be prosecuted for offences which occurred last Saturday, but that observation certainly raises a very interesting question. As I understand the position though, if any United Kingdom citizen has assisted in the unlawful seizure of power in Rhodesia, whether in Rhodesia or here, he will almost certainly be guilty of an offence against the 1848 Treason Felony 699 Act and may possibly—although this is much more doubtful—be guilty of the more important treason under the 1351 Statute. Certainly there is a distinction between those who are Rhodesian citizens and those who are United Kingdom citizens. It is right that the House should understand the position, even though in the end it may come back only to the question of whether certain individuals should be prosecuted in Rhodesia or in London.
Last Friday I raised the issue of whether Clause 1 ought not to refer to the Crown instead of to the Government. I hope that its wording will not be a precedent for references to what are really the responsibilities and jurisdictions of the Crown. I regard this wording as a bad precedent. We do not wish to hold up the Bill, and this is far too important an occasion to indulge in an argument in Committee on the exact wording which should be used, and for that reason we shall not pursue it, but I would have been very much happier if the reference had been to the Crown and Parliament of the United Kingdom. The present wording may give some assistance to Mr. Smith who is now saying that the Governor of Rhodesia, who is Her Majesty's representative there, is really only the representative of the Prime Minister and his Government in this country. In this instance it is much better to refer to the Crown. All the difficulties which the Attorney-General mentioned would have been easily overcome by references to the Crown, or would not have arisen, because the Government in this country are in any event advisors to the Crown in all these matters.
This may be a technical matter, but I hope that this precedent will not be followed in future. Another difficulty arises. Who knows how wide a Government is? Anyone who has attended an eve of Session dinner given by the Government knows how wide "Government" goes. What on earth have junior Whips in the House of Lords to do with Rhodesia as members of the Government in the discharge of their ordinary duties?
I turn now to Clause 2. I do not think that it is right now to discuss the details of the constitutional Orders. The 700 Attorney-General was good enough to indicate the form which they would take and we shall discuss all the Orders when they come up. Naturally we reserve our right and our position to examine each of them to see what it contains and to criticise it. It would not be right on this occasion to give any indication of what attitude we shall adopt, although, of course, we shall be willing to help all those Orders which are properly made and obviously necessary.
I have dealt with the question of the affirmative Resolution under Clause 2, and I am glad that undertakings have been given to bring forward important Orders promptly and at a reasonable time of the day. However, there is another matter on Clause 2 which causes anxiety. This arises in the last three lines of subsection (5).
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
On a point of order. Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman addressing the House as though it were a Committee and dealing with Committee points rather than the matters of principle which should be raised on Second Reading?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes). When the right hon. and learned Gentleman is out of order, I will call him to order.
§ Sir J. Hobson
The Bill, as drafted, provides that in calculating the 28-day period no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days. This is in very sharp distinction to our own Emergency Powers Act, 1920, which provides that an affirmative Resolution has to be passed within seven days and further provides that if Parliament is prorogued or adjourned for a period which will not have expired more than five days after Her Majesty makes a proclamation there is a duty to recall Parliament and Parliament must be recalled.
This may be of some importance as time goes on, for we may have a prolonged adjournment or prorogation, and, of course, when we get to next summer— when we hope that the whole of the emergency will be over, although it may not be—it would be possible for the Government to lay an Order at the end 701 of July which Parliament would have no opportunity of affirming until November. To that extent these emergency powers would be being used over a prolonged period without any authority from Parliament.
I ask the Government to consider giving an undertaking in the same way as their undertaking about important Orders being brought forward promptly, so that if there were Orders of importance which the Opposition regarded as important and requiring discussion they would recall Parliament if it were prorogued or adjourned for any prolonged period which would otherwise prevent discussion. We can agree that there may be many small and technical Orders dealing with minor administrative matters when it would be absurd to recall Parliament, and we certainly do not suggest that Parliament should be recalled from a long adjournment for every Order made. But I would have thought that for important Orders of principle, particularly those which disturb the Opposition and which require discussion, the Government would undertake to terminate any prolonged adjournment or prorogation of Parliament.
I have only one other point, and that is on the use in Clause 2 of the word "revoke". If one thinks that there is a provision in the 1961 Constitution that is unnecessary during the emergency one can suspend it. As I understand the Bill, a part of the Constitution which is suspended only would, on the expiration of the Bill and by the operation of Clause 3, be revived. If one revoked a provision of the Constitution, on the other hand, the expiration of the Bill would not revive it because it would have been revoked permanently.
Why is it necessary to take powers to revoke parts of the Constitution permanently instead of merely suspending them, because if the whole object of the exercise is to provide only for the interim, surely we can deal with the interim period by a suspension? One can amend the Constitution for the interim period, and the amendments will continue. But what parts of the Constitution do the Government think they are going to revoke permanently so that even after the expiration of the Bill those sections will be revoked? Would not the powers of 702 suspension be quite adequate, and why is it necessary under this interim Bill to take powers to do something permanently, when there is already power to amend and power to suspend?
Could the Government not give an undertaking not merely that they will not revoke the whole Constitution, but that they will not revoke permanently any major or important features of the Constitution, that they will only suspend it for the period of the emergency and then deal with the matter by legislation thereafter?
I appreciate that to some extent those are matters of detail, but if on Second Reading we could have assurances that are satisfactory, I am sure that it would greatly assist the passage of the Bill through the House and perhaps obviate the necessity for any Committee stage at all.
As I say, we certainly have no objection in principle to the Bill. We recognise its necessity, we recognise its urgency, and we recognise that this country has a long and creditable record for dealing with the problems of the Colonies. We hope that not only the House but everyone in Rhodesia and everyone outside this country and Rhodesia will recognise the unity of the House in the Opposition's supporting the Measure in trying to deal with the grave crisis that faces the nation.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
The House recognises overwhelmingly the need for the Government to take wide powers, and most of us are ready to give them whatever powers they ask for in the matter.
All the same, when they come to specify the particular powers that they take, it would be for the House to consider the advisability of each one of the Orders on its merits. I think that we all understand that, because we are doing responsible and unusual things, and the fact that we give a general power to do them does not in any way enable us to abdicate our responsibilities for the precise things which they do.
All I am saying is that the House desires overwhelmingly, though there may be some exceptions, to give the Government in principle the power to do 703 what they think necessary in these extremely difficult circumstances. If I intervene now, it is only to ask three questions of principle which seem to me to be important and difficult to raise on subsequent occasions when the actual Orders are brought before us.
The first is that I understand my right hon. and learned Friend to say that under the Bill they would have no power to suspend the whole of the 1961 Constitution. I cannot follow that. I speak with great diffidence, but, on the wording of the Bill, I should have thought that they had ample powers. If one looks first at subsection (2) of Clause 2, they make provisionfor suspending, amending, revoking or adding to any of the provisions of the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia 1961 ".If one takes power to revoke or to suspend any of the provisions, for example, it must involve the power to revoke or suspend all of them. As far as I am concerned, I take no exception to that. Whether the Government would think it right to do so is a matter for them to consider and for us to consider when they come to us with the actual Orders which they ask the House to approve. But it seems to me that the Bill, if passed in its present form, would enable them to revoke or suspend all the provisions. That must be the inevitable outcome of taking power to suspend any of the provisions.
If there were any doubt about that, I would draw attention to the fact that subsection (2) of Clause 2 is expressed to be:Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1)",and subsection (1) says:Her Majesty may, by Order in Council, make such provision in relation to Southern Rhodesia … as appears to Her to be necessary or expedient in consequence of any unconstitutional action taken therein.Even if I were wrong on the subsidiary point arising under subsection (2), which is without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), as a direct consequence of subsection (1) there is power to revoke or suspend the whole of the 1961 Constitution if the Government wish to do so.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (The Wirral)
If I may interrupt the hon. Gentleman, apart from the legal point which he is making, 704 we would rely on what the Prime Minister himself said on Friday:We have no intention, as things are, of suspending the Constitution as a whole. Certainly, we should need very compelling reasons, which would first be put to the House."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 626.]
§ Mr. Silverman
The right hon. and learned Gentleman will see, if he recollects what I said, that I am not now dealing with the merits or demerits of suspending the whole of the Constitution. I am dealing with the point which my right hon. and learned Friend was making, that under the Bill the Government would have no power to do it. I am questioning that. I am saying that under the wording of the Bill, they would have ample power to do it if they saw fit. Whether we should think fit or not is a matter for discussion later on, but if I am right, I would not like the Bill to be accepted by the House under any mistaken notion that the Government would not have power to suspend the 1961 Constitution if they thought it necessary to do so within the terms of subsection (1) of Clause 2. That is my first point. I do not want to be too long about it, and I do not think that it is necessary to say any more about it.
The second question that it occurred to me as being worth while to ask was as to the generality of the power to amend the British Nationality Act in order to enable loyal citizens in Southern Rhodesia to become citizens of the United Kingdom instead of citizens of Rhodesia.
How far does that go? There are four million Africans in Southern Rhodesia, all of whom may be considered to be loyal for this purpose. Is it the Government's view that if any of them or all of them thought it necessary, for protection against intimidation, tyranny or oppression of any kind by the de facto illegal administration now operating in Southern Rhodesia, to claim British citizenship, they would be able to do so under the powers which the Government now take to amend the British Nationality Act, 1948, for that purpose.
That brings me to my third point, and that is the point about protecting loyal subjects in Southern Rhodesia against the disloyal and illegal exercise of power against them. This applies to a great many people, black and white. There are 705 quite a number of white settlers in Southern Rhodesia who do not agree with Mr. Smith, and I quite understand that everybody will want to do everything in their power to protect them. Some of them are suffering restrictions already. What are we going to do about that?
I am talking about the white ones; I shall come to the others in a moment. What are we doing to protect them against restrictions merely because they oppose this illegal and usurping Administration's objections? I am thinking of Mr. Garfield Todd, and there are no doubt others. There is Mr. Baron, and others whom I do not need to list. We all know the sort of white settler in Rhodesia to whom this point might apply.
The principal point that I have in mind concerns the four million African citizens in Southern Rhodesia. By reason of illegal measures taken by Mr. Smith's Administration, all these people are subject at the moment to infringements of their liberty. They are not allowed to meet. They are not allowed to express opinions. They are not even allowed to know what is going on. It is an offence to tell them what is going on. It is an offence for them to listen to what is going on if anybody is courageous enough to try to tell them. A fortiori, if they do anything in pursuance of their duty and loyalty to this country, they are a long way off, and they are subject to powers which the illegal Administration would not hesitate to exercise. What do the Government have in mind for the protection of these four million coloured loyal subjects of this country in circumstances where it is only their loyalty that places them in danger? Many of us would like to have some idea of what the Government have in mind on this point, because one has to remember that the whole trouble arises out of the permanent denial to these four million subjects, these four million British citizens, or citizens of Southern Rhodesia, of ordinary, normal, equal citizenship and rights.
The whole trouble arises out of that, and if the state of emergency is going to inure to their disadvantage—and I am using very mild words—only because of their loyalty to the laws of this country, then it is incumbent on this House, which in this Bill is asserting its duty and its 706 power to govern the whole of Southern Rhodesia, to do something to protect them.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
I understand the hon. Gentleman's argument, but can he suggest any method by which all these four million people can be given the facilities which he is suggesting, bearing in mind that they are six thousand miles away?
§ Mr. Silverman
I could answer that question. I could suggest quite a number of things that could be done, but I am not sure that I would be in order in doing so. One could think of much more stringent sanctions than the Government are imposing, even if one went no further than that.
If any of these four million people were to rise in revolt, not against this House, not against Great Britain, but against a gang of people whom by this Bill we are declaring to be traitors, to be pursuing treasonable activities, what would happen? Supposing they do their duty? It may well be their duty—certainly if it is in their power it will become their duty—to assert their own power against Mr. Smith and his colleagues. One would like to know whether, under this Bill, they will be committing any illegal act, or whether this country, or the Government of this country which by this Bill are asserting, and rightly asserting, their responsibility for their protection, would do anything against them?
More, would we do anything to assist them, or would we disclaim all responsibility in that connection? Would we wash our hands of them? Would we say,"This is nothing to do with us "? I ask that because it is no good granting a Government's claim to be the sole Government of a country unless they are prepared to do their duty as a Government with regard to all the inhabitants of the country of which they are claiming to be the rulers.
That is a point which the House of Commons has to bear in mind when it is facing this matter seriously and responsibly. It is all very well to say, as has been said on more than one occasion from both Front Benches, that we must preserve law and order. What does preserving law and order mean? Does it 707 mean submitting to a treasonable Government, or does it mean resisting them? Or does it mean doing neither and being merely acquiescent? A great many people might prefer to acquiesce, and no doubt no one would blame them if they preferred to take no risks, but not all of them would adopt that attitude. Some of them may do what men and women of all ages and of all colours have done throughout the history of the world— defend themselves and their liberty against anyone who is determined to attack it, no matter what risks they may take.
One cannot say to them, "Do not do it because you cannot succeed ". We did not say that in June, 1940. We would have no right to say it to the Africans in Southern Rhodesia today. I have spent the whole of my political life saying that force is no remedy. I still say that force is no remedy, and I am not appealing to the Government to use force at this time. I think it would be wrong, and I think it would be injudicious. I think that it would be ineffective, and that it would add to the dangers of the situation. I am not blaming them for that. I am making a different point.
Suppose people who are subject, as we are not, to this illegal tyranny decided to defend themselves? My ideas about the use of force are not binding on them, and why should they be? They would be free to do it, and what I would like to know from the Government is whether they would take steps against those people, take steps for them, or wash their hands of the whole matter and say, "Fight for yourselves and we will come to your rescue if you win ". I do not think that many of us would be satisfied with that, and I am sure that that is not the Government's intention, but I should like to have some assurance on these points before we part with the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
It is extremely disagreeable, when a State is in external danger or difficulty—as ours now is—to put oneself in a posture which might seem grudging in support of one's Government. I have no such intention. What we are—I was going to say fighting for—struggling for, standing for, is said to be law and order. I agree with the 708 hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) that—putting the matter in his words, as nearly as I remember them—it is all very well to say that what we are after is law and order, but what is law and order?
I suppose that in this place one may be forgiven for assuming that a great part of it, and a great factor for it, in the past and in the future has been, will be, and is the authority of this House. With respect to the learned Attorney-General, I do not take the view that his two statements—one the other day and one today—cover all the points about which the House ought to be better informed and more reassured than it yet can be. I am not for a moment being hostile when I say this, but I do not think that he can be said to have covered all the points.
There is therefore a duty—and a greater duty, because of my first sentence and because of the wide agreement between the two Front Benches—upon any one on the back benches who feels any doubt at all about any part of the Bill, to do his best to question the Government upon it. I make this statement with the more confidence because I have lived to see all this before. One of the few poor consolations of senility is that one has seen all the worst films round at least once before.
On the last great occasion there were very few people then and now still in the House who took any particular interest in this question. That occasion was the 1939 war and just after. One is the present Solicitor-General, who took an honourable and active part, and another, who took a less large if not less honourable part, is the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. I also took some active part in these matters then. If three-quarters of the present Members of the House had been through all that, the enthusiastic acquiescence—if there can be enthusiastic acquiescence—of what has been said by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne would not come so easily.
In the context of this kind of Bill— which is an adjectival procedural thing— none of the points which I shall raise can be called, save from the latitude of Aberdeen, mere Committee points: they add up to a Second Reading speech. I hope that if Amendments are put down I shall be the shorter in my references to those 709 points in dealing with such Amendments, should any of the points that I am making prove to be Committee points as well as Second Reading points. I propose to put them now, or most of them—with your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker—in the order in which they occur in the Bill.
My first point deals with the short notice that we have had, signalised by what I said just now about the fact that Amendments cannot be put down until after the Second Reading. It was not possible to read the Bill until lunch-time on Friday, and I had engagements from that moment almost to this. Although they were trifling or trivial, in a sense, partly small constituency engagements— and although bearing in mind the duty always to put Parliamentary business first —it was extremely difficult to cut them. I have no doubt that most of us—and I am sorry but not apologetic for this— come to this debate much less prepared than a man ought to be coming to a debate of this sort.
Those persons least partisan and best informed about this business of delegated legislation—those of such persons who have written about it—have almost all, so far as I can remember, said that the moment of any Parliament's retention of a proper relation between it and an enabling Bill is this moment—the Second Reading moment. If that is so, I do not complain, but I say to the Government and the Treasury Bench that they now owe us ever)' consideration because they, Heaven knows, have landed us in the position of having come to this debate so ill-prepared as I feel myself to be and I have no doubt that some of my hon. Friends are.
I am not a lawyer, but with regard to Clause 1—the declaratory Clause—it has always seemed to be dubious often, whether declaration strengthens or weakens. It is particularly dubious where the converse of what one is declaring is not reliable. Authority, responsibility, jurisdiction—all these things depend upon allegiance, and allegiance depends upon protection. The point about the situation in which we now are is that neither we nor any other Power has a normal capacity to protect subjects in Rhodesia.
I have hastily turned over most previous Bills of this sort, but I am relying mainly on my memory, defective—some of them were a long time ago, for instance of 710 1939—when I say that they have all been limited mainly by their declaration of purpose. A simple example was the Defence of the Realm Act, passed in August, 1914. The purpose then was simply to win the war. Here, the operative subsection—Clause 2(1)—does not tell us what the purpose is. What it tells us is that anything to do with Rhodesia shall come within the ambit of action by the Government, just as other Bills might have told us that this was the case in regard to anything to do with Germany or Korea, or some colony where there had been a disastrous hurricane or fire. But the policy has not been made clear, only the territory and persons aimed at.
If it should be assumed that the policy is to restore law and order, I must remind the House—I am sorry that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne has left, because I should like to have had a confirmatory nod from him—of what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne said about law and order. In earlier cases this was the main limitation on the scope of such a Bill as this—it was known what the Bill was for. Here we do not know that at all, expressly. In all previous Bills of this nature the general purpose has been expressed, and generally we have had a series of examples—(a), (b), (c), (d) and (e)—in which detailed points of the general policy have been set out. Here, we have not got that.
Then, Ministers can give legislative authority to anything connected with Southern Rhodesia which "appears to Her Majesty" to be expedient. My recollection is not good but hon. and learned Gentlemen will remember the cases of Bayer and Liversedge and other such cases. My vague amateur memory of such things is that these words are designed to make it quite plain that from this matter courts are wholly excluded. I do not at all want to argue whether that is right or wrong. On the whole, I think, it is probably right. What I do want to argue is that it should be made quite plain by the Treasury Bench what these words are designed to do.
Incidentally, I may remind the Solicitor-General that he was on the anti-Government side on this on one occasion —in the 18b debate—when he was in favour of the Home Secretary being bound to accept the advice of his advisory committee. I thought at the time 711 that he was wrong. Now, no doubt, he thinks he was wrong. Now he has jolly well got to.
There are one or two things which worry me about subsection (3). The Attorney-General said—he said it exactly like an uncle in a pious family muttering a prayer because he thinks it due to the presence of his sister and his niece that it should seem habitual—that retrospective legislation is always bad. I have heard many Attorneys say, "Retrospective legislation is always bad:" I have never heard one say so except when he was moving such legislation. It is an absolutely invariable rule that, on all other occasions, private and public, they find it extremely debatable. But when it comes to moving retrospective legislation, they always say that it is, in its nature, bad. So, by Heaven, it is. So are Attorneys, of course: so am I and all miserable sinners. But they ought to remember a little their better selves about this legislation.
Is it really necessary to make, not only in the interval between now and the time when the potential orders are initiated, orders in council retrospective on and on and on, continued retrospection? I cannot believe that it is really necessary. If it is necessary, we ought to be told how and I can produce very good quotations, from the hon. and I think not quite learned Member for Islington, East (Sir Eric Fletcher) about the law on retrospection. He was on the right side once and I hope that he will agree that this is an occasion when this should be remembered.
Then, the 28 days provision. In earlier Bills of this sort, it has been sometimes none, sometimes seven, sometimes fourteen, sometimes 28—differing periods for differing kinds of order. This 28 days is a very long time. Is it really necessary to provide for 28 days? On the face of it, it is not necessary, and, on the face of the logic of the matter, it cannot be necessary, because it is recommended from the two Front Benches on the ground that on any matters of the least importance, it will be something much shorter. If they know that they can do that now, it must be plain that the 28 days is a dangerously long period in this Bill and I would ask now for further consideration of that.
712 Then there is the point about prorogation, which I think has been dealt with sufficiently. I think that those are all the separate points which I need to mention. They are none of them mere committee points. They are suitable no doubt in committee but are not committee points which would be unsuitable at this moment. I hope that no one will think that I mention any of them in any intention of opposition or obstruction. On the policy of Her Majesty's Government, though I believe that it could, with a little ingenuity, be brought into order on Second Reading of this Bill—I believe that we might all talk almost until this Rhodesia business is over—but, for the purposes of my argument now, I am not on the policy. I am not at all concerned to make things difficult either for the Government or for my own leaders, in respect to whom I yield to no one.
But I wish to make clear that it is difficult for Parliament to get back from these things once gone wrong. That reminds me of one other thing which I ought to mention—the "grandchildren" of delegated legislation. The Solicitor-General will remember that that expression became a technical term, because, under the delegated legislation of the last war—not under all of it, but certainly under most of it—the House had no right to see, still less to debate or move against, not the Order by the Regulations issued under the Order and these came to be called the grandchildren.
That was put right in 1947 or 1948, I have forgotten which, in one of the two Socialist Supplies and Services Bills which went very far towards strengthening the executive against the legislature—I think disgracefully far. That is not partisan: I think many hon. Members opposite thought so as well at that time. But they did one good thing in that Bill— they made it possible for the House to inspect and have some control over the Regulations issued under Orders.
It may not be vitally important now— it might never become important, although it did become extremely important in the past—and if this goes on for many weeks, it might become extremely important. Ministers ought to be clear what they should do about this and the House ought to be clear about what it wants them to do about this, before it parts with this Bill.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
In the debate on Friday, the Government invited us to discuss the Rhodesian situation and we had a very good talk. Today, we are being asked to take action. This Bill marks the first stage of a journey and none of us knows where this journey will end. It is very important that we should examine this Measure, both its purposes and its consequences, very dispassionately—not in a mood of emotion, but as surgeons and doctors would examine a case.
The Bill confers immense powers on the Government. I hope that when the Solicitor-General winds up, he will be able to answer some of the points which were raised by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman). I am no lawyer, but I thought that his argument sounded overwhelming. I was impressed by the fact that, in opening the debate, the Attorney-General said that the Government had no intention of suspending the Constitution "at this stage ". In a quotation from the Prime Minister which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) read to the House when he sprang, with characteristic chivalry, to the Government's defence, there is also a qualifying phrase. "Not at present" were the words which the Prime Minister used. We should have an answer on this, because it is of vital importance both to the strategy on which the Government are embarked and to the hopes of bringing an end to the present rebellion.
I want to look at the Bill, first of all, in the context of the negotiations which failed and which led to U.D.I. in Salisbury and to this Bill in the House of Commons. I do not altogether share the admiration which some have for the Prime Minister as a negotiator. I do not think that he did any better in this negotiation than over Kashmir or Vietnam. There is a golden rule in negotiation. There is a time when, by giving an inch, one can save a mile, and, later on, there comes a time when, by giving a mile, one cannot even save an inch. It seems to me that the Prime Minister dribbled out his concessions under pressure and so—and this is what is relevant to the Bill—increased mistrust.
714 The real reason for the breakdown was the inability to overcome the mistrust which existed on both sides in the negotiations. On the United Kingdom side, there was a mistrust that, if we gave independence on the basis of the 1961 Constitution, the Constitution which this Bill gives power to revoke, the Rhodesians would use it to introduce regressive measures which would injure the position of the Africans in Southern Rhodesia. Looking back on our experience in South Africa, no one can say that there was not some basis for that mistrust. On Mr. Smith's side, there was a mistrust that Britain, had the Rhodesians gone on without seeking independence, might at some time have gone back upon the conventions under which we undertook not to interfere in the internal legislation of Rhodesia or to amend the Constitution on our own initiative. Many speeches must have lent colour to that mistrust. None more than the speech of the Archbishop, which came, I think, at a very unfortunate time.
Yet there were some people in Rhodesia—Europeans—who did trust the British Government, who wanted to go on working with us. But on what basis? Not on a basis of independence bringing speedy majority rule. They wanted to go on on the basis of the 1961 Constitution without independence. It will come as a severe shock to them, to moderate men among the Europeans, that the Government are taking power to revoke, suspend or amend the Constitution, that they are putting themselves in a position from which they could impose a constitutional settlement if they were to prevail in their struggle with the rebel Government.
We must demand from the Government a clear assurance that there is no intention of imposing a constitutional settlement upon the Rhodesian people and that any ultimate settlement must come from agreement with a Rhodesian Government elected on the basis of the 1961 Constitution—unamended.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
Was it not the policy of the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), when he was in charge of negotiations, that the 1961 Constitution did not provide a sufficiently wide basis of franchise to justify the granting of independence?
§ Mr. Amery
The hon. Lady has misunderstood what I said. I said that I wanted an assurance from the Solicitor-General that we would not, under the powers conferred on the Government by the Bill, seek to impose a settlement on the Rhodesian people and that any settlement to be arrived at for independence must be negotiated between the Government of this country and a Rhodesian Government, when one can be formed legally on the basis of the 1961 Constitution not amended unilaterally under this Bill.
The Bill is the centrepiece of a series of measures—I do not call them punitive measures but coercive measures— designed, as the Prime Minister told us, to bring down the Smith regime. It is only reasonable, before we give our assent to it, to ask ourselves whether these measures are likely to succeed. I asked the Prime Minister this in the debate on Friday, and he said that he thought that they would succeed. If the measures so far introduced, including the ones to which reference is made under the Bill—that is, those relating to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and the Fugitive Offenders Act—are calculated to succeed, why are the Government taking such very wide powers? Why do they want to be able to bring in their Order at once and leave as long as 28 days thereafter, perhaps the whole of a Recess, before the House has an opportunity to pass judgment? Is this emergency procedure necessary for the Fugitive Offenders Act or for terminating Rhodesia's share in the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement?
Suppose that the Prime Minister is wrong and the measures so far announced are not enough and do not work, how far will the Government go? How do they mean to fill in this blank cheque which they are asking the House to give them? At the end of his speech the other day, the Prime Minister read an eloquent quotation from words used by Sir Winston Churchill at the time of the Abyssinian war. What Sir Winston Churchill was saying, in effect, was, "If you embark on sanctions, you must be prepared to go the whole hog" Are the Government prepared to go the whole hog? Is the Bill intended to provide them with the means of escalating sanctions, and how far would they go?
716 Is their object to create economic chaos in Rhodesia? Is it their wish to create disorder as the means of restoring law? I should be sorry for any of the officers and judges in Rhodesia now asked to maintain order if they were to find themselves doing so against disorder deliberately brought about by the Government's policy. Therefore, I seek the further assurance from the Solicitor-General that he has no intention, and the Government have no intention, to use the powers under the Bill to enable them to undertake an escalation of sanctions against Rhodesia.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the Prime Minister's statement on Friday that the object of sanctions is to put an end to the rebellion, and is it not a matter for Mr. Smith and his friends to decide how far they are prepared to go in defying law and order and their constitutional duty? Do not we have to escalate sanctions until such point as the rebellion is defeated?
§ Mr. Amery
The point the hon. Gentleman makes is perfectly tenable from his point of view, but it is not the point I understood the Prime Minister to make. He said that he thought the present measures would do. He brushed aside any idea of oil sanctions the other day. How far does he want to fill in the blank cheque? The Bill confers enormous powers.
I gravely doubt that economic sanctions would achieve the result which the Government have in mind. Oil is an obvious case. We all know that it is difficult to deny oil to Southern Rhodesia without denying it to Zambia as well.
Those who have studied the economy of Southern Rhodesia are all convinced that it would take several months before the present sanctions even begin to bite, let alone to take effect. Those who know the psychology of the Rhodesians will agree with me, I think, that they are not very likely to be impressed by these measures. They are men very like ourselves with, perhaps, something of a Cromwellian readiness to accept some austerity and hardship in a cause which they believe, rightly or wrongly—I think wrongly—to be just.
717 But, over and above that, there is a fact of power politics which the House must not overlook. No doubt, the South African and Portuguese Governments would be glad to see this matter resolved in a friendly way by reconciliation. They have no interest in a crisis breaking out in Southern Africa. But they could not easily allow Mr. Smith to be brought to his knees; and, unless we are prepared to extend the conflict to the whole of Southern Africa, whether by sanctions or other means, we shall find it impossible to bring the rebellion to its knees.
I know that there are some who would be glad to embark on a crusade to impose majority rule throughout Southern Africa. But this is a notion which does not commend itself to the House as a whole. Why should we undertake the damage which our own country would suffer and run the risks which could escalate beyond our control? Already, the sanctions proposed will add £30 million or £40 million to our dollar payments each year. It is not a big thing, but it is not a small thing either. I can well imagine the kind of comment we should hear from many quarters in the House, if it were proposed to do this as a gesture, in some other context. But why should we do it? Of course, we cannot condone rebellion. But the effort we make to suppress rebellion must correspond to some extent to the injury which we suffer from the rebellion. Certainly this is a rebellion, but it is a rebellion wrapped up in the Union Jack, and I cannot imagine a rebellion less directed against British interests.
Is there really any great principle at stake here? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] There has been a lot of talk about one man, one vote. But the Prime Minister has mads clear that this is not the issue at stake. He was quite prepared to go on under the 1961 Constitution, and under that Constitution there would be no question of one man, one vote for at least 15 years and, some Rhodesians think, for 50.
The truth is that a new doctrine has been evolved recently. It is that Britain should not hand over independence except to a Government elected on a "one-man, one-vote" principle. This is a new doctrine. It did not always exist. It is being applied in Africa. No matter 718 whether all of us know that the democratically elected Government to which we hand over will soon be replaced by a dictatorship. No matter whether a dictatorship would in truth give way to barbarism. That would not be our responsibility. That is the new doctrine. It is not a principle or, if it is, it is the principle of Pontius Pilate, who said: "Choose between the two, Barabbas or Christ. I wash my hands of the death of this just man ". I am convinced that there is no principle at stake. But I agree that there are great interests involved and that the Government have a right to take powers to try to defend these interests.
What, then, are these interests? It is on the basis of them that the two parties have the most in common. We have no great economic interests in Rhodesia. But we have great interests in South Africa and Zambia. We do not want to see a conflagration in a part of the world from which we draw so much of our raw materials, and where we have vital markets. And the Government must be prepared to guard these interests and to show themselves determined to guard them. But how is this to be done?
This must, of course, be a matter of judgment and the Executive must judge. It may be that the emotions of the United Nations are sham emotions. If they are, then sham measures like these may be justified, but it is unwise for a great country like ours to base its policy on shams.
I would advise the Government, in all humility, not to exaggerate the danger to our interests from international intervention; not to exaggerate the peril of Red troops in blue berets. We have had some experience of this. The United Nations force in the Congo would have been powerless without American transport support—given not by the United Nations but at the request of the Congolese Government. I do not think that the Americans would be likely to do that in this context.
Nor do I think that Soviet Union intervention is at all likely. It fell to me as Secretary of State for Air to advise the Government of the day on how far the Soviet Union could support the Gizenga r6gime established in Stanleyville in the North of the Congo. After considering the best information and intelligence reports, it became clear that, even with the 719 help of Egyptian bases, the Russians could not sustain a military effort of any size in Stanleyville.
We are today talking about a crisis 1,500 miles further south, where it would not be Tshombe's mercenaries that would face the Soviets but the second best army in the African continent. I do not think we need worry overmuch about Red troops in blue berets.
Of course, these are deep issues for the Commonwealth—and here again the Government are right to arm themselves with powers to try to minimise the stresses which might be imposed upon the Commonwealth. But let us be clear about this. The Commonwealth is not as united on this matter as it might appear. The Australians have already made it clear that they are not so sure about the sanctions. In Africa the pressure for violent action seems to increase the further from Rhodesia one gets. Zambia and Malawi are rather cautious. No wonder. They need to be realistic in view of their nearness to the scene. I urge the Government not to be frightened of too many of the stresses in the Commonwealth, nor of international intervention. Do not let them become "frightened little men ".
I appreciate that Her Majesty's Government have a difficult hand to play. They believe that sanctions will work and I hope that the sanctions which they have announced will be enough, but I doubt it.
I trust that Her Majesty's Government will not embark on or become committed to what one might call a policy of unconditional surrender. It would be easy to fill in this Bill to make it so unacceptable to European Rhodesian opinion that it would be imposing unconditional surrender on them.
I do not think that Her Majesty's Government will get a victory by sanctions, or by force, or by bringing about economic chaos. What, then, should we advise them to do? They are the Executive and must play the hand—[Interruption.]—but the important thing, I submit, will be to gain time to enable passions to cool here, in Salisbury and the rest of the world. Gain time for what?
There will be no return to colonial rule. This is a chapter from the past. One cannot put the clock back. But we must hope and work for the time when 720 reconciliation will be possible. It may be that, if we are patient, wise and fair, an independent Rhodesian Government may judge it right to make some of the concessions to world opinion which as a Colony they were not prepared to do. Then will be our chance, perhaps, to take an independent Rhodesian Government by the hand and lead them into the comity of nations. Perhaps one day it may even be possible for us to lead that Government into Commonwealth membership. After all, no country per head of population has done so much by way of economic development and military sacrifice to serve the Commonwealth.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)
The right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) considers that no questions of principle are involved in the Bill or in this debate. I feel bound to rise to dispute that with him, for I am sure that he does not carry the whole House with him in that view.
Much of the difficulty of the whole Rhodesian situation is that there are great principles involved on both sides. It is the way we see the current course of history that makes the solution of the problem of Rhodesia such a desperately important one for us in the House of Commons to face. It is too grave a matter to approach on purely party lines. It raises principles on which we are agreed across the Floor of the House— for example, the principle of free government—and requires an understanding of human attitudes in Rhodesia to which we need to contribute from both sides of the House. I accept this, and the right hon. Member for Preston, North has his contribution to make, too.
I wish to speak particularly of the conscience of Rhodesia as expressed today by the Churches of Rhodesia and, at second hand, through the Churches in this country. The leaders and official representatives of the Churches of Britain meet in the British Council of Churches —and since I am the only member of that body in the House, I have been asked to put their point of view to the House.
All hon. Members, including my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, will wish to 721 think out, with the Churches, the implications of their beliefs for the action which, as the Government and as Parliament, we are called upon to take. The involvement of the Churches in Rhodesia in this situation is very deep and is widely acknowledged. They are responsible for 90 per cent. of the primary education of Africans there. They are also responsible for the greater part of the secondary and teacher-training education. Their efforts to increase the higher levels of education in Rhodesia, of Africans, have been positively opposed by the Smith regime; for example, by instructing the Churches to reduce by 25 per cent. the intake of Africans into teacher-training colleges next January.
The experience of the present and previous Governments in Britain when they have sought to increase the effort going into teacher training, further education and higher education has been that this has been opposed by the Smith regime. This is the daily experience of the Churches in their attempt to administer the machinery of education in Rhodesia up to the present.
Under such a regime it seems inescapable that the master-servant relationship with Africans will be maintained. It is this that the Churches of Rhodesia cannot accept. Hon. Members will have received a report of the consultation on human relations sponsored by the Christian Council of Rhodesia and held at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland on 25th August of this year. We have just heard that this report has been suppressed by the censors in Salisbury, and cannot today be published in Rhodesia.
But this involvement of the Churches is not simply in education. It is the fact that the Churches are more closely bound up with the life of the Africans in the villages and towns of Rhodesia that has led them to protest at the grave injustice of the system of government which the illegal unilateral declaration of independence was intended to perpetuate. This involvement has brought to the Churches knowledge of the resentment—indeed, the hatred—nurtured by the system, and it is the African Christians in the villages and towns who know that, if Britain does not fulfil her obligations, Africans will take the law violently into their own hands. 722 They fear far more the measures that they and their colleagues would take— their friends in Africa—than they fear any action that would be taken by Britain.
I think that the right hon. Member is displaying a lighthearted attitude to the lives of farmers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]—and whites in Rhodesia. These, I assure the House, are the reports from African Churches in the villages. These people are not agitators, but they live alongside the people there. It is these reports, collected directly from the people concerned by missionaries in Rhodesia, that have led the Churches to make their urgent representations to the Government.
The objective must certainly be to see that such changes as are made are brought about with the least possible suffering and loss of life. It was this background of information, of experience in Rhodesia today, that led the British Council of Churches at its meeting last month to resolve that in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence, rather than let the situation drift the British Government should be prepared to resume responsibility for government in Rhodesia. That is what we are doing in this Bill. As such, it has the support of the Churches: of their leaders meeting in the British Council of Churches.
The Prime Minister made the Government's position quite clear on Friday when, describing the objectives, he said:The question … is whether it is our policy to restore Rhodesia to the rule of law at the earliest possible moment, or whether we want to drag out the agony. This can be done, in our view, only by bringing the Rhodesia regime to an end, by making that regime unworkable and, indeed, creating a situation where at the earliest possible moment the people of Rhodesia, acting through the only legal Government there—the Governor —-themselves want to see and ask to see a lawful Government in its place."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 633.]But while these are the objectives of the Government, in their specific action the Government are conditioned, first, by the reactions of people in Rhodesia, secondly, by public opinion in this country and, thirdly, by world opinion, including opinion expressed in the United Nations. Since the Government have made their position clear, it is to the country and 723 the Opposition—and the Leaders of the Opposition in particular—that the case for necessary action must be made.
There is no case for merely nominal sanctions leading after a short time to kiss-and-make-up with the Smith regime. This would show that Britain was abrogating her responsibilities, and would unleash violent reactions inside and outside Rhodesia which would quickly get out of control. To say that any other than formal sanctions would be punitive, merely to bring Rhodesia to its knees, is beside the point. When a driver is driving recklessly, dangerously, through a crowded shopping street heading, with his passengers, straight for disaster, we do not stop to talk about punishment and bringing the driver to his knees; we take the most effective possible means to stop the runaway car without risk, or with the minimum risk, to the people involved—
§ Dr. Bray
Therefore, we have to see whether the policy we have so far undertaken is the right one. If we go no further than the sanctions so far announced, those sanctions may produce—and it is devoutly to be hoped that they will produce—a speedy reaction, and an alternative regime in Rhodesia with which it is possible to negotiate.
§ Mr. John Page
The hon. Gentleman is talking about the passengers and trying to stop the runaway bus—which I do not think is a very good analogy, anyhow—and causing the minimum danger to the passengers and public. Surely, one does that as carefully as possible but, as far as I can see, the hon. Gentleman is saying that and starts by being careful but ultimately takes any means that one can to stop it, even with the maximum danger to the passengers and public.
§ Dr. Bray
I think that if the hon. Member will follow this argument, he will understand.
It is generally acknowledged that the economic sanctions will take time to work. This has been pointed out by hon. Members opposite. It will take a matter of months to show a serious effect. With 724 the difficulties of credit for tobacco planters, the Treasury seem to think that it will take three or four months for inflation to get under way, unemployment having begun to increase meanwhile. But not only will the next tobacco crop not be available for sale before next Easter, but the British tobacco manufacturers seem to carry more than two years' stock of Rhodesian tobacco. The next year's crop could, presumably, be kept in warehouses in Rhodesia for a year or more on credit given to farmers by the Rhodesian Government, in the hope of later sale without interrupting the normal flow of business to Britain when affairs have settled down.
The Treasury, thank goodness, has no experience of Government under an authoritarian regime, and it would be a mistake to suppose that, with sufficiently repressive internal measures—price control, rationing, the lot—the Smith regime could not carry on, somehow, for many months, and possibly for years. In the deteriorating economic situation that Rhodesia would then face, with increasing unemployment, possibly with isolated acts of violence and retaliatory action between black and white, the danger is that within two years race relations there would have degenerated to the point where there was no future for white men in Rhodesia at all.
§ Dr. Bray
It is understandable that some hon. Members on both sides of the House shrink from this possibility, but the alternative is not weaker sanctions, but stronger sanctions, which can take effect more quickly. Indeed, the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. Henry Clark), with whom I very seldom agree, said in Friday's debate that in many ways he would support strong sanctions in the hope that they would be taken off in a reasonably short period of time, rather than half-measures which might continue to eat out the economy of Rhodesia for a long time. What we, therefore, have to consider about sanctions is not their brutality or whether or not they are punitive, but their effectiveness in relation to the damage they do.
That means that we are driven directly to consider an oil embargo. Assuming 725 that that is practicable, and with international reaction so far it would seem to be, I do not think that the Prime Minister needs persuading of its merits as a sanction—if one can talk of merits in this matter. But the Government cannot use this sanction, cannot lay on an oil embargo, until there has been time for reactions to show both in the world and in this country—until, indeed, there is some test possible of the measure of support that would be forthcoming. This has already begun to happen. We read in The Times today how Lord Malvern, with all his long experience of Rhodesia, pointed out that half-hearted sanctions would not have any effect on Rhodesia:They seem to be just playing at it, he said, but we shall know more after the debate in the House of Commons tomorrow. An oil sanction was the only one which would have a sudden effect on Rhodesia, ' but if they cannot find a way to fly in oil to Zambia they will kill that country too.'It appeared that the best hope was for sanctions to work quickly to give the Government a rude awakening, otherwise Rhodesia would ' go down and down and down '".
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
Will the hon. Member say how he thinks oil sanctions will be effective in view of the fact that both South Africa and Mozambique have good road and rail connections between their country and Rhodesia and could bring in all the oil needed?
§ Dr. Bray
If we were to have a debate on the practicability of oil sanctions I would take that up with the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr). That is for another time. But on the question of practicability, the oil requirements for South Africa are very well known. They are met largely from abroad. If those requirements were in any way increased for any reason they could be controlled by the suppliers. It is perfectly possible both in South Africa and Mozambique, provided there is world opinion behind an oil sanction, to make it effective. This is what needs time, to make it effective.
§ Mr. Paget
Has my hon. Friend considered the further point that neither Portugal nor South Africa could possibly allow oil sanctions to succeed because if the success of oil sanctions were given a precedent that precedent would immediately apply against them. Their survival depends on oil sanctions not being successful.
§ Dr. Bray
If my hon. and learned Friend assumes that we want to go about the world applying oil sanctions or any sanctions on anyone with whom we disagree on any minor, or indeed major, point, that may be so, but this is not so and it is to mistake the nature of our problems about Rhodesia today.
In the light of this need to minimise the suffering, the loss of life perhaps, in Rhodesia, I urge the leaders of the Opposition, in particular the Leader of the Opposition itself, to look very seriously at the attitude of his party to oil sanctions. Hard things have been said about the Leader of the Opposition, about his temporising on tobacco sanctions and giving way to sectional interests within his party—[HON. MEMBERS: "What sections?"]—but I feel that these things have not been justified. I admire the Leader of the Opposition in many ways but undoubtedly his attitude would be more understandable to the country as a whole if he were to show that his concern was genuinely to minimise the suffering in Rhodesia and to take the most effective means to that end. If he were prepared to support effective, decisive, immediate sanctions I am quite sure he would have the support of his party in the country and I am quite sure he would make it possible to exercise leadership in his party in future which it does not appear clear that he will be able to do as things now stand.
Most important of all is what we hold out to the people of Rhodesia in the long run. We have believed and still believe firmly in the possibility of a genuine multi-racial society in Rhodesia. We do not want to see the situation degenerating to a point where there is no future for white men there. We have spoken of a definite movement towards majority rule, not majority rule overnight. We are as anxious to assure the rights of the white Rhodesians as of coloured ones. We should go further and say that we are prepared to pay compensation for the property of those Rhodesians who after whatever settlement is reached decide that there is no future for them in Rhodesia and want to move to another part of the Commonwealth.
The principles of such a scheme were brought out in Kenya. The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) has doubts 727 about the efficacy with which that scheme worked, but we can make sure that it works in Rhodesia. The cost would be heavy but it need not be more heavy even than the continuation of the sanctions which we have undertaken.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
Would the hon. Member agree that the example of Kenya is not a very good one, nor encouraging to Rhodesia?
§ Dr. Bray
Some hon. Members opposite have spoken of the danger of vindictiveness towards Rhodesia. I think that here they have misjudged the temper of the Government and the psychological reaction to the release of tension, the cessation of conflict. If the illegal declaration of independence began with a sad parody of the United States Declaration of Independence, let it end with an echo of the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln, speaking 74 years after the Declaration of Independence, said:We here highly resolve that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
The main point made by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) about oil sanctions was effectively disposed of by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget).
With respect to him, for a highly intelligent man, I think he suffers from wider delusions about Central Africa than anyone to whom we have listened on Friday and today. He spent some time condemning Rhodesia for the provisions made before U.D.I. for African education. This is one of the most unfair charges which have been brought. He should know that before U.D.I. Mr. Smith's Government, through its Department of Education, produced a ten-year scheme exclusively for African education costing £36 million, including 30 new 728 secondary schools and bringing the total number of elementary schools to a figure over 200, I think. I have not the figure with me now, but I should be glad to give it to the hon. Member after the debate.
§ Mr. Hastings
I think the best way in which the hon. Member could judge these questions properly would be to go there and to see for himself what is happening and he might begin with the multi-racial university. Unfortunately that would be a little difficult at the moment, but I hope he will take the first opportunity of doing so.
Before turning to the main objectives and the possible results of this Bill, I wish to raise a point of detail which I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree is substantial, extremely important and urgent. If my information is correct—it has only just been brought to my attention—the public servants of the Rhodesian High Commission who are still here are being required by the Commonwealth Relations Office to sign a declaration which I propose to read to the House. It says:You are required to declare that you dissociate yourself from the purported declaration of independence that has been made by Mr. Smith and his colleagues, that you do not accept the authority of any Government that Mr. Smith and his colleagues may purport to constitute in pursuance of this illegal declaration of independence and that you do accept the continuing responsibility and authority for Southern Rhodesia of the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom.If you decline to make a declaration in the above terms, you will be regarded as having chosen to adhere to Mr. Smith's illegal regime.
§ Mr. Hastings
Hon. Members opposite seem to be quite happy about this. If they reread the speech the Prime Minister made on Friday, they will find that his speech was not at all in accord with the spirit of this brutal document. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] They will see that both the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition recognised that the choice facing all public servants in Rhodesia was extremely 729 delicate and difficult. None of them, so far as I know, apart from the public servants of the Rhodesian High Commission in London, is being required to make that choice publicly.
What will happen to them? If they say, "No. We refuse to dissociate ourselves ", they are apparently branded as rebels. If they say, "Yes ", either they cannot return home—it would indeed be difficult—or, if they return home, they return having declared their open opposition to their own employer. It seems to me in all fairness that this is more than can reasonably be expected of public servants placed in this extremely delicate position. I am not quite sure whether there is any part of the Bill under which they are being required to sign this declaration. I truly believe that it is unfair and that it goes beyond the spirit of the speech the Prime Minister made on Friday. I hope that when the learned Law Officer of the Crown winds up the debate he will make very plain whether the Government propose to adhere to that, or whether they will not think again. Perhaps this is some oversight on the part of the Commonwealth Relations Office. These people should be enabled to go home without having to make this agonising, and I think totally unfair, public choice.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
Would my hon. Friend add to his question to the Law Officer the point whether there is any time limit in signing and what the penalty is?
§ Mr. Hastings
I should be only too glad to add that question. I have no doubt that the learned Attorney-General will make a note of it, as perhaps he has made a note of the general point I have raised. This is not a party point. This is not a point on any of the principles which have been involved in this debate. It is a personal point for a few individuals who by pure chance happen to be in London, as opposed to being in Salisbury, at this hour. They are public servants in the employ of the Rhodesian Government.
§ Mr, Paget rose—
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Would the hon. Gentleman explain to the House what difficulty an honest man would be in?
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
On a point of order. I am very likely wrong—I frequently am —but it had never occurred to me before that it was the business of the Chair to call interrupters. If one or more persons desire to interrupt, it surely is the decision of the hon. Member who has the Floor by whom, if anyone, he will be interrupted.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) gave way to two hon. Members. It seemed to me that I had to choose which should interrupt.
§ Mr. Hastings
Further to that point of order. I should make it clear, as I endeavoured to do, that I gave way to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, not to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman).
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order, order. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) must not persist.
§ Mr. Hastings
I have been connected with Rhodesia since my childhood, and through my family, for much longer than that. It is, for me, a bitter thing to see all the bright hopes with which I have been brought up brought to this present pass. Of course I, like all other hon. Members on both sides, deplore the U.D.I., but it is our duty, I conceive, if we cannot condone at least to try, and to try sincerely, to understand the reasons which have brought it about.
Therefore, I want to devote the first part of my remarks to the two main factors which have worked in the minds of Rhodesians and which have brought about the tragedy. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister did everything he could to avert the disaster, but unfortunately it is not a story of the negotiations of the last few weeks or days. It is a story of years of negotiations. The Prime? Minister was not negotiating, as some have tried to make out, with small and frightened men or with racist madmen, but with men perhaps made desperate by these years of negotiation with successive British Governments.
In Friday's debate more than one hon. Member pointed out that each Rhodesian Government appeared to have given way to another less moderate than the one before. I ask the House—why was this? Could it not be that, if some acceptable agreement had been made on independence with one of those more moderate Governments, we should never be in the pass we are today? They saw the Federation die gradually of negotiation. They had despaired of persuading British Governments of the true nature of their difficulties over this long period. Even the proposal for the Royal Commission at the last moment carried with it all the risks of a return to confusion and intimidation among the African people.
The Prime Minister—it seems so reasonable to people in this country—insisted that "normal political activity" should be permitted in the campaign leading up to a referendum, but that alone could lead to chaos and hatred in Central Africa at this time. These things sound incredible to many people in this country, but to anybody who knows Rhodesia they are not. They are true. This has been explained very many times in the House, in the Press and elsewhere, but it has 732 seemed to the people of Rhodesia without any doubt at all that there was no hope of persuading people in this country of the facts or of the nature of their difficulties.
It is not a story, I repeat, of a few frantic days of negotiation. It is a story of years. It must be said that no party represented in this House is blameless in regard to this, least of all some hon. Members, principally on the other side of the House, who have lost no opportunity, certainly since I have been in the House, of sniping and sneering at the Rhodesian achievement whenever they had the chance.
The second factor which was borne upon the Rhodesians and which has brought that country to this tragedy has been the advancing disorder and chaos in independent Africa. In many areas—in vast areas—the values of civilisation have slowly ebbed away and with them all hope of practical aid for the peasant African people there. Practically everywhere the story has been the same—it is unpleasant but it has to be said—one-party government, ruthless suppression of minorities, extravagant and ostentatious living by the African ruling elite, complete indifference to the suffering of the majority, instability, and frequent bloodshed. On Friday the hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) cited the case of Kenya. If this is an exception, indeed it makes me happy that it should be so, although the hon. Gentleman cannot be unaware of the views and suffering of the European farmers.
I should like to make two short quotations here which seem to me to bear upon the debates and our consideration of the Bill. They are both from people whose records as liberals and, indeed, as upholders of independence are beyond gainsaying. The first quotation I make is from a letter published in The Times of 6th November of this year from Dame Margery Perham, who has brought more to a knowledge of African affairs than most. She wrote this:May I make a plea through your columns to the leaders of independent Africa to show some restraint during the next few weeks when … the British and the Rhodesians wrestle with one part of the world's most difficult problem.….… the state that most calls for African statesmanship at this moment is the Sudan. 733 Here the army of the Muslim Arab north appear to have been let loose upon the dissident tribes, pagan and partly Christian, of the south. Refugees have been pouring over the frontiers and terrible stories have been told of massacre, torture, the burning of churches and schools, and the killing of those who wore clothes or spoke English in order to deprive these isolated tribes of leadership.The Guardian of 14th October reports Dr. John Taylor, head of the Church Missionary Society, as saying of the Sudan:… even allowing for exaggerations and rumours, it was quite plain that terrible atrocities had been committed.' While the attention of the world is focused on the struggle to achieve justice in Southern Africa, the equally great struggle in the Sudan seems to arouse very little public concern'.I did not notice any statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury about that. I did not: read anything from the Liberal Party. The Congo, Ruanda and Zanzibar all tell the same story, and now the Sudan.
It is a solemn fact that more Africans have been slaughtered by Africans since independence, in these few years, than died in all the colonial wars in Africa since the British first landed at Table Bay. As Mao Tse-Tung has said, this is a revolutionary situation, and what we are witnessing today is a second grab for Africa, more subtle than the first, but a reality nevertheless. The Prime Minister graphically described this on Friday. This is the reality of the situation. It is one thing to watch it from the security of London, S.W.I, it is another to watch it from the Zambesi valley.
I come to the question of the objectives of this Bill. The Prime Minister has said, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) has made plain, that the objective was to reduce the illegal Government. With respect, I believe this to be unrealistic and dangerous. On Friday we listened to a speech from the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) which I believe was one of the bravest, the most realistic and the most important I have ever listened to in the House. He pointed the dilemma. He sketched the history and he implied the end.
If the objective of reducing the Smith Government is unobtainable except at grave risk of chaos preceded by a period of harsh excess, then the objective is unacceptable. This is what the hon. 734 and learned Gentleman implied and I agree with him, and if this is so I have to make plain to the House that it is an objective which I do not share and cannot accept. The logic of the situation is that Mr. Smith and his colleagues appear to exercise real power. It has been our mistake over the years in connection with Rhodesia that we have attempted again and again to exercise authority without power. To imagine that we can reduce the Smith Government with economic sanctions is no more than an extension of that mistake.
Economic sanctions, as many hon. Members have said, simply do not work. They create the maximum bitterness and ill-will and all they achieve is the distortion of trade. Hon. Members must be aware that if one wishes to get rid of commodities on the markets of the world one can always do so—at a price. It makes things uncomfortable certainly for Rhodesia, and for the Africans themselves rather than the Europeans, but it can be done, and one does not need to be a clever operator on world markets to achieve it; and in spite of their speeches in the United Nations there are undoubtedly countries waiting to fill our shoes in Rhodesia. We must face the fact.
Much more dangerous is that by playing on the loyalties of Rhodesians or the personal courage of the Governor, the Prime Minister might produce a situation in which there could be division between Europeans in Rhodesia. Hideous consequences might follow. The Rhodesians are not frightened of tightening their belts, but their loyalties are deep. The Prime Minister said on Friday that mere "governessy admonitions" would not be adequate to meet the case. I think that he under-estimates the effect of consequential penalties, as I call them—the withdrawal of Imperial Preference, and the Sugar Agreement, the lack of access to the London Market and, above all, the agony of mind to which this situation has subjected many Rhodesians.
I know that it is argued that anything short of punitive sanctions would be totally unacceptable to the United Nations. I agree, but if, as the Prime Minister has wisely insisted, this is a matter solely for British responsibility, it is also a matter for British judgment, and if in our minds and hearts we should 735 become convinced that a certain course was necessary and that course was right, then international disapproval should surely take its proper place in our calculations. Of course there would be uproar in many assemblies and in the United Nations, but, with respect, there has often been uproar at the United Nations. Our shoulders are broad and there is a difference between proper deference to international opinion and subjection to international pressure.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that the Government are afraid to take action which is internationally disapproved? Although I disagreed with that action, I would point out that the Government took action in Aden which was internationally disapproved. Cannot the Government this time take action which is internationally approved?
§ Mr. Hastings
I am not suggesting anything of the kind. The hon. Member is quite wrong. I am only hoping that if the Government come round to my view I hope that they will not be prevented from taking action by international disapproval.
I am taking exception to the objective behind the Bill. My objection would fit fairly closely the logic of the speech by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton on Friday. We should do nothing which might contribute unnecessarily to the breakdown of cohesive government in Rhodesia, even illegal cohesive government. We should seek to establish a period of calm, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North has said, and an atmosphere in which conciliation may begin again, perhaps through Mr. Smith or his colleagues or perhaps through some other personality commanding wide respect in Rhodesia and here. The Prime Minister will certainly have means of keeping in contact. There is no doubt at all about that.
The imposition of the consequential penalties which must follow the declaration of independence is, of course, inevitable but this is consistent, nevertheless, with the objective which I have outlined. On the other hand, I believe that the imposition of punitive measures, 736 which I suggest could well be brought about under the Bill, is consistent only with an objective which I believe to be unobtainable except at a totally unacceptable risk. I have tried to speak without passion on a matter which concerns me deeply and personally, but I must make it plain to the House that for the reasons which I have outlined I see a distinct difference between the objective which I accept and this Bill, and therefore I cannot vote for it.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) has just delivered one of the most honest speeches that I have heard in the House. I shall disagree with him and I wish to tell him why. The hon. Gentleman's speech and that of the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) made me think of the days of the American Civil War. I do not want to quote Lincoln, but when that war broke out there was considerable movement within the ranks of government and opposition in America to do nothing about the rebellion in the Southern States. The phrase most often used to sum up the situation was, "Let the erring sisters depart ". If one were looking for a slogan to publicise the opposition to this Bill, I should have thought that those words would sum up the points thrown against it.
The right hon. Member for Preston, North said that there was no issue of principle involved here. He said that there may be a matter of interest but there is no issue of principle. I entirely disagree with him. There is a principle involved. It is a principle upon which we on this side of the House feel just as strongly as does the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire. The principle is that it would be a bitter, bitter, irony if the last act of de-colonisation which Britain was undertaking in the twentieth century, in ridding itself of all its colonial possessions, was an act of acquiescence in handing over the Government of 3½million Africans to about 210,000 whites. This is an action in which we could not acquiesce.
The hon. Member said that we must try to understand why the Rhodesians feel this way. We may understand it, but, as he told us to make up our own 737 minds in reference to the United Nations, so we must make up our own minds whether the Rhodesians are right. In my view, the 210,000 white Rhodesians are wrong because they are flying in the face of history and trying to halt a change which is inevitable. What we should try to do in this country is to make that change as easy as possible, to help to make the transition with as little upheaval as possible and to try to ease that transition from the present position of a semi-colonialist regime to a regime in which the principle of one man one vote becomes possible.
§ Mr. Paget
The trouble is that we did acquiesce in the principle of minority government. That is what the Prime Minister was explaining throughout these negotiations. He said all along that we are not objecting to that principle. The point we have reached is the formalisation of that to which we have already consented—and that does not seem to me to be a matter of principle.
§ Mr. Richard
I certainly do not agree with my hon. and learned Friend. I would emphasise to hon. Members who oppose the Government's policy that whether they are supporting the illegal regime in Rhodesia or supporting the regime of South Africa or attacking new regimes up and down the rest of Africa, they are flying in the face of a change which is inevitable. By attacking it and making things more difficult, they are not helping that transition but are making it harder.
§ Mr. Hastings
It is rather more than that. I was talking of the imposition of this chaos—that is the word which I used. There is a new grab for Africa taking place. That is something which not only the Rhodesians but we in this House have to take into account.
§ Mr. Richard
Of course there is a new grab going on for Africa—by the Africans. For the first time in the history of colonial Africa, the Africans are beginning to stand on their own feet. We cannot educate an African merely to the level of a mechanical skill. He will go on to want a vote and a say in how his country is run, and he should have that say. Our attack, if it is an attack, upon the present regime in Rhodesia is that this is precisely what they are not doing. We have been accused of distrusting the 738 Rhodesian regime. Of course we distrust it, once we have looked at what these people have said and what they have done. I will be frank: the objective of the present Rhodesian regime, in my view, irrespective of U.D.I., is to entrench white minority rule in this part of Africa. I am being asked as a supporter of the Government to acquiesce in the rebellion of a Rhodesian regime the object of which, as I see it, is to entrench white minority rule over 3£ million of Her Majesty's subjects. With great respect, we cannot be asked to do that. It cannot be expected of us, and the Government are not prepared to do it.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I must challenge the hon. Member on that assertion. If he looks at page 75 of the documents he will find a statement by the Commonwealth Secretary at the meeting in 10, Downing Street on 7th October this year. The Commonwealth Secretary pointed out that the United Kingdom Government were prepared to contemplate a grant of independence before majority rule was actually achieved and that this was a major concession.
§ Mr. Richard
This does not answer my argument. If anything, it underlines it, and underlines the reasonableness of Her Majesty's Government's attitude in these negotiations. The right hon. Member for Preston, North said that a new principle had been introduced these days —that the British Government were not prepared to grant independence except on the basis of immediate majority rule. This is not so. The quotation which has just been read indicates that it is not so.
The Government's attitude throughout the negotiations was quite clear and distinct and, I should have thought, quite right. They were saying to the Rhodesian Government, "You say that the 1961 Constitution is acceptable to the majority of Africans. Prove it." Once hon. Members look at the Blue Book and go through the negotiations, even up to the last telephone conversation in the early hours of the morning between the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith, they will find no statement by the Government that as a prerequisite to the grant of independence, majority rule had to be conceded. What had to be conceded was a settlement on the basis of the five points—which were initially accepted by the then Rhodesian 739 Government—and also that it should be proven to the satisfaction of Her Majesty's Government and this House that those proposals were acceptable to the majority of the African people.
There are three points in the whole dispute. First, why did they demand, and take, their independence? Secondly, was it, in fact, negotiable? Could it have been prevented? Thirdly, what should be our attitude in the future? Those are the three questions which must be answered. The first question—why did they demand independence?—has been answered by the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire. He said that there is a fear of what might happen and a fear of what has been happening north of Rhodesia. There was a fear on the part of the white minority of what would happen when majority rule came. This fear led them to take their independence.
But it is precisely that fear which was not negotiable by the Government. How can one negotiate if there is a fear which in itself is unreasonable? How can one negotiate on a reasonable basis with people who, from the start, are taking up an unreasonable position? The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire shakes his head. Speaking for myself, I should have thought that a postulate which says that white minority rule must be entrenched into a future Rhodesian constitution was an unreasonable position. It seems to me that it is extremely difficult to negotiate reasonably with men who are themselves starting from an unreasonable position. That, surely, is the history of the negotiations.
§ Mr. Hastings
It is a legitimate question which I accept from the hon. Member. Seen from the other side of the argument, it might be put this way: as long as nebulous ties existed between them and a Government in London, which, rightly or wrongly, seemed not to comprehend the threat which faced them, they were in a position in which they felt safe when they were masters of their own destiny and not when they were not masters of it. There are no precedents for this situation. I grant that it is difficult to negotiate.
§ Mr. Richard
Of course there are no precedents. The fears which the hon. 740 Member put merely prove how unreasonable their position was. What they are saying—or what he is saying for them, because at the moment he is acting as their unofficial spokesman—is that we should understand their position because they feared that the nebulous ties which tied them to us would make their position in relation to the Africans that much more difficult. But they have had internal autonomy since 1923. If the white minority so fear the black majority, they have had 35 years in which to do something about it. If the result of 35 years of internal autonomy is merely to create a situation in which the two races cannot live side by side in this area, then it says very little for the Administration over that period.
If one goes on from this point and asks, "Was it avoidable?", the answer must be, "No ". The British Government were saying, "We are not prepared to hand over except on the basis of a progression to majority rule". The Rhodesians were saying, "We are not prepared to accept independence unless it is on the basis of entrenched minority rule ". The positions were irreconcilable, and the break eventually became inevitable.
What do we do now? Speeches from the right hon. Member for Preston, North and the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire say that we should do nothing. They say that we should pass a pious set of resolutions saying, "Tut, tut. You have been naughty boys. Go away and do not do it again." But as for trying to bring any influence to bear on the rebel Government, the answer of hon. Members opposite is, "Do nothing at all." As far as I can see, the hon. Members concerned think that the sanctions which have been imposed are too swingeing or, if they are not too swingeing, will be ineffective. When somebody says, "Why not make them effective?", they put up their hands in horror at the possibility of our trying to do that.
This is an absurd position to adopt. If the right hon. Member for Preston, North and the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire believe that the Rhodesian Government are wrong to take independence, and if they believe that we ought to do something about it, it is no answer for them to turn to the Government and 741 to say, "You are doing too much now in relation to sanctions, and we shall not support you if you try to do any more".
For the hon. Member to complain about how difficult it had been made for Rhodesian nationals in England when they had been asked to sign a form seems to me incredible. Does he suggest that a rebellion should take place without individuals having to make a choice whether they intend to be rebels or not? I should have thought that, rather than attack the Government for presenting them with a choice, he should have applauded the Government for at least giving potential rebels a chance to draw back from the brink of rebellion before they went back to Rhodesia. But not a bit of it. This indicates very clearly the divergence which exists between some Conservative back-bench Members and the Government's view.
A lot of nonsense is being talked about the difference between punitive and non-punitive sanctions. It is a distinction which I do not comprehend, a distinction without difference. If the Government are in the position that they have to do something, then for heaven's sake let them do it quickly and effectively. The important thing about sanctions is that they should work, they should work quickly, and they should produce the desired result. In this case that result is not merely to express British disapproval of the actions of a rebel regime; it is that we should try to overturn that regime and to re-establish a democratic system of government in Rhodesia.
May I pay a personal tribute to those people in Rhodesia who at least are having the courage openly to come out againgst this illegal act of rebellion? As the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire said, it is easy for us in London to talk about this. It is not so easy if one is sitting in the Governor's mansion in Salisbury, and probably even more difficult if one is standing in the pulpit in Salisbury Cathedral surrounded by an Anglican congregation a large proportion of whom are probably in favour of the illegal act. We should therefore pay tribute to the actions of the Governor, the Lord Chief Justice, the Bishop of Mashonaland, Lord Malvern, the judiciary, and those editors and professional 742 people in Rhodesia who seem to be coming out against this illegal action.
My view on the position is simple and fairly basic. If we are to adopt sanctions, let them be effective. If oil sanctions can be made to work, and if they are the most effective, then let us have oil sanctions and be done with it. There are two further points I would like to make.
First, it seems that the illegal regime have presented the judges and civil servants with an ultimatum, that if they are not prepared to swear allegience to the rebel regime, they will be dismissed without compensation. Surely it would be right for Her Majesty's Government, in these circumstances, to make it clear that any person who supported the Government's constitutional stand in this matter and came out openly against the rebellious regime would not be at a financial loss for having shown his loyalty to the Crown.
§ Mr. Iremonger rose—
§ Mr. Richard
No. I cannot give way again. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will catch Mr. Speaker's eye.
Secondly, there is the question of censorship. It is vital that the true position somehow or other be put before the people of Rhodesia, but this cannot be done merely by the Rhodesia Herald appearing with blank spaces or putting its censors in the window so that the populace can see them hacking out the offending passages. It can only be done by the B.B.C. making rather more effective and stronger broadcasts to this area. Someone has suggested anchoring radio ships off the coast of Africa. Perhaps it could be done through Zambia or Malawi. I know not, but I trust that the Government are looking closely at the problem of getting the news to the people of Rhodesia.
The principles at stake here are enormous. It is not good enough for hon. Members opposite to say that there are no principles here. The greatest principle of all is at stake. The honour of the British Government is committed in this dispute. If Parliament and the country should fail on this issue, one thing will certainly be said—that whatever our power was in the past to influence the course of human events, it will be gone in the future.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torquay)
If it were not for the fact that I do not wish unreasonably to hold up Government business today, I would devote more time to the interesting but, in some respects, unfair speech of the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard). He said that a lot of nonsense has been talked about drawing a distinction between punitive and consequential sanctions, but I remind him that this distinction was made by the Prime Minister himself last week. Is the hon. Gentleman now saying that the Prime Minister was guilty of talking nonsense?
Secondly, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) made a very important point in saying that if we were to find a solution to the problem we must try to understand what motives drove 250,000 British people, or their representatives, to behave illegally in the way they have done. It is not in this context relevant to consider whether they are right or wrong. We all agree that they are wrong. But it is highly important to understand why they have done it. If we cannot, it will be almost impossible to find a solution.
The hon. Member for Barons Court made a cheap debating point about my hon. Friend's reference to the new grab for Africa. The hon. Member said that it was the Africans who were trying to grab it. He knew very well that my hon. Friend was referring to Communist intervention in Africa. If the hon. Gentleman will not accept my authority, he should read what Dr. Banda said recently—that the threat to Africa and the African Nationalists came from China. It was to that that my hon. Friend was referring, as the hon. Member knew.
§ Mr. Richard
Would the hon. Gentleman like to trace the connection between a possible Communist grab in Africa and the illegal action taken last week, having regard to the fact that, as far as I know, the potential Communists in Rhodesia, as the Rhodesian Government call them, have been in prison for 18 months?
§ Sir F. Bennett
It was the hon. Member himself who was trying to connect it with Rhodesia. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire was referring to other parts of Africa and the way 744 in which the Rhodesians have taken the lesson to heart. In Zanzibar, for example, there was no white minority.
The hon. Member also alleged that we are in favour of doing nothing. That is unfair. We should not be giving support to the Bill if we were in favour of doing nothing. Every right hon. and hon. Member on these benches agreed with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when he made it clear that we accept the necessity and inevitability of severe consequential sanctions.
§ Sir F. Bennett
The hon. Gentleman said there was an apparent desire in the Opposition to do nothing in this matter. It is, however, on record that the overwhelming majority of the Conservative Party accepts the inevitability of consequential penalties flowing from illegal action. We know that these are quite severe, and it is because we are supporting it that the Bill is going through tonight.
The question of Roman-Dutch law was raised earlier. Perhaps I can offer the Solicitor-General a little advice, being the only Roman-Dutch lawyer in the House. As far as I know, Roman-Dutch law no longer has any effect on criminal matters. I have thus saved him some research. I am still an advocate in the High Court of Southern Rhodesia, but I say to the hon. and learned Gentleman, in case he wants to send me one of these contentious little forms which have been referred to, that he need not bother. My loyalty is still firmly with the Crown in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am grateful for once to receive some accordance from the benches opposite.
On Friday a whole series of charges were made that the Conservatives for one reason or another, led by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, were ratting on national unity and running away from it. This is wholly unfair, and I am glad that such charges have not been seriously repeated today. We are certainly all united on certain things.
First, everybody, despite what may have been said, thoroughly deplores the illegal action taken by Mr. Smith. Secondly, there is virtually unanimous if not complete support for the consequential penalties flowing from it. Thirdly, 745 we all agree, I think, that the Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Relations Secretary did their best to avert the break at the last moment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think they did their best. It may well not have been enough. There may well be points of criticism. I intend to make one serious point of criticism which could not be made on Friday because the documents were not then available.
It is a valid criticism that the Prime Minister did not make the concessions he made at the last moment over the telephone right at the beginning when the Royal Commission was set up. The result of holding back these concessions to the eleventh hour was that, by then, the wild men behind Mr. Smith were in charge and it was impossible to stop them. History will never know what might have happened if the concessions had been made at the beginning and not at the end.
Another thing on which we all agree is the desirability of restoring constitutional government in Southern Rhodesia. Here is where I am concerned about the absolute pledge to national unity from now. We are asked to give a blank cheque, and some doubts must be cast upon it. At this point, if we are to be asked to take further sanctions, we have the right and the duty to consider what objective we are trying to achieve and the likelihood of the steps proposed attaining it. For us to have doubts on that is not to be running away from national unity. It is right that we should have them. It has nothing to do with factions or sectional interests.
Every hon. Member has a duty to discuss any more serious steps that are taken beyond those already outlined and to decide for himself whether this will further the agreed objective of restoring national unity and legal government within Southern Rhodesia. Indeed, the Prime Minister has made it clear that he would expect every hon. Member to think of the situation in this light.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
For my part, I accept the duty of any hon. Member on either side to consider whether what the Government are proposing is wrong, either because it is inefficient or because it goes too far. But is it not an obligation on hon. Members who think that 746 they are wrong to suggest to the Government what else they should be doing?
§ Sir F. Bennett
It is going much beyond the duty of any back bencher, who cannot have access to all the information at the disposal of the Government, to make detailed suggestions. That has never been suggested in any dispute on any subject. I do not want to go beyond what I have said. I have positive suggestions to make, but I cannot give them at this point. I urge merely that we should examine what we are doing and whether it will achieve our objective. We have not even got the Orders yet to be able to judge on them, so, in effect, we are being asked to give a blank cheque, with post-dated on it as far as some of us are concerned.
I want now to consider sanctions which may come at a later date and what should be our judgment. It seems to me that if they are not harsh enough a great deal of bitterness and misery will nevertheless be caused in trying to bring Rhodesia to its knees and that this will make ultimate agreement even more difficult to achieve than it is today, because ineffective sanctions will be useless. We would thus create great bitterness and resentment without achieving the objective.
At that point, the temptation would be great for hon. Members opposite and the Afro-Asian bloc at the United Nations to say, "Sanctions have failed. Let us get tougher". Inexorably, as the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said, we would be driven to the point where the only logical consequence, once launched on forceful sanctions, was the use of military force. Every hon. Member knows in his heart that once set on the course of sanctions, if these do not work, unless we are very careful one day we shall be faced with the necessity of using force. Every hon. Member is shirking his conscience if he does not admit that fact.
Now let us suppose that the sanctions we propose eventually, without the use of force, bring Rhodesia to its knees. By then, these proud people will have suffered great hardship, together with the Africans of Rhodesia and people in neighbouring countries who get their livelihood through Rhodesia. We shirk our consciences if we do not admit that these are consequences which will flow from sanctions.
747 It is worth pausing a few minutes, as was suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), to make quite sure where we are really going in the long run as well as in the short run. We may not have many more opportunities open to us. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) asked me whether I would make practical suggestions. Although I do not think I have any duty to do so, I will try because, unlike many hon. Members, I have lived in that country as well as visited it and I know a great deal how the people there react.
Earlier, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire stressed why Rhodesians had acted in this way. He was right. But I will add one other thing which has been in their minds and has helped to drive them to do such a desperately foolish thing. It was their fear that, as the years dragged on, and as the power in the United Nations of the Afro-Asian bloc grew, one day a British Government would be driven by their own Left-wing supporters and the United Nations to break the Convention and interfere with the internal self-government of Rhodesia.
This has been a very real fear, although the Government have said that they will not do it. I am not saying whether the Rhodesians were right or wrong in that fear, but I am saying that it has been their sentiment that public opinion in the outside world would build up to such an extent that the Constitution would be suspended and they would find themselves in a worse position than for many years past. With these thoughts in mind, they saw the horrors taking place in the Congo. One must try to understand the effect of these events on the Rhodesians, who were just across the frontier. I was out there when some of the worst events in the Congo happened. Hon. Members here find it very easy to talk about how British people should behave, but we should have a great deal of sympathy and understanding for how our people there do behave and how probably every hon. Member here would behave in a similar situation. Let me give only one instance. Do hon. Members opposite realise that morning after morning ordinary Rhodesian people, artisans and so on, opened their morning 748 papers to see photographs of children disembowelled, nuns slaughtered and monks flogged? Did that have an effect on their way of thinking? Of course it did.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I do not propose to reply to that. What on earth has Sharpe-ville to do with that? Do hon. Members opposite think that because something took place in Sharpeville something else ought to take place in Rhodesia or in the Congo? What is the point of mentioning Sharpeville? Do hon. Members opposite expect Rhodesians on seeing those photographs of little girls disembowelled in the Congo to say, "That does not matter, because someone else has been killed in Sharpeville "? That is too ridiculous to reply to.
I have no hesitation in supporting giving these powers to the Government, because I believe that they are necessary in the circumstances which have arisen and necessary because of the consequential penalties which Rhodesia must suffer. But as regards the future—and this is my constructive suggestion—having passed the Bill, we should have a breathing pause while we consider where the next steps may lead us.
In this context we should start thinking about offering a little carrot to the Rhodesians who may defect from Mr. Smith, as well as merely talking about the stick. We should be suggesting to the Rhodesians the sort of ideas which we in this country have in mind for the restoration of ordinary government and how it can go along. That is the way and the only way to get a proud people who want to belong to respond. Threats will not work. Threats have not worked before and they will not work this time. But if the Rhodesians are given some light at the end of the tunnel so that they can have some idea of the way we see the future of Rhodesia and all the people there, then and only then can we get the response from Rhodesia which we seek.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
I came to the debate this afternoon expecting that it would be fairly brief, but a different complexion has been put upon it 749 by the speeches of the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) and the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings). In my judgment, their speeches went far beyond any mere comment on the Bill. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire said that he could not support the Bill. I am not sure whether he will vote against it. Certainly the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston, North was a speech against the Bill.
That alters the terms of the controversy in the House and in the country. It appears that there are many hon. Members opposite who wish to speak. Of course, they have every right to do so, but it seems that many of them will wish to speak in the same sense as the right hon. Member for Preston, North and the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire. In other words, there is serious and substantial opposition to the Bill.
From listening to the speeches I am giving my judgment of the speeches, and I have heard every word of the debate.
The hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) must have written his speech before he heard the speeches of his right hon. Friend and his hon. Friend, for it was in a very different tone. His speech was not so different in tone from that of the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) on Friday. However, I do not believe that anybody who had listened to the whole debate could agree that the right hon. Member for Preston, North was advancing towards the Bill the same attitude and view of how to deal with the situation as his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral. In that case, a new situation is being created in the debate.
§ Mr. Hastings
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) on Friday made a speech totally inconsistent with the object of the Bill as a whole? Do not opinions differ on both sides of the House?
§ Mr. Foot
As far as I know, my hon. and learned Friend is the only Member 750 on this side of the House who holds the views which he expressed in what even for him was an extraordinary outburst of perversity. I do not think that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire can escape from the situation on that basis.
We are having a very important debate. We are discussing the very wide powers for which the Government have asked and the House and the country have a right to know the attitude of the Opposition. I participate in the debate because I believe that the speech of the right hon. Member for Preston, North and the backing which he apparently has in his party, far from producing calmness and coolness throughout the world, can be most inflammatory.
I know that there is a tendency by some hon. Members opposite to sneer when the United Nations is mentioned, but it includes the representatives of most countries. Are we not concerned with the reputation of our country among those representatives? Of course we are. I do not believe that anyone who heard the speech of the right hon. Member for Preston, North could say that it was a speech likely to sustain the British Government's position in New York. If it were believed that his speech had strong support in this country and in the House, it would injure this country's position in New York and its ability to deal with the problem generally. Therefore, the best service which hon. Members opposite who agree with the right hon. Member for Preston, North can do to the House and their consciences is to vote against the Bill. Let us see how many hon. Members are opposed to it.
I am the very last person to question the right of hon. Members to come forward and examine a Bill and the powers which the Government wish to take. That was the basis on which the debate started. Two or three hon. Members, my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) among others, wanted to make inquiries about the powers under the Bill and how they the measures to be taken. It is absolutely right that such inquiries should be made, even if doing so takes longer than was expected.
But that is very different: from opposing the Government's policy under the cover 751 of making these inquiries. If that is what hon. Members opposite want to do, let them say so. Some of the statements which have been made, by the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in particular, have been incitement to support the rebellion. The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire said that there was a danger that some of the measures which the Government were taking might cause divisions among the white people in Rhodesia. That was an astonishing statement to have been made in the House.
We have it on the authority of the Government, absolutely supported by the Leader of the Opposition, that there are some people in Rhodesia who have engaged in an act of rebellion. Now some hon. Members are saying that it is shocking that the Government should take action which could cause divisions among those people. If some people in Southern Rhodesia are disloyal, surely it is the duty of everyone concerned to try to cause divisions among the white people there in order to ensure that they should return to their allegiance as swiftly as possible. Therefore, on that statement hon. Gentlemen opposite are playing with something very dangerous.
They have a right if they so think, I suppose, to say that they support the rebellion. It is a very dangerous game to play. But if they want to do so, let them say so. Let the right hon. Member for Preston, North say so. That was what his speech added up to. He did not even deplore the action which had been taken. Almost every sentence he uttered gave encouragement to those in Rhodesia who are in revolt against the Crown. I do not know which speeches here will be reported in Rhodesia, but the right hon. Gentleman's speech is very likely to be reported. I think that his speech will get through, and I think that that of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire will get through. Why? Because it helps them. The Rhodesian Government have a rigid Hitlerian censorship, and they can pick and choose.
The whole country should know that one of the reasons for the act of rebellion in Southern Rhodesia is that for years there have been people in this country encouraging them to go towards that brink and over it. I believe that there is a speech being delivered in another place 752 this evening by a member of the right hon. Gentleman's party who for years has been encouraging the Government of Southern Rhodesia to defy the policy of Her Majesty's Government, both the present Administration and the previous one. I cannot quote the noble Lord, Lord Salisbury, but over the years, in association with some other members of the other place, he has been saying to the people of Southern Rhodesia that they have many friends here who would assist them and who favour their point of view. Although I strongly disagree with the incitements that they have given, I can understand their saying it before, but it is a very different thing to say it after 11th November than to say it before. So the right hon. Gentleman had better make up his mind.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
The hon. Gentleman, speaking at 20 minutes to seven, has heard two speeches from this side of which he disapproves and one from his own side last Friday. Is it not too early in the evening to draw conclusions and build the situation up to the point of saying that the Opposition are against the Bill?
§ Mr. Foot
I have listened to every word that has been spoken in the debate, and I have a right to comment on the speeches that have so far been made, especially speeches by important Members of the House. The right hon. Gentleman for Preston, North is a very eminent Member who apparently speaks for quite a number. What the House and the country have to discover is how many hon. Members agree with him. I want to know whether the Leader of the Opposition agrees with him. I dare say there are some hon. Members on his side, like the hon. Gentleman for Torquay, who disagree with what has been said, and I pointed that out at the beginning of my speech. I emphasised that he disagreed, and that if he had only listened to what his right hon. and hon. Friends had said he would have had to alter what he said.
It is a fact that some hon. Members are giving what I should decribe as aid and comfort to those who have engaged in this act against the Crown, and the House has a right to have the facts known very plainly. It can be extremely dangerous, 753 because, just as we ought to have the imaginative sympathy to understand how British people who have close associations with Southern Rhodesia over the years feel, so we ought to have the imaginative sympathy to understand how Africans feel about the situation. The hon. Gentleman for Torquay complained because an hon. Member on this side asked, "What about Sharpeville?", and he wanted to know what Sharpeville had to do with it. What Sharpeville has to do with it is that we were told about the fears of white people in Southern Rhodesia. The fear of even more subjects in Southern Rhodesia is that they will see what has happened in South Africa, and one of the things that have happened is Sharpeville. That is the relevance of Sharpeville to the present situation.
Before 11th November and even more since 11th November, a whole series of measures of a rigorous police state is taking place in Southern Rhodesia. Therefore, hon. Members of, the House have a responsibility to all the people there, and no one can say that our responsibility must be greater to the 200,000 white people than to the 4 million coloured people. That is what the right hon. Gentleman says, in effect.
What effect will it have in New York at the United Nations, throughout Africa and throughout the world if the House says that we are more concerned with the white population of Rhodesia than with the much larger coloured population? If we say that, we abandon any claim for this country being able to assert that we should have responsibility in the matter. It is an incitement to race war to say that.
Sir F. Benuett
The hon. Gentleman for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) has made frequent reference to my remarks. I made the plea that I did for understanding of the way that the white population felt. They are the people who are in rebellion at the present time, but I did not forget the African feeling. That is not the matter under debate at the moment.
§ Mr. Foot
I was replying to the hon. Gentleman's repudiation of the mention of Sharpeville. I was trying to show the hon. Gentleman why many people in Southern Rhodesia and throughout the 754 world think that what: happened at Sharpeville has a direct relevance to what is happening in Southern Rhodesia today. They have every right to think that, because we have a police state which every hour and every day is being more rigorously enforced in a country for which we are responsible.
I hope that the House will pass this Enabling Bill with the largest possible majority. I hope that anyone who sincerely opposes it will vote against it so that we know exactly where we are, and I hope that when the leaders of the Opposition support the Enabling Bill, as I understand they are to do, it will not merely be a vote in the letter but in the spirit as well to help sustain the Government in their policy.
We are told by the right hon. Gentleman for Preston, North that one of his complaints is that under the Bill the 1961 Constitution conceivably might be suspended. He wants an assurance that nothing like that will occur. If he is going to demand assurances of that nature, we will demand assurances on the other side, because it cannot be the situation that, following the revolt, we can revert to the 1961 Constitution exactly as before and say to the white people of Southern Rhodesia, "We are quite prepared to go back to the position as it was prior to 11th November". That is totally unrealistic. It may be said by some that we should make that offer to attract white people in Southern Rhodesia to assist us. What about the African people? If we said from the House that automatically the assurance was given that once the revolt was called off the 1961 Constitution would be re-established, it would be regarded as an outrage by the loyal subjects of the Crown in Southern Rhodesia, not the disloyal ones.
Moreover, the right hon. Gentleman says that he wants an assurance that there will be no escalation. That is a ridiculous request. The Government cannot be certain that the economic sanctions that they have proposed or the measures that they have taken are going to be effective. Some people have different views about them. Some people think that they may be effective, others think that possibly they will be effective, while others think that they will be extremely effective. But the Government cannot be sure.
755 On Friday, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister quoted Sir Winston Churchill and used the phrase," all necessary lengths". I think that is right. It would be the only tolerable and honourable position for the Government to take. When I vote for the Bill, that is what I think I shall be voting for—all necessary lengths to ensure that the rebellion is put down. [An HON. MEMBER: "Including military force?"] An hon. Member opposite interrupts me and asks, "Including military force?" My answer to him would be, yes, partly for the right reasons that the Prime Minister has indicated and partly for the reasons that were raised and discussed by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne a little earlier in the debate. He asked what is going to happen to those people in Southern Rhodesia who are loyal to the Crown and who stand by their allegiance, whether they are European or African? Supposing they are made the victims of persecution by the police state in Southern Rhodesia. Are we to leave them in the lurch?
I am not in favour of that. For a variety of reasons, I hope and believe that the situation can be dealt with short of military force. But we may come to it. I agree that it is extremely unpleasant, but we have to face it as we have faced it before. I do not know what other hon. Gentleman think about it, but I am not prepared to vote for a situation where we say that we can keep 50,000 troops in Malaya, I do not know how many troops in Aden and many thousands of troops in some other parts of the world, but that it is impossible for us to take military action in the most extreme situation in Southern Rhodesia.
I do not believe that that is a tenable position for Her Majesty's Government, so I believe that the policy for which this House will be voting tonight when it votes for this Bill is, in the words taken from Sir Winston Churchill's speech, in a different context admittedly, and which have a Cromwellian flavour, "all necessary steps". If in six months or a year the situation were to be that Mr. Smith and his illegal Government were still holding plenary power in Southern Rhodesia, still clamping their police state on the 4 million Africans, this country would have suffered one of 756 the most humiliating defeats in its history. It would have suffered a defeat from which our reputation could never recover all over Africa. This country's position would be utterly denuded of moral authority throughout the world.
This is the situation, and therefore I believe that this debate is one of the utmost seriousness, and when we vote for this Measure I believe we should all be willing to vote for "all necessary steps ". But let those who are not prepared to support it leave us now. Let them tell us now that they are not prepared to do it. Let them tell us by their votes, and let the rest of us go on and sustain the honour of this country.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Sir Lionel Heald (Chertsey)
In this grave situation I believe that no hon. Member who speaks in this House should, if he can possibly avoid it, say anything which is going unnecessarily to raise the temperature—[Interrupton.]—or to introduce cross-currents into the House. I believe that there are few hon. Members who feel like the hon. Member who interrupted me just now. We are in a grave situation indeed, and I must say with the greatest respect to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) that I think it a pity that he introduced the note that he did just now.
I believe that I have the right and the duty to say why I am supporting this Bill this evening, and I propose to do so. The Law Officers of the Crown, and the immediately preceding Attorney-General, have told us this afternoon that if we are not going to abdicate our responsibility in Rhodesia these measures are necessary as a matter of law, and as one of their predecessors I humbly agree with them. There has been no dispute about that.
What is our responsibility in Rhodesia? We annexed it in 1921, and the Crown today is responsible for peace. order and good government in that territory, and this House of Commons has to decide today whether it is prepared to maintain and reinforce that duty and responsibility, or not. That is the issue that we have to decide today.
Whether it is right or wrong that we should have arrived at the position where the decision has to be made is nothing to do with it. Nor is it very much to 757 do with it what the consequences are going to be. We have a responsibility. It may be worth while remembering that Members of Parliament swear an oath of allegiance, as well as other people, and I have that in my mind. I do not believe, therefore, that we need discuss the legalities of this matter.
What I am concerned with more is the practical matter, and surely the most important thing is that if we are decided that we will maintain our position and perform our duties and responsibilities, then nobody in the world should have any doubt about it. There is at the moment doubt about it. There is doubt about it, first, in Rhodesia, and the reason for that, I grieve to see, according to the evidence—and there is plenty of it—is very largely repression and censorship. It is not possible for people there to get information as to what is going on, and, indeed, we do not know what they are being told, but we can gather some idea. I will turn to that in a moment: or two, but it is also clear, unfortunately, that people in this country do not understand either, and, with proper respect and restraint, I think that is a matter for strong complaint that both The Times and the B.B.C., and possibly other organs—but those are enough in all conscience—have not been as careful as they might have been in this matter.
I refer here particularly to the position of the judges. There are many right hon. and hon. Members in this House who have met Chief Justice Beadle. I may be prejudiced—I am—because he is a personal friend of mine, and a man for whom I have the greatest possible respect, but it was said in The Times today:The important meeting of judiciary yesterday ended with a statement saying that ' the judges of the High Court will continue to perform their duties in accordance with the law '—whichadds The Times correspondent from Salisburyleaves unsettled the question of which law.That clearly implies that the Chief Justice, either intentionally or unintentionally, was creating an ambiguity. That is an insult to him as a lawyer, because no competent lawyer today could say that there were two laws in Rhodesia. There is only one, and we have to understand 758 that, whether we like it or not, and whatever the consequences may be.
It is an unfortunate fact that on the B.B.C. at 10 o'clock last night I heard the same thing said, and the language was almost literally identical, which suggests to me, with my possibly nasty legal mind, that it was something that was put out in Rhodesia, gobbled up by the correspondent there, and ladled out here. If people in this country think, as one of my constituents thought when he rang me up in the early hours of this morning, having read this and become very indignant, that the judges in Rhodesia are dithering, that is wrong. That is the practical reason why we have to pass this Bill today, and pass it with the largest possible majority—on this I agree with the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale—to show that, however much we dislike it, however difficult it is and whatever the consequences may be, we know what our responsibility is in this House of Commons, and we are prepared to discharge it.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
It was refreshing to hear the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) after one or two of the speeches that we have heard from this side of the House today. May I say how much I agree with everything the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, save and except that I do not think he was justified in chiding the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) for his speech. Had he heard the speech of the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) I think he would have understood—
§ Mr. Hooson
—the reason for it.
It seems to me that the situation can be analysed quite simply. There are Members in this House this evening who are really saying that the rebel Government in Rhodesia should get away with it, that we should disapprove of what they have done and should say "Tut, tut", but, nevertheless, that they should get away with it. Fortunately, this idea is confined to a very small minority. It is only fair that we should make it clear, as the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) 759 did, that this is not the view of the Opposition Front Bench.
Nevertheless, this other view exists. Surely, what the forum of world opinion is asking today is, "Is Britain really serious in her attitude towards Southern Rhodesia? Does she really intend to put down this rebellion?" Everybody agrees that it is a rebellion, but there is a great question mark against the seriousness of our intentions in the matter. In a moving and sincere speech the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) submitted that we ought to understand the position of the people of Southern Rhodesia. Many people who entirely disapprove of the attitude of the Government of Southern Rhodesia nevertheless understand their position. It is possible to understand the position of the people in the Confederate States of America at the time of the Civil War, and to understand the attitude of the minority in Ireland who for years were afraid of the Catholic and Irish majority there. But it is not a question merely of understanding; we have been asked from certain quarters in this House not only to understand the attitude of these people but to approve of it.
The right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Amery) asked what was the intention of the Government in regard to Rhodesia—was it to create economic chaos? Was it to bring Rhodesia to its knees? I would ask him what he intends to happen in Rhodesia: that treason shall prosper, that we should accept a coup d'etat and do nothing about it, save to say that we disapprove and that they should not have done it? As the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey said, this is a matter about which there can be no issue on the question of principle. We have not only a legal but a moral responsibility as a trustee of Southern Rhodesia.
I now turn to some of the details of the Bill. It is important that sanctions should be applied and that these should be effective. I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the Liberal Party, who said on Friday last that the only point of having sanctions is to make them effective, and that to be effective they must be as short and sharp as possible. If I have any criticism to 760 offer of the Government it is that their sanctions are not severe enough. From the view both of this country and of Rhodesia—whether we speak of the white or the black population—it is far better that those sanctions shall be severe and short rather than half-hearted and long drawn out, and a cause of bitterness on both sides.
If the concept of sanctions is merely that we shall try to punish the Government of Rhodesia and then, eventually, accept the situation of their being the de facto Government, there is no point in applying sanctions at all. As I understand the Government's view, the objects of the exercise—and the only objects— are to crush the rebellion there and restore the rule of law, reminding loyal Rhodesians of their allegiance to the Crown. But although I agree that it is necessary for the Government to have very wide powers to do this—indeed, their attitude would not be credible unless they took very wide powers—we all know that many innocent people suffer in rebellions and in the counter-measures that are taken to deal with them.
It is the duty of this House to look at the Bill, and any Orders made under it, as closely as possible, in order to try to minimise the danger to innocent individuals who might be otherwise enmeshed. I therefore want to refer to one or two matters that strike me. Having read the Bill, and listened to the Attorney-General this afternoon and read his statement on Friday, it occurs to me that certain matters ought to be made clear.
The position of the Chief Justice and the six judges in Rhodesia has been referred to. We have heard that they have been threatened with dismissal unless they accept the de facto Government as the de jure Government in Rhodesia. It should be made clear that this country is 100 per cent. behind the judges, and that if they are dismissed they will be fully compensated. They should be directed as to their own position. It is a very difficult situation for judges with families. We know that what is a hot debating point today may in the course of time be forgotten, and that these may become forgotten men. It has happened before in history. The Government should make their position absolutely clear now.
If there are any whom we should reassure in this situation it is those people 761 who are carrying out their day-to-day work in Rhodesia, trying to uphold the rule of law in very much more difficult circumstances than those in which we are discussing the matter in this Chamber. It is incumbent on the Government to give guidance as to the definition of treasonability in this context. I do not take exception to the statement made by the right hon. and learned Attorney-General on Friday, when he suggested that on the normal canons of interpretation when people are in the situation in which the rebel Government find themselves in Rhodesia the people who instigated and who are taking part in the rebellion are probably guilty of treason. But where does this end? The concept of treasonability in this context could be as wild a horse as any for public policy to control.
Many innocent people in Rhodesia will be required to do work against sanctions. Let us consider the case of an employee who, in the course of his employment, is asked by his employer to do an act which is intended by that employer, to contravene the sanctions imposed upon the illegal Government and who, without thinking very much about it, does this act. It might become a habit. Does he thereby commit treason? It is very important to give clearer guidance than has been given hitherto.
I know that the Law Officers have had a great deal on their plates and that it has been difficult to go into the details of this matter, but it is necessary that far greater guidance should be given than has hitherto been given on this matter. For example, what is the operative law now? We know that the criminal law of Rhodesia is the common law and the law of this country as amended or changed by Rhodesian laws, and that the Roman-Dutch law no longer applies, but there are considerable differences between the law of this country and the law of Rhodesia in the development of the criminal law. By what system is treasonability to be decided now that we are in the present situation of government by the Governor—de lure government by the Governor and the Secretary of State?
Should not we have dissolved the Rhodesian Parliament? As I understand it, although the Rhodesian Government have been dismissed the Legislative 762 Assembly is still in being. Surely it should be incumbent on this Government to take steps to dismiss the Rhodesian Legislative Assembly. Further, would it not be right to suspend the 1961 Constitution? I agree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) that powers certainly exist within the Bill to suspend the Constitution, and I would have thought that this was the right step to take at the present time.
It is absolute nonsense to think that after a rebellion of this kind it is possible to go back to the 1961 Constitution as it was. Certainly now that these events have been put in train we do not know where they will end, and it must be possible for the Government to amend and, if necessary, suspend the Constitution completely. When we eventually have a settlement of this problem it will not be possible to go back to the 1961 Constitution.
I echo the words of the Leader of the Opposition, who said that it is necessary to retain national unity on this problem. There can be no doubt about the responsibility of any Government, whatever its complexion, in this situation. The Government have taken measures designed to restore lawful government to Rhodesia. I should have thought that anybody who owes allegiance as a Member of this House owes it to his constituency and to his conscience to support the Government in the measures which they are taking to deal with this situation.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
It would take the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) nearly to persuade me, against my better judgment, so far as voting is concerned. He nearly succeeded, by his taunting and his mischief-making speech, in persuading me not to vote against the Bill. It was just mischief, so he did not quite succeed.
However, the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale spelled out the reasons why I not only cannot support the Bill but shall oppose it. He spelled out these reasons very clearly, as they were spelled out by one of my hon. Friends, but he accepts a different view of what the result of his spelling out should be. What the hon. Member said, if I correctly interpreted it, the serious part of his speech amongst 763 all the fun, was that the Bill will enable the Government to impose all sorts and manner of sanctions in order to bring about a desired end.
As I understand it from the Prime Minister, the desired end is that sufficient pressure should be put upon the illegal Government—or, as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) so generously called them, "The gang of people whom we have declared by this Bill to be traitors"—so as to stop the illegal regime from operating at all, and we are attempting, by using sanctions of various sorts, to bring down the rebels and replace them with some other, unspecified, type of regime in Rhodesia.
In the first place, history does not support the view—and my hon. Friends who have had far more experience of Rhodesia than I have would, I think, support me in this—that one can bring down people of this sort of resolve and courage, who are misguided, perhaps, but courageous nevertheless, by hemming them in with closer and closer regulations and by trying to make them suffer more and more. The only result of that, normally, is to give them more loyal supporters. If this be so, then what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale went on to say is, of course, true, that the Government having been caught up in their own theory that they can bring down the rebel Government by sanctions, if they fail to bring them down by sanctions, have no other course, if they are a Government at all, but to follow their policy to its logical conclusion.
Its logical conclusion, if sanctions fail and if we are not to allow U.N.O. to do the job for us, must be that the British Government are bound to go further than trade sanctions of that type. That means the use of force. I am not willing to give my support to that, though I fully realise that nothing I can say will stop the unanimity on the two Front Benches. Nothing I can say will alter the decision tonight, of the House of Commons at any rate, on the Bill.
Nevertheless, surely each one of us in the House—this is about the only point on which I agree with the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale—has a right to have a personal view. Surely every one of us—
§ Mr. Fell
My hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) says that no one is denying me that right. With the greatest respect, I have been here only 15 years—I give some years to my hon. Friend—but, by heavens, people have tried on various occasions to deny me the right to express my own views. I merely say—
§ Mr. Fell
I am very sorry. I did not want in any way to have an argument with a very old friend of mine on my side of the House. I am merely saying that not only do we have that right, we also have a duty, if we believe that a Measure of this sort is wrong, and can do nothing but harm in a given situation, to vote against it.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
The hon. Member has known me long enough to know that I am in the most complete agreement with what he is claiming as the right of every private Member of the House. We all appreciate the hon. Gentleman's courage and sincerity in what he is saying. Of course he is entitled to his view: he is entitled to state it and to vote for it, but if he thinks that the Government's policy is wrong, what interests me is, what in his opinion would be right?
§ Mr. Fell
I wonder if the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne will forgive me. It so happens that I was lucky enough—or unlucky enough: I am not sure which—to win the Ballot and I have put down for discussion Central Africa. Therefore, I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House tonight.
I wanted to explain the reason why I intend to vote against the Bill, and I have almost done that. I also wanted to ask the Attorney-General one question.
On Friday, in talking about treason, he said:But it is right that I should point out in general terms that there is abundant authority for the conclusion that conduct of the kind that has taken place is treasonable.He went on:So would be steps taken by anyone whether in Rhodesia or in this country, or by anyone else owing allegiance to the Crown, with 765 the intention of furthering the objectives of the illegal regime or inciting others to take such steps."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1965: Vol. 720, c. 516.]That was very clear. So it would be treasonable not only in Rhodesia but also in this country.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was questioned on this and asked to explain it a little more. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said:The right hon. and learned Gentleman refers to discussion in the Press. Presumably he means that discussion of any kind or on radio or television would obviously be covered.The Attorney-General answered:Clearly that is so. When I say ' permitted ' "—he had said "permitted" earlier—I mean that which is legal under the law. We are not going to set up any kind of censorship in this situation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 522.]The question I put to the Attorney-General is this. Am I not right in my interpretation of what he said, that, by that very definition, he did set up a censorship in this country? I must not enter into a legal argument, for I am not qualified, but he said that such action would be treasonable both in Rhodesia and in this country. Before I refer again to what he said in reply to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, perhaps I cught to read the passage which I left out in my first quotation. The Attorney-General said:Unlike the Rhodesian Government, it is not the intention of this Government to stifle the free expression of opinion "—fine—we are all with him there—and clearly the free range of discussion about these matters conducted in the Press will be permitted.Then came the question from my right hon. Friend to clear up the point as regards television, radio and so on— and, one hopes, individuals talking and arguing about these matters or even making speeches outside the House—to which the Attorney-General replied with the answer I have already quoted,Clearly that is so. When I say ' permitted ', I mean that which is legal under the law ".If that means anything, it means that the law of treason can apply to anyone in this country who takes any part in 766 the activities defined by the Attorney-General, that is, the activities to which he referred in the words reported in c. 516 of HANSARD, beginningBut it is right that I should point out in general terms …I hope that we can have an answer on this point this evening for it is extremely important. In my view, the Government are not willing to take responsibility for their own actions in the eyes of the country, but they have left themselves a loophole should they think fit to bring an action against anyone at all who happened to disagree with their view of the Rhodesian situation.
I am grateful for having been called and the opportunity to make a short intervention to explain why I shall vote against the Bill.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Harwood Harrison (Eye)
Like every other hon. Member, I am extremely troubled by the sad and grievous news of what has happened in Rhodesia, and those hon. and right hon. Members—and there are many on both sides of the House—who have visited Rhodesia and been the guests of the Rhodesian leaders as well as meeting them and their representatives here feel it, perhaps, even more. I was very interested in the wise speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn), in which he said that the object of the Bill was not stated in it. As I followed our debate last Friday, it became fairly clear that the object of the Government and, I am sure, of the whole House, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald), a former Attorney-General, also said, was to restore law and order in Rhodesia. That is the main objective.
We must look at the Bill in that light. I have always been a great supporter of the 1961 Constitution, and I have spent many hours talking about it to Rhode sians of all colours, begging them to make that Constitution work. I thought it a very sad day when the African nationalists refused to take part. But in any enterprise, be it war, commerce or sport, it is wise, when weighing up a situation, to look at it sometimes through the eyes of the people on the other side of the hill. I feel that, with the possible exception 767 of one or two speeches, we have not in this House been considering enough how some people in Rhodesia may be thinking at this time.
I was struck years ago by the attitude of those Rhodesians who did not vote for federation. They were the forerunners of the present National Front Party. They always felt, probably rightly, that if the vote had not gone for federation they would have got complete Dominion status and independence on their own. That thought has run through the minds of these Rhodesians ever since. In their view, and in ours too, the Smith Government was constitutionally elected. This has not been a rebellion or revolution with bloodshed.
I fully realise the many great difficulties facing this country and the Government today, and the few remarks which I have to make will be made in a helpful spirit. I can see that there could be a case, after what the Rhodesians have done, for letting them go their own way, regarding them as completely outside the Commonwealth and letting them take their own position in the world. But, of course, this is not the way we in this country behave or mean to behave. We regard them still as British, and the Government there is vested in the present Governor. It seems a little illogical, if we have dismissed the Smith Ministers and we still recognise the Governor, that Rhodesia should cease to have Preference on her goods coming here.
Is our objective under the Bill also to placate world opinion? If it is, we must be seen to be just and not vindictive. I have been sad to hear some speeches in the House, both today and on Friday, which have had an undercurrent of vindictiveness. I shall not allude directly to the hon. Member who made the remark, because I do not see him in the Chamber at the moment, but I could not help thinking that someone who refers already to the Rhodesians as the enemy does nothing but damage to what we all want to bring about. Moreover, he said it almost immediately after the Attorney-General had said that Rhodesians were still British subjects.
It is sad that the Prime Minister failed in what he tried to do, but some of my hon. Friends and I were surprised at the 768 Government's action in immediately prohibiting the import of Rhodesian tobacco, without reference to the House of Commons. This took some of us who are without legal training rather by surprise, and, though I do not question the legality of that action under the 1939 Act, I cannot help thinking that, in such an explosive matter as this, it might have been wiser for the Government to have said, "We will at least discuss this before taking action and get the approval of the House of Commons". This is one reason why some of us are inclined to ask whether it is right to pass this Bill as it stands, giving a blank cheque to the Government. We want an assurance that what they intend to do will not be vindictive.
I beg the House for moderation and to face the realities of the situation, even if we do not like them. I do not mind any Government being stupid and afterwards having to withdraw from some position which they have taken up. What I do not like, because I love this place so much, is the Houses of Parliament being made to look ridiculous.
I may be wrong, but, from my knowledge of Rhodesia, the Government's hope, as I understand it, cannot succeed. I gather that what they are hoping is that they will be able to gather round the Governor and the Chief Justice the more liberal elements in Rhodesia who will be instrumental in forming a new Government independent of the Smith regime. This seems to be a thought underlying some of the speeches we have heard today, but, in my humble opinion, it is no more than a pipe-dream in cloud-cuckoo-land. These elements have long been dissipated. The last election in Rhodesia was entirely over U.D.I., and Smith won almost unanimous support. Even as great a figure as Sir Roy Welensky was defeated in a by-election. I cannot see that these people will desert Smith now that he has given them what they wanted.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
My hon. and gallant Friend referred to the last election and said that it was held over U.D.I. I seem clearly to remember Mr. Smith saying that U.D.I. had been thrown out of the window, probably for good. As I understood the position, therefore, the election was not 769 about U.D.I. After the election Mr. Smith made it clear that he would be consulting public opinion before such a declaration was made.
§ Sir H. Harrison
I think that it has been perfectly clear that Mr. Smith has had all his support on the basis that he was leading them to independence. Otherwise, I do not believe that he would have won the election.
§ Sir H. Harrison
As I was saying, I do not believe that a great many people will desert Smith. The tougher the sanctions the more will those people remain united behind him. There will be hatred and bitterness, but sooner or later Her Majesty's Government, or the next Conservative Government, will have to deal with a de facto Government, probably that of Mr. Smith, existing in Rhodesia. Or is it Her Majesty's Government's intention, as has been suggested, to hope that disorder and rioting may take place?
We are appealing to people to keep law and order, yet they will probably have to take their orders from Smith's regime. Therefore, I am worried lest these sanctions, if applied, produce no immediate result. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) made a practical speech. How often in this House have we faced the situation of a de facto Government which we did not like and of which we did not approve but which we soon recognised? The most sad case in my memory occurred after independence being given to Zanzibar. A revolutionary Government took over and there was great massacre. However, within a few months this House recognised that de facto Government. If the sanctions are ineffective in, say, six months or a year, will the Prime Minister call them off or will he use greater sanctions and more force? When will these things come to a head? Do not we appear to be relying on the police there to maintain law and order?
It is fair to say that it always takes two to make a quarrel. It is also fair to say that people some distance from the scene are not always right. History has shown this. With great respect to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who talk so much about the brotherhood of man and who voted to abolish hanging and cor- 770 poral punishment, there is a section among them who seem to think that we are almost living in the gunboat era. From reading history, can. anyone really say that the British Government behaved impeccably at the time of American Independence? When history comes to be written of this period, I hope it will be said that Her Majesty's Government and all hon. Members bore in mind the realities of the situation—a few of which I have mentioned and others of which have been mentioned by other hon. Members. We must try to be sure that Her Majesty's Government act in the best interests of all concerned, in this country and in Rhodesia.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Sir Knox Cunningham (Antrim, South)
In a short time Parliament will be asked to delegate certain powers to the Executive. That is what this Bill is about. We should, therefore, consider just what are the powers we are delegating. The Attorney-General gave a number of legal explanations, for which I was grateful, and I hope that the Solicitor-General will anwer one or two I wish to put.Clause 2(5) stated:An Order in Council under this section shall be laid before Parliament after being made and shall expire at the end of the period of twenty-eight days beginning with the day on which it was made unless during that period it is approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.The expiration of an Order in pursuance of this subsection shall not affect the operation of the Order as respects things previously done or omitted to be done or the power to make a new Order …".Am I right in thinking that the legal position is that an Order would expire, having run its 28 days, and that a new and identical Order could be introduced the next day so that that situation could be repeated on and on? In other words, is Parliament being asked to give that blank cheque? I am not suggesting that the Government will do this, but it shows that this is a badly drafted Bill. After all, it is a rushed Measure and I would like to be sure of the legal position that will result from it once it is passed.
Even if what I have suggested is not correct, what will be the result of this Clause? We will give powers to the Government by Order in Council and they will come into force at once. Within a certain period, perhaps at weeks, we 771 shall be able to debate the matter. Even if we do, certain things will have occurred as a result of that Order in Council, so that such a debate may be completely stultified. These are serious matters, and I hope that whatever sanctions are to be imposed will be considered seriously on the basis of whether it is right and proper to impose them. I hope that we shall look at such sanctions on the basis of whether or not it is right to impose whatever sanctions flow naturally from the decision of Southern Rhodesia to leave the Commonwealth. I hope that it will not be considered right to impose "punitive" sanctions. As I see it, the only way for the House not to delegate all of these powers is to consider every Order in Council before it comes into force. In this connection, Clause 3(2) states:… no recommendation shall be made to Her Majesty in Council to make an Order under this subsection unless a draft of the Order has been laid before Parliament and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.Would this not be a good method, since it already appears in the Bill, to allow the House to consider these important and difficult matters as they arise. By passing this Bill we are starting on a road today, and where it may lead us no one here can say.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I had expected that this debate would be mainly confined to an interchange of legal opinions on the various aspects of what is primarily a lawyers' Bill, but I am glad that the House has decided that the occasion calls for something rather more than that. I would begin by asking the Attorney-General the same question that I asked when he sat down, which is concerned with the legal aspect. I may have so ineptly phrased my question that he misunderstood its purpose. Can we have an assurance from the Government that anything in an Order in Council introduced under this Bill—assuming that it becomes an Act of Parliament—will be such that it is capable of being enforced? If it is not capable of being enforced, it should not be introduced; still less ought it to be passed by Parliament.
This is a very grave occasion, indeed. If I may say so, I think that the House 772 of Commons has risen to it as it should have done. This Bill is an awful Bill, in the true meaning of the word "awful ". We ought to stand in awe at the thought of what we are doing. What are we doing? We are giving powers to a Government to deal legislatively with former members of our Commonwealth as though they had become enemies threatening our State here. That is what this Bill does. That is the awful thing that U.D.I. has forced this country to do.
This is a very grave thing that we have to do, and if it comes to apportioning blame, let me say that none of us who has been in this House since 1945 is blameless—none of us. Many things have brought this situation upon us, and by no means the major part of bringing it upon us can be laid at the door of Mr. Smith and his colleagues. This is a very long story. It goes back to before the Second World War. It goes back, perhaps, to the concept of international Communism—the trading on the ignorance of backward people. This really lies at the root of this Bill, because this is what has run through Africa as it has run through other Continents. It is this that has made it impossible to provide stable Government as free as we should like to see it. It is these things that have brought us to this appalling pass.
After the Second World War, what did we do? We set up a world machinery based on what I believe to be the utter and complete fallacy that when one has an international dispute of some kind, one is the better likely to solve it by bringing in more people than would otherwise be automatically involved. That is what the United Nations invariably does. The contribution made to the present inflammatory position in Southern Rhodesia by those using the United Nations Organisation as it was never intended to be used, and abusing the power it gave them, is a very material factor in relation to this Bill, and the need for it." Hope springs eternal", they say. At the end of a war such as the Second World War it was natural that man should cling to any hope of preventing war he could possibly find.
However, if we look at what has happened since 1945 in relation to Southern Rhodesia, and which has made this Bill necessary, the first thing that stands out 773 is that when the Central African Federation was first being thought of and mooted, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, now the Secretary of State for Wales—the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths)—gave instructions that district officers should not promote the idea of the Central African Federation in advance of its being passed by this Parliament. Then, perhaps, both Sir Roy Welensky and ourselves made a mistake over whether or not Dominion status should ever have been sought for the Federation, and whether, having been sought, it should have been granted.
This is all looking down the road. All those of us who have been in this House since 1945 are in this, so let us not now seek to apportion blame. Let me say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) that none of us, least of all those who have served in previous Governments, ought now to seek to make one solitary party point against the present Administration on this issue. This is an inherited problem which the present Government have to handle. It is a sorry story, from the days of the Labour Government of 1945–51 down to the last Conservative Administration that ended in October, 1964.
It is a long story of collective responsibility. I know that my hon. Friends who were here then will recall occasions when, at one moment, our committees met and applauded Sir Roy Welensky to the roof for castigating our Government of the day, and the following week we had the Commonwealth Secretary or the Colonial Secretary and cheered him, too, for saying exactly the opposite. Month after month this went on. I remember protesting about it. There is a collective responsibility here that none of us can opt out of.
That being so, what have we to do today? In my view, we have to take the appropriate steps to ensure the maximum pause for consideration and reflection and the minimum of provocation, and as near to certainty as we can achieve to making sure that whatever we decide is capable of enforcement. If we approach the problem in that way we are entitled to ask the Government whether they are prepared to give us a solemn undertaking that they will introduce Orders only when they are absolutely 774 satisfied that there are no means still open to them for further consultation.
When I speak of "further consultation" I do not restrict that consultation only to Mr. Smith and the illegal Government of Rhodesia. There are others—I named one on Friday, and I shall not name any more tonight—who may be able to help in this matter. I should like an assurance that before any of these Orders is introduced, the Government will have done everything they can to have consultation with whomsoever they find it possible to get in touch with on the subject of Rhodesia.
The second assurance I ask for, if I am to vote for the Bill, is that no Order will be introduced which the Government know when they introduce it is incapable of enforcement. In that connection, I would refer once again to what I said on Friday. The dilemma in which the Armed Forces in Rhodesia find themselves is bad enough, and I hope that steps are being taken, as I asked on Friday, to ensure that as many of them as possible of all ranks are made fully aware of the peril they put themselves in under military law unless they obey the Governor.
But there is also a great peril in which our own troops could all too easily find themselves. Some of us have recollections—for me they are recollections of boyhood; for others, recollections of adult life—of the Curragh incident. I do not want to see any member of the British Forces put in the position of having to take a sort of decision some men had to take then. It could happen all too easily.
I therefore once again ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman: can we have an assurance that no Order will be introduced under this Measure that is not capable of being enforced? If the Government were to introduce an Order which could be enforced only by military action, they themselves having made up their minds that no military action should ever be taken, it would mean, in fact, that they were bluffing those to be affected by the Order. This is one thing which must not be allowed to happen. No Order which will be found to be bluff ought to be tolerated. I wish to make quite clear to the Government that if I support the Bill I shall 775 oppose any Order which I think contains the slightest bluff.
I hope that I have been fair in what I have said and I hope that I have not been unfair to previous Administrations now represented on this side of the House. Whatever else I say I want to make quite clear, should any of the remarks I have made tonight be quoted in Rhodesia, that U.D.I. was the end of a long road. It is folly and danger, not only to the future of Rhodesia but to world peace as a whole, or could become so all too easily. If we are to solve this problem we have to find a way of burying every hatchet which on both sides it is possible to bury. The Government themselves have to avoid being over-precipitate, but whatever they do, be it by sanctions or whatever form of action, let it be action which they know can be effective and enforced.
In the words of Matthew Arnold:I say, fear not; life still leaves human effort scope,But, since life teems with ill, nurse no extravagant hope,Because thou must not dream, thou need'st not then despair.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Later this week we shall be attempting to censure Her Majesty's Government. In this debate today, however, there has been shown considerable understanding of the difficulties in which Her Majesty's present Government find themselves. Throughout these difficult weeks in which Her Majesty's Government have attempted to find a solution for Rhodesia they have had the full support of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues. It is certainly no fault of the Conservative Party that the Government's Rhodesian policy has miscarried, but I must in justice say that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) was right when he said on Friday that this was an avoidable tragedy. It is a tragedy arising from the long years of mistrust between Rhodesian Governments and British Governments and arising from a failure of imagination, sympathy and understanding in London towards the difficulties of those people of various races 6,000 miles away.
776 At the end of his broadcast and later in this House the Prime Minister said that in dealing with Mr. Smith he thought that at times he was dealing with someone who was living in another century, almost in another world. Those words were true words because indeed Rhodesia is another world and we cannot judge Rhodesia simply by the criteria and standards of public life and modern democracy here in Britain. I cannot for the life of me understand why the negotiations ended just as they did. I cannot understand why the Attorney-General or the Secretary of State for Commonwealth relations did not remain behind in Salisbury. I have said this before in this House; I cannot understand it. Here was a very difficult dealing to be done. Surely it was common prudence, common businesslike common sense for one member of Her Majesty's Government to stay on the spot to endeavour to clinch whatever deal might have been made.
I regret so much the lack of understanding shown by Her Majesty's Government in the sneering references to the chiefs. After all, in Rhodesia we are dealing with a society which is largely a tribal society. We should not sneer at these people because they are less advanced than we are. I thought it a great pity that the chiefs should be spoken of in that way. It was even more regrettable than the extraordinarily inept description of those who now, alas, are rebels as "frightened little men ".
We have heard again in this House of the state of emergency brought in before the unilateral declaration of independence. It is not altogether surprising that there should a state of emergency in Southern Rhodesia. At a time when the United States as well as the United Kingdom have stopped the export of arms to Rhodesia, arms are being smuggled into Rhodesia across the Zambesi for the purposes of a revolutionary overthrow of whatever regime there now is in that country. It is not surprising that there is a state of emergency in Rhodesia when leaders whom we are often asked to accept as responsible leaders of African Nationalist movements have been making statements which are tantamount to calling on the African population to slaughter their white fellow subjects in Rhodesia.
777 I am very glad that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) showed no disposition tonight to want to limit this debate. He is very jealous for the rights of the House of Commons and of individual hon. Members. I am glad that there is no disposition in this House for us to proceed with undue and unworthy haste with this Measure, because this is a very serious Measure. I understand why the Government want it to go through quickly. This is reasonable, but if the emergency was so great it would have been quite possible for this House to have met yesterday. I have not long been a Member of this House, but I can remember an occasion on which we sat on a Sunday and we were not at war. That could have been done. It is right that this House should be able to discuss this matter, not in any spirit of obstruct tiveness but so that the different views in the House can be expressed.
I am perturbed at the powers which it is proposed to entrust to Her Majesty's Government under this Bill. It is always a difficulty in a democracy to find the right balance in times of trouble between Executive efficiency and Parliamentary rights. The extent to which this House of Commons is willing to entrust the Executive with extraordinary powers must depend to a great extent on the degree of trust there is between hon. Members and the right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Treasury Bench. I am worried partly because already the Executive have behaved in this admittedly difficult situation in an arbitrary way. Mention has been made, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings), of the treatment of civil servants who happen to have had the misfortune of being posted to London— vindictive treatment at the hands of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
The Secretary of State says that it is rubbish. I shall be extremely glad to hear that these very disturbing reports are untrue, when we have the final reply from the Treasury Bench. I hope there will be an adequate reply, because it seems that civil servants because they are here within the reach of the Secretary of State are to be treated in one way while civil servants 778 in Rhodesia are to be treated in another way.
§ Mr. Manuel
My interjection was to ask the hon. Gentleman who he thinks the civil servants he mentioned are acting for, unless they sign a declaration that they are breaking away from the illegal Government?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
As we have withdrawn our High Commissioner from Salisbury and as the Rhodesian High Commissioner has been asked to leave, I should have thought that his staff should be asked to leave with him. This seems to me to be perfectly reasonable, without their being asked to sign any statement which other public servants, who do not happen to be posted in London, will not be asked to sign.
§ `Mr. Bottomley
An explanation will be given. The hon. Gentleman has formed a harsh judgment on this action in relation to the home-based civil servants. He ought not to do that in trying to make an attack.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I do not think that the Secretary of State was here when the serious allegations were made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire. I am very glad that I have been able to draw those allegations to the right hon. Gentleman's attention. I should be very glad, for the honour of this country, if our misgivings on this account could be set at rest.
The Government appear to be getting all kinds of arbitrary and quasi-dictatorial ideas into their heads. As the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) pointed out on Friday, there was never a word of this talk of treason and traitors at a time when we were at war with the American colonists in rebellion. When we were at war with them, there was never any talk whatever of treason and traitors because people happened to take a particular view. God forbid that we should ever be at war with Rhodesia. There was a certain gentleman—his name was 779 Horne; he was the leading spirit in the Constitutional Society—who sent Benjamin Franklin some money to succour the victims of the King's troops when we were at war. He was not prosecuted for treason. He was indicted for libel.
The Government have taken dictatorial action with regard to tobacco. They have acted under powers left over from a world war. We are not at war with Rhodesia, and God forbid that we ever should be.
§ Sir Richard Glyn (Dorset, North)
The Government's action on tobacco will affect only the coloured Rhodesians and not the whites and is in effect nothing more nor less than Oxfam in reverse.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I thank my hon. Friend for pointing that out.
I come to the administrative decree by which Commonwealth preference has been withdrawn. Right hon. Gentlemen speak as though we were withdrawing something which is of unqualified benefit to the Rhodesians and of no particular importance to ourselves. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman when he replies to tell us whether the legal ground on which he stands is absolutely firm. I have studied the United Kingdom-Southern Rhodesian Agreement under the Ottawa Agreements of 1932. It has the historical interest that it is signed by a gentleman called Stanley Baldwin. Article 11 of the Agreement says this:In the event of circumstances arising which, in the judgment of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom or of the Government of Southern Rhodesia, as the case may be, necessitate a variation in the terms of the agreement, the proposal to vary those terms shall form the subject of consultation between the two Governments.I suppose the answer will be that the Smith regime is no longer a Government, that the Government of Southern Rhodesia are Her Majesty's Government, and that they have had due consultation with each other or within their own ranks. I do not know, but I am not entirely convinced by the argument that the withdrawal of preference is consequential on the U.D.I. After all, Commonwealth preference is still accorded to certain countries which are no longer members of the Commonwealth, but no doubt we shall hear more about it when we hear the reply.
780 More serious than this is the fact that the House is being asked to give carte blanche to the Government. It is true that the Orders under the Bill, if enacted, will be subject to the affirmative procedure. Am I wrong in thinking that what will happen will be that the Government will act under the very wide powers which will be conferred by this Measure, that they will do virtually what they like and we will be able to talk as much as we like, but that will have no effect whatever while the Government can command a majority in the House?
What do the Government expect to achieve by this Measure and by the administrative measures preceding it to which I have referred? Do they expect that the effect of all this and of the Orders which they have in mind will be that they will bring about a rebellion against the rebellion? Do they imagine, Rhodesians being what they are, that these measures will induce them to come to terms with Her Majesty's Government? Or do they perhaps not consider that they will make them more obdurate?
There will be an effect from the administrative measures and no doubt there will be an effect flowing from the Orders which may be brought forward under the Bill, but, as hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn), have pointed out, the effect is likely to be greatest upon the small, poor African people.
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman), speaking of the four million people in Rhodesia, seemed to suppose they were all Rhodesian Africans. They are not. It is very difficult to get exact figures in the free intercourse that there is of labour between Rhodesia and the surrounding territories, but a very large proportion of them are not Rhodesian Africans at all. The freedom which they enjoy to enter Rhodesia, where there is so much prosperity, and work there is a mainstay of the national economies of Rhodesia's northern neighbours, Zambia and Malawi.
I think that we should keep Zambia and Malawi, these Commonwealth partners of ours, very much in mind. I should like to pay tribute to the statesmanlike approach to this very difficult problem adopted by President Kaunda of Zambia 781 and also by Dr. Hastings Banda of Malawi. It was Dr. Hastings Banda who pointed out, quite correctly, that, if the ties between Malawi and Rhodesia were cut, Malawi would be lost.
What, in fact, do the Government hope to achieve? I rather think that certain words of Chatham, who expressed himself asan avowed enemy of the American independency,when moving an address in 1777, have some bearing on the likely effects of the sort of measures which the Government have in mind:You may ravage. You cannot conquer.They may do damage to Rhodesia and they may do considerable damage to the United Kingdom. As I said when replying to an interruption by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel), I speak for my constituents. My constituents are entitled to be told about the effect on their interests and on the precarious British economy of these measures.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been in and out. His name appears on the Bill. Are we to hear from the right hon. Gentleman what effect measures already taken administratively and to be taken in the future under the Bill may have upon the British balance of payments? I think it is well known that between £25 million and £30 million could be added to the deficiency in our balance of payments if we have to turn elsewhere for supplies of tobacco. We can turn to India. India is a member of the sterling area. She can supply us with some tobacco. We can also turn to Canada and the United States, but, although Canada is a Commonwealth partner, neither is in the sterling area.
We are entitled to hear a little about the effect on the British balance of payments. Still more, we should know whether the Government have it in mind to go further, as they have been urged by the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, and apply oil sanctions and a trade embargo. "Prohibitions" and "restrictions" were the words used by the Attorney-General. What further ones have the Government in mind? Is there to be a trade embargo?
782 The Government are being exhorted from below the Gangway to be in earnest about sanctions and are being asked, "If they do not really hit Rhodesia what is the use of them?" Let us hear from the Government what they have in mind and let our constituents be told what we stand to lose ourselves from a trade embargo. Last year we supplied £35 million, equal to one-third of Rhodesia's imports. It may be said that this is not a big amount, but in the precarious state of our national economy can we afford such an embargo?
I deplore the U.D.I. [Laughter.]Perhaps the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) thinks that it is a laughing matter. I think that it is very serious. Perhaps historians will recall that although it was a crime it was less a crime than a blunder. Here is a breach which we want to deal with. I want it mended and not widened. Nothing should be done to increase further the mistrust felt in Rhodesia for this country.
It is all very well for hon. and right hon. Members opposite to say that the 1961 Constitution was unacceptable and unsatisfactory. Rightly or wrongly, the electorate of Rhodesia understood that the 1961 Constitution was to be the last Constitution that they were to expect before independence was conferred upon them. It may not be easy to point to anything in black and white, but it is a fact that Sir Edgar Whitehead would never have obtained the consent of the Rhodesian electorate to the 1961 Constitution if it had not been put abroad in Rhodesia that it was a pre-independence constitution. If the House will not take this from Sir Edgar Whitehead, perhaps it will take it from Mr. Joshua Nkomo who, before the United Nations Committee on Colonialism in 1962, said that he feared that this Constitution, which he first of all accepted but from which he resiled subsequently, would bring independence to Rhodesia in 1963.
I think, therefore, that we should show the fullest understanding of the reasons for what has happened. We should understand the reluctance of these people who, but for an accident, might have been hon. Members now sitting here in the security of this Chamber. We 783 should understand their reluctance to be cajoled or coerced down a dangerous path by a British Government—let us face it—less concerned for their welfare than for wider international considerations. Government after Government have been perhaps more concerned with the appeasement of the United States, of the United Nations and of the Afro-Asian bloc. Perhaps the reason for this Bill is that we are confronted by government by gesture. False comparisons have been made between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. In 1923 the then British Government were of a mind that Southern Rhodesia should be incorporated in South Africa, but the electorate in Rhodesia, these Rhodesian Europeans, voted against incorporation in the Union of South Africa. Although it is true that many Rhodesian Europeans are of South African origin and a number of them are Afrikaners, it is also true that many of them came north because they wanted to live under a more liberal British system. [Laughter.]I cannot see that this is very funny. Is it surprising that people like ourselves, and perhaps South Africans, might want to move north and live under a British system of government and a British type of constitution? Is it so very funny? I should have thought that it was something to make us a little proud of our fellow-subjects in Rhodesia.
I greatly fear that if we act vindictively or rashly we shall not succeed in suppressing Rhodesian rebellion, but we shall succeed in finally incorporating Rhodesia within the South African system. This is why my plea is for conciliation, not coercion, for peace and not punishment.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I am sure the whole House will regard the Bill as being an extremely regrettable one and that few hon. Members will vote for it with any sense of satisfaction. They will feel no satisfaction, I hope, because conferring these powers upon any Executive virtually untrammelled by the powers of this House is in itself repugnant.
A large number of my hon. Friends have spoken today from a point of view which I cannot in all conscience endorse. I accept their views as being sincerely 784 expressed and I hope that they will do me the same courtesy as I do them. I have only one exception to this comment, and that was the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery). This saddened me immensely, and I want to say a few words about it.
When I heard it I recalled the comment made by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn), that those of us who are somewhat senile had the advantage of having seen all the worst films twice through. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North was saying that we had no real difference with these people and there was no difference of principle and was extolling, albeit in guarded terms, the merits of these men, I compared that with similar phrases spoken in the years 1933 to 1939. I then heard friends of mine say, "Why should we really oppose Hitler? It is true, of course, that there are some excesses, but, after all, they are only against the Jews and what does that matter? It is true that we do not go all the way with this man. It is true that he is doing things of which we do not wholly approve, but he is much to be preferred to the Communists whom he opposes ". I am afraid that there is a danger here today on my own side that there is a muting of consciences because we have an affinity with many of those who are resident in Rhodesia. Instead of the Jews we have the black Africans.
I want to make it very clear that this is not a small issue. It is an immense issue of principle and, let us be frank with ourselves, it is not merely a question of whether the previous Government in Rhodesia proceeded at a certain pace towards majority rule. Let us be quite clear that Mr. Smith obtained his position and maintained it only because a great number of his supporters profoundly believed that he would bring to an end any possibility of self-determination. Equally convincing, and in defence of Smith, is the fact that if his own views had been contrary to this opinion, he could never have sustained his position as Prime Minister any more than did his predecessors.
We should make it quite clear to ourselves that there is a great issue of principle for which we have a profound 785 responsibility. I was astonished that my right hon. Friend said that there was no issue of principle when three policemen, humble men, with no real responsibilities, no oath of allegiance to the Queen such as my right hon. Friend has, risked their position, no doubt with the chance of prosecution, because they believed that the conduct of the Rhodesian Government was inconsistent with their consciences.
I do not for one moment pretend that we could proceed to immediate self-government in the manner which is dictated and demanded by African extremists, but I think that any rational person looking at the situation will know that it was never the intention of the previous Administration to kill a proper measure of self-government. As my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) said, we are responsible for this situation, because no Government in this country in the postwar has been firm enough with Rhodesia. We made a mistake in giving South Africa independence without making some provision for majority rule. We did the same thing with Rhodesia. The truth is that each successive Government has failed to be firm enough, putting off the evil day.
I do not wish to condemn any hon. Member who takes a view contrary to mine, but it is only sensible to say that if we tried to pursue the policy which is pursued by Mr. Smith, the inevitable result would be disaster for the white population of Rhodesia. Many hon. Members have said today that because the white Southern Rhodesians fought for us, because they have white skins, they are entitled to some special consideration. The coloured Rhodesians also fought for us, in larger numbers than did the whites. I cannot see that there is a basic merit in that argument.
I hope that the Government will do all they can to enforce the determination to bring to an end as quickly as possible the rebel regime in Southern Rhodesia. I say this in no vindictive spirit whatever. The Prime Minister was unfortunate in using the word "punitive" because all measures of this kind are somewhat punitive; if they were not punitive they would have no value in these circumstances. What we want to do is to apply those measures which are punitive but not vindictive. We should do those things which 786 are calculated to bring this rebel Government as quickly as possible to an end and to give liberal opinion in Rhodesia a chance to express itself.
May I say a word or two about liberal opinion? It is very difficult to take a moral stand when those around you want to discount a moral stand. Many young men who find themselves in prison today are the victims of this. They go on a street corner with a gang of young boys of their own age, and a few of these young men do something and want to do something which is entirely wrong. It is very difficult for the other young men, who have not the same ideas, to resist going with them or to oppose them and say, "What you are doing is wrong ".
So it has been with liberal opinion in Southern Rhodesia. Of course there are men who oppose Mr. Smith and men who regard the deliberate dragging back of the Africans as being wholly repugnant to their feelings. But there are strong pressures which say, "Follow us and for all time you will be the boss, for all time you will have the advantages, for all time you will enjoy this high standard of living and low taxation". Against those pressures, liberal opinion cannot easily express itself, and when it does express itself, it is often put into detention where it cannot express itself. I urge the Government to do all they can to encourage liberal opinion in Southern Rhodesia by taking the strongest possible stand, short of any vindictive action, against the rebel Rhodesians.
May I say a further word about black living with white or white living with black. It has been said this afternoon that the coloured States of Africa present to us a ghastly picture and that all kinds of dire consequences have resulted from the measures of independence which have already been granted. We have had references to the Congo, which I consider to be wholly irrelevant to this discussion. Let us leave the Congo aside for a moment and look at one or two of the other countries. It is true that the democratic pattern which we have established in this country has not been very faithfully reproduced on the continent of Africa, and we are to some extent to blame for this failure because it was never likely to succeed. Once there was one man, one vote, its demise was almost 787 certain, because an uninitiated and irresponsible Opposition can soon kill the concept of democratic Government.
But these happenings have to some extent clouded the other fact which is coming out of Africa—that it is by no means so difficult for white people to live in African territories with black Governments as almost every hon. Member at one time believed. In almost every territory in Africa we are hearing from white people who return to this country for leave that they are finding it easy to live with their black Governments. Indeed, the measure of co-operation between white and black in those territories which have achieved independence is remarkable.
On Friday the hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) read out a truly remarkable message sent by the whites of Kenya to the whites of Southern Rhodesia. This fortifies what I have said, that while there are problems of black and white living together, it has not proved to be difficult for whites to live in territories where there are black Governments. I should have thought that this example would be an important indication to us in this House that, if it can be done in Kenya, it certainly can be done in Southern Rhodesia.
I hope the House will support the Bill without a Division. I thought the plea by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) was mischievous. I know that he likes to be mischievous and that it is part of his life. But on this occasion he ought really to have repressed his natural instinct because this is a somewhat serious matter. I hope that the House will pass this Bill without any Division because I believe that tonight we have to give a moral lead.
We have little left of the majesty of the last century. Indeed, I doubt whether we could now launch an airborne attack against the army of Southern Rhodesia even if we were foolish enough to try. But we have a position in the world which is of some worth. The moral purpose and standing of this nation is still of value to the rest of the world. I do not want to see this tarnished or diminished by any apparent failure on our part to do those things that our consciences should determine that we do.
788 We must by our vote tonight make it clear, however distasteful it is to us to have to act against those whom we know well in Rhodesia—those who are our friends and, in my case, relatives—that we shall do it with determination because we conceive it to be our duty.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edin-bugh, South)
Like every other hon. Member, I regret deeply the steps taken by the Rhodesian Cabinet. They were wrong and unwise and showed lack of patience. But, the step having been taken, we have to consider how we can restore or improve the position. The use of force has rightly been ruled out by the Government. It has also been said that the problem is between Rhodesia and Britain and that other nations should keep out.I agree with that also.
The next alternative suggested is to apply sanctions or other economic pressures with a view to imposing our will on Rhodesia or causing Rhodesians to exert pressure on their Government or causing a new Government to be installed. I take it that that is the purpose of the Bill.
On Friday the Attorney-General said the Government… propose to take a general power to make any Orders which appear necessary or expedient in consequence of the illegal declaration of independence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720. c. 514.]In particular he named four classes of Order and some of them are very sweeping. I dislike this Bill on two grounds. First, I am reluctant to grant these excessive powers to the Government. The Government are trying to take over the work of Parliament and to usurp its functions without justification. Secondly, some of the powers are quite unenforceable and to agree to powers which cannot be enforced is a nonsense and makes a mockery of the work of Parliament.
The Attorney-General said that we would make laws for the peace, order and good Government of Rhodesia. How is this to be brought about? I want to know. In the last resort, the final sanction is force, but that has been ruled out, so what do we do? It may be argued that financial pressures and economic sanctions will produce the 789 desired result. I doubt it. The history of sanctions is not impressive. They failed in the Italian-Abyssinian war. They failed in Cuba. There is endless scope for evasion. Other economic measures are very slow moving and often ineffectual. They hurt innocent people and can bring indiscriminate distress.
In the case of Rhodesia I believe that hostile financial measures will simply cause moderate men and women there to side with Mr. Smith and his Government. The coloured population will certainly suffer and Zambian and Malawi nationals who work in Rhodesia will be adversely affected immediately. Bitterness will be created and nobody can say what the end of the road will be.
I find the economic proposals and powers under the Bill distasteful. I cannot find it in my heart to support these measures against another Commonwealth country and against our own people overseas, however wrongheaded their Government may have been. Sooner or later we shall have to deal with Mr. Smith or the Rhodesian Government. That must be recognised. We would be very wise to keep the lines of communication with them open. I believe that it would be statesmanlike and wise to get in touch with them immediately and to see what accommodation can be arrived at for the benefit of black and white and of Rhodesia and Britain.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I make this brief speech because I feel it is one I should make. I have no pretensions to be an expert on Rhodesia. However, I have taken every step I could to find out as much as I could about the subject, to hear all opinions and to read as thoroughly as I could the 1961 Constitution and the other papers leading up to it. Having done so, I feel that many of the speeches made tonight have been made on the wrong subjects.
We are not discussing the policy of the Government or of the previous Government, whether right or wrong. Nor are we discussing the rights and wrongs of U.D.I., whether it should have been taken or who was responsible. Nor are we discussing the assurances that the Government have given us today and on 790 Friday and at other times as to how this Bill will be applied.
Surely we are just discussing whether the Bill, with the measures outlined in it, is the right way to deal with the situation, and whether the indications of policy that the Government have given us are the right indications and ones we will agree with. This is a thing that should be considered very seriously indeed because Government policy could have an enormous effect on the future of the whole world.
That is why I particularly resented the speech made by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). He pointed to three things which he said showed that our party was divided and that our policies were,wrong. In effect, he called in the ultimate for the sending of troops to sort out the problem and there were several "hear, hears" from the benches behind him from some hon. Members who have been doing their utmost to grind our national defences down to an all-time low and have thereby made it impossible for us in any case to make a contribution of that sort.
We then had a description of the police State. He said that Rhodesia was a police State and was becoming worse. We did not hear the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and his supporters objecting when similar measures were introduced in other countries with results far more devastating than in Rhodesia.
Hon. Members should seriously ask themselves what they would do in such circumstances, if they lived in a small country with the world against them and what might be called the previous colonial Government against them and with the prospect of an insurrection in their own country while overseas leaders were talking about invasion. Would it not be necessary to take such measures as we thought necessary to preserve law and order in our own country? This is how we must regard the possible concept of a police State.
What I have said refers to measures only since U.D.I., because it is clear that under Rhodesia's Constitution before U.D.I., at least, since 1961, it has been impossible to bring forward any measure involving racial discrimination. This was the fundamental basis of the 1961 Constitution and there was a Commission whose 791 approval for any such measure was required.
I am not happy about the Bill for several reasons. First, we are told that our support of the Bill is necessary so that Parliament can reassert its authority over Rhodesia. My understanding of the Bill is that it will effectively remove the ability of hon. Members to exercise timely control over a policy of sanctions or anything else. It might be argued that we have had an assurance that measures would have to be approved by the House. However, we can have all kinds of assurances about having a discussion of any measure within one or two days of a decision, but the psychological effect on Rhodesia and the world generally of any measure of sanctions, for instance, could be such that a revoking Order one or two days later would be largely ineffectual.
My second reason is that I do not know that the nature of the powers to be conferred on the Government is fully appreciated. I listened carefully when the Attorney-General explained the powers in Clause 2 and the details involved. However, I found myself largely in agreement with the suggestion that under that Clause it would be possible to suspend the 1961 Constitution and to do a wide range of things under the wordsan Order in Council.… may make such provision…in relation to Southern Rhodesia, or persons or things in any way …That demonstrates the full scope of the powers to make Orders.
My third reason is that if we pass the Bill, although we shall not be passing the Orders or conferring particular powers, we shall be accepting the principle of the policy of the imposition of sanctions. We must carefully consider the consequencies of such a policy and we must have serious doubts about it. If sanctions do not work —and it is more than likely that in the short or long term they will not work, because there are many countries, as is clear from the abstentions in the United" Nations and the two votes against the Resolution, which, openly or not, will not support such a policy—it will be impossible for the Government to achieve the results they want. If they do work and we get more co-operation than has ever been possible in any such previous operation, what is it we want to achieve and what would be achieved?
792 It is clear that if sanctions were successful, they would bring a great deal of misery and distress to every person in Rhodesia, to those loyal to the Crown and to those not and even to those who do not know what the problem is about. It might be argued that the Bill is necessary to remove the principle of a police State and dictatorship from Rhodesia. Can it be such a terrible dictatorship in a country which, above all in Africa, has two-thirds of its present population under 21 years of age? Can it be so bad, when half a million people come into it voluntarily to work and do not find conditions so terrible or so objectionable that they voluntarily go away again, as quite clearly they can do if they so desire?
I believe that the sanctions in themselves will bring misery and distress, but, what is more dangerous, if we are successful in bringing ruin and misery to Southern Rhodesia, although Ian Smith has said that he will not, the inevitable consequence will be some retaliation from a desperate Southern Rhodesia that may result in the cutting off of electricity from Zambia, which could bring industry in Zambia to a stop and could have the consequence of flooding her mines. It could, in effect, put the clock back 50 or 100 years in Zambia, and perhaps other places, too.
I feel that we should think of the consequences of our policy before we vote for it. The Government have a duty to consider what will happen and what the end result will be. If we approve a policy of sanctions in general or in principle, we have to accept that the ultimate consequence will be armed intervention of some sort by someone. If our policy of sanctions creates a situation of distress in which law and order break down, it is quite clear that troops will have to be involved at some stage of the proceedings. If the Government are thinking in terms of armed intervention at the end of the day, they must also think of the consequences of that.
We are calling up the Ever-Readies to go to Aden, and there is considerable feeling against the use of them in such circumstances. But, even if we decide on the use of troops, how are we going to land them? Shall we send them via Zambia or Malawi, or do we send in paratroopers to Southern Rhodesia itself? 793 It might be said that it is perhaps hypothetical and even silly to mention it, but I think it is vital, because we are today approving the basis of a policy, and it is our duty as individuals to consider what the consequences of that policy will be. I have looked at the Bill in every detail, and I cannot see it resulting in an acceptable or peaceful solution in any way. I think what other nations might do. I think of Southern Rhodesia itself. No matter how we look at it, there cannot be a peaceful and acceptable solution arising out of it. The one object of sanctions must be to create chaos and to create circum stances in which some new Government might arise or in which someone else can step in. Only if someone can show me that out of all the chaos and misery some acceptable solution will emerge will it be possible for me to support this policy. I cannot see it, and for that reason I certainly cannot support the Bill.
I apologise for intervening in the debate, because I feel that it has become the kind of debate to which only people with a wealth of experience and knowledge have been contributing. However, the situation is one that involves principles at which each Member of the House has to look. We must think of the consequences of the policy to which we are asked to give general approval. If we do that, we certainly cannot support the Bill.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield):
I am not one of those who have had the privilege of visiting Southern Rhodesia, but I, too, have studied the subject, and I feel very deeply about it. The last thing that I want to see is the situation in the territory getting out of hand, either for the whites or the blacks.
At the same time, I deplore the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), who made no real contribution to the debate but simply inflamed the situation. There were two speeches from this side and one from the Labour Benches last Friday with which he disagreed. To sum up the debate on the basis of those three speeches is very unfair, and, in response to a question, he replied eventually that he would support British troops going into Rhodesia. Surely the one thing that the House has 794 to do today is to send a fairly united message out to the world.
It is unreasonable to expect every speech from both sides of the House to be identical. Nobody whom I have heard speaking today has said that U.D.I. was the right thing to do. Some hon. Members have made excuses as to why it happened, and have given the history leading up to it. Both parties have a responsibility in that direction, but those who have seen sanctions applied over the years have never seen them work, whether in Ethiopia or in Cuba. When the Americans applied sanctions against Cuba, they did not buy tobacco, but today we buy Havana tobacco in this country, and many Members enjoy it. I think that we have to turn these matters over very seriously in our minds.
It has been said that during the last war there was support for us, from both black and white, and that I endorse. I think that they have had a miserable deal over the years. Where there are second and third generation people growing up, it is the most frightful situation in which they now find themselves.
We all deplore U.D.I. It is very easy to say that in the comfort of an air-conditioned House of Commons, but what must it be like in Salisbury today? It is a desperate situation, and I ask hon. Members not to inflame it, to think seriously, and to think twice. Why do not those who recommend full sanctions recommend an oil embargo straight away? [HON. MEMBERS: "We do."] Not all do. The Prime Minister does not. Hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot have it both ways. It is either one thing or the other.
It is unthinkable that force would have to be used. We do not want one coloured or one white man killed. Our job as Members is to moderate the situation and to bring sense to it, if only for the next four or five weeks so that there is time to think, even by Mr. Smith, who might, by the immediate sanctions, have pressure put on him by his friends and colleagues who will say, "Smithy, you have made a mistake. You must think about this again." There are 4 million people involved, and that could happen. Do not drive him to desperation by bringing in extreme sanctions.
795 I should have thought that at the moment the loss of Commonwealth preference would be sufficient. They have lost all financial status within the Commonwealth. One can see what has happened with the Peking Chinese in Zanzibar. I wonder how many Opposition Members in the Ghana Parliament are still in prison? Not long ago I heard that 60 were locked up. I heard Mr. Macmillan say that it was a convenient way of running the Government if the Opposition were in gaol, but let us think about it. People of the third generation living in Salisbury today are entitled to look to their Northern neighbours to see what has happened to them.
The point was made earlier that from the adjacent countries about 170,000 people come to work in Rhodesia, and they have a high standard of living. We have to take into account how events in Salisbury will affect those territories.
I deplore the broadcasts on television by African Nationalists in this country, who have been inflaming the situation rather more than the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale did. They have been saying "We have an underground movement at work. We are ready for sabotage. We are ready for their blood." It is disgraceful that the Government allow the B.B.C. to put that sort of thing out over the air and on television. It ought not to be allowed.
The Government felt, or Lord Normanbrook felt, that it was right to prohibit Mr. Smith from making his final television broadcast. I think that it was a wrong decision. The Government may have felt that Mr. Smith was becoming a little too popular in Britain. He had made quite an impression over here during that week or two, and in canvassing a number of people in my constituency I found that well over 90 per cent. of those people in Macclesfield were on the side of Mr. Smith. Rightly or wrongly, we should recognise that, but that is no reason why we, as Members of Parliament, should be guided by what our constituents say. We are here to express our views as we see them. I mention that in passing. We should take note of that situation.
I am sorry that Brigadier Skeen, who left this country on Saturday, had to move out in such an ignominious way. He was 796 a man whose family, for seven generations, had served the Crown. He was serving his country up to the time when U.D.I. was declared, doing his duty. The Government could have been a little more human in giving him more reasonable time to get out. Then there are the six Rhodesian Sandhurst cadets who have been suspended—boys of 18 and 19. I hope that the Government will be more lenient with these youngsters who are here doing their best, and also with the young people who are employed at Rhodesia House.
I should like to hear from the Chancellor or some other Government spokesman what will be the effect on this country of these sanctions. It is all very well to say that tobacco will not be bought. The autumn crop has been bought and paid for, and there will not be another crop for 11 months. Even then I believe that tobacco is kept in Rhodesia for at least one year, and possibly two years, to mature. Why should not the Government put a ban on asbestos? I understand that about 50 per cent. of the output of Rhodesian asbestos is bought by this country. If we buy such large quantities, why should we not ban it? Is it because Britain needs it more than she needs tobacco? I want a clear explanation on this point.
If we are going to have sanctions we should impose them properly, and not bring in half-measures which will irritate the people and bring out the worst in them. This is a dangerous situation, and I am not convinced that what has been done by the Government will help at all. We shall bring the worst out of these 220,000 Rhodesians. They are not all loyal to Mr. Smith by any means, and I plead with the Government to do the minimum possible for a month or six weeks and then to see what we get.
We should allow the Governor to see what he can do, if he remains where he is, as seems likely. It may be that in a month, or five or six weeks, there will be a change of opinion and the Rhodesians will see that it is not going to work and that there is a possibility of avoiding bloodshed. To take these drastic measures over a period of time may be disastrous, and I hope that the Government will consider this matter sympathetically.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Lang-stone)
I have little claim to be listened to with any respect on this subject. I have lived in southern Africa for only 27 years. I also declare another interest in the subject. One of my forebears obtained the Rudd concession on which Rhodes built Rhodesia. My father-in-law was a Speaker in the Southern Rhodesian Parliament, and lives in Southern Rhodesia; my wife was born there, and my brother-in-law was born there and is now serving in the British Army. I therefore regard with some dismay the implication in the remarks made by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) that the declaration of certain sentiments in this House was tantamount to incitement to rebellion.
I know that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale has very little respect for the opinions of Lord North, but he might have some respect for the opinions of Edmund Burke who, 190 years ago, in this Chamber, said:I am charged with being an American. If warm affection towards those over whom I claim any share of authority be a crime. I am guilty of this charge.None of us has a constitutional mandate to speaK here on behalf of the people of Southern Rhodesia. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) has earned it. For well over half a century 4 million Europeans, half of them British, have conducted their affairs under an uneasy condominium, effectively self-governing for 65 years in South Africa and 50 years in Rhodesia. They have exercised trusteeship over 10 million Africans—a trusteeship which, whatever its achievements, Europe has found increasingly unsatisfactory. The moral criteria have largely been determined, developed and defined in Europe, exported to Africa by the vocal organs of righteous political indignation. The practice and application of coexistence in multi-racial communities has been a local responsibility.
The divergence between refined precept and raw practice has created strains so severe that war broke out in 1899—we seem to have forgotten this—as it did in 1860 on another continent. A withdrawal from the Commonwealth took place in 1961 and a declaration of unilateral independence took place last week. 798 Throughout this period, the voice of the European in southern Africa has been largely silent in this House. For once, it will be heard.
It will be heard because I am convinced that we are in grave danger of making asses of ourselves. The House's sense of history, which is one of the things on which it prides itself, is surely something which has not been very self-evident this evening. I think it was Santayana who said:Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.I would add that those who learn the lessons of history are often condemned to repeat them with them.
Have those who have been negotiating with Mr. Smith forgotten, for example, the negotiations between Milner and Smuts as Attorney-General of the Transvaal? I would suggest that if they were to refresh their memories of the character and arguments of these negotiations, they would find a surprising parallel with those between Mr. Smith and the Prime Minister.
Have those who think that there have been developed new insights into and new solutions of the multi-racial community by any chance made themselves familiar with the correspondence between Smuts and John X. Merriman, the Prime Minister of the Cape? If they had, they would find very little developed in those arguments by either side which has not been deployed today and certainly very little which is new.
I came across the following phrase in the correspondence between Milner and Kruger:The existence of a rational franchise would remove the main causes of British intervention in the Transvaal.That leaves very few arguments.
Are we incapable of recognising the repeated, terrifying and costly demonstrations in the deep South in the United States, in Southern Africa from 1899 to 1902, in Algeria more recently and now, possibly, in Rhodesia? Are we incapable of recognising that substantial numbers— I emphasise the word "substantial"—of Europeans are, rightly or wrongly, simply not prepared to hand over political power to indigenous peoples who, for whatever reasons, lack resources, lack responsibility, lack skill and lack enterprise?
799 We should not concern ourselves, in my humble view, with the merits of this position—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We should concern ourselves simply with the universality of this attitude as demonstrated on numberless occasions in the last century. Despite this bitter experience, let us admit that it is a failing of the Europeans, wherever they have involved themselves with indigenous peoples, that they are incapable of making this adjustment. Let us admit that this is a failure of the peoples of Europe.
Despite this, let us also realise that we have developed here in the United Kingdom—aided and abetted by all the major organs of opinion—an attitude of mind which suggests that, whatever contributions the Europeans in these parts of the world may make towards multi-racial ideals, they are not enough and they never will be enough. This is the basis of our attitude today.
We ditched the Federation—of that there is no doubt—because its multi-racialism fell short of our expectations. Now, our natural and inevitable dislike of all doctrines of racial superiority makes us unwilling to accept the necessity for interim solutions in interim situations, in which Europeans inevitably structure their social, political and economic systems to reflect real differences. Until these differences disappear, this necessity, as a real and practical political fact, must remain.
We have heard talk about insufficiency of means, particularly in relation to education. I wonder whether hon. Members seriously expected or can now expect a community which is not much larger in population than the town of Portsmouth or Plymouth or similar places in this country, and which in 1923 comprised only about 30,000 or 40,000 people, to create from nothing, without capital, the main educational substructure for 4 million people? Yet the burden of criticism today is that they did not do it.
I am not saying that there is any excuse for their not accepting the assistance which we in Europe have to offer now, but we must look at the whole record and consider what it is that this small community, without capital and without resources, has been expected to do, quite apart from educating their own children. Why should they not educate their own children by European standards? Why 800 should they degrade the education of their own children in order to achieve this equality? Which hon. Member will will give me an answer to that question?
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)
I will give the hon. Gentleman an answer. First, may I put in in the form of a question to him? He says that in 40 years a community of 30,000 people—
§ Mr. Lloyd
The very one who has an answer is high on the short list for the Chair of Higher Nonsense in Political Education yet to be set up in one of our universities.
Are we surprised that disillusioned people in Rhodesia have created a situation in which despair has followed automatically? There was idealism there in 1953. Let no hon. Member dispute that there was this idealism. Thousands of people whose dislike of the apartheid regime in South Africa was such that they felt impelled to emigrate went to Rhodesia. So let no hon. Member dispute that there was this idealism, and it is still there. But it is turning to dismay and to fear. It was once said that racial prejudice was false fears leading to real sorrows. Unfortunately, the real sorrows which many of us have seen in Africa lead ultimately to real fears.
The intimate experience which Rhodesians have had of the Congo and the other desperate affairs on their borders has bred a willingness to resort to measures which we all regard as discreditable. But have we any right to resent their attitude and expect them to bear the immediate personal consequences of what we preach? We talk as though the unilateral declaration of independence is Mr. Smith's sole responsibility. What a travesty of the truth. The responsibility rests firmly on the shoulders of those politicians, journalists, clerics, broadcasters and T.V. interviewers, the 801 whole sorry legion of joyless Jeremiahs, who have forced Europeans in Africa to wear a straitjacket of guilt out of all proportion to their crime. Now, is the United Nations to be the final arbiter of man's inhumanity to man?
We have forced Rhodesians into a lie. Should we now be surprised that they turn against us? Should we be surprised that, as Dame Margery Perham said in her very fine letter to The Times, they do not accept with a shout of acclaim the flaming torch of African revolution, which we have helped to keep alive in the basements and slums of London, before the television screens and on the front pages of our newspapers? After the repeal of the Stamp Act, an Act of the United States Congress described how the colonies fell "into their ancient state of unsuspecting confidence in the Motherland ". It was Burke who seized upon this in his address to the electors of Bristol and who suggested that this unsuspecting confidence was the true centre of gravity among mankind, about which all the parts were at rest. It is this unsuspecting confidence, he said, which… removes all difficulties and reconciles all the contradictions which occur in the complexity of all ancient, puzzled, political establishments ".He concluded:Happy are the rulers which have the secret of preserving it.I hope that the Prime Minister does not ask us to accept that he enjoys this secret, because I am sure that not all hon. Members would accept that he does. The Rhodesians, like the Americans in 1776, despairing of us, have trusted in themselves. If their alienation is not yet complete, it will not long outlast the imposition of penal sanctions.
The House is debating a U.D.I., but what is the real declaration we are debating tonight, on which U.D.I. merely sets its seal? It is, in my view, M.D.I.— a multilateral declaration of ineptitude. It has been ineptitude, firstly, on the part of Europeans in Africa, who failed on a sufficient scale to encourage the emergent Africans, particularly in Southern Africa. If they had given that encouragement this situation would never have occurred. It has been ineptitude, secondly, on the part of Europeans in Europe, with their absolute determination to apply to non-homogeneous societies not merely the ideals, 802 because this is right, but the concepts and institutions of homogeneous political societies to Europe. Indeed, the assumption by government in Europe that government by consent and free institutions are in all senses and under all conditions coterminus with and wholly dependent on universal suffrage has been a major cause of disaster. A minor ineptitude on the part of Europeans in Europe—I include not only this House but Europe as a whole—has been our failure to focus attention on this great area of Africa and the basic economic nature of the problem of advancing all these people.
The final ineptitude is of the Africans, particularly the African nationalists in Southern Rhodesia, whose impatience and conceit was encouraged by us to believe that they live in the modern equivalent of hell. They spurn whatever political advance is made available to them, act against civil order and thus augment the hell against which they have been encouraged to protest.
Treason is the revolt of reasonable people in Rhodesia against a multilateral declaration of ineptitude. There may be technical treason inherent in U.D.I., but we shall make the gravest misjudgment since 1776 if we assume that there is treason in the hearts of the Rhodesian people. At the height of the last war Field Marshal Smuts wrote a most poignant letter to his wife. It included the following phrase:Perhaps it is the fate of our little race to be sacrificed on the altar of the world's ideals. Perhaps we are destined to be the martyr race.I am sure that if there is any sentiment in the hearts of the Rhodesian people tonight, that phrase is close to what it might be. It is not treason but the sentiment which they feel. It there not a place for a legitimate de factoauthority in Rhodesia? Is it really possible for this House, this country—indeed, for Europe—to upset this? I remind the House that over the minarets in the heart of the Kremlin today there stands the Cross. It is not the Cross which is illuminated but the Red Star of Russia.
Sanctions, to be effective, require the co-operation of both Portugal and South Africa, and the chances that we could make these sanctions effective across the Limpopo are, in my opinion, absolutely nil. We have had a great deal of discussion this afternoon about oil, but I 803 have not heard one hon. Member mention that South Africa has the largest oil-from-coal plant in the world, and is probably capable of supplying Rhodesian requirements from its own indigenous resources. If South Africa should choose to do this, what is our policy to be? Are we to destroy that plant? If so, how, and what will the consequences be of such an action if we take it?
If we press these sanctions to their logical conclusion, the result will be war —of this there is no doubt whatever. Are we prepared to accept these consequences? Have we thought this thing through? Have we asked ourselves what are the necessary conditions which, in our minds, will topple Mr. Smith's Government? How are we to create those conditions, and what will be the consequences throughout Southern Africa? I suggest that we have not thought these things through. We are not willing to face the logical consequences of our actions and, until we are, I cannot possibly support the Bill.
I believe that there are only two tests to be applied. The first is: do we or do we not want a major war in Southern Africa? If we do not want a major war in Southern Africa, we must be very careful how we handle this situation. The second is: do we want to restore British prestige in Southern Africa? I ask, because this is fundamental. I suggest that if we do want to restore British prestige there, the right approach to this problem, which is as formidable in its complexity as any that have come before the House of Commons, is one of humility in the face of what is a most enormous problem, with enormous complications.
We cannot stop the wind of change. It would be a fool who suggested that we could. The wind of change, a phrase that has been much maligned and criticised, nevertheless expressed a great truth in relation to Africa. The twentieth century is the century of change, not least in the balance and relationships between peoples, but I would suggest that the responsibility which this House faces this evening is not one of stopping the wind of change in Africa but, quite simply, whether we are to turn the wind of change into a monsoon of misery.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas (Conway)
We have had a very full, a very thoughtful and very serious debate on the Second Reading of this enabling Bill. One thing that has emerged quite clearly from the debate is that no one who has spoken welcomes this Bill. Those who have offered support to it have done so sadly. It is right to say that they do so for one reason and one reason only, which is that they think that it is necessary. Hon. and right hon. Members have delivered speeches with tremendous sincerity. No one has spoken other than wholly sincerely. In particular, it will be generally agreed, I think, that my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, Langstone (Mr. Ian Lloyd) spoke from the bottom of his heart. He has associations with Southern Rhodesia —family and historical associations— which demonstrate the real problem we have to face when we are thinking about this matter.
It is true that we have ties of kinship with people in Rhodesia which cannot be severed by a Bill like this. They will remain, but I suggest that this Bill is not brought about because of anything which the last Southern Rhodesian Government did in the conduct of its affairs in Rhodesia. It is not brought about because of what happened in Southern Rhodesia in the many years when it had self-government. This is brought about because the last Government in Southern Rhodesia, or rather, Mr. Smith's Government, acted illegally.
I do not think that this has been in issue at all during this debate. There is no doubt at all, no issue in law, that they acted illegally last Friday when they declared independence. This was a grave step. It was a tragic step, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) said, it was on their part folly. The repercussions, as he said, will be felt not only in Rhodesia, not only in Africa and Britain, but throughout the world, because what was done by this declaration of independence involved possibly the most important, certainly the most sensitive, problem in world relations —the problem of colour and the irritant, the major irritant, which goes with that problem, the question of white supremacy.
I think I can say from this debate that, with one or two exceptions, it is generally 805 agreed that it would be impossible for Her Majesty's Government and Parliament to accept this rebellious challenge lightly. Southern Rhodesia is still part of Her Majesty's Dominions. Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and Parliament in the United Kingdom have the burden of carrying the Crown's responsibility and jurisdiction, which in law undoubtedly remain.
Therefore, we recognise that Her Majesty's Government need powers from Parliament to act. Clearly they must have the powers and they must be able to act quickly. It is also clear that when they come to Parliament and ask for an Enabling Bill they ask for powers which must be widely drawn.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) said at the beginning, we do not oppose the principle behind this enabling Bill. We have reservations and they have been expressed very strongly. We have reservations as to certain of its contents. There has been detailed criticism in the course of the debate, but, despite what has been said strongly and very forcibly against this Bill by certain hon. and right hon. Members, nevertheless it is the general wish of this House that the Bill should be given a Second Reading, provided that we can be satisfied on one or two important matters that were raised.
We have had certain assurances from the Attorney-General in his opening speech and we are grateful for what he said. We wish for some more assurances from the Solicitor-General when he winds up the debate. May I remind him of what was said in particular by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington and my right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery). We should like—I am sure this is the wish of a large number of hon. and right hon. Members—to have assurances from him that these emergency powers will not be used in an attempt to rewrite the 1961 Constitution so as to impose a constitutional settlement on the people of Rhodesia.
The Attorney-General said that there was no intention to suspend the Constitution. He prayed in aid words contained in Clause 2(2,a), that an Order in Councilmay make such provision—806(a)for suspending, amending, revoking or adding to any of the provisions of the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia 1961.The Attorney-General said that the words "any of the provisions" meant that it could only be part of the provisions and therefore did not mean an amendment to or an alteration of the Constitution as a whole.
I confess that I agree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) about this. The power is there in the Bill to revoke all the provisions. If the Attorney-General is right and they are restricted by the word "any", the power is nevertheless there to revoke so many of the provisions of the Constitution that it would become wholly emasculated.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington expressed his concern about the word "revoking" in the Clause. We believe that it is unnecessary, but we do not press this matter. We merely ask the Solicitor-General to give us an assurance that any revocations that may be made in this Constitution will be limited purely to consequential amendments. I can understand that if there is an amendment there may have to be consequential amendments in some form. I ask the Solicitor-General to say that they will be limited purely to those and that any amendment or addition to the Constitution will be interim only and is not intended to be permanent.
Concern has been expressed during the debate about the provision of Clause 3(3,b), which reads:The expiration of section 2 of this Act shall not affect—(b)the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia 1961 as in force immediately before the expiration of that section.What does this mean? Am I not right in saying that this means that, if an amendment is made of the Constitution in some way through an Order in Council, at the expiration of the 12 months from the date of the Bill, if it is not renewed, the Constitution remains as amended? This may well mean that there could be quite an alteration in the Constitution which, when the emergency has come to an end, would nevertheless have the effect that the Constitution has been amended in a considerable way.
807 Therefore, we are entitled to know what the Government's intention is on this. If the Constitution has been amended, is it intended that that amendment shall be permanent, or is it intended that at the end of the period of emergency the main features of the Constitution shall remain, because I think that that is the general wish of the House? At the end of the emergency all the major features of the 1961 Constitution should still be effective.
The Attorney-General will agree with me that this is important, because the purpose of this Enabling Bill surely is to bring Rhodesia back to the lawful constitutional development. The purpose of it is not to impose a solution on Rhodesia. Therefore, any alteration of the Constitution which is intended to be permanent should be conducted, once there is a lawful Rhodesian Government again, by negotiation because only then will there be any hope of a final solution.
The first Clause of the Bill makes a declaration about the existing law. One thing which we should think about is the question of treasonable activities, which has been mentioned by many hon. and right hon. Members in the debate. Questions have been posed about the British Nationality Act, 1948. It is clear that there is a complicated problem here. If a person is a Rhodesian subject and is therefore a British subject under the 1948 Act but is not a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, as so many Rhodesians are by reason of birth and other reasons, then the British subject who is a Rhodesian would not be acting in a treasonable way unless he was acting against Rhodesian law, whereas the British subject—like possibly Mr. Smith who is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies because he was born before 1923 and because of his parentage— would be liable, even if he had not infringed Rhodesian law, if he infringed British law.
These are complicated matters. They are far from clear, and I was interested when the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) asked whether the Solicitor-General, in his reply, would try to clarify the subject. I do not think that it could possibly be clarified simply. I do not think that it would assist if an attempt were made, because the whole 808 thing would be so confused that no one would be able to dare act in any way. I think that the Governor was right, as the legal Government in Rhodesia, to take a simple course. He enjoined all public servants in Rhodesia to continue normal working whilst refraining from all acts calculated to further the objects of the illegal authorities.
This is an eminently sensible approach, but I am sure that the House, which has concerned itself very much with the position of the police, the military and the Civil Service in Rhodesia, was very disturbed by the revelations made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) in his speech today. I confess that I had no idea that what he told the House had taken place, and I should like to refer to it.
My hon. Friend said that those members of the former Rhodesian High Commissioner's staff in London who remained here had been told by Her Majesty's Government that they must make a declaration of dissociation from the purported declaration of independence. My hon. Friend read out to the House what they were required to declare. What concerns me is, first of all, that at the end of the document is written:If you decline to make a declaration in the above terms you will be regarded as having chosen to adhere to Mr. Smith's illegal regime.This is a new approach in British law. [HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] It means that these people are told that silence and neutrality shall be deemed to be an admission of guilt and possibly treason. I think that it would be agreed by the Attorney-General that this is a new and wrong departure from the ordinary law of this country. I hope that he will dissociate himself from it. I was surprised that the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard), who is a member of my circuit and I think an extremely intelligent man, should have seen fit in his speech to try to support this action. It is wrong, and I am sure that the Government know that it is wrong if it means that those people who are in Britain, civil servants and officials of the old Rhodesian Government and possibly of the present Rhodesian Government under the Governor, are being treated in a different way from those who are in Rhodesia and who have just been 809 told by the Governor to do the best they can.
I am told that there is one coloured gentleman among these people. What a dreadful position he is placed in; whichever way be chooses, he is placing himself in a difficult position. Is he to be placed in this position? Is he to be asked to choose here and now by a declaration? And if not, will he be treated differently from the white people who are civil servants of Rhodesia? In any way, it is wholly unsatisfactory. I did not know about this until the debate, but I am told that my right hon. and learned friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) before the debate started communicated with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and I hope that we shall have an adequate reply on a subject which has concerned the House very much in the debate.
I have one or two more matters to raise. I appreciate that it is late and that the House wishes to hear the Solicitor-General's reply. But I should like to mention one or two other points on which we want some assurance. Clause 2(5) reads:The expiration of an Order in pursuance of this subsection shall not affect the operation of the Order as respects things previously done or omitted to be done or the power to make a new Order; and in calculating the period aforesaid no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.It is a departure from the normal procedure to have 28 days before which Parliament needs to pass these Orders. Normally it is seven days. But it is a point which one does not press because it is appreciated that there may be difficulties. We do, however, require an answer.
My right hon. and learned Friend asked about the effect of an Order which has been laid but at the end of 28 days has not been passed, and then another similar or identical Order is laid immediately thereafter. Is it possible to continue with these Orders, despite the fact that they are not passed by Parliament? From a practical point of view I agree that it could not be done, because Parliament would not tolerate it, but from the point of view of the drafting of the Bill 810 it could be done, and it is a point to which the Solicitor-General should refer.
We are entitled to have an assurance from the Government that if an Order in Council is affected by the prorogration or the adjournment of Parliament or in some other way as envisaged in this subsection, then Parliament will be recalled and there will not be this very long delay, as there could be, particularly in an important Order. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, in small matters this clearly would not be necessary, but there may well be Orders which contain extremely contentious matters, as we have heard today, and it is only right that we should be given the assurance that in these circumstances Parliament would be recalled.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) said that it was important that we should send out from the debate a united message to the world. It is clear that in the debate there has not been unanimity. There has been agreement on certain matters. There is agreement that the act of U.D.I. was an act of grave concern to us, an act which is illegal and an act of folly. I suggest that we should appreciate that the Government are faced with a serious situation and that they deserve the powers for which they have asked. During the debates which will take place on the various Orders which will follow from the Bill, there will be opportunity for us to go in depth into the Orders. But tonight the Government ask for powers to act, and I commend to my right hon. and hon. Friends and to the whole House that it would be in the interests not only of Britain but also of all the people of Rhodesia if we were to act tonight in a united fashion.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Dingle Foot)
We have reached nearly the end of a sombre but memorable debate. As the right hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Peter Thomas) said, every Member who has taken part in the debate has addressed the House with great sincerity, and in nearly every case, I would say, with a high sense of the responsibility which rests upon us all. I particularly wish to acknowledge the tone and temper of the speech delivered by the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and 811 Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) in opening the debate and the speech of the right hon. Member for Conway.
Before I come to the rather more substantial point about the Constitution and other matters which were raised, there is one particular matter with which I want to deal at once, because it has aroused the anxiety of hon. Members in different parts of the House. This concerns the declaration which was said to have been required from members of the staff at Rhodesia House. I think that I can set at rest the minds of right hon. and hon. Members on this matter.
It is necessary to distinguish between the official position of the staff at Rhodesia House and the treatment which is to be accorded to them as individuals. On the declaration of independence, the inter-Governmental relations previously conducted through the respective High Commissions in Salisbury and London of course came to an end. There is no legal Government for Rhodesia House to represent here, just as there is no legal regime in Salisbury with which our High Commission can have dealings.
We are, therefore, requiring the withdrawal of the former High Commission staff in London, the time of this withdrawal being comparable with that of the withdrawal of our staff from Salisbury. As individuals, the High Commission staff have simply been offered an opportunity to dissociate themselves from the illegal regime. They have been told that if they do so they will not be required to leave, that they will be regarded and treated by the British Government as loyal public servants of the Crown, that the objective will be to restore them to service under a legal regime in Rhodesia and that, in the meantime, financial assistance will be afforded to them and the possibilities of giving them alternative employment in this country will be immediately examined.
The document which has been mentioned was given to the former Deputy High Commissioner at his own request. It was given as a guide to the kind of declaration of loyalty that was needed and to the implications of the choice facing individuals. I want to make it clear that there has never been any question of requiring all members of the staff at 812 Rhodesia House to make a declaration in one sense or the other or indeed to sign a declaration in any form unless they wished to do so.
I am told that there is no reason to think that any misunderstanding of the position remains in the minds of any member of the staff. The staff have also been told that, irrespective of any declaration that may be made, we will be prepared to consider sympathetically any individual compassionate case that may be put to us regarding the date of departure. I hope that this will set at rest the minds of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Solicitor-General intends to give way.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
Does the Solicitor-General deny that the actual document passed to these civil servants endedIf you decline to make a declaration in the above terms you will be regarded as having chosen to adhere to Mr. Smith's illegal regime."?
§ The Solicitor-General
All that happened was that one civil servant asked another civil servant for an expression of opinion. That is all this document represents. The document was in no way presented on behalf of the Government to any member of the staff in Rhodesia House. Nobody has been asked to sign such a document. Nor has it been suggested that anyone should do so.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
This is a very serious matter. I realise that the Solicitor-General is doing his best to help 813 the House, but the copy we have of this document is headed "From the Commonwealth Relations Office, Downing Street", with the words "Declaration Required". It contains the sentence which has twice been read out to the House. Would it not be better for the Solicitor-General, in the presence of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, to say quite frankly that he regrets that the document was sent out and that, in view of this statement, it is withdrawn?
§ The Solicitor-General
I thought I had already made it clear to the House that this document was not sent out. It in no way represents the policy of the Government and there is nothing for us to withdraw. The position as regards the staff at Rhodesia House is, as I have said, that nobody has been required to sign a declaration and I think that it will appear to the House, from what I have said, that every possible indulgence has been afforded to all members of the staff.
§ The Solicitor-General
I thought I had said so, but certainly I give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance. This does not and never has represented the policy of the Government.
I come now to the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington who asked for an assurance that we would not rewrite the whole of the 1961 Constitution under the powers conferred by this Bill. A similar assurance was asked for by the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery). I can give that assurance at once. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) pointed out that it might be possible, by using the powers under Clause 2(2), gradually to erode the Constitution. But if we wanted to suspend the Constitution as a whole, these words would be entirely inapt.
If we wanted to do that, we would take powers to do so in the clearest terms, but it is not our purpose to destroy the 1961 Constitution. This is also the 814 answer to the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). We want to preserve the 1961 Constitution, because it is under that Constitution that both the Governor and the judges derive their powers. Those powers would disappear if we were to suspend or revoke the 1961 Constitution. Therefore, we do not intend that the Constitution as a whole should be destroyed, or that it should be altered in any very considerable respect. But, of course, when we are taking powers, we have to take powers to deal with particular provisions in the Constitution should that become necessary.
§ Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)
Can the Solicitor-General say why in those circumstances it is necessary to have the word "revoking" in subsection (2,a)? Surely power to suspend or amend would be quite sufficient.
§ The Solicitor-General
It is necessary to cover every possible eventuality—suspend, amend, or revoke. It may be necessary—we cannot tell yet—to get rid of some particular provision in the Constitution, but I give the House the assurance that it is not our purpose to destroy the Constitution either at one blow, or by a series of erosions.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman went on—and this engaged the attention of various hon. Members—to deal with the question of treason. Last night, my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and I were asked to advise on whether certain acts would constitute treason and we advised—and this advice was published in the Press this morning—that not only would any assault on the Governor constitute treason, but it would also constitute treason if there were an attempt to usurp the lawful authority of the Governor.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out, perfectly correctly, that there was a difference between the law of treason in this country and the law of treason in Rhodesia, and that the Treason Act. 1351. and the Act of 1848 did not apply in Rhodesia. That is perfectly true. The law in Rhodesia is based on Roman-Dutch law, but although the terms are different, the effect is very much the same and it remains true in Rhodesia, as it is here, that anyone who usurps the authority of the Governor, or anyone who 815 incites to rebellion, or anyone who gives aid and comfort to the rebel regime, is guilty of treason.
I do not ask the House to accept merely my opinion or that of my right hon. and learned Friend. I ask the House to recall what was said by Sir Robert Treadgold, a very considerable jurist, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree. He resigned his position as Federal Chief Justice a few years ago because of the oppressive legislation which was being passed by the Federal Legislature and which is now mirrored in the legislation of Rhodesia. On 1st July, last year, Sir Robert Tread-gold said that a declaration, that is, a unilateral declaration of independence, would be treason, particularly if it were followed by action to give it effect. It is perfectly true, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the right hon. and learned Member for Conway pointed out, that the position is somewhat different as between citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and Rhodesian citizens. There are both in Southern Rhodesia.
I believe that Mr. Smith and certain other members of his Cabinet are still citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, whereas there are other persons there who are Rhodesian citizens. They are all of them subject to Rhodesian law while they are in Rhodesia. The difference is that those of them who are citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies are also subject to the English law of treason and, if they commit an act of treason, they are liable to be tried in this country. That, I agree, is perhaps an anomaly which is created by Section 3 of the British Nationality Act, 1948. But, as my right hon. and learned Friend informed the hon. Gentleman for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), the question of an amendment in the 1948 Act is a matter which we have under active consideration.
Reference to treason was also made by the hon. Gentleman for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). He referred to the statement that was made by my right hon. and learned Friend on Friday last that, unlike Rhodesia, we were not going to impose any censorship in this country. But it is not just a matter of censorship. It is well 816 established that incitement to treason is in itself treason. If anyone in this country were to incite the rebels to persist in their rebellion or give them aid and comfort in any way, they might be exposed to prosecution. But that is not a matter of censorship. That is a matter of the law of the land.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman say what the position will be of African Nationalists in this country who incite bloodshed over radio and television?
§ The Solicitor-General
I am dealing now with those who incite to rebellion. I say that that is an act of treason. It may be that other offences are committed by other persons, but the question that was put to me was about censorship, and I answered by saying that there is not and will be no censorship in this country. But, if persons break the law, they must be prepared to take the consequences.
§ The Solicitor-General
He imposed no censorship. I do not want to take up the time of the House on the point, but he expressly excluded any question of censorship. I am saying that no question of censorship arises if people in this country choose to break the law by giving aid and comfort in any way to a rebel government.
§ The Solicitor-General
I shall try to cover all the points which were raised in the debate, if I might ask for the indulgence of the House.
The next point that was raised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman and by the right hon. and learned Member for Conway was in relation the expiration of the Order, in subsection (5) of Clause 2. He wanted an assurance that if during a Parliamentary Recess some important new order was passed, Parliament would be recalled. I cannot give him an assurance precisely in those terms. He will agree with me that we might have orders of differing degrees of importance, and no one would suggest that the House should be recalled because of some rather 817 trivial order. But if there was an Order which represented an important new departure, which may be very important indeed, then I suppose that as a matter of course there would be consultations between the usual channels, and I would think, though of course I cannot give an undertaking, that the recall of Parliament might very well follow.
§ Lord Balniel (Hertford)
Surely it is not unreasonable that the Solicitor-General should give the undertaking that if the Opposition request the recall of Parliament because in their view an Order in Council is controversial and important Parliament will be recalled? Surely he can give the undertaking that the Government will meet the Opposition's request.
§ The Solicitor-General
I cannot give an undertaking, and no Government can, that Parliament will be recalled whenever the Opposition wish to recall it. What I have said is that I would have thought that this was a matter which would almost certainly be considered through the usual channels, and that if a fresh Order made under this Bill represented some considerable new departure in policy Parliament would probably, indeed almost certainly, be recalled.
I come next to the speech of the right hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pick-thorn). He made a somewhat nostalgic speech and reminded my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne and myself of the days, 25 years ago, when we passed the Regulations under the Emergency Powers Act, in 1939. He wanted to know whether it was really necessary to have a period of 28 days. Again I say that there may. be some Orders of great importance, and some of little importance, and it may be that if there is a fairly trivial Order the House will be content to allow it to pass for a certain number of days, up to 28 days, but the House has already received an assurance from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that it would be the wish of the Government, as I am sure it would be the wish of the Opposition and of hon. Members on both sides of the House, if we were dealing with an Order of any consequence, to bring it before the House in the shortest possible time. That is certainly the intention of the Government.
818 The other point that was raised as regards this aspect of the Bill was raised by the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham). He said that there might be an Order which expired after 28 days and then a fresh Order in the same terms would be made a day later although the original Order had not been confirmed by the House. Theoretically that could happen. That could happen under any of the emergency powers legislation that we have ever had in this House, but in fact we know that it cannot happen because the House of Commons would not tolerate it. Therefore, I suggest that that is a perfectly imaginary difficulty. Moreover, if the Order were really of any consequence, the House would certainly insist on debating it before the expiration of the 28 days.
Now I come to the speech of the right hon. Member for Preston, North. He made the same point, and I say again to him that there has never been any question of this Government or, I would say, of the last Government either, imposing a constitution on Rhodesia. It has been the endeavour, both of the last Government, and of this one, to find some measure of agreement. That is to say, I come back to the fifth of the five principles. It is the aim of this Government, and, I think, of the whole House, finally to arrive at a constitution which will be reasonably acceptable to all races in Rhodesia, but there is no question simply of using these powers to impose a constitution from Whitehall.
The right hon. Gentleman—and also the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison)—went on to seek an assurance that it was not the intention of the Government to use these powers for what he called the escalation of sanctions. All I can say is that at the present time we think the measures now contemplated, and of which the House is well aware, will serve their purpose, but of course I cannot give an assurance that we will never use these powers for any further purposes, and no Government introducing a Measure of this kind could give an assurance of that sort.
The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) made a reference to the part played by the churches in Rhodesia, and I should like to join in the tribute 819 that he paid to them. My hon. Friend the Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) asked about broadcasting. I would refer him to the assurance given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister last week. I understand that the B.B.C. is making every possible effort to see that the people of Rhodesia receive over the air the information which is denied to them by their own Government.
I turn now to the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald). His was a very welcome intervention in the debate. He referred in particular to the position of the Rhodesian judges, and I found myself entirely in agreement with what he said about their attitude. I had the opportunity of visiting Rhodesia in September last year. At that time the prospect of a unilateral declaration of independence was being canvassed; indeed, even then it was almost the only topic of conversation in Salisbury. I was then told that there was no question as to the attitude of the judges; they would all refuse to acknowledge an unlawful Constitution but would carry out their duties so long as they were able to do so. I was assured that the same attitude was shared by the great majority of the Rhodesian Bar. Therefore, as a member of the legal profession, I—and I am sure that the two right hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite will join with me—wish to pay my tribute to the Rhodesian Bench and Bar in these very difficult circumstances.
The hon. and gallant Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison) was the first Member in the debate to refer to the embargo on tobacco imports. He asked why it was necessary to take action in advance of the Bill. My answer is simply that the Government have taken certain measures concerning tobacco, sugar, arms and exchange control under powers which already existed—that is to say, powers for which we do not need to seek Parliamentary authority. We took this action because, first, our objective was to act firmly against the illegal seizure of power by Mr. Smith and his colleagues and, secondly, because—as the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said—it was necessary to act swiftly. We stand by the decision to take those actions. We think it was right to do so in advance of the Bill.
820 The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) asked whether we would introduce only those sanctions which could be made immediately effective. Of course we cannot do that, but we do not propose to introduce any sanctions for their own sake. We think that some sanctions will be immediately effective but others may take a little longer to make their effects felt. But under these emergency powers we do not intend to introduce any measures which we do not contemplate being effective in the end.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
The Solicitor-General has not answered the point that I put. What I said was that the Government ought only to introduce Orders which they were determined to see enforced. The point that I was putting was not that they should necessarily only be effective, but that they should also be capable of being enforced.
§ The Solicitor-General
Yes. We intend all the measures that we introduce eventually to be capable of enforcement. But there must be some measures—for example, those relating to the constitutional position of the Governor—that we cannot enforce at present but which we intend to be enforceable at the end of the day.
I will come back in closing to the speech of the right hon. Member for Preston, North. He astonished me, because he said there was no issue of principle involved in the Bill. I should have thought that there was a tremendous principle here. After all, we are dealing with rebellion. Various references have been made to earlier rebellions, some of which succeeded and some of which deserved to succeed. Most of us would agree that the rebellion of the American colonists deserved to succeed. There are few hon. Members, even on the benches opposite, who would now rush to the defence of George III and Lord Bute.
There were rebellions of a different kind in the nineteenth century. There was the Risorgimento in Italy which led to the throwing off of Austrian rule. There was an unsuccessful rebellion, but one which deserved to succeed, in the streets of Budapest in 1956. But they all had one distinguishing feature. That they were all rebellions against tyranny and injustice. This is a rebellion 821 to maintain tyranny and injustice. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is a rebellion engineered by the spokesmen of a small racial minority who are prepared to go to any lengths and to break any law in order to maintain their privileged political and economic position.
We have heard about the measures which have been imposed in the last few days. Oppression did not begin with the unilateral declaration of independence. We have had over a very long period the African leaders imprisoned without trial. I arrived in Southern Rhodesia last summer on the day that they were suppressing the Daily News. I listened to the debate in their Parliament and it was apparent to me—as it was to anyone else who heard the debate—that the newspaper was being suppressed simply because it expressed views unpalatable to the Government and because it was a forum for African opinion.
822 We now see the stage reached of complete and absolute suppression. The right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey said, rightly, that we are responsible for the peace, order and good government of Southern Rhodesia. We have a responsibility for all people in Rhodesia, but, above all, I suggest, for that African majority who at present are denied all human rights and all means of political expression. It is to discharge that responsibility that we introduce this Bill today.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House proceeded to a Division—
§ Mr. GOURLAY and Mr. FITCH were appointed Tellers for the Ayes and Mr. EDWARD M. TAYLOR was appointed Teller for the Noes; but no Member being willing to act as second Teller for the Noes, Mr. SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.823
§ Bill immediately considered in Committee [pursuant to Order].
§ [Sir SAMUEL STOREY in the Chair]
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ The Chairman
Before I put the Question on Clause 1, I have to inform the Committee that two manuscript Amendments have been handed in, which I propose to select. The first is in Clause 2, page 2, line 1. leave out subsection (3).The second is in Clause 2, page 2, line 11, leave out word "twenty-eight" and insert "seven".Copies of these Amendments may be obtained at the Vote Office.