§ 11.17 a.m.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. James Callaghan)
I beg to move,That the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 (Continuation) Order 1974, a draft of which was laid before this House on 29th October, be approved.This is the tenth occasion on which the House has been asked by successive Governments to approve the order. The sanctions which are entailed by these orders are a clear signal to the people of Rhodesia that Britain does not and will not accept the illegal declaration of independence of November 1965. They know, when once again the House renews the sanctions, that Rhodesia will not be accepted as a part of the international community until that state of illegality is brought to an end.
Britain can be proud of her record of de-colonisation, but it has one remaining chapter; that is, to ensure as best we can that there is a peaceful and orderly transfer to majority rule in our last colonial responsibility in Africa.
The order before us is to continue in force for a further year Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965, which gives Her Majesty in Council power to take whatever measures are necessary to deal with the situation in Southern Rhodesia which was brought about by the unilateral declaration of independence. The Orders in Council which impose sanctions on Rhodesia are, of course, made under that section.
Parliament renewed the order last year. There was a vote, in which, I believe, a number of hon. Members now present took part, although some who used to enliven those proceedings are now missing 1399 from our ranks. However, I shall not be surprised if we end in much the same way today. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to have that confirmation. At least, it will alert the Chief Whip.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Robert Mellish)
I am already alerted.
Whatever view is taken about this matter, there is no doubt—I shall be interested to hear what hon. Members who oppose sanctions have to say about this later on—that since Parliament last debated the subject there have been rapid and dramatic changes in the political situation in Africa, and especially in the Portuguese position.
My view—I shall be gad to hear what the opponents of sanctions have to say later—is that the changes that are taking place are leaving Mr. Smith far behind. He has lost an important ally in the Portuguese territories to the east. But I think that even more important than the loss of the ally is the intangible result of what has taken place, because I submit that the change in Mozambique will bring pressure for even greater change in Rhodesia, and at a faster pace. I do not see how that can be denied.
Mr. Smith has a problem. It will not go away. Indeed, I suggest that it will get worse year by year until the illegal régime makes its peace with Britain and the world or is replaced by a régime that has the confidence of the great majority of people in Rhodesia.
Making that peace will mean implementing the Six Principles supported by successive Governments, which provide, among other things, guaranteed progress to majority rule and the elimination of racial discrimination. In particular, the Government would agree to no settlement that did not have the consent of the African majority.
But I emphasise that we remain committed to do all in our power to promote those principles by orderly and peaceful change in Rhodesia. It is in the interests of no one in that country, black or white, nor of the countries surrounding Rhodesia, that central Africa should be engulfed as it could be, in a racial armed struggle.
1400 There is still time to avert that situation, but to do so, in the judgment of our Government, will need a greater sense of understanding from Mr. Smith and his colleagues than I have seen so far. Locking up moderate leaders or ignoring the views of the Africans merely creates a vacuum which makes way for more extreme views and for more extreme leaders to take over. That surely is the history we have learnt time after time.
For Britain part of the process of ensuring that realism will one day break through is that we should retain and reaffirm our resolve to stand by our responsibilities to the people of Rhodesia and make it clear that we are not prepared to deviate from the principles enunciated from this Dispatch Box by both Governments. That is vital. It is against that background that I ask the House to approve the order.
In Opposition I often heard complaints, with which I had some sympathy, that other countries were not as thorough as the United Kingdom in imposing sanctions. Since March I have intensified efforts to ensure that the whole international community applies them honestly and effectively. This will have a much greater impact on Rhodesia than would such minor extension of sanctions as might be possible. Accordingly, we have stepped up our sanctions surveillance effort.
Both the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) and I last year asked Sir Alec Douglas-Home—who, I am glad to see, will be rejoining us but in another incarnation—to consider raising the question at the EEC Foreign Ministers meeting. At that stage he did not think that it was right to do so, and explained why to the satisfaction of neither the hon. Gentleman nor me. I know that he was wrong, because I have raised the matter with the Foreign Ministers in the Foreign Ministers Council as well as in bilateral talks with them. As a result, the Foreign Ministers of the Nine agreed that our officers should go to work on the problem.
An illustration of such work is that only this week there has been a meeting of customs experts from the various member countries of the Community to improve methods of establishing the true origin of goods so as to prevent illegal export to Rhodesia. We have stepped 1401 up the submissions to the United Nations Sanctions Committee, and in the first half of this year reported a large number of alleged breaches. We have submitted twice as many notes about suspected sanctions breaches as were submitted in the whole of last year.
I have also made clear to Dr. Kissinger, the American Secretary of State, how much Her Majesty's Government would welcome the repeal of the B) rd Amendment, under which certain Rhodesian minerals can be imported lawfully into the United States. I also raised the question in my conversations with President Ford. I am glad to say that both Dr. Kissinger and President Ford have now publicly advocated the repeal of the Byrd Amendment.
In congratulating the new American Congress, which has just emerged from the ordeal of election, I hope that I may be allowed to send it an appeal to vote very shortly to repeal the Byrd Amendment and follow the advice given by Dr. Kissinger and President Ford.
During the recent visit to this country of the Japanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Kimura, I raised with him the question of sanctions policy. He was immediately afterwards leaving for Africa, and we discussed what would be his likely reception there. I hope that hon. Members have seen his Press statements pledging Japan's support for more effective enforcement, and proposing new methods for doing so. The Japanese are considering certain technical procedures.
I have also asked Dr. Mario Soares, the Portuguese Foreign Minister, to review his country's policy towards Rhodesia, as a matter of urgency, and he has promised to do so.
In all these matters I have pursued what I believe to be the general desire of the House. Whether hon. Members oppose sanctions or support them, I think that it is right that I should have made the kind of approaches to other countries that I have described, and that I should have outlined them to the House. We have been very active in order to ensure that Britain does not suffer alone in the imposition of sanctions.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West)
I do not dissent from much of what the right hon. Gentleman has 1402 said, but I hope he will think again before sending a message to the American Congress. That would be a precedent that would not be happy.
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman heard me correctly. I would not dream of doing such a thing. I was merely expressing the hope, in congratulating the new Congress, that it would repeal the Byrd Amendment. Whether HANSARD will ever find its way into the Library of Congress I do not know, but somebody might pick it up and see my words.
On the domestic front, there have been a number of successful prosecutions in connection with sanctions breaches, and we have overhauled and tightened the restrictions imposed on travel by certain categories of Rhodesian residents. The review of sanctions and the search for ways to have them more effectively applied will go on. But I must add that—as I think is accepted by the House, although different people draw different conclusions from it—the nature of sanctions will continue to be limited by failures in their application, particularly because of the refusal of South Africa to comply with the mandatory United Nations sanctions resolutions.
Nevertheless, the effect is not negligible, and it is cumulative. There is a lack of new investment capital and a shortage of foreign exchange—[Interruption.] That is true, too, but I am repeating what Sir Alec Douglas-Home said last year, although I do not expect hon. Members who last year refused to accept his advice now to accept mine. However, I have a feeling that the dogs will bark a little louder today. They can afford to do so. The authority is disappearing; it is draining away. Authority deserts a dying king.
Sir Alec and I agree that there is a shortage of new investment capital and of foreign exchange to buy or replace essential machinery and raw materials. There is an impact on consumers.
I am glad to see the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) here. I understand that he will reply from the Opposition Front Bench. I congratulate him on the office he has assumed, however shadowy. I know the frustrations of being a shadow. They are considerable. I shall do my best to 1403 relieve him of the disadvantages of the shadow obligation by doing everything except resigning. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is welcome to come and see me, as is any other hon. Member, on these issues or any other issue.
It may be argued that our power to influence events in Rhodesia in one way or another is frustratingly small. But Conservative Members who want to oppose the motion should answer the question "What do you think would be the effect of lifting sanctions?" Do they think it would encourage the Africans in Rhodesia to believe that they will have a better chance of achieving their aspirations? Do they think that it will encourage them to believe that they will have a better chance of Mr. Smith seeing reason, or is it more likely that they will feel deserted? I should like to hear the answer to those questions.
I take the view that the Africans in Rhodesia would feel deserted if we were to lift sanctions. It might be different if sanctions had never been imposed, but for Britain to lift sanctions at this stage would, clearly, make them feel that they had been deserted by their only ally. If they felt that, would they feel that they should lean towards moderate counsels and reasonable opinions, or would it be more likely that the violence which has already begun, the bloodshed which has taken place, would spread? This is a matter of political judgment, but I know where history stands on this matter.
Conservative Members would be taking a grave risk indeed if they were to win the vote and sanctions were to be lifted. In my judgment they would be responsible for precipitating more disturbances and more violence in Rhodesia.
I also bear in mind the impact on Britain's standing among other countries in Africa if we were to lift sanctions, and our standing among other countries in the United Nations. I believe that the Conservatives, by opposing sanctions now, are indulging their own emotions because they wish sanctions had never been imposed, and have not thought through the savage consequences that could arise if sanctions were lifted.
Our twofold aim is clear. We wish to avert—if possible—and I think it is possible—further suffering, violence and 1404 bloodshed and to promote a just, lasting and genuine solution to the differences that divide Rhodesians among themselves and from their neighbours.
I do not want to leave the House with any illusion that such a solution is in sight or that miracles can happen. A year ago the revolution in the Portuguese territories of Africa had not taken place, but I consider that we still have a long haul ahead of us. Again, a year ago Sir Alec Douglas-Home in a debate in this House expressed the importance of the discussions which were then taking place between the régime and the African National Council. He wanted a solution by Rhodesians for Rhodesians. The Conservative Government at that time saw Britain holding the ring while the two races in Rhodesia came to agreement between themselves. It is not easy to be sanguine about that now. The discussions between Mr. Smith and ANC broke down during the summer.
Mr. Smith had sought ANC agreement to a proposal which, so far as it has been revealed, differed in essentials hardly at all from the terms reported on by the Pearce Commission. The Africans were offered six extra seats in Parliament at the outset, but the offer was qualified in such a way that the time lag to majority rule would remain exactly as it had been under the 1971 proposals which the Pearce Commission had said would not be accepted by the majority of Africans. Is it surprising that the Africans turned down the offer if that was as much as Mr. Smith could do a year ago?
The emergence of a new Government in Mozambique, not yet independent but already containing as its principal partner the former liberation movement, Frelimo, makes such seat-juggling offering majority rule somewhere in the never-never land totally futile. The changes in the Portuguese territories alter the whole perspective in Southern Africa. Assumptions which seemed unquestionable a year ago no longer hold good. Not surprisingly, the new Government in Mozambique are taking a careful look at their situation before deciding their policies towards the illegal régime in Rhodesia and towards the sanctions-breaking Rhodesian trade which passes down Mozambiquan railways and through Mozambiquan ports. But as an African Government takes over the task of 1405 running the affairs of Mozambique, surely Rhodesia and Rhodesians will see the significance for their own case of what is happening across the border.
There is still South Africa, of course, whose support has long been important to the Rhodesian régime in its resistance to the sanctions imposed by the rest of the international community. Support for Rhodesia in this way now becomes more crucial and, at the same time, more uncertain.
The South African Government made clear their wish to develop a working relationship with an independent Mozambique. The Prime Minister of South Africa is reported to have said in the South African Senate on 23rd October that all who had influence on the parties in Rhodesia should now bring it to bear in order to find a durable, just and honourable solution. It is noteworthy that he should express such a view. It will be even more encouraging if South Africa acts upon it.
The presence of South African armed police in Rhodesia contains great dangers for South Africa. It will directly influence the present intransigence of Mr. Smith and his colleagues, but I hope that South Africa will consider the prospects of her being sucked into a mini-Vietnam if she is more and more to provide armed police and to give more and more aid to prevent the spread of violence in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
Is it not strange that Her Majesty's Government should treat as friendly a Government, and deal in every possible gentle way with a country, whose armed forces are operating illegally on British territory and killing British citizens? Is it not a curious anomaly, and should not something be done about it?
I do not recognise my hon. Friend's description of Her Majesty's Government's policy. Whatever future developments may be, our general line of approach is as follows. First, we have said that we will agree to no settlement unless we are satisfied that it enjoys the support of the African majority in Rhodesia. That is in part a statement of principle and in part a recognition of the facts.
When they accepted the findings of the Pearce Commission in 1972, the 1406 Conservative Government also in effect recognised the fact that no settlement in Rhodesia could work unless it had African support. The time has passed when the Rhodesian problem could be settled through a negotiation between the British Government and the illegal régime alone, and I have no intention of following such a path. It is not for us to tell the Africans what sort of settlement they should or should not support. As Sir Alec Douglas-Home said, it is for them to decide and work out for themselves, if they get the opportunity, the kind of solution that they think proper. But I suggest that, in the circumstances we have now reached, it is clear that the sort of cautious and gradual constitutional schemes discussed in the past between British Governments and the illegal régime will not serve. Any proposal now which could satisfy the criterion of African support obviously would have to be one that took account of the changes on Rhodesia's borders. Such aspirations will not be met by elaborate and complicated franchise solutions. It can only come by a change of heart among white Rhodesians and the recognition by them that they will have to deal with a black majority population which must be given real power.
§ Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)
Will the Foreign Secretary comment on the interesting fallacy in Mr. Smith's arguments when he spoke in the Assembly—after the Pearce Commission turned down the proposals, African opinion having been expressed in the commission's tour throughout the territory—that the sample of Africans was too small and unrealistic; that the conclusion from this argument is that the bigger the sample the more accurate the result, and that the best sample of all must be "one man one vote"?
That opinion coincides with my own, and I should expect the African people themselves to put forward this view when they come to the discussions. If the Africans are not given real power, white Rhodesia—this is what the friends of white Rhodesia should recognise—will face an increasingly lonely future.
The exact pace of change is a matter for negotiation, of course, but if peaceful 1407 and orderly change is to be achieved it must also be a rapid rate of change. The details of a settlement must be worked out amongst the Rhodesians themselves, and a consensus must be reached. It will have to be a settlement in which the Africans play the major part, but it will also have to be one which reflects the interests of the white minority races if Rhodesia is to be assured of a peaceful and prosperous future.
We are no longer discussing the settlement of a constitutional dispute between London and Salisbury. We are now discussing the solutions to the problems of Rhodesia itself. The country is suffering increasingly from violence. Mr. Smith denies that there is a causal relationship between this violence and his refusal to meet ligitmate African political aspirations. I disagree with him. I believe that there is a direct relationship between his refusal to come to terms with African opinion and the spread of violence.
Mr. Smith accuses me of encouraging violence. However, it is not right to say that those who point out the connection between the two and believe it to be true are encouraging violence. In urging Mr. Smith to tread the path of meeting legitimate African aspirations, I ask him to ensure a peaceful and secure future for the white minority in that country.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant and Waterloo)
It is interesting to hear the right hon. Gentleman admit in this House that Her Majesty's Government believe there to have been violence in Rhodesia. This conforms with our commonsense impression of that unhappy situation. But why does his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State travel round other parts of Africa saying that the Government have no independent evidence of terrorism in Rhodesia?
The spread of violence is occurring week by week, and I have not seen it denied. Whether it is due to terrorism is a matter of semantics, because the terrorist in one man's eyes is the patriotic citizen in another's— —
Anywhere in the world. Hon. Members have only to cull their own experience to find that generalization 1408 to be true. Whatever these people are called, the problem that we face is how to get rid of the violence. That is what concerns me. I am saying that the way to get rid of the violence is to meet the legitimate aspirations—they are legitimate—of the African people. I need hardly say, whatever Mr. Smith may have hinted to the contrary, that there is no desire on the part of Her Majesty's Government to see violence increased in that country.
Apart from renewing sanctions and increasing their effectiveness, as I have been trying to do, is there anything specific that we can do on the political front to promote peaceful change?
There has been discussion about the prospects of a constitutional conference. There have been suggestions that the British Government should call such a conference. I should not be averse to doing so, but certain conditions would have to be present if such a conference were to be effective.
It would be necessary, first, to define those groups which would take part in such a conference. Clearly, it would be necessary for Mr. Smith and the r¹gime to be there. It would be equally necessary for African leaders to take part, including those who are now detained. Then, attitudes in Rhodesia would have to reach the point at which there was some broad acceptance of the Six Principles if such a conference was likely to be acceptable.
Meantime, consultations are proceeding on the situation between some of Rhodesia's neighbours. As hon. Members will know, earlier in the summer I was approached by the Zambian Government on this subject, and they have been in contact with their neighbours on how to bring the situation to an end. My officials have been in consultation with officials of a number of African countries. I believe this to be a fruitful path to explore. I intend that it should continue, and I hope to be able in late December and early in the New Year to visit a number of countries in Africa for talks on Rhodesia as well as for wider-ranging talks on matters of common and Commonwealth interest.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
I apologise for interrupting the Foreign Secretary. When he visits Africa, will he consider visiting South Africa, which has 1409 a very important part to play in these matters? Will he also consider visiting Lourenco Marques?
There is a limit to the amount of time which can be spent on these matters, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, and I am making a pretty extensive tour. As regards visiting South Africa, I think that such a visit at present would create a great deal of misunderstanding in other parts of Africa, and it is important, if we are to get a solution, that there should not be any misunderstanding. If we are to try to get a solution to the problem, it is important that there should be neither misunderstanding of our motives nor suspicion of what we are doing. Therefore, on this occasion I believe that it is important that I should have full and personal discussions with the leaders of a number of African States about the policy that we are proposing to follow. As regards Mozambique, I was not proposing at this stage to include it in the tour that I make. My aim in making this reconnaissance is to seek answers, if there are answers, to the questions of what Britain can usefully do and what others might do to help.
I am determined that we should not miss any openings that there may be to promote peaceful change in Rhodesia. I may have to return from my journey—I fear that I shall—with the answer that it is not possible to carry forward talks any further and that the logic of events will have to be borne in on Mr. Smith for a further period of time before Britain can take a constructive initiative.
However, we stand by the principles enunciated by successive British Governments. We believe that by maintaining the sanctions which are the tangible demonstration of our determination Britain will, I hope, still help to bring her last great responsibility in Africa to a just and honourable conclusion. That is the firm intention of the present Government.
§ 11.48 a.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Rippon (Hexham)
I thank the Foreign Secretary for his kindly references to me and to Sir Alec Douglas-Home. I hope that I shall not embarrass the right hon. Gentleman or myself too much by agreeing with him too frequently. However, on both sides of the 1410 House we shall deeply miss Sir Alec's wisdom and experience in these matters. Happily, our loss once again is the gain of another place. A great many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House would like to record in a debate of this kind that there is probably no one who sought more valiantly and patiently than Sir Alec to bring about a settlement in Rhodesia, to gain the restoration of our legal relationship and to secure for Rhodesia international acceptance as an independent nation.
I am afraid that this is another sad day in the story of our relations with Rhodesia since Mr. Smith unilaterally declared independence on 11th November 1965. It is from that act that this order stems.
It ought to be emphasised as strongly as possible that our debate today is no mere formality. The issues are of such great importance that Parliament rightly decided that this order should be renewed, annually. The importance is also demonstrated by the fact that the Foreign Secretary himself has come to the House today.
It may be that this year there are difficulties about the timing because the order has to be passed by both Houses by 16th November, but it is not satisfactory that matters of this kind should he debated on a Friday. It is not convenient to many hon. Members. There is a good attendance today, but that results from hon. Members rightly giving priority to their duties to the House, even though in many cases it has meant changing constituency and other arrangements. We all know and appreciate that this is the fact. While the Government may make the point this year about the difficulty of timing, I think that, as a general principle, we ought to try to ensure that matters of such high constitutional and political importance are debated on other days.
The Foreign Secretary has acknowledged that since 1965 successive British Governments, Labour as well as Conservative, have sought to bring about a settlement on the basis of the Five Principles, or six if we include the Prime Minister's addendum of 25th January 1966 when he told the House that a Sixth Principle must be added; namely,the need to ensure that, regardless of race, there is no oppression of majority by minority 1411 or of minority by majority."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 42.]That seems a sound principle. I hope that when the Foreign Secretary visits the African States he will take the opportunity of making clear to them that in the kind of world that we want to create European must certainly not oppress African and, equally African must not oppress European or, for that matter, Asian. I hope that he will convince them that it is above all in the African interest that there should be a settlement in Rhodesia, that there should be stability, that there should be trade, and that the peace and security of the African continent as a whole can only be strengthened by a strong British naval presence in the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean aided by the use of the Simonstown base. Indeed, as far as the Beira blockade is concerned, the Foreign Secretary told my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) that the removal of the Simonstown facilities would make it more expensive——
§ Mr. Rippon
—marginally more expensive, but more expensive. That hardly seems to make sense at a time when the Government claim to be carrying out a review to reduce defence expenditure, apart from the other considerations that must be weighed in the balance.
I put to the Foreign Secretary on Wednesday that our allies had rights under the Simonstown Agreement that might be important. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had no knowledge of that point and asked me to put down a specific Question. I do not think that I need to do that, because the Simonstown Agreement makes clear that the facilities there would be available to allies of the United Kingdom in any war in which the United Kingdom was involved. That is a unilateral right, not one that has to be agreed by both Governments.
It seems, therefore, that the Foreign Secretary could well explain to African Governments that it might be better to use the provisions of the Simonstown Agreement than to raise difficult considerations of formally extending the activities of NATO into the South Atlantic. Equally, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make it clear that 1412 constitutionally the responsibility for Rhodesia remains British.
The Foreign Secretary spoke of the idea of a constitutional conference, which I think was suggested by the Secretary-General of OAU. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will continue to make it clear, as he has done today, that, apart from the other difficulties of calling such a conference, it could not be called without the representation of those who now constitute the Rhodesian administration.
Because we are agreed on the aim of bringing Rhodesia back into a legal relationship with Britain in a way which will also restore her international recognition, I think it is necessary for all of us to try as best we can to choose our words carefully.
I am glad, therefore, that the Foreign Secretary last week made it clear that the Government's commitment in the Queen's Speech to agree to no settlement that does not have the agreement of the African majority does not represent any departure from the Six Principles. It adds nothing to them since obviously we must agree, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that the Fifth Principle in practice means that any settlement to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole must be acceptable to the Africans. Nor can it detract from the consideration that must be given to the white minority. Independence must come to Rhodesia in a form acceptable to the majority of Rhodesians, black and white.
It is important that these objectives should remain clear and unchanged, and it should not be necessary to change the wording in the Queen's Speech to conform with the Labour Party's February manifesto. We have tried to make the language that we use in these matters as clear as possible. We must accept, as the Foreign Secretary said, that, as the efforts of successive British Governments have failed to achieve a settlement, the main initiative must now remain with the Rhodesian people themselves.
No one under-estimates the difficulties They are manifestly immense. However, there are some signs that a new dialogue is taking place in Rhodesia and Southern Africa, although—I agree with the right hon. Gentleman here—the optimism of 1413 the early part of this year has not been borne out by the events that he described It may be, as the Foreign Secretary said on Wednesday, that too much should not be read into the exchange of complimentary remarks by President Kaunda and Mr. Vorster in their recent speeches. But that is part of the movement of ideas that is undoubtedly taking place in Southern Africa.
I think that those speeches have been reinforced by the recent remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in South Africa, who believes that considerable changes will take place within the next 12 months. That makes it all the more important that we should do or say nothing to jeopardise changes in attitude and policy that must take place in Rhodesia and Africa itself. Therefore, it is important that we should not be appearing to bring pressure to bear from outside on the internal affairs of countries in Southern Africa except in those spheres which we have carefully delineated in past debates.
I was glad, therefore, when the Foreign Secretary said that the British Government's vote to keep South Africa in the United Nations was based on the principle of universality and thatNo undertakings were sought or received from South Africa."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th November, 1974; Vol. 880, c. 1050.]I am sure that is right. We certainly had a right and a duty to express our views to South Africa.
§ Mr. Rippon
The Foreign Secretary nods. I think that the best way of expressing our views to South Africa would be for him to visit that country. I do not see how that could be misunderstood. I was a little disturbed by a report on the tape yesterday to the effect that in New York the Minister of State had told the South African ambassador that Britain had an obligation to bring pressure on the republic for major changes of policy following the use of the veto last week to save South Africa's membership of the United Nations. That is apparently contrary to the view expressed in this House by the Foreign Secretary. I hope that when the Minister of State winds up he will make it clear that the principle of universality stands on its own. That is the position that the Foreign Secretary has rightly taken. The principle of uni 1414 versality under which we acted should not be used in any future discussion or debate in the United Nations as a way of bringing pressure to bear on the internal conduct of affairs by any member State. Outside pressure of that kind can only make it more difficult for those who have to sustain the internal movement towards change.
The Opposition have said many times that mandatory sanctions should never have been imposed and that the Rhodesian question should have been settled between Britain and Rhodesia. It should not have been handed over to the United Nations as a matter involving a breach of the peace. I take that view very firmly, and so did Sir Alec Douglas-Home. It should not have been done, but it has been.
In the words of Sir Alec Douglas-Home at the Conservative Party conference last year:The British Government of the day put its signature to a resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations which is binding on its members. We are a permanent member, and we are in the habit of keeping Britain's word. We do not, and individual Conservatives do not, pick and choose which laws we obey and which we do not, nationally or internationally.That is a principle which the Labour Party might well apply in other directions, both nationally and internationally.
The Labour Party, in its manifesto, talks about intensifying sanctions. The Foreign Secretary toned that down a bit and spoke about "whether they can be made more effective", but it is all a case of spitting in the wind. As our permanent representative at the United Nations, Mr. Ivor Richard, said in the Fourth Committee on 18th October:It is unfortunately the case that to a considerable extent sanctions remained unenforced. More paper sanctions would achieve nothing.The Foreign Secretary said in July that he had taken a new initiative with the Foreign Ministers of the EEC. They were to set up a committee of experts to examine weaknesses and have a meeting of customs officers. The ineffectiveness of the exercise proves how right Sir Alec was in casting doubts upon its usefulness.
Then we stepped up our submissions to the United Nations and had talks with Japan; but the Foreign Secretary and 1415 everybody else knows that the effectiveness of sanctions has, in practice, been severely limited. A day may come, as Sir Alec suggested, when we have to go back to the United Nations and say that the whole policy has failed and we should be relieved of this special responsibility. That would be a much more honest way in which to behave.
In that connection, I note again that on 18th October Mr. Ivor Richard told the Fourth Committee thatthere was no escaping the fact that the general situation reflects poorly on the performance of the United Nations as a whole in enforcing economic sanctions.I think we are at least entitled to say to the European Community, to Japan and to other members of the United Nations that, as we are making sanctions more effective, they must play their part. They have not done so up to date. Meanwhile, I agree with the Foreign Secretary that, in the difficult and delicate situation that exists today, our wisest course is to maintain the status quo. This means our acceptance, in accordance with the principles of international law, however sadly, of the continuance of the order for a further period. But I agree with the final words of the Foreign Secretary, that it must not in any way weaken our determination to proceed as best we can to bring about a just and lasting settlement for the benefit of all the people of Rhodesia.
§ 12.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough)
The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) and I have been engaged in many common causes of a non-political character, and it therefore gives me personal pleasure to congratulate him on becoming the Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. I wish him a long and happy stay in that office.
I join the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the tribute that he paid to Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Sir Alec and I had many clashes. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman was sincere and earnest in his endeavours to find a solution to the Rhodesian problem, but the policy of the Conservative Party did not enable him to do so.
1416 I listened with care to what was said by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. It is known that I have differed with past Foreign and Commonwealth Secretaries in Labour Governments on the Rhodesia problem, but today I find myself in complete accord with my right hon. Friend's statement.
Nobody should underrate the problems in Southern Africa. I suppose I have been concerned with the politics of Southern Africa for as long as any hon. Member in the House today. I recall one occasion on which Field Marshal Smuts said to me "I do not believe there can be peace and security in Southern Africa except on the basis of equality of the races." The fact that Field Marshal Smuts said that nearly 30 years ago shows that he had a vision.
Field Marshal Smuts then said "I expect you would ask why I do not do something about it", and he added "I have endeavoured to do so. I have made arrangements for the Indians to be represented in the South African Parliament. I know it will not please you, but it is a European who will represent them. That will establish the principle, and the next thing will be for an Indian to take the European's place and, in due course, Africans likewise. By this means we shall, in due course, bring about a system of equality in South Africa." Field Marshal Smuts went on to say "But what has been the result of my taking this action? The Indians have rioted and said that they will not have a European to represent them, and I have lost seats in Natal. You are a politician; give me the benefit of your advice."
Everybody must admit that the situation is difficult, and let us not imagine that because there are some independent countries in Southern Africa and in Africa as a whole that is the end of the problem. Some of the African leaders can be condemned for the action that they have taken in the treatment of their citizens on the basis of race, but the African people as a whole are a truly magnificent race.
To support that view one has only to recall the incident of the Reuter's journalist who went to Ghana and strayed from Accra into the villages. This young girl was away for three days and there 1417 was grave concern for her safety, but she returned unharmed. She had been fed and cared for, and the money in her bag had not been taken. That depicts the true Africans and their high standards of conduct, and they will respond to the right leadership. What the British Government and all who are concerned about the Rhodesia question have to do is to create a situation in which Africans as a whole can play their full part in the running of that continent. The Rhodesian problem stops this.
As the Foreign Secretary said, this is the tenth occasion on which we have been called upon to deal with the application of sanctions. What a pity that we did not apply them fully right from the start! I remember on my last visit to Southern Rhodesia being told by Sir Humphrey Gibbs, the Governor, and prominent businessmen "Go back and make sure that sanctions are fully and effectively applied, and that will bring down Smith." Alas, my colleagues in the House did not give me the support that I wanted and we were not able to carry out that policy. Had we done so, we should have faced a different situation in Rhodesia today.
This may seem a strange thing for me to say, but I have a great admiration for the leader of the illegal régime, Ian Smith. No one can deny the courage with which he fought the Nazis and suffered the horrible wounds which have disfigured him. I thought that our negotiations were conducted on a basis of fairness, and I imagine that I got him to agree with me more than once.
But if I were to give one illustration of our negotiations, it would be this. At the time when there were only Five Principles, before the sixth was added, the Lord Chancellor and I met the Rhodesian Cabinet. Smith was outstanding, although it would not be too harsh to say that some of the others were more like thugs than parliamentarians. But one had to face this kind of Cabinet. I got Smith aside and said "We shall never get a settlement on this basis. Can we not talk as man to man?" He agreed, and I went to see him alone. The Five Principles were spelt out and we agreed, but, alas, when we got back to the Cabinet room the pressures on him made him turn back on that agreement.
1418 It looked like collapse, and I suggested that before the collapse was complete we might meet again. He agreed to that and to my taking the Lord Chancellor with me. We saw Ian Smith, and I thought we got an agreement about the Rhodesian problem, but Smith disowns it and says that there was no such agreement. But the fact that I had the Lord Chancellor as a witness, I think, counts in my favour.
Those who live in Rhodesia, particularly those born there, know no other land, and they have as much right to live there as any other person. But I want to create the circumstances in which they will be able to live there. The only way in which a European can live in Rhodesia is with the acknowledgement that all the inhabitants are equal, one with another. As has been said, that means "one man one vote".
I would urge Ian Smith to pick up the suggestion of Kenneth Kaunda to call together all the interested parties. As my right hon. Friend has said, that includes those in detention, like the Rev. Sithole and Joshua Nkomo. If the Africans as a whole, in Rhodesia and outside, took part, the British Government could have a constitutional conference and try to get down realistically to a settlement which would give European Rhodesians a future in that land.
If they do not do so, I am terribly afraid that there could be another Congo situation in Rhodesia. No one wants a situation in which this country might have to rescue those few Rhodesians who happen to be our kith and kin. Let us not forget that the majority came from lands other than ours. I would beg Ian Smith at this late stage, for the sake of his citizens, his country and his own good name, to agree to that constitutional conference.
§ 12.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Brotherton (Louth)
A distinguished retired naval officer who is now a distinguished official of another place has described the design of the Palace of Westminster to me as being as complex as that of a pre-1914 battleship. I trust that the House will bear with me if I get lost this morning.
In one's maiden speech it is customary to refer to one's predecssor. This I gladly do. Jeffrey Archer was highly regarded in Louth as a man who always pursued 1419 with zeal and energy the interests of the constituency and his constituents. In the years before his time we were represented by Sir Cyril Osborne, a man of strong views and great determination.
The Louth constituency is not particularly well known to many people because we are in a part of England that people see only if they deliberately go there; no one passes through Louth by chance. But it is a constituency which is remarkably varied. We have a little of everything—docks and industry at Immingham, a seaside resort at Cleethorpes and above all the most beautiful farming land in England. As an ex-sailor I am delighted to represent a large number of the members of the Grimsby fishing fraternity. We are also part of two counties, the old represented by Lincolnshire and the new by Humberside. We are a child of that remarkable creature, the estuarial concept.
I trust that the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley) will forgive me if I do not take up his remarks directly. I want to speak briefly about the Beira Patrol. It has been in being since 1966 and is designed to prevent goods from entering Rhodesia by sea by way of Portuguese East Africa. The patrol is provided by frigates of the Royal Navy. The idea is that these ships move up and down a patrol line off the east coast of Africa and intercept ships going to Beira which are believed to be carrying goods destined for Rhodesia.
The idea is that the frigates persuade those ships to turn back. I say "try" to persuade because, although there have been about 50 interceptions in the last eight years, we do not know how successful the patrol has been. What we do know is that it is the most boring task imaginable and that the problem of keeping up morale is immense. There is a limit even to the ingenuity of the Royal Navy to find ways of whiling away the futile weeks off the coast of Africa.
The most frustrating thing for the ships' companies involved is that they know they are taking part in an operation that has failed, that they are patrolling off the east coast at the behest of the United Nations to enforce sanctions when many of the member States of the United Nations, not least African 1420 members, are continuing to trade with Rhodesia.
I recently heard a report that the Beira Patrol was not continuous. If there is not a ship on patrol all the time, this futile exercise is reduced to the level of farce. It cannot be said that we are fulfilling the United Nations request to intercept all ships going into Beira, to ensure that they are not carrying goods for Rhodesia, if there is not a ship on patrol all the time. I hope that the Minister of State will tell us whether it is true that the patrol is no longer continuous.
It is a strange fact that at present we are pursuing our vendetta against Rhodesia by using ships most of which have called at Simonstown on the way to the Indian Ocean. The Foreign Secretary told us this earlier this week in response to a question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) on the Simonstown Agreement.
I have said that I believe that sanctions have failed, but I believe also that they have hurt primarily those whom they were aimed to help—namely, the black Africans. The number of citizens of Zambia and Malawi now employed in Rhodesia is vastly smaller than 10 years ago. It is an extraordinary form of help that hurts those whom it is nominally setting out to assist.
Both the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), to whom I add my congratulations on his new appointment, have talked of the wisdom of Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Sir Alec said at Blackpool last October, having talked about the reasons why we were continuing to support the order, that the time might come when we would have to tell the United Nations that sanctions had failed. I believe that that time is now. Because I believe that the time is now, I cannot accept the advice of my right hon. and learned Friend and the Foreign Secretary. Because I believe sanctions that have failed, I shall vote against the order.
§ 12.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)
For the first time since I entered Parliament—only a short period of years ago, admittedly—I have the pleasure of congratulating a Conservative Member on his 1421 maiden speech. As one who still trembles when he gets up to speak in the House, no matter how frequently that happens, I was very impressed by the confidence and assertion of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) and I hope that we shall hear much from him in the future.
We are all saddened by the way in which Jeffrey Archer felt himself obliged to leave us. On both sides of the House, regardless of whether we had political disagreements, he and I at least shared most opinions about the conduct of rugby football in Britain. He was always prepared to concede Welsh supremacy in this respect.
There are two areas in which I would disagree with the attitude of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon). They concern the issue before us this morning and indeed broader principles. I shall pay brief attention to them. It should be said that there is no great virtue in accepting unjust law, whether it be international law or national law, and the excuse that injustice is in the form of a statute or a law, passed either by a dictator or by a Parliament, is the one that has been offered by the German generals and, indeed, by those who have imposed injustice in the past. Because it is not the main consideration this morning, as I have said, my reference to it is brief. I know that if I have interpreted the right hon. and learned Gentleman too literally in what he said, he will support me now, as I shall support him in the future, in standing against injustice anywhere at any time.
The other aspect which is directly related to what we are discussing and on which I cannot agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Louth is that now is not the time to apply more pressure. I think that the application of pressure on Rhodesia, and indeed South Africa in the context of the Rhodesian situation, is probably more important in November 1974 that it has been at any time since the original application of sanctions at the time of UDI. The reasons are very simple and straightforward. First, there is the question of the situation in Rhodesia. We are talking about a country in which hangings of Africans for various kinds of offences are a very fre- 1422 quent occurrence. The number of Africans hanged by the illegal régime is now running into hundreds. We are talking of a country in which, at the behest of the Government, scores of thousands of people may be shunted around the country simply on the whim or at the convenience of the régime. In the case of the Chiweshe tribal trust land, 60,000 people have been moved to so-called protected villages. Twelve thousand Bupedi tribesmen and women have been moved simply at the Government's behest.
There is also the exposure of the brutality of the so-called security forces by independent and well-respected international organisations such as the Roman Catholic Church's Justice and Peace Commission. All these incidents and developments have been reported in the most respected national newspapers in Britain. including The Times, The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.
The kidnapping of African leaders from Botswana, an independent country, is not an infrequent occurrence. Two of the most obvious examples are those of Ethan Dube and Benjamin Ramotse, both of whom were in different countries but were taken out by the Rhodesian or, perhaps, the South African security forces. The Roman Catholic Church newspaper Moto has recently been banned by the Smith régime. That is the kind of country about which we are talking.
It has been said—it cannot be repeated too often—hat if we really wish to safeguard our democracy, to make our representation realistic and relevant to the people and to show that we fundamentally believe in the right of every individual to have liberty, when there is a threat to liberty anywhere in the world, on either side of the Tropic of Cancer or of the Iron Curtain, we in this Parliament must uncompromisingly speak up against that threat and act on the basis of our thoughts. The imposition of sanctions on Rhodesia, with all their faults and weaknesses, is a way of giving tangible evidence that we still stand on the side of liberty and democracy and do not simply seek to achieve them within the boundaries and coastline of our own country.
It is more necessary than ever before to maintain pressure, really to turn the screw, on the illegal régime in Rhodesia 1423 because of the economic situation which has developed in that country, particularly in the last two years. Obviously the sanctions are not as effective as I should like them to be. Indeed, if they had been established at the outset all those years ago in the way suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middles-brough (Mr. Bottomley) and several other people, including the Leader of the Liberal Party, we should not have been in the present situation. We might not have had to wait for the coup in Portugal to give us a new perspective on Southern African affairs because that perspective might well have come from a free and liberal Rhodesia.
The situation, however, is that in Rhodesia companies are losing lots of money. Companies there, and the economy, are losing manpower, and manpower of all kinds. They are losing black manpower, which they simply cannot afford to lose, and white manpower and womanpower, which is moving south of the border down into South Africa—now the last refuge of racial supremacy in Southern Africa. This is causing an immense strain. Independent and BBC commentators, as recently as this week, have shown that this is so from figures and statistics and from interviews with and comments from people who are either tempted to remove themselves from Rhodesia or have actually accomplished the removal into South Africa.
If the Frelimo Government in Mozambique find themselves able to act along the lines of the United Nations resolution and turn off oil supplies to the illegal régime, the economic collapse of Rhodesia under a racialist supremacist régime is absolutely assured.
We are asking a great deal of the new Government of Mozambique to undertake such a course because of the immense revenue obtained—in proportional terms at least it is immense—from allowing the pipeline to cross their territory. But if we really mean what we have said about the nature of the Government of Rhodesia and about the importance of applying stringent sanctions, we should be in a position, together with other liberty lovers throughout the world, to assist in compensating the Frelimo Government for any costs which they incur in turning off the supply of oil to the Smith régime. 1424 This is an action which would show, as no other action could, just how genuine we are about demands for the attainment of racial equality, peace and serenity in Southern Africa, and, indeed, everywhere else.
A great deal of fuss has been made in recent days about the reasons for the professions made by the South African Government and representatives of that Government that they seek change. It is a very grand list of people who have always been thought of, by friend and foe alike, as the high priests of apartheid. Dr. Vorster, on 23rd October and, indeed, as recently as 6th November, said that major changes were on the way and that if we waited for six or 12 months South Africa would be unrecognisable. That was reported in yesterday's edition of The Times. Mr. Botha, the United Nations permanent representative, talked on 24th October and 7th November about the removal of laws which arecontrary to the principle of fairness.We have had Dr. Koornhof, the sports Minister—an old foe of mine—discussing in a letter to the Indian Government on 27th October the abolition of discrimination in sport. We have had Mr. Van der Merwe, on 7th October, talking of the need to remove "outworn practices", by which he meant the apartheid laws.
Why has all this come about? It has come about, very significantly, as a consequence of the triumph of Frelimo in Mozambique. Those who have consistently described Frelimo as a mere terrorist organisation bent on terrorising Africans into its power and on trying to overthrow the colonial Portuguese régime by the exercise of force now have to look at Frelimo as the Government of a nation.
It is significant that people in their hundreds and possibly thousands have had to die to give the people of Mozambique the government of Mozambique. The threat again poses itself that, that lesson having been learned by those who seek liberty and freedom in Southern Africa, it will not be lost on them in the context of South Africa.
Those who have continued practically to oppose apartheid—I do not mean by merely paying lip-service to the opposition to apartheid—have done so simply to avert the situation which is now more threatening than ever, a situation which 1425 cannot be bought off by mere words from Mr. Vorster, Mr. Botha and Mr. van der Merwe. They are only words after two generations of the most totally inexcusable and irremovable suppression along racial lines that the world has known since the war. They must do a great deal more than talk.
I sincerely hope that those people have not convinced any Member of the House of Commons of the validity or genuineness of their statements, because we await their actions towards progress in South Africa, in Southern Africa and in Rhodesia with great circumspection.
The Portuguese changes have obviously concentrated the minds of these people. The reason behind the statements which have been made—the earliest on 23rd October, the most recent yesterday—has a great deal to do with the fact that we in Britain have a Labour Government. I do not think it is in any way a major consideration in the minds of the verligle wing of the Nationalist Party in South Africa. However, it may well be that it is this last ounce of pressure, that last thrust of muscle, on behalf of the free world which is convincing the South African Government that changes must take place. They will know that there is a Labour Government who are supported by a strident Labour Party and trade union movement throughout the country who are no longer content to go on trading with, investing in, or exchanging arms or pleasantries with a Fascist régime when many men in Britain gave their lives and their health fighting against Fascism between 1939 and 1945.
I have said before that I am most grateful that the war was won for my generation by the forces of civilisation; but we are talking about people in South Africa, as we know, who occupy not extreme fringes but the central core of government and whose attitude to politics is almost indiscernible from the attitude that existed in the grand council of the Nazi Party in Germany in 1939.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman has said some pretty damning and damnable things about South Africa and South Africans. He should know that half the young men who grew up with me lie buried in the Western Desert under the sand. Several Victoria Crosses were won by South Africans during the 1426 last war. Nine thousand South Africans lost their lives, making the supreme sacrifice in the cost of freedom. Do not let the hon. Gentleman call the South Africans Fascists.
§ Mr. Kinnock
I am not calling them Fascists. I note the sensitivity with which the hon. Member for Havant and Waterloo (Mr. Lloyd) rises to the challenge of Fascism. I have at no time, either here or anywhere else, described the South Africans as Fascists. If those 9,000 South Africans who were killed during the last war had lived instead of dying in the fight for liberty, it might well have been that their love of liberty would have been applied in South Africa and people like Vorster and Verwoerd would never have occupied positions of power in South Africa. I regret as much as the hon. Gentleman can regret the brutality and the suffering of war and the murder that took place, but do not let us think for one second that there is any contradictory evidence about the position that the Bund in South Africa occupied before, during and after, even until today.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
My hon. Friend will be the first to acknowledge that Mr. Vorster was not fighting in the Western desert and that many of the present leadership of his party were interned during the war as Nazi sympathisers.
§ Mr. Kinnock
My hon. Friend, as always, has made the precise point with a great deal more brevity than I could. I do not want to be distracted into fighting old battles.
I therefore continue on the other point and say that a great deal of optimism has been expressed about the exchanges between Kenneth Kaunda and Vorster. Any development which leads to a dialogue between the leaders of white and black African States must be welcomed in this country, because short of war that is the only way we shall see transition in Southern Africa.
Before we run away with the idea, as some people have done, that Kaunda is falling under Vorster's spell or that Vorster has managed to convince Kaunda that it is to be all peace and light in South Africa from now on, let us remind ourselves of the precise conditions that 1427 Kaunda has laid down for real co-operation between the two countries.
This is the first condition:A South African undertaking to withdraw its para-military forces from Rhodesia and refrain from actively supporting the Smith regime.There has been no indication that the South Africans are yet going to do that. On the contrary, Mr. Vorster said at the beginning of this week that South African forces would stay in Rhodesia because they were not protecting Rhodesia; they were protecting South Africa.
The second condition is that South Africa should enter intoAn agreement to accept the United Nations decision on Namibia.The closest that Mr. Vorster has come to that is to ask the rest of the world, as recently as this week, to leave Namibia alone to decide its own future. That is tantamount to Hitler telling the rest of the world in the 1930s to leave Sudetenland alone to decide its own future.
The next condition is:A South African undertaking to begin talks with its own black African leaders about a constitutional settlement that will eliminate racial discrimination and progressively lead to majority rule.Kaunda is there saying that he does not want an arrangement with Vorster over the heads of black South Africans. He wants them to participate, which is a very fair attitude.
It will take a miraculous conversion for Vorster and the Nationalist Party to accept even a small part of those developments. I hope that they will accept them. Even a small stride forward is to be welcomed. In expecting people to believe that men with the record of Vorster, Botha, van der Merwe and Koornhof, even in the verligte wing of the Nationalist Party, can adopt these conditions we are asking for a real miracle to occur in an age where miracles are not noted for their frequency.
Finally, we have heard from the hon. Member for Louth of the way in which our sanctions against Rhodesia bite against the very people they are intended to help. The most articulate reply to that assertion—I have no doubt of the truth of it because the black Rhodesians, as the black South Africans, are the poorest and most suppressed and be- 1428 leaguered economic and political section of society—comes from the mouth of Bishop Muzorewa whose credentials for representing the attitude of the South African people can scarcely be questioned by Members of the House. At the time that the Goodman proposals were rejected, Muzorewa said:When you are getting something as important as freedom you are prepared to pay the price. People said to me' When you meet people overseas tell them not to worry about us suffering'.That should not be a difficult attitude for the people of this country, especially for a generation older than mine, to understand. It is exactly the attitude that the hon. Member for Havant and Waterloo and many other right hon. and hon. Members on both sides adopted during the war. A large proportion of black men and women in South Africa and in Rhodesia considered themselves to be under occupation and, in their attempts to secure liberation for themselves, they adopt only the same attitudes that any Britisher would have adopted in the event of an occupation of this country 35 years ago.
I ask people to understand that and to understand that it is the black Rhodesians who are asking us completely to follow through and continue the sanctions as they have existed; and for their sakes and for the sake of our standing in the eyes of men and women throughout the world I support my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary entirely.
§ 12.40 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) and I were on the same platform at a public meeting last night, but I arrived after he had made his speech and he left before I had made mine. We now have the opportunity to hear each other. My speech today will at least be briefer than his, although I share almost identically his conclusions.
I wish to join in the congratulations to the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), my constituency neighbour, on his appointment as Shadow Foreign Secretary. I do so warmly even though he has now departed the Chamber. He could hardly have had a more inauspicious start to his period as Shadow Foreign Secretary. He sounded the trumpet and his followers were not there.
1429 I am surprised to see the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) on the Opposition Front Bench. I did not think he had been suddenly promoted to the Front Bench, but perhaps he is there as the only Tory back bencher supporting the party line of the Front Bench. It seems that the Leader of the Opposition has abandoned the "lame duck" policy in favour of "lame duck" leadership. I regret that there are not more official Opposition Members present to back the official Opposition line in support of the renewal of the order, which was renewed annually during the period of the Conservative Government.
I have attended all 10 debates on the sanctions orders. I think that I have spoken in most of them. I have wondered, therefore, whether there could be something new to say on the tenth occasion, but of course there is something new. I agree with the Foreign Secretary that over the last year we have seen significant political changes on the map of Southern Africa which directly impinge upon and change the situation in Rhodesia.
I think that we can look forward now to sanctions becoming more effective. Mozambique is to become independent. The Foreign Secretary said that he had been in touch with Dr. Soares on the line that Mozambique will take towards Rhodesia. I believe that there is an obligation on the international community, led by us in this case, if we are asking the people of the new and very weak economy of Mozambique to make sacrifices of the trade they have enjoyed through Lourenco Marques, to offer compensation for Mozambique's losses.
The Rhodesians are building a railway line to skirt Mozambique, but it will be vulnerable to guerrilla attacks from Mozambique, and I believe that the position of Rhodesia's economy is now very fragile.
The Rhodesians must be looking also at the changes taking place in South-West Africa and at the statements by members of the South African Government about their future. They must have read during recent weeks the speeches by the South African leadership about the changes which may take place in the next 12 months in South Africa. I am not over-hopeful about these changes—I do not think that they will be very revolu- 1430 tionary—but there is undoubtedly a certain change of atmosphere.
In this context I am reminded of a little tapestry which hangs on a wall in a house in my constituency and which seems to me to sum up perfectly the attitude of Rhodesia. It says:All the world's queer save thee and me And even thee's a little queer.Apparently the Rhodesian Government are prepared to ignore the changes going on round about and believe that Rhodesia can be isolated from them. Yet in Rhodesia during the last year—here it is appropriate to congratulate the television units which have brought the pictures direct to us—there has been the movement of the tribes into restricted areas and the development of camps instead of the free and traditional movement of tribal people. This is being done as a protection against the development of the natural sympathy which many rural people often have for guerrilla forces.
We see also the continuation of the policy of detention of the leaders of the majority population in Rhodesia, including Mr. Chinamano, Mr. Garfield Todd and, more recently, Mr. Edson Sithole, who is perhaps the most able, articulate and civilised of all the younger African leadership. That such men as these can be put away offers bleak prospects of good sense on the part of the Rhodesia Front. Unless there is a change of attitude soon on the part of the Rhodesia Front, I fear that Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues of the African National Council will lose the hold they still have on the majority population and that others less prepared to talk and more ready to fight will take over.
The tragedy is the false picture given to the Rhodesian people by Mr. Smith. It is not a choice between the status quo and the development of majority rule. It is a choice between a transition to majority rule through peaceful negotiations and an unpleasant and bloody revolution. That is the true choice before Rhodesia. However, I am an optimist in this matter. I believe that it will be possible to achieve a situation in which armed conflict can be avoided and prevented.
I welcome what the Foreign Secretary said about the Government feeling their 1431 way towards the setting up of a constitutional conference. I am sure that this is the right approach. I am also sure that such a conference must include representatives of the ANC, including Mr. Nkomo and the Reverend Sithole, who have languished so long in detention. I was glad to hear from a member of the Pearce Commission that they were in good health at that time. All representatives of the majority people must be included in any constitutional conference proposed by Her Majesty Government.
I believe that we can all look forward with more optimism to the future of Rhodesia. Throughout the world now there are more Rhodesian African graduates than there were in Northern Rhodesia before she became independent Zambia. There is room for hope for the future of Rhodesia.
One of the tragedies of the Government-oriented Press in Rhodesia is that it constantly spotlights that great hero General Amin of Uganda, trying to pretend that his is the typical run of alternative political leadership in Africa. This is as ludicrous as though the entire politics of the continent of Europe were to be judged by the tragic leadership over a short time of the jumped-up corporal. It is just as ludicrous to represent a jumped-up sergeant as typical of the politics of the entire African continent.
There is need for the people of Rhodesia to look at what is happening in African democrary—for example, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana recently. They should also look at last month's elections in Kenya, when 88 out of 158 members of Parliament lost their seats—a more dramatic turnover than has taken place here for many years. Those who lost their seats included four Cabinet Ministers and 15 junior Ministers.
Rhodesians should not be deluded into thinking that democracy does not work elsewhere in Africa, because it does. Mr. Smith has been leading his people up a blind alley. We have to remind them that there is no case in human history in which a minority has permanently suppressed a majority. It will not happen in Rhodesia any more than it has happened anywhere else or at any other time in history.
§ 12.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)
Our annual debate on the Rhodesia order takes on somewhat the character of a ritual dance: it is very largely a pretence. The Government's claim to be the Government of Rhodesia has, as the Foreign Secretary himself indicated, very little substance, not much more substance than the claim of King James I to be the King of France. If Rhodesia had been a breakaway colony of any other country, the legal advisers of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office would long ago have urged Ministers of any complexion to recognise it on the ground that it fulfilled all the criteria of recognition—that it was in effective control of the country and had been for some time.
The argument about sanctions or the attempt to impose sanctions is also largely a matter of pretence. Weeks have gone into months and months have gone into years, and next year, if we bring up the order again, we shall be entering on the second decade.
I said that it was almost entirely a pretence, but it is not quite. The refusal to recognise Rhodesia has led other countries to withhold recognition. The sanctions have had not altogether negligible effect. To quote what the right hon. Gentleman was saying and what Sir Alec Douglas-Home said last year, they have had some effect.
Yes, I think that we can fairly claim that non-recognition and sanctions have retarded the economic development of Rhodesia by 10 years. Ten years is not a great time in the life of a nation, but it is a long time in the life of individuals, and particularly children. Retarding development in a developing country means fewer schools and fewer hospitals. Those have been the fruit of the policy of sanctions. At a time when world leaders have been meeting in Rome, facing up to the terrible food shortages that threaten the world, I do not know whether we can take very much pride in policies that have reduced food production in a country that has traditionally been a supplier of food to others.
I have myself been against sanctions from the start and still more opposed, as all of us on this side of the House were, to the folly of mandatory sanctions. But I have to agree with the 1433 right hon. Gentleman that once sanctions had been imposed there were arguments, and quite strong arguments, for continuing them. The hope of a settlement shimmered continually on the horizon, and they were a means, albeit a marginal means, of applying pressure on the régime to make some concessions to the Africans.
There were times when agreement seemed close. I could wish that Mr. Smith had accepted the "Tiger" or the "Fearless" proposals. I could wish that the agreement that Sir Alec Douglas-Home concluded with Mr. Smith had been supported by the Pearce Commission. After 1971, as the right hon. Gentleman has reminded the House, it was Sir Alec's view that we should do bettter not to interfere but to let the régime enter into discussions with the African National Council, and we were encouraged by both sides to think that the talks would take place and that, when they did, there was a chance of agreement; and so we did not want to upset the balance of power or change the context in which the talks would take place. So, reluctantly, we brought forward sanctions again last year.
I myself had grave doubts about it, but I allowed myself to be persuaded that the arguments for not changing the context in which talks between Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa would develop was sound. Whether those talks would have led to concrete results had the events that occurred in Mozambique not occurred I cannot tell; but what is clear is that the events in Mozambique have brought about far-reaching changes in the whole situation in Southern Africa. Whether we should welcome those changes or deplore them is a matter of opinion.
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary talked about our proud record of decolonisation in Africa. I am not so sure, looking at what has happened in Ghana, recalling the civil war in Nigeria and the present situation in Uganda, how much pride we should really take in all that, or how much pride Europeans generally can take in the events in the Congo. In any case, I would myself pay this tribute to the Portuguese empire, now disintegrating finally, that, whatever its shortcomings, it has managed 1434 more than any other empire to bridge the racial gap.
The other important event, not entirely separated from what has happened in Mozambique, is the growth of terrorism in Rhodesia.
We in this House have to concern ourselves with the facts, the facts of Mozambique and increased terrorism. The problem before us is how to adapt the policies that we have so far pursued to the new situation. How best can we ensure that the conflict and tensions in Southern Africa are overcome by peaceful change and not by the racial conflagration against which Sir Alec Douglas-Home so often warned the House?
I do not believe that we shall be able to exercise our influence for peaceful change and against conflagration if we take sides too clearly and definitely in the problems before us. I am bound to say that even before the right hon. Gentleman's speech I felt a certain anxiety about the line the Government were pursuing. Like my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. R ippon), I was a little surprised by the wording in the Gracious Speech:In Rhodesia, they"—that is, the Government—will agree to no settlement which is not supported by the African people of that country.My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition queried whether this use of the word "support" as distinct from "acceptability" represented a change. Replying the following day, the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said that it did not and went on:The relevant passage in the Gracious Speech meant that the Government recognise, as did his Government when they accepted the Pearce Report, that the fifth principle means, in practice, that there cannot be a settlement without the support of the African people.In words a little reminiscent of the Red Queen in Alice, he said:That is what it was meant to mean. In our view, Mr. Smith will have to move very far and very fast if he is to catch up with the new realities of his situation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th October 1974 Vol. 880, c. 244.]I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman is really competent to say what the Fifth Principle was meant to mean. It was devised by Sir Alec and 1435 Lord Duncan-Sandys. My understanding of what they had in mind is this. I do not think that they were seeking to give the Africans a veto over constitutional proposals that might be put to or agreed in Salisbury. What they represented was a subjective judgment by the British Govment of whether certain proposals would be accepted or resisted by the Africans. It was acceptability, not support. Support is the positive action of saying "Yes, we want this". Acceptability may be a reluctant acceptance, acquiescence.
The right hon. Gentleman's interpretation seems to be clearly different from ours. It looks to me, particularly when he says that it is not for us to advise the Africans what they should do, that he is interpreting the Fifth Principle as an African veto, that he is giving the Africans as far as this House and the British Government are concerned a blank cheque to demand majority rule now. That goes far beyond the "Tiger" proposals, or the "Fearless" proposals, or the 1970 proposals, or the proposals that Mr. Smith and the bishop had begun discussing,
Listening to the right hon. Gentleman, I could not help feeling that his point of view was that the European position in Southern Africa was crumbling and that now was the time to put the heat on Salisbury, that now was the time to try to coerce Mr. Smith and his régime to submit to the demands of not only the National African Council—but ZANU and ZAPU—that now was the time to step up sanctions.
If that is Government policy, and it certainly seems very like it, I hope that we shall oppose it resolutely. The right hon. Gentleman says that he seeks a peaceful settlement, and he says at the same time that it is not for us to advise the Africans what they should accept. All his emphasis is on putting the heat and the pressure on the régime in Salisbury.
Like my right hon. and learned Friend, I cannot help asking: whatever happened to the Sixth Principle? A principle devised not by this side of the House but by the present Prime Minister.
If we claim to be the Government of Rhodesia, if we claim still to have responsibilities towards Rhodesia, we have responsibilities towards the African 1436 community and towards the European community. If the right hon. Gentleman were to be right in thinking that there has been a major shift in the balance of Southern Africa, it would be our duty to try to keep the balance and try to restrain the Africans from pressing unrealistic or unreasonable demands at present.
Mr. James Callaghan
I am trying to follow the right hon. Gentleman's argument with the Six Principles in front of me, as I usually do. I do not quite understand what this cat's cradle is. The Fifth Principle is clear, that any basis proposed for independence must be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. How can one apply that test of acceptability unless the people are present, taking part in it and are consulted about it? How, in any case, can that be regarded as being contrary to the Sixth Principle? Why should anything I have said be regarded as contrary to the Sixth Principle, that no oppression of the majority by the minority or of the minority by the majority should take place regardless of race? Surely that would be inherent in any settlement that was reached?
§ Mr. Amery
I am not at all clear whether it would. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that in the proposals which the Government of which he was a member put forward on "Tiger" and "Fearless" there was no question of majority rule. There was to be progress towards it, but we were to start with something very different. The test of acceptability, the Fifth Principle, was that the British Government should make up their mind, using a commission or other means, about whether proposals agreed between them and the régime in Salisbury were acceptable—that is to say, would be acquiesced in by the African population. The right hon. Gentleman this morning went well beyond that.
§ Mr. Amery
The right hon. Gentleman said that the time is past when there can be an agreement between Britain and Salisbury, between Britain and the Smith régime, about what the new constitution should be. But at the same time he says that we shall maintain the sanctions until 1437 an agreement has been reached. If he says that—that acceptability means that the Africans have a veto on any proposals which Mr. Smith might put forward—he is giving them a blank cheque to demand majority rule now. If he is doing that he is going far beyond what was contemplated by the Labour Government of 1966–1970 or by our Government at any time. If that is what he is trying to do, if he is to join with ZANU and ZAPU and other African countries to achieve majority rule now in Salisbury, we on this side, in the light of what has happened in other African countries where majority rule was, in my view, conceded prematurely, should resist such a policy.
§ Mr. Ioan Evans (Aberdare)
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the Government of which he was a member sent the Pearce Commission to Rhodesia to put proposals before the African people and that those proposals were overwhelmingly turned down? The situation in Rhodesia has now changed, and there will not be a settlement unless it is with the wholehearted support of all the people. The Rhodesian leaders who have been imprisoned for 10 years without trial are prepared to accept the Six Principles but it is the illegal régime which refuses to accept them.
§ Mr. Amery
I do not think the hon. Gentleman's intervention was really necessary. I recognise that the Pearce Commission said that in its judgment the proposals agreed between Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Mr. Smith were not acceptable. That does not mean that we in this House ought to accept what I think was called NIBMR—no independence before majority rule. It seems that this is the direction in which the Foreign Secretary is trying to steer us, in so far as he can still influence events at all.
Big changes are going on in Southern Africa. Their full significance is still obscure, but it is important, if we are to foster the elements of peaceful change and understanding, that there should be contact between the South African Government, Britain and all concerned. I was dismayed to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he was to visit certain African countries but not South Africa. I should have thought he would do well to visit Salisbury as well and try to talk to both sides.
§ Mr. Amery
The context was entirely different. He was not trying to use his influence. At the time he was leaving it to Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa to try to reach agreement among themselves. That was right. He did not seek to exercise any influence. What is wrong is for the right hon. Gentleman to make this one-sided series of visits. He would do well to go and talk to Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa in Salisbury and to go to South Africa. The logical conclusion to the right hon. Gentleman's view that it is not for us to advise the Africans what they should or should not accept would be for us to wash our hands of the whole affair. That would be logical if we are not prepared to take the responsibility of trying to use any influence to get what we think is a reasonable deal.
Yet it would be wrong of us to try to wash our hands of this. We have great interests in Southern Africa, in South Africa and Zambia, and the Rhodesian problem is closely connected with them all. There are the interests of trade, investment, defence and, yes, the ties of blood, too. The dangers of a conflagration are very real; a conflagration upon which Sir Alec Douglas-Home repeatedly warned this House. It would affect our interests very adversely. I do not think we will prevent a conflagration if we intervene on one side only. On the contrary, I think we may hasten the conflagration by strengthening the so-called laager mentality among the Europeans and encouraging the extremists among the Africans.
In the past we have pressed for concessions from the Europeans to the Africans. Now we should be pressing the Africans to show moderation. I do not think that we should ingratiate ourselves with the Africans by taking an exclusively hostile attitude to the European community in Rhodesia or, for that matter, in South Africa. It is time we recognised that to give one man one vote at the present stage of the evolution of Rhodesia and South Africa could lead only to the kind of situation we have seen in the Nigerian civil war in Ghana, the Congo and Uganda. If we are to avoid that conflagration we should use our influence with both sides, not just one. I see no 1439 sign of the Government wishing to act in this way. On the contrary, they seem to be pursuing an entirely contrary policy.
§ 1.7 p.m.
Mr. Frank Hooky (Sheffield, Heeley)
May I add my compliments to the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) on his maiden speech. I knew his predecessor, Jeffrey Archer, personally and I found him a very likeable person. May I say sincerely that I thought the hon. Members speech had the merits of clarity and simplicity, although I am sure he will accept that I dissent from his arguments. I agreed with what the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) said about the unsuitability of having a major foreign affairs debate, which is what this one is, on a Friday. I am sorry that the usual channels or whoever is responsible for arranging the business of the House have arranged things this way.
The question of Rhodesia and the whole issue of the situation in Southern Africa is a major aspect of this country's foreign policy. It is not suitable that on a day when a large number of Members have perfectly proper and pressing engagements in their constituencies we should have this debate on a matter of such importance. I hope that this can be avoided in future.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in presenting this order, which has my full support. During the debate a number of hon. Members have drawn attention to the fact that the collapse of the Portuguese empire has radically changed the situation in Southern Africa and will have a considerable influence on future events there. It has changed it sharply in the military and strategic sense because, whereas Zambia was previously faced with hostile forces to the south, west and east, the position is now reversed and Rhodesia could come under direct pressure, perhaps even military pressure, from the north, east and possibly in due course from her western frontier.
The military, strategic and political situation has been drastically altered by the collapse of Portuguese rule in Angola and Mozambique. But it should be noted that this has occurred during a period when successive British Governments were 1440 giving military support through NATO and economic support through the EFTA to the metropolitan Portuguese Government and that the victory of the nationalist movements in Portuguese Africa has come about without very much help, though possibly with some encouragement, from Western Europe or in particular from the United Kingdom.
That state of affairs raises an important issue for our policy in Southern Africa from now on. Are we to sit on the sidelines and make sympathetic noises against racism, giving sympathetic encouragement to independence and democracy in Souhern Africa, while at the same time giving military, economic and diplomatic support to certain countries in Southern Africa, in particular to South Africa itself, which is the pillar of racism and the pillar of opposition to independence and democratic government throughout that part of the continent?
We cannot discuss our policy towards Rhodesia without considering also our behaviour in other aspects of South African affairs—out attitude to the problem of Namibia, our attitude to the Simonstown question and our attitude to the question of trade and economic and diplomatic relations with South Africa itself. These things are bound together. It is not satisfactory for the Government to present this sort of order—although I support that in itself, and I believe it to be right—without at the same time making clear that we shall take action on matters such as the advisory opinion of the Internation Court on Namibia by saying that we fully accept it, that we shall give full co-operation to the United Nations Council on Namibia. that we shall give full support and help to the United Nations Commissioner for Namibia and that we shall exercise every possible pressure on South Africa to give up her illegal occupation of that country, which is just as illegal in international terms as is the régime of Mr. Smith in Rhodesia.
These things are part and parcel of the same problem. It is not good enough to say that we want independence and peaceful evolution in Rhodesia if in other parts of Southern Africa we are not exercising the maximum pressure on South Africa and other territories to reinforce our perfectly sound and proper policy regarding Rhodesia itself.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)
The hon. Gentleman is advocating the use of British diplomacy in an effort to produce democracy in various African territories. Does he think that Her Majesty's Government should try to prevail upon the Frelimo régime in Mozambique to allow the people of Mozambique as a whole to have the referendum or vote on their future which General Spinola undertook that they should have?
§ Mr. Hooley
I am sure that the people of Mozambique as a whole are far more firmly in support of Frelimo and the people who will take over the affairs of that territory than they were of the previous régime, and in due course they will no doubt evolve their own political institutions and policy. But that will be based on the general support of the people of Mozambique; it will not be something imposed by a reactionary Government 10,000 miles away. That is the difference between the two situations.
Turning now to the specific problem of Rhodesia, I emphasise what has been said about the importance of sanctions. I am sure that they have played an important part in preventing the illegal régime from consolidating itself in world opinion and in preventing it from exercising any really effective authority within Rhodesia itself or in the wider sphere.
Those who challenge sanctions should reflect that, if one rejects sanctions as an instrument for combating racism and injustice in the world, there are but two alternatives. Either we capitulate to those forces, do nothing, stand back and do as this country unfortunately did in the 1938 agreement over Czechoslovakia, washing our hands of gross injustice, or, as the second alternative, we look to violence and war.
In my view the use of the international body, the use of the international community and the mechanism of the United Nations to bring economic pressure on a State which is clearly flouting and violating the opinion of the world community as a whole is a much more sensible policy to pursue through considered economic pressure and through sanctions than any other method can be. The alternatives, as I say, are total capitulation and sell-out or war, and I am sure that neither of these would commend itself to the House.
1442 I come now to three specific points of concern in relation to the situation in Rhodesia. First there is the continued presence of South African forces in the territory. I find it remarkable that, to my knowledge at least, no public diplomatic protest has been made by a British Government to South Africa on this issue. I may be wrong in saying that—perhaps there has been diplomatic representation—but I have not heard of it or seen it reported. It is extraordinary that we should tamely accept the operation of forces of a foreign Power in a British territory, killing British citizens, without any public objection, or protest, apparently from a British Government. Moreover, in my view such protest should not be made only once or occasionally but should be the subject of continuous diplomatic pressure on South Africa to object to and to prevent the operation of her forces within British territory. Rhodesia is British territory, and under the law this Parliament and Whitehall are responsible for it.
Secondly, there is the question of the detainees, some of whom, I believe, have now been held in detention in Rhodesia for as long as nine years. I realise that there is not a great deal that the British Government can do in practical terms, but I have always hoped that there would be more protest, more effort and more concern shown for these people in this House and in the country at large than there has been over the past nine years. I hope that the British Government will make clear that the continued detention of these men by the Smith régime is in itself a serious stumbling block to the peaceful evolution of constitutional and lawful government in Rhodesia and that Her Majesty's Government attach great importance to the release of these political leaders for the satisfactory development of a political solution to the Rhodesia problem.
Allied to that is the far more serious fact that the Smith régime has been carrying out executions of African opponents and there are Africans at present under sentence of death in Mr. Smith's prisons. Her Majesty's Government should make clear forthwith that if those sentences are carried out the persons concerned will be committing crimes, regarded as crimes by this House, and will be held accountable for those crimes at 1443 such time as Rhodesia returns to constitutional and legal government. I regard this as extremely important. It has been too lightly passed over in this country, and it is another hindrance to the peaceful development of constitutional rule in Rhodesia.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that one of the purposes of the order and of Her Majesty's Government's policy is to bring about peaceful evolution to a constitutional settlement in Rhodesia. I support that, and I believe that most hon. Members support it. I regard the order as a sensible instrument of policy towards that end.
I firmly believe, however, that that policy, if it is to be effective, must be backed up by other aspects of our general policy towards Southern Africa. Our behaviour on Namibia and on Simonstown, our behaviour towards the general policy of apartheid and our behaviour in the United Nations can contribute to an ultimate peaceful settlement of the Rhodesian problem. If we back down or relax our efforts in that direction, the danger of war, violence and terror in Rhodesia will be that much greater.
§ 1.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
I listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), and I heartily endorse what he said, that it was the wrong decision to hold an important debate of this kind on a Friday. A Friday debate is inappropriate on any important matter concerning foreign affairs. I hope that the Government and those concerned will note what has been said on both sides of the House about the matter.
I also agree with the hon. Gentleman about the dangers of the present position in Central and Southern Africa. Where we part company is that most of the things the hon. Gentleman suggested to improve it would probably make it worse. The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to follow him much further in that matter, but I enjoyed listening to his speech.
I add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) on a notable maiden speech, as remarkable for its manner as for the wisdom that animated it.
1444 The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) gave the House, and particularly the Government, cause for considerable thought, as his speeches always do. I was particularly taken with his words about the interpretation of the Fifth Principle. The question my right hon. Friend was putting to the Government was whether there is a subtle change of emphasis lurking behind the words of the Gracious Speech or of the answers given by the Foreign Secretary recently. I should have preferred the words of the Fifth Principle as they were stated by the Foreign Secretary at the Dispatch Box just now to the phrase used in the Gracious Speech. That was what my right hon. Friend was getting at. I hope that the Minister of State will pay particular attention to this inquiry.
The Foreign Secretary asked those of us who oppose sanctions to consider what the consequences of lifting sanctions would be. That is a valid question. But the right hon. Gentleman also said that the situation might have been different if sanctions had never been imposed. I hope that he and the House will accept that here there is a dilemma. Why should we condone what we remain convinced was initially a terrible error, just because it has been allowed to continue for so long.
It is true that the position has changed with the Portuguese collapse, although I confess to profound doubt—at the least there is far from any proof yet—that the mass of the people who live in those territories will necessarily benefit from it. They were not unhappy places. At least, the people of Mozambique and Angola were happier in many respects than those in South Africa or than those in some of the more notorious African dictatorships to the north.
History will judge these events not so much as a sudden outburst of enlightened liberalism as another great opening towards the Soviet dominance of Central Africa, with all its sinister implications. It may not be long before Soviet warships are using bases along these coasts. It may not be long before the seas of those black African countries, with which the Foreign Secretary rightly wishes to be friends, are dominated by the Soviet navy. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that those African States would 1445 welcome such a situation? I very much doubt it. It may not be long before the Soviet fleet, operating from bases in those ex-Portuguese territories, has a potential stranglehold over the oil supply routes of the West, which are vital to our survival. In that lies the absolute folly of what the Government seem to be contemplating with regard to Simonstown.
If the transition in those Portuguese territories could have been gradual, perhaps benefit might have accrued, but, so far as one can see, that is not the case, although it is perhaps a little early to pronounce with any certainty. But it is partially a menacing situation, just as menacing as the situation in metropolitan Portugal, where true liberal democracy seems to have been so rapidly extinguished.
§ Mr. Hastings
The hon. Gentleman should pay attention to responsible reports from Portugal.
It cannot be denied that the Portuguese collapse has made it more urgent for the Rhodesian Government to reach an accommodation with the African people. They would be well advised to do so. I hope they will. But the point is that, alas, nothing that we say or do in this connection will have any effect. South Africa can have an effect, and what happens in the Portuguese territories can have an effect, but all that we are doing this sad day is simply to debate yet again the pathetic, meaningless, little annual gesture of sanctions.
My position has not changed over the matter. I shall take only a few minutes to explain it again. It must be about the eighth or ninth time I have tried to do so. I said at the outset that sanctions would achieve nothing except to toughen the resolve of the white people of Rhodesia; marginally to damage the Rhodesian development, and thus to harm the black people of Rhodesia. So it has proved.
I remind the House yet again of my conviction that the guilt for what has happened in Rhodesia does not lie primarily with any of the peoples of Rhodesia but with a series of British Governments. I do not exempt my own party from this stricture. The guilt lies 1446 with those who pretended to responsibility without power; who goaded a small, mainly British community, which was just as fair and liberal minded as any other small British community, and thus turned it into an embattled laager, with the world, at least officially, and somewhat wearily, ranged against it.
The guilt lies with those who half-promised independence and then denied it; who always asked for more than was viable or sensible to expect. It lies with those who never had the courage or the judgment to make a deal with moderate and reasonable men such as Welensky and Whitehead, and their contemporaries; and to leave it to those people to work out the difficult destiny of Rhodesia for themselves. It lies with those who preached endlessly about Africa often from ignorance and seldom with much conviction, at least to those who know those territories. It lies with those who did their silly best, ineffectually to wound while they well knew they had no power to strike.
It is a sordid, petty little aftermath of Empire which British Governments should have had the experience and wisdom to avoid. In constructive terms, it has achieved nothing, but, by destroying such influence and good will as we enjoyed in that part of the world and could have exercised, it has damaged the stability of Central Africa. It has caused, and still will cause, sadness and some suffering to a land and people that I and my family have loved and respected.
Therefore, as usual, I shall vote against the order. I am well aware that that is perhaps an empty gesture, but from my point of view it is an honourable one; and that is more than can be said for the empty gesture implied by the order before us this afternoon.
§ 1.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)
I am afraid I cannot support the views of those of my hon. Friends who appear to be calling for recognition——
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
Hon. Members know that the choice of speakers is in the hands of the Chair. One tries to keep a balance so that we have one speaker for the order and one against. I am calling the hon. 1447 Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) and hon. Members will soon appreciate why I have called him to speak next.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
As I was saying, I cannot support the views of those of my hon. Friends who have been calling for recognition of an independent Rhodesia. It seems to me that in doing so they are getting perilously close to those hon. Members on the Government side of the House who call for indemnity for the Clay Cross councillors. It is not possible to pick and choose the laws we obey and those we disobey. In the same way, it is not possible for British subjects to decide whether or not they shall owe allegiance to Her Majesty.
The position in Rhodesia is that the present Rhodesian régime is deliberately in a state of outlawry in relation to the British Crown. Adherents of the Rhodesian cause are no more entitled to plead political justification for throwing off that allegiance than are Clay Cross councillors or violent demonstrators in our streets entitled to disregard the law.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
Will my hon. Friend say whether, at the time of the first UDI in the history of the British Empire, those who urged conciliation were wrong and Lord North was right?
§ Mr. Stanbrook
My hon. Friend is right to suggest that conciliation at any time in a dispute, such as the one he outlines, is necessary. Of course, it should not have happened. It was not necessary for the Rhodesian people wishing for a peaceful settlement of their problem to go for UDI. It was possible for them to proceed on the basis that they had quasi-dominion status. They could have achieved steady and orderly progress towards a good constitution for Rhodesia if they had taken such a course.
The whole blame rests on the so-called Government of Ian Smith. It is he who has brought about these troubles and who has brought them upon his own people. Those troubles have reached greater proportions as the situation has continued.
It is to my great regret as a lawyer that the Rhodesian judiciary has, with some honourable exceptions, connived at this process and given a cloak of legality to what is an unlawful institution by any 1448 known principle of British law. It broke its judicial oaths of allegiance, and for that it deserves ever-lasting opprobrium.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
This is not a technical question of legality alone. In a real practical sense there is no future for permanent European settlement in Africa, save on one condition, and that is that the control of government should be in African hands. I implore my hon. Friends who talk otherwise to face reality.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd
Is my hon. Friend saying that on his definition there must be black rule in all those areas of Southern Africa which were not occupied by Africans when the Europeans arrived in that part of the world? If so, will he indicate those areas and say by what definition and by what criteria he arrives at that view?
§ Mr. Stanbrook
My hon. Friend is dealing with the moral justification for Europeans being present in Africa at all. I am not disputing it. What I am asking for is that my hon. Friends display a realistic appreciation of the present position in Africa—a position in whch the constitutional rights of European settlers have been gradually diminished, restricted and confined.
The reality is that if there is to be peace in Southern Africa this fact must be appreciated. There is no real future for European settlers who do not accept that ultimately there must be African rule. All history is against the Rhodesian Government. It is true that there are many honourable and decent people in Rhodesia who hate what Mr. Ian Smith has done. But in Southern Africa the environment is unreal for them. It is an artificial situation politically and culturally.
Most white Rhodesians do not know of the vitality in African life that is found elsewhere in Africa. If they were to hear the throbbing of African drums at night, a natural phenomenon elsewhere, they would regard it as the start of insurrection. Elsewhere in Africa thousands of Europeans live happily and freely if not always undisturbed, and if at times somewhat uneasily. There is a natural vitality and vigour in the African States under African rulers.
1449 Of course tyranny exists in Africa, in Southern Africa as well as in Northern Africa, East Africa and West Africa, but generally outside Southern Africa it is not directed against Europeans. That is a most important fact which the settlers and the true Rhodesian-born white Rhodesians should remember. Europeans living in Africa outside Southern Africa share with their African neighbours in the colour, variety and vigour of life in Africa, and its insecurity as well as in its high rewards and in its low administrative standards as well as the great good humour that is always so close to the surface that it comes bubbling out and makes everybody feel the better for having had a bit of a dispute.
If white Rhodesians could be induced to learn these things and to know what it is like to live under an African Government elsewhere in the African continent and if they could be induced to show more trust in the Africans among whom they live and in the leaders who have developed among the Africans—so many of whom unfortunately have been imprisoned or detained—we might soon get a reasonable settlement of the Rhodesian problem. But it must be on the basis of reality. The reality is that ultimately, and comparatively soon, Rhodesia will be recognised as a black man's country and white residents will be welcome only to the extent that they accept that reality.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)
Does the hon. Gentleman foresee a situation in which white people would participate in essentially African government developments?
§ Mr. Stanbrook
That is perfectly possible, as has happened in other States such as Kenya and Zambia, but I do not want to mislead anybody into thinking that this is a permanent state of affairs. In the transitional period no doubt European participation in African legislative councils and Parliaments is welcome, necessary and perhaps beneficial to the countries concerned. In the long term, however, one has to recognise the reality that European participation in government is not wanted. Europeans will be replaced by indigenous Africans, educated, experienced and capable of running their own affairs.
1450 The vast majority—96 per cent.—of the people of Rhodesia are Africans. It is therefore inescapable that sooner or later the Government of that country will be African and will be able to supply all their own members from within their own population. The other 4 per cent. must learn to accept this fact and accept its consequences. The lesson for them is to approach the whole question of the future of their constitutional development on that basis.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
My hon. Friend suggests that there will be no power sharing. If we believe in democracy, we must believe in majority rule and what it amounts to in Africa and elsewhere. If continuation of sanctions helps to bring about this change of attitude on the part of white Rhodesians, I believe that the order is justified.
§ Mr. John Mendelson
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is a very serious point of order. Earlier, when I tried to rise on a point of order, I did not make any noise because you said, I thought reasonably, that you intended to call Members with differing points of view and that we would soon see the reason why you had called the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook). Now that you have called a third hon. Member on the Opposition benches I protest. I do not want it to be thought outside this House that only Conservative Members are interested in the fate of the people of Rhodesia. This is a very serious matter. I submit that you should revise your decision and call an hon. Member from the Government benches.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) raises an interesting point of order. All right hon. and hon. Members will agree that we want to have a balanced debate rather than a string of speakers all putting forward more or less the same point of view. The hon. Member for Penistone agrees that I was correct in calling the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) because I knew that he would be putting 1451 forward a point of view differing from that of many of his right hon. and hon. Friends. Why, then, does the hon. Member for Penistone question my decision when I call an hon. Member who is opposed to the renewal of sanctions?
§ Mr. Ioan Evans
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We all realise that there is a division in the Conservative Party on this matter. That is well known to everyone. However, I put it to you that there are majority rights in this House and that the point of view in this House which is against the maintenance of sanctions is that of only a small minority. That fact should be reflected in those right hon. and hon. Members who are called to speak.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I shall deal with one point of order at a time. I am not yet in a position to deal with three, like a juggler. The point of order challenges the method of selection of speakers by the Chair. I have made it clear that in my opinion I am dealing with this debate in a fair-minded fashion, allowing one point of view to be succeeded by an opposing point of view. That is what I am doing, and I have no intention of changing my choice of speakers. Mr. Patrick Wall.
§ Mr. James Johnson
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Without challenging your decision, may I suggest to you that the House is divided on party lines and that, although I accept the philosophy and the ethics of what you say, the mechanics are difficult. Normally the occupant of the Chair calls an hon. Member who is in favour of a proposal or one against it from either side of the House. That is the conventional, traditional and historic party confrontation. May I say, with all deference and humility, that it is only when that possibility is exhausted that the time comes to say that if there are hon. Members left on one side who still wish to speak they will be called one after the other. Otherwise it is difficult to accept——
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. May I remind the House that a number of hon. Members still wish to take 1452 part in the debate? We hope to reach a decision at four o'clock. I think that that will be for the convenience of all right hon. and hon. Members. Incidentally, a number of hon. Members now in the Chamber were not present when I took the Chair, and I was not aware that so many would wish to contribute. We are wasting considerable time. If I felt that there would be no opportunity for those hon. Members who are now rising on points of order to be heard, their point would be a valid one. However, I can assure them that it is only a matter of remaining patient for a little longer. They will all be called.
§ 1.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
The House may be surprised to hear not only that I support the right of my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stan-brook) to say what he has said, but that I go some way with him. Because of the stupidity of successive British Governments, we may be getting to the position where whites have no place in Africa. Before this happened there would be widespread revolution, bloodshed and war which would create chaos in Africa, and the only people to benefit would be our potential enemies in the Warsaw Pact, including the Soviet Union, whose object since the end of the war has always been to draw Southern Africa away from its Western orbit.
My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington says that the white man has no place in Africa. Is it not logical to say, therefore, that brown and black men have no place in this country? I hope that my hon. Friend does not take that view.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me an opportunity to clarify what I said. I said that the white man certainly may have a future in Africa but that it must be on the basis that he accepts that most African States at present and all in the future are and will be governed by African Governments and peoples. That applies to this country just as much as to Africa. Britain is not a multiracial State, and I hope that it never will be. It is the State of the British people alone. We shall have strangers and foreigners, no doubt, but they will always be foreigners and will not be given a constitutional place in this country.
§ Mr. Wall
In many ways I agree with my hon. Friend, and I regret it. I believe that non-racialism is right, both here and in Africa. But, human nature being what it is and Governments being what they are, what my hon. Friend says may turn out to be correct in the eyes of history.
I pay tribute to the speech of the Foreign Secretary. I had the privilege of being with him in Africa on a long visit. I know that he has a genuine feeling for all races in Africa and that he is trying to do his best to find a reasonable solution to this complex problem. I do not think he will succeed, because I do not think that conditions now exist for a reasonable solution. I know, however, that he will genuinely do his best to find it.
I pay tribute also to the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton), who is my neighbour across the Humber Estuary. I am glad to hear that he has the courage so soon after coming to this House to vote against the Government's views on the order and, presumably, against the official view of Her Majesty's Opposition. It is a good start that he is prepared to stick to his opinion. I hope that we shall hear more from him on this subject during the next few months.
I think that I carry with me most right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House when I say that the first objective we have in mind is to obtain a compromise solution and to prevent a race war in Southern Africa.
I am not so sure that all Government supporters will agree with what I believe to be the second objective, which is to maintain British interests and the broad Western interests in this strategically important part of the world.
I believe that sanctions make the achievement of those two objectives impossible. That is why I intend to vote against their renewal today. After nine years sanctions have proved to be a flesh-wound which weakens but which cannot and will not kill. However, they create weakness and distrust, and I am sorry to say that I do not believe that any Rhodesian trusts the word of any British Government of any party.
The reason is that on three occasions the Rhodesians have been led up the garden path. The first was during the 1454 period of activity of the Monckton Commission. Its terms of reference, clearly laid down by Her Majesty's Government, were breached by the commission. That breach was accepted by this House, and it led to the discussion of federation.
The second occasion was that of the Victoria Falls Conference. The British Government of the day would have failed to get all the participants to that conference if they had not assured the Southern Rhodesian Government that there was no need for a further constitutional conference before the independence of Southern Rhodesia. It was not said to the Rhodesians that Southern Rhodesia would gain independence on the basis of the 1969 constitution, but that is what they were led to believe.
Then there was the Pearce Commission. The Rhodesian Government believed that the Pearce Commission would go to Rhodesia before Christmas to record people's views on the Fifth Principle. They were given to understand that that was so, though again not in writing. The British Government's position on these occasions was deliberately ambiguous and could be taken either way. Rightly or wrongly, the Rhodesian Government believed what they said. As it turned out, the Pearce Commission did not begin work until the February. Those two months destroyed the last chance of a compromise between the British Government and Rhodesia and, therefore, the last chance of a compromise on this difficult and dangerous question.
I regret to say that on all three occasions it was a Conservative Government who were in office. That is perhaps one reason why the word of a Conservative Government is not always to be trusted not only in Africa and why perhaps we lost so many votes in the last two elections.
I have a list of official Conservative responses to orders of this type over the last 10 years. The House will recall that the party was split three ways on the first vote, not on the order but on the oil sanctions. When right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power from 1964 to 1970 we had four years with no Division. Then in their last year, 1969, the official Opposition abstained, although some of my hon. Friends forced a vote.
1455 The Conservative Government came to power in 1970. Then, for the first time, the Conservative Government voted in favour of the motion. I and some of my hon. Friends forced a vote against it. In 1971 there was no Division because we were told that Sir Alec Douglas-Home was going out to Rhodesia, that the Pearce Commission was being appointed and that it was hoped that the matter could be settled amicably. That did not happen. In 1972 the Conservative Government again voted in favour of the motion, but some of my hon. Friends voted against it. In 1973 the same thing happened again. In opposition we abstain, in government we vote in favour.
In 1974 there is to be no official vote. This debate takes place on a Friday to keep the temperature down as far as possible. However, I and a number of my hon. Friends are in the House to carry out what we believe to be the right policy by voting against the order as we have done during the last five or six years.
I want to discuss two basic matters concerning this dispute, the possibility of compromise and the maintenance of British interests. Before doing so I should like to mention one point to the Minister who is to reply. I refer to the future of Sir Frederick Crawford. Sir Frederick occupied an important position in industry in Southern Rhodesia in recent years. He has now retired. He is an elderly man who served his country well as Governor-General of Uganda and prior to that for many years in the Colonial Service. He wishes to return to this country from time to time. I do not think that he can now be accused of working against the order. I hope the Minister will tell us that the ban against Sir Frederick Crawford will be removed now that he has retired. The hon. Gentleman will recall that when we were in government his predecessor allowed Sir Frederick to come to this country from time to time. I hope that this official black list on Sir Frederick Crawford will now end.
I turn to the main burden of my argument, which is on the question of compromise. I have used what little influence I have on both white and black friends in Rhodesia always in favour of a compromise. Unfortunately, I believe that we are now moving away from the 1456 time when a compromise is possible. I do not believe that the European in Rhodesia will trust a British Government again.
There were two opportunities for compromise—"Fearless" and the Pearce Commission. Both were missed. The compromise put forward in "Fearless" by the then Government could and should have been accepted. I believe that the Rhodesians were partly to blame for not accepting it.
The compromise effected by Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Mr. Smith, which led to the Pearce Commission, could and should have gone through. I believe that it would have done so had it not been for the deliberate, or unintentional delay involved. Of course, the Rhodesians are partly to blame in both instances. At the time of the Pearce Commission they took no opportunity of putting forward their side, taking the view that it was a purely British exercise. That clearly was a mistake.
The time for compromise is past because Europeans in Rhodesia must look at their situation against the background of the rest of that continent. Since the declaration of independence in Rhodesia in 1965 there have been 42 coups d'etat or revolutions, or attempted revolutions or coups d'etat, in African countries, I shall not weary the House by listing them now. Year after year four or five African countries have changed their Governments by violence or near-violence. Therefore, how can Rhodesians put their faith in a majority African Government and expect to live through it?
My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington and Labour Members have suggested that we should encourage them to submit. What African country today where there is a European minority has one white Member of Parliament? I know that they had white Members of Parliament on independence and for a few years afterwards, but not today. There may be one, but I do not believe there is. Certainly there is not in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda. How can Europeans, therefore, be asked to trust this mythical multiracial society which I believe was possible 10 years ago but is no longer possible today because of the state of the world?
I notice that Labour Members always condemn anything that happens in 1457 Rhodesia. They know just as well as I do that in the majority of African Commonwealth countries universities are closed, trade unions are banned and the Opposition are sometimes locked up or made powerless. These are all matters that they would condemn, but they do not often get on their feet in this House to condemn them. However, if anything happens in either South Africa or Rhodesia there is a tremendous furore.
§ Mr. James Johnson
May I ask the hon. Gentleman one simple, short factual question? How many blacks does he find sitting in this Chamber at the moment?
§ Mr. Wall
The hon. Gentleman knows the answer to his own question. I do not know what relevance it has. The argument from the Government's side and from one of my hon. Friends is that in a multiracial society in Rhodesia the white minority's rights would be protected by the Sixth Principle. I believe that should be so, but recent history in Africa shows that it cannot be so any more.
§ Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)
The hon. Gentleman will recollect that in a speech I made in this House on 23rd July I roundly condemned the double standards in these matters.
§ Mr. Wall
I am glad on this occasion to recognise that the hon. Gentleman said that. Indeed, hon. Gentlemen opposite have condemned what is going on in, for example, Uganda. I am suggesting that when some quite minor thing happens in Rhodesia there is a furore from the other side of the House, but that when worse things happen in countries like Uganda occasionally an hon. Gentleman opposite will refer to it, but only in passing. There are still double standards. I think we must agree to disagree. I do not want to detain the House longer than is necessary.
I turn now to the African view in Southern Africa. I believe that Bishop Muzorewa, the Chairman of the African National Council, is genuine about wanting to find a compromise, but he is in an impossible position. He has an executive council of 55 members including both ZANU and ZAPU who do not want to compromise with Mr. Smith. The pressures from Zambia and now Mozambique have made his task impossible.
1458 Whom can a moderate African trust today? Let us take, for example, what has happened in Mozambique about which some Labour Members are very pleased. That country has been handed over to an organisation supported by China and the Soviet Union. Moderate Africans in Mozambique, mainly from the Macua, the biggest tribe, who backed the Portuguese, have been handed over to their enemies by the Portuguese. That is what happens to Africans who trust European Governments. However, it will not happen in Rhodesia. It cannot, because, unlike Algeria and Mozambique, Rhodesia has an indigenous Government, an indigenous civil service and, above all, an indigenous army that cannot be controlled from Paris or Lisbon as in the case of the two countries to which I referred.
Who suffers from the attacks of freedom fighters or terrorists—call them what we will—to whom some Labour Members are asking us to subscribe money? The people who suffer are the Africans. I have in my hand a list of 100 or more assassinations and brutalities. An African schoolmaster was clubbed to death in front of his pupils. Women with children in their wombs have been disembowelled. That is what happens in Africa. It is not generally the Europeans who suffer but is the Africans themselves. I beg the House to think of them. I believe and regret that because of these things the idea of a multiracial State in Africa is now out.
There are two alternatives. The first is to give way—NIBMR, "one-man one-vote", and so on—which means African domination everywhere and probably a one-party State or a one-tribe set-up. The second possibility is to say that Rhodesia should be divided into two African territories, Mashonaland and Matabeleland, which incidentally are traditionally hostile to each other, with a white area around Salisbury that will eventually join South Africa as her Rhodesian province. I believe that Rhodesia had a chance, as the Central African Federation did, of showing that a multiracial society could work, but that is no longer possible.
My final point relates to British interests. The aim of the Soviet policy since the end of the Second World War has been to control Middle East oil and to detach Southern Africa from the orbit 1459 of the Western world, and in that she is gradually succeeding. The Cape route will be vital for at least the next 15 years. At the end of that time that route will not be nearly so important, because by then we shall have alternative supplies of oil from the North Sea and the Arctic. During those 15 years, however, 57 per cent. of oil, not only for this country but for Western Europe and the United States, will come in via the Cape route, as will 25 per cent. of our food supplies.
The only link between NATO and South Africa is through the Simonstown Agreement, yet apparently some Government Members want to abrogate that, and this at a time when the Soviet fleet in the Indian Ocean has increased fourfold during the last five years.
If by some miracle, of which many Labour Members would approve, a black government were to come to power tomorrow in South Africa, what would be the result for this country? The first responsibility of any United Kingdom Government is to protect the security of this country—that is why they are in office. I suggest that, if there were a black government in South Africa, that country would be detached from Western Europe and that at best the government would be neutral and at worst hostile.
The greatest statesman in Africa at the time, Sir Abubakar Balewa, who was murdered two years after making this statement, said at the time of his country's independence: "The British have been with us for a long time, first as masters, then as leaders and finally as partners, but always as friends." He was a great friend of this country and he realised what could be achieved by moderation and evolution, yet his life was ended in a tragic manner. Because of his friendship and understanding he delayed the independence of his great country, Nigeria, for two years so as to strengthen the federal government, yet a few months after that country was granted its independence even he was forced to denounce the Anglo-Nigeria defence treaty. It is impossible today for any African Government to have any direct defence agreement with the Western world. They are now being taken over by the USSR. We are losing vital ports in Mozambique and Angola. Labour Members want to force the whole of Southern Africa out of 1460 the Western orbit, and that is just what the Soviets have been trying to do for the past 25 years.
There are two choices before us. We can do what some Members on the Left of the Labour Party want us to do. We can apply pressure and force the pace, which would create revolution and encourage violence. The result would be chaos in the whole area, and no African, Indian or European would benefit in any way. The only people to benefit would be the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc.
The other choice is to end sanctions, to try co-operation and to try to encourage South Africa along the path of evolution towards a more just society. If we apply pressure at a time when South Africa is moving in that direction, we know what will happen. As a race, the white South Africans will resist pressure. What we want today are co-operation and understanding, and they will not be achieved by this order. I believe that South Africa, and above all Rhodesia, would respond if the order were not passed and if we were to change course and try co-operation and example rather than to foresee a policy that will encourage revolution, which is what the order will indirectly achieve.
Because the order will encourage violence and the creation of a racial divide in Southern Africa and contribute to the growing world crisis, I shall vote against it, and I hope that in doing so I shall be supported by a number of my hon. Friends in what on a Friday is clearly a demonstration vote.
§ 2.5 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) made a speech of inspissating gloom, as he so often does on African affairs. He often visits that continent, just as I do, but we seem to meet different types of Africans and move in different societies.
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) made a speech similar to that to which I have just referred. He said that this was the tenth occasion on which we had debated this subject and that the order was a petty, meaningless gesture and a waste of time. I do not for a moment take that view, not least 1461 because we have today heard two magnificent speeches, one from each side. The first was by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) and the second by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook), whose speech was helpful, hopeful and constructive.
The hon. Member for Orpington—as I have—has not merely lived in Africa but worked there, and I endorse what he said about the vitality of the Africans and the way in which it is possible to build a new society or develop a new co-operation. This was referred to by the hon. Member for Haltemprice. The hon. Gentleman and I want co-operation in that part of the world, but we seem to go about getting it in different ways.
The speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire was somewhat deja vu—Smith, the Beira patrol, "Tiger", and so on. It seems to me that Conservative Members meet black Africans but do not attempt to understand them or accept what the hon. Member for Orpington called the changing situation, the new Africa, the new Commonwealth and, indeed, the new world.
All good back benchers and all good Ministers and ex-Ministers should have a sense of history and, more important, a knowledge of geography, because many of today's situations are best seen in a geophysical sense. Unlike the opinions expressed by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire, the position is not deja vu. We are faced with a changing, dynamic situation, but Conservative Members wish the world to stay static. They refuse to move with the changing world and they will not join what I term the mainstream of history. The fact is that the world is changing, and people are changing with it, and Conservative Members must get out of their bunkholes. It is not only Smith in Rhodesia who is in a bunker; some Conservative Members are also in bunkers.
We meet different people in Africa, just as we do in the United Kingdom, but when Conservative Members take part in debates in the House they adopt the same purblind attitude to domestic affairs as to events in Africa.
§ Mr. Johnson
I shall not give a complete list but will mention only Somalia, a country which I know fairly well. The hon. Gentleman has a phobia about the Soviet deep-sea fleet. I have no objection to the ships of a friendly Socialist State bunkering at Mogadishu or Aden. The world does not consist of anti-Bolsheviks. These people live in the world, they must fish in our seas and they must live with their neighbours. I object to the view that Soviet naval vessels should not enter the Indian Ocean. At the Commonwealth Conference at Colombo, a debate was entitled "The Indian Ocean: Zone of Peace", the brainchild of Madame Bandaranaike. The Americans have bases in the area. The "Kittyhawk" aircraft carrier sails into Bahrein as we used to do 10 or 20 years ago.
Ministers with a sense of geography can see from the map of Africa that Mozambique and Angola are not just names but are the two political shoulders which buttressed this man Smith for many years, in Bulawayo, Wankie, Salisbury and so forth. He has now lost at least two and possibly three boltholes and now has only the Beit Bridge south to the Cape to rely on. The situation is changing, and I hope that hon. Members will take note of this new factor.
It is not merely foolish but flouting the lessons of history to think that a mixed racial community can develop immediately as a so-called "mixed government". This was not achieved in the past by better men than Smith. It has never worked even as an experiment between friendly parties in this House of Commons. Men like Welensky and Whitehead, better and more liberal men than Smith, could not achieve it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley) talked about Mr. Smith's war record, but then qualified that compliment by saying that he was the only gentleman in the Cabinet. He said that Smith had about him a gang of thugs. Being more discreet, I might have said that they were political hooligans.
Good men who attempted this mixed government experiment in the 1950's with friendly neighbours about them could not make it work. It failed in the old Federation of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. If we are as realistic as the hon. Member for Orpington, we shall ask how we expect a 1463 handful of whites to maintain their supremacy and impose their way of life and standards amongst 300 million black men in Africa. It is not on, and it does not work.
There is another new factor. We complain bitterly about the price of oil, but we should not forget that many millions of Africans are Muslims, especially in Northern Nigeria, Uganda, Somalia and Sudan. The OAU has many Muslims on its key committees. These Arab peoples will now use their wealth in trying, and I believe succeeding, to support political movements in black Africa south of the Equator. These are not now petty local movements of the type that used to lash themselves into a frenzy against the colonial governor in his office 10 or 20 years ago. This is a totally different situation. Such men cannot be denied their heritage in their own black continent, and I believe that in Southern Africa they will achieve it in the near future.
Like the hon. Member for Orpington, I have worked with black men in Africa. I believe that they are as good as, if not even better than, he said. They have a buoyant sense of humour, they are as intelligent as we are, and sometimes they work harder. They are perfectly competent. Although people have pointed to the incidents and signs in Mozambique, let no one forget Northern Ireland. The pot should not call the kettle black. We are not without fault. Yet we have been much longer in the business of parliamentary democracy, looking after our own affairs, than these new black States. There should be in this House a little less carping and a little less blackguarding of these people. Above all, at this time of their emergence as new States in Africa there should be more support for them.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath)
I hope that I am in order in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Mr. Scott), who is sitting on the Opposition Front Bench, on reaching his important position in the party. We all know that housing requires youth, new ideas and dedication, and I am sure that he will bring all three to his new responsibilities.
As one who was highly critical of the speed with which the last Labour Opposi- 1464 tion shook off the cloak of Government responsibility in their approach to Europe, I am pleased that the present Opposition are to retain the cloak of responsibility over the vexed question of sanctions. Of course I respect the position of a small minority of my colleagues who have consistently, and for long, opposed sanctions right from the start in this House. They have great knowledge of South Africa and they are able and articulate exponents of their cause, but I cannot always find myself in agreement with that cause. I should like to work for a greater consensus in this House on matters of defence and foreign affairs. We should be able to hold common ground in the light of the record of the last Conservative Government over the policy of sanctions.
No chapter in British history gives me more satisfaction than that which records the granting of freedom to over 600 million people of all creeds and races throughout the world—a chapter which surpasses earlier ones recording astonishing feats of courage and brilliance in the arts of war, a chapter which must not be blotched at this stage by a lack of foresight and will over Rhodesia. As a comparative newcomer to politics. I believe that it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing events as we would like to see them rather than as they are.
I should like to join the tributes paid today to Sir Alec Douglas-Home, particularly for his time as Foreign Secretary. I thought that his knowledge of the world situation, particularly East-West relations, was always superb, but I must confess that I was not so confident about his touch when it came to the baffling new number of States in Africa. I was not so happy either about my party's approach to some of the new African States over the last 10 years. For example, when we were in Opposition last time, I do not believe that any senior member of the Shadow Cabinet made a point of going around and keeping in touch with some of these new States. I hope that we shall not make that mistake this time round.
Over Rhodesia, Sir Alec surprised me. When he set out on his mission I thought it was doomed to failure. In the end it did fail, but it had come close to success. I am reminded of a remark made, I think, by Mr. Nehru about Lord Wavell when the latter was Viceroy, "Some 1465 people's failures are greater than other people's successes." That holds true of Sir Alec over Rhodesia.
It is not hard to visualise the effect on both Africa and the United Nations if the order failed to be carried today, or the resultant further dwindling of British prestige throughout the Commonwealth. My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) made a crisp and effective maiden speech. As an ex-Service man myself, I welcome his contribution, but I cannot agree with his conclusions. He thought there should be a change in the policy. I would suggest to him that this is the worst possible moment to make such a change. Above all else, Mr. Smith wants recognition from Britain, and he wants overseas investment. I do not, frankly, believe that it is the rôle of my generation of Conservatives to bring economic comfort and political respectability to Mr. Smith. His treatment of too many of his fellow countrymen speaks too loudly against him at present.
One aspect which has not been covered in the debate so far is the economic consequence of not carrying the order today. I believe that there could be a real danger that a number of countries, such as Nigeria, might impose total embargoes against us. I need not remind the House that we get one-third of our cooca imports from Nigeria and that we export over £100 million-worth of goods to Nigeria annually. I am not suggesting for a moment that the economic arguments are overwhelming, but surely it is our duty to our constituents to raise these unspoken arguments in the House at such a time as this.
Many of my hon. Friends have a deep concern about the defence situation around the waters of the Cape, which, indeed, I share. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) spoke on the danger of the increasing Russian influence in those parts.
§ Mr. Townsend
However, I want to put this point to my hon. Friend. If we are seriously concerned, as I hope we are, about the danger presented by the Soviet fleet off the Cape, surely we must take into account the effect of losing 1466 the friendship of so many African States in that part of Africa. I happen to be a believer in the Simonstown Agreement, but the arguments are getting closer and closer. Come the time when we have our own North Sea oil ashore, there will be good arguments for scrapping that agreement. On balance, however, at present the arguments are in favour of it.
One of the strongest arguments against the agreement is its effect on emergent African countries. I seriously ask my colleagues not to ignore these new States. If we want allies in peace and war, we quite often have to gain them in unaccustomed quarters.
Luckily, being on the Opposition side of the House, I do not have to take too seriously the motions passed at my party conferences, unlike hon. Members on the Government benches, who are in frequent trouble after these occasions. But for once I am in line with one of my party conference's decisions. I draw the attention of my colleagues to the fact that our last party conference rejected by a large majority the call to drop sanctions last year. Sir Alec Douglas-Home, speaking in Blackpool on 11th October last year, saidI say with all the emphasis I can command that now and for the foreseeable future, to drop sanctions without a settlement would he to fall between two stools. … If we want a constitutional settlement which will serve Rhodesia's future, by far the best chance of it is to maintain the status quo.That is where I take my stand today. Rhodesia can, even at this very late hour, attain legal independence in a form which would be broadly acceptable to the people of Rhodesia, black and pink. A settlement which does not command that support cannot and will not last.
As the only tiny contribution I can make towards the realisation of that dream of honest independence and peace. I will vote this afternoon for the maintenance of sanctions.
§ 2.23 p.m.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
I am very glad to be able to speak after the hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend), after his thoughtful and interesting speech. I am also pleased to find that the hon. Member for Bexley-heath is not a severe critic of the previous right hon. Member for Bexley, the Leader of the Opposition, concerning policy on Rhodesia.
1467 So far we have been treated, by the usual crew of supporters of pro-racialist régimes in Africa, to a travesty of the truth of the position on Rhodesia and on the countries neighbouring Rhodesia. When we have been forced to listen to that throughout all these debates, it is refreshing to find an hon. Member on the Conservative side of the House who upholds some of the elements of the bipartisan tradition on Rhodesia which Governments of both major parties have valued over the last 10 years.
It was sound sense when the hon. Gentleman said that if he could make a tiny contribution to bringing about a peaceful arrangement, it would be worth while. I join him in that thought. It can be only a tiny contribution. However, the hon. Gentleman spoke in the spirit in which these affairs ought to be conducted.
I have given notice to the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) that I shall be criticising what he said. I hope that, wherever he is at present, he will have time to return to the Chamber. In order to give him that opportunity, I turn first to the order before I reply to the slanderous remarks he made about the people of Portugal.
It is some time since I was last in Rhodesia. However, looking at Rhodesia from this distance, one sees that there are a number of things going on which are not without hope. One of the reasons why I believe that they are not without hope—I have usually been much more sceptical about any such internal discussions—is precisely because the people of Portugal have decided that they will no longer be the prison wardens of African people. Honour is due to them for that decision. I have recently returned from Portugal. As the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) well knows, I went there on an official mission for the Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Before I say any more about the attitude of the Portuguese Government and the Portuguese people, I have a little more hope concerning the discussions in Rhodesia, because the European population in Rhodesia are intelligent and can see for themselves that the change in Portugal has tremendous implications for their own future. I believe that there are the first signs, the beginning of evidence, that some of the people who have until 1468 now been egging on Mr. Smith to be as tough as possible against the African majority in Rhodesia are beginning to have second thoughts. It is, therefore, possible to hope—it is no more than a hope—that Bishop Muzorewa and his associates and a growing number of the Europeans in Rhodesia will in the near future turn the discussions which have taken place from time to time often— interrupted—into useful practical discussions, which might lead to some hopeful developments.
I put this matter first in my remarks deliberately because it is slanderous nonsense for the hon. Member for Haltemprice to suggest that hon. Members on the Government side of the House who support the order look forward to revolutionary and violent developments in Rhodesia, that we have no concern for the European population there and that we are concerned only with criticising white régimes and never open our mouths when wrong deeds are committed by African Governments. All that is slanderous nonsense.
§ Mr. Wall
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will read HANSARD very carefully. My criticism was directed at those hon. Members on the Government side of the House who are prepared to give money to terrorist organisations which commit atrocities. I have in my hand photographs of examples of these atrocities. It is them that I was criticising.
§ Mr. Mendelson
I shall come to that matter. But the hon. Gentleman said all the other things I have just mentioned. It is within the memory of hon. Members who were present when he spoke. Now he is moving away from all the other slanderous comments upon hon. Members and narrowing it down to one particular decision, of which I am very proud. The hon. Gentleman has to be nailed on the lies and slanders that he has told about us before he came to that point.
§ Mr. Mendelson
I shall not insist on the word "lies". I always follow your guidance, Mr. Speaker. However, regarding the slanderous statements against hon. 1469 Members on the Government side of the House about our attitude to South Africa, the hon. Gentleman must know that when some political prisoners were in great difficulties in Ghana we, along with hon. Members from the Conservative Party, were the first to make our voice heard. We were the first to take action with the then Leader of the House when the Labour Party was in power.
The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do, because he has been a Member for a long time, that we have always been active and, indeed, that there is not one right hon. or hon. Member on the Front Bench representing the Foreign Office who has not been active. Over the years every one of them—my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, the Minister of State and the Under-Secretary—has been active in intervening with African presidents and rulers in support of civil liberties for the people of those countries. That is the truth. I want to put it on record before going further into the argument.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd
This is a matter of scale and balance. Can the hon. Gentle-man illustrate his argument by telling us, for example, what conspicuous action his party took during the Burundi massacres or the massacres in the Sudan?
§ Mr. Mendelson
If I were to be led into giving a complete list of every intervention that either as a party or as individual members of Governments we might have made in Khartoum or any other place, I should ruin the debate and I should incur the great disfavour of Mr. Speaker. I have quoted the example of Ghana. I could quote many more. On another occasion I shall inflict all the details upon the hon. Gentleman and the House. Today we want to reach a conclusion as early as is reasonably possible. This is not the time to go into the matter.
A number of hon. Members on this side took action at the time of the Burundi massacres. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson) is a great specialist on African affairs and knows this to be true. I should be trying the patience of the Chair if I were to go into further detail.
The general attitude is clear. We are as much concerned about civil liberties in African countries as we are in any 1470 other country. Only recently I questioned my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State before she undertook a journey to some African countries and I demanded that she should take up the case of a British white journalist who was being unjustly treated by the president of one of the friendly African countries. It is within the recollection of the House that I did that and that I received a positive reply from my hon. Friend.
It is not necessary for the argument for an hon. Member to make slanderous statements about us. I should have thought that our voice would be that much more effective if we agreed among ourselves that we are deeply concerned about civil liberites in all countries, whether in Africa or elsewhere, whether ruled by white governments or by black governments.
However, that is enough about that. As any hope of the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire having seen my name up on the television annunciator and turning up here is fast fading, I turn to what I want to say about the situation in Portugal and Portuguese East Africa.
The hon. Member for Haltemprice also made some inaccurate remarks about that position. Recently the Assembly of the Council of Europe sent a two-man mission—a member of the Swiss Parliament and myself—to Portugal to write a report about the situation there with a view to easing a way for Portugal into the Council of Europe. I was elected rapporteur by the Council of Europe for this purpose. I therefore had access, as one would not normally easily have access, to all circles in Portugal, to all Ministers, including the President, to the chairman of the electoral commission which is preparing for the elections in the spring of next year, and to all those who were slandered by the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire when he said that democracy and liberalism had again quickly come to an end in Portugal.
That statement by the hon. Gentleman was based upon no supporting evidence. No evidence or proof was provided by him concerning a people and a country which we have always prided ourselves on as being a very old ally of ours and of being so very close to the British people. That was all right as long as the dictatorship of Salazar was in charge. Then Portugal was our oldest ally, had a
1471 wonderful system and was a country to which it was lovely to go on holiday. Any criticism which came from the Labour side of the House against the Salazar dictatorship was rejected immediately on the ground that we must not criticise a friend.
Now that there has been a change of régime and the dictatorial dictatorship of Salazar has been overthrown, the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire slanders the new Portugese régime.
What we found on talking to people in Portugal—this is one of the most important developments as regards Portuguese East Africa—was that it was precisely the Portuguese armed forces movement who were mainly responsible for bringing the colonial war to an end.
It was my task as a member of the mission to interview the rather conservative editor of the main Lisbon newspaper, Diario de Noticias. During the interview the director of the paper had with him a young ex-parachute captain from the Portuguese Army. That young man made a most interesting contribution to the interview, because he gave me a glimpse of how the Portuguese armed forces movement came to be completely convinced that the colonial war had to come to an end.
The young ex-parachute captain said "When we were there recently, before we stopped the war, interviewing African prisoners and we found that they did not tell us anything any more, then we knew the war had to come to an end."
We therefore have the interesting position in Portugal today that it was the leaders of the armed forces movement, the senior military men, including the ex-President, General Spinola, and the present President of Portugal, who is not a leader of the armed forces movement but who has their full support, who were first convinced that the colonial war had to come to an end. It is because of that that the political and moral force for ending the war is so fully supported by the Portuguese people
Only on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons, among the old supporters of colonialist régimes, do we find the last remnants of support for the Portuguese colonial war which the Portuguese themselves and their armed 1472 forces have completely abandoned. That is where we find them, still on the burning deck and being cast into the limbo of history by the Portuguese people for their views. We shall have another recruit for that limbo of history in a few minutes' time and we shall not be surprised when we hear him.
The serious effect of this is very welcome. I think that the Portuguese people are engaged in a serious endeavour to create a democratic parliamentary system at home. It may interest hon. Members to know that we gained the impression from a long interview with the chairman of the electoral commission which is preparing the electoral system for elections next March, it is hoped, that they are very interested in what other Parliaments do and in electoral systems in other Western countries. I was glad to hear a few weeks ago that the chairman of the electoral commission had paid a visit to Britain and had discussions and consultations with experts here. There is a great interest in the way in which parliamentary government is run.
All these slanders about people always looking to Moscow and being interested only in what is done in Moscow are based upon no fact. None of the hon. Gentlemen who make these imputations has been near Lisbon in recent months. The climate under Salazar suited them much better. Now they do not go there any more. I am glad to say, however, that our people at the embassy in Lisbon are very well-informed about the developing situation and are taking great care to assemble the facts, which hon. Members who spoke against the Portuguese people obviously have not done.
My last point but one concerns the needs of the people of Portugal for economic aid and help. They ought to be supported by the Government, and I hope that moves will be put in train to give them full support. This is relevant to what happens in Africa. Obviously the change-over will require help and aid in economic development for the African colonies.
The situation of Frelimo is important and the point must be seriously dealt with. Who were responsible historically for the fact that, when the new Portugese Government came to consider giving independence to the people of Angola 1473 and Mozambique, only Frelimo was in existence? Those responsible were the men of the old Portuguese colonial régime. That régime systematically blocked the way to any movement of moderates for developing peacefully, just as Chiang Kai-shek has the historical responsibility in considerable part for the rise of the Communists in China. Originally the Communists were a minority movement but Chiang Kai-shek opened the way for them by executing every liberal leader among the Chinese people and preventing any democratic liberal movement from developing in any strength at all.
In the same way, by preventing any democratic liberal movement in Angola or Mozambique, the Portuguese colonial régime was responsible for the fact that Frelimo alone was seen by the African people as the movement of liberation and received their support. That Portuguese colonial régime and its supporters in this House are responsible for the fact that when Dr. Soares, the new Foreign Minister of Portugal, came to consider what sort of movements might help in taking power during the transitional period, there was nothing but Frelimo. I do not like, any more than anyone else likes, the fact that there was nothing but Frelimo, but it was the only movement of national liberation. There was no democratic, parliamentary liberal movement which could have taken over. This is the historical truth and should be put on record.
I do not wish to talk about the Simonstown Agreement today, although I fully understand the views of others who have done so and will do so, quite rightly. I shall reserve what I have to say about it for the debate which will follow the Government's statement on the general defence review and their decision on the Simonstown Agreement itself. But what is relevant at all times, certainly in this debate, is that, in our attitudes to these countries, we are not talking about an idealistic conception that merely wants to support every liberation movement everywhere. We are talking about what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary rightly called, in a recent speech in Wales, "Wider British interests".
It is a hard but seriously considered policy to consider where those wider British interests lie. It is nonsensical to 1474 argue that one is supporting British interests or even the interests of the European people in Rhodesia if one is counselling them, as the hon. Member for Haltemprice has done, to rely upon the Rhodesian Army. The Portuguese had 440,000 soldiers in their African colonial territories and yet were not able to enforce their policies. It is a misguided adventurist policy to give such advice to Mr. Ian Smith.
The proper policy is to see to it that Britain gives help to and has contact with all those in Rhodesia who wish to see the minority régime disappear—and wish to see it disappear by preparatory discussions between Bishop Muzorewa and his associates and groups of Europeans. I know, for example, that quite a number of businessmen in Rhodesia today are prepared for such discussions but are being kept down by the Rhodesian Government and prevented from entering them. That is the only way in which there is some hope of preparing a transition that will be peaceful. The advice to Mr. Smith to rely on the Rhodesian Army and be tough is the road to disaster.
I will support the order—and I am glad to know that hon. Members on both sides of the House support it—in the knowledge that there may be one more constructive chance for a peaceful transition in Rhodesia. We must stand firm by the order now if we want to help those in Rhodesia itself who want to seize that chance. That is the only constructive message that can come from this House today in supporting the order as against that remnant of hon. Members who always oppose the order, and who did so when the Conservative Government were in power. It is the advice of those on both sides of the House who know Rhodesia much better than these others do.
§ Mr. Mendelson
The hon. Member for Haltemprice mixes only with the white racialist régime when he goes there.
§ Mr. Mendelson
The hon. Member never mixes with the African people. I will not let him have the last word on this. I want to nail him. He never mixes with the African people. Sometimes I have followed him in his travels. I know the sort of circles in which he mixes.
1475 The last word must be that a counsel of despair will not convince anyone very much. The supporters of the Smith régime in this House are wrong now as they have been wrong throughout these last 10 years.
§ Mr. Wall
On a point or order, Mr. Speaker. I understand that when I was out of the Chamber the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) continued his attack on me. I point out that I have far more black and white friends in Rhodesia than he has. He has talked about the cases I have taken up for white Rhodesians. Perhaps the hon. Member will also look at the cases I have taken up for black Rhodesians.
§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)
I hope that the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) will not treat it as discourtesy if I direct my remarks simply to the order, even though I found interesting and stimulating what he had to say about what he called the "slander" of Portugal. I wish he had shown an equally articulate and vehement denunciation of the slander of Portugal before the change of government, when he and his friends were always attacking our oldest ally in derisory accents, never failed to denounce its policy and its attitudes, and, indeed, urged that the alliance should be broken off.
I do not remember the hon. Gentleman as being one who stood up for Portugal and the people of Portugal before the change of régime. He has now decided that because the régime has changed and is left wing. it represents the people of Portugal in a way that the Government he disliked did not.
This is the tenth time we have had this debate. I think we must all try to resist the temptation to say for the tenth time what we have all said before. I do not intend to use this opportunity to re-asseverate my wellknown position about the controversy in Rhodesia.
During those 10 years certain strands of thought have shown themselves and certain attitudes have become established in these debates. I noticed this afternoon that the Foreign Secretary repeated an argument that was used last year, and used in another context by Sir Alec 1476 Douglas-Home, and used first two years ago. It is the argument that even if we were wrong to impose sanctions in the first place 10 years ago, eight years. ago as it then was—it would be wrong to remove sanctions now, because taking them off after they have been on for that number of years would be a positive act that could not fail to be construed as a hostile gesture by those in Africa and elsewhere who wanted sanctions against Rhodesia. At least to this extent I will repeat myself; the first time that argument was used I said that it would last for ever and gather strength with each year that passed, and I take that view now.
If we are ever to examine this problem with clear eyes and some sense of the national interest and a keen sense, I hope, of the interests of Southern Africa, we must disembarrass ourselves of the argument that, having gone on for X-years, sanctions must not any longer be stopped. The reality—here I must go back into history a little—is that the trouble has always come from outside Rhodesia.
Let us remember Rhodesia before the trouble began. Rhodesia was the only territory in Africa where race did not matter. There were no laws and no rules that applied to people of one race or colour because they were of that race or colour. The franchise was not on that basis. It was based on property and education. The university was and still is multiracial, and so were all the other institutions and practices of the country. It was the only territory in Africa where that situation prevailed and the only territory in Africa that was developing democratic institutions on that basis.
Let us in a spirit of humility remember how this came about. Again I repeat myself for a couple of sentences. We did a wonderful job as an imperial Power in the world. We ruled well. We left a legacy of common law and administrative integrity wherever we went, and those legacies are greatly prized. But never as a military race did we mix genetically with the people whom we ruled. The French did, the Belgians did and the Dutch did, although many South Africans are Boers. The Portuguese, above all, did so immensely But the British never did. Never when we ruled did we rule a 1477 multiracial society. We handed over sovereignty from imperial nation to subject nation, and the shape of our institutions was followed and continued, and we sent out a mace and Erskine May and all the rest of it.
But that was never so in Rhodesia, which was never ruled from London, and let us remember that. It had its form of society that was locally and spontaneously developed. Of course it was not perfect, but I do not remember that in the years before the Central African Federation there were any troubles in Rhodesia. It was the happiest and most successful of all British territories. Its future could be foreseen, and its line of development was secure, stable, self-developed, tolerant, liberal, humane and democratic—everything that is desired. The franchise was restricted only by property and education, as it once was in Britain. That is the road we came along and other nations should come along that road.
Then came the great and splendid experiment of Central African Federation, developed by the Labour Party and taken up, adopted and approved by the Conservative Party and put into operation. Unfortunately, certain elements in the Labour Party then in opposition, began to attack it, and I am sorry to say that my party in Government destroyed it.
I am not being wise after the event, because when the Central African Federation was destroyed I wrote a letter to The Times—it is now about 14 years ago—saying that this was a setback to the whole cause of collaboration between the races in Central Africa and that collaboration between the different races in Africa could advance and flourish only in a low temperature, and that if the aftermath of the break-up of the Federation was to raise the temperature of political consciousness and controversy in Africa, that cause would make no progress for at least 10 years.
Unfortunately, in that prophecy I have been shown to be right, and the only comment I make is that I believe that we could have got back to a relaxed and cool atmosphere inside 10 years had not the atmosphere been stirred and heated from outside, partly by some Members who at different times sat on the other side of the House, but largely by the disastrous experiment of the Committee of Eighteen, 1478 which came to be known as the Committee on Anti-Colonialism, which Sir Alec Douglas-Home so roundly condemned when it was set up and whose disastrous influence on the course of affairs he so accurately predicted.
So, by a sad route we arrive at the present position, roughly where we have been for 10 years, with economic and financial sanctions being applied not only from Britain, for we have ganged up the whole world to impose sanctions on that country in Africa which alone had a democratic soul of its own birth and where there were no distinctions between races and colours and which was embarked—self-reliantly by the way, for there were no subsidies or anything like that—on a liberal course under leaders whose names I shall not recite because they have already been mentioned.
That is the folly of our present position, and it has all come from outside. There was no internal disagreement in Rhodesia when the 1961 Constitution was reached. The spokesman of the Africans, Mr. Nkomo, agreed to it and the Africans agreed to it. It was all by consent. But then the people from outside got to work, and Mr. Nkomo subsequently had to withdraw his support and begin to attack it. That has been the history of this matter all through.
The gap between the different communities in Rhodesia—and, sadly, one must now call them that—is very small and has at times been small. At any time with a little common sense and good will it could be closed.
I would like to make some suggestions to the Foreign Secretary about how that might be done. He is wrong in what he was saying about, as he implied, fiddling around with numbers of seats, when so great an event as the change in Mozambique had taken place on the borders. I think that is wrong for a couple of reasons. The first is that the events in Mozambique will eventually have a reverse effect. People have seen how General Spinola rebelled against a régime which had become ossified because President Thomaz had not the genius of Salazar. But General Spinola was plainly used as a cat's paw by other far more sinister people. They have seen the danger growing in Southern Africa of a Communist-dominated Mozambique 1479 and Angola, and even the risk in European Portugal of a Communist-dominated administration, which naturally the hon. Member for Penistone commends and praises to us this afternoon.
§ Mr. John Mendelson
Will the hon. and learned Member give way, as he has named me slanderously? I ask him to provide any evidence for the statement he has made. The Portuguese Cabinet is a coalition of all the political parties. The armed forces movement plays a major part in it. The new President, General Gomez, has the support of the armed forces movement To talk about a Communist régime in Portugal is a slanderous nonsense, and the hon. and learned Members knows it.
§ Mr. Bell
No. From General Spinola, who will give the hon. Gentleman a very good account indeed. The general went on record in his resignation speech, which was broadcast, about the dangers inherent as a result of the take-over. I think General Spinola may possibly—I put it no higher than that—know Portugal better than the hon. Member.
I was speaking about the effect on the minds of people in Rhodesia of the happenings in Mozambique. I believe they would look at it as I do and say to themselves that when these dams burst they will not know what they will end up with.
The second reason why the Foreign Secretary is wrong in the comparison he draws between events in Mozambique and events in Rhodesia is that he has overlooked something which Labour politicians far too often overlook. We are dealing with two quite different areas and two quite different people when we talk of Mozambique or Rhodesia. The Portuguese have been in Mozambique for well over 400 years. During a considerable part of that time they have been 1480 interbreeding on a very large scale. On the contrary, when we come to Rhodesia we are dealing with Africans—I am referring to the coloured native Africans now—whose first contact with Europeans was 70 years or so ago. There are still some Europeans in Rhodesia who are the first Europeans settlers in their district. In broad terms it might be said we are dealing with people in the second generation of contact with Europeans. The situation is totally different from that which prevails in West Africa or the coastal area on the east of Mozambique.
I think is quite unrealistic, as the present Prime Minister himself observed in the early days of sanctions, to think in terms of immediate or early majority rule in Rhodesia. That being so, one has to try to arrive at some arrangement which will provide for progress towards that end, a way which will be acceptable to both communities in Rhodesia. As I have said, I believe that to be far easier than is generally realised.
For example, I believe that within the past year the leaders on both sides had virtually reached agreement, and the problem was that, once again, people from outside got at the African background and persuaded the Africans to disown their leaders. I believe that the Foreign Secretary can do something to help here, and he has a duty to do it. Here we are, after 10 years of sanctions, which are meant to be a form of pressure, and I do not believe that we are entitled to apply those sanctions and at the same time say, as the Foreign Secretary did, that we must now wash our hands, that we cannot intervene, and that we cannot do the negotiating. On the contrary, it is our duty to intervene and make helpful suggestions.
What went wrong in this past year was that Bishop Muzorewa reached agreement, on the whole, with Mr. Smith, but when he went back to his own movement, by an unfortunate, perhaps accidental, twist of events, the discussion on whether the terms of that agreement should be approved proceeded by the African process of indaba instead of by the European process of discussion and vote. Had it been dealt with by discussion and majority vote, which is after all, what we understand by democracy—that is to say, by the representative system—we should have seen an end of the Rhodesia problem by now.
1481 But it did not. It went through the process of indaba, a process familiar to any hon. Member who knows Africa—it has been my privilege to be present at some indabas—at which the discussion is supposed to end in unanimity. That is all right, of course, for the ordinary matters which a tribe has to discuss, but it will not work when one is trying to reach a compromise agreement through representative negotiators on both sides.
I am convinced that that mechanical consideration dominated the events of the past 12 months and that if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is prepared to take an initiative to seek to persuade the African leaders, Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues, that they must insist to their own people that they go into the next negotiations as representatives entitled to reach an agreement which will then be honoured, real progress could be made. On the other hand, if that does not happen, there will be no chance whatever of agreement being reached between Mr. Smith's Government and the African National Congress in Rhodesia. How could it be? One cannot have this mediaeval or, rather, primitive African system of indaba on one side of the negotiations and plenipotentiaries on the other. It does not make sense, and it will never work.
Because I believe that the gap is as narrow as that, and the difficulty is as small as that—I am sure that the last 12 months have shown that to be so—I ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to take a constructive initiative here. Let us be rid of this miserable business which has been hanging round our necks for the past 10 years, of which we are all in varying degrees ashamed, for we should not have made such a mess of the end of Empire, and we should not have oppressed this admirable community in the way we are oppressing it.
If that can be done, it will be my hope that this will be the last occasion on which the sanctions renewal order will come before the House. Meanwhile, I remain regretfully convinced that its existence and continuance cannot but make agreement more difficult by encouraging the African background in the indaba process to haggle, to disown, and to stand out for ever higher terms.
1482 What the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary said about Mozambique and the revolution in Portugal raises the price in the minds of people in Central Africa. It makes them more willing to disown their moderate leaders, a position with which we in this country should be familiar. Therefore, when we come to a Division I shall, as I have done in most, if not all, of the past 10 years, vote against the order and hope against hope that it will be defeated.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
There appears to be a general desire on the part of hon. Members that the debate should end at about four o'clock. The matter is entirely in the hands of hon. Members.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Ioan Evans (Aberdare)
In view of what you have said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall be brief. I know that hon. Members wish to get away.
I do not intend to follow the long historical analysis by the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) of what led up to the present situation in Rhodesia, and certainly I shall not follow him into the Lobby. I hope that his colleagues will follow us and stand by the words of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary of the last Conservative Government, who a year ago today called upon the House to renew the order.
Southern Rhodesia is a land of 5¾ million people, 5½ million of whom are black and are denied the inalienable human rights laid down by the United Nations. Since the illegal seizure of independence by the Smith régime in Rhodesia, not a single country in the world has been prepared to accept it as a constitutional régime. I implore my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary not merely to continue the order but to strengthen it, so that by this time next year the illegal régime will have been brought to an end.
We should reiterate the declaration we have made as a party. In the February General Election we said that the foreign policy of a future Labour Government would be guided by four main principles. The third of those principles was:We shall oppose all forms of racial discrimination and colonialism. This will mean support for the liberation movements of Southern Africa and a disengagement from1483Britain's unhealthy involvement with Apartheid.The Labour Party manifesto for the more recent General Election was still more positive on Southern Africa, saying:We oppose all forms of racial discrimination and colonialism. We will continue to support the liberation movements of Southern Africa. … The policy of sanctions against Rhodesia has been intensified and we will agree to no settlement which does not have the agreement of the African people of that country.We have carried the United Nations with us on that, and all parties in the House have agreed to it.
It was argued a year ago that sanctions should be maintained, and the argument is even stronger today. Sir Alec Douglas-Home argued that it was right and necessary to continue the order. It is far more important to do so now, because events in the past 12 months have proved that sanctions are working.
The fact of freedom having been given to the people of Portugal—the end of 40 years' Fascism there—has meant a demand in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau for the people there to have their freedom. Anyone who suggests that the granting of political independence to the people of Angola and Mozambique has no effect on the Rhodesian situation must be living in another world.
Until now it has been difficult for us to prove whether the sanction busters have been Portugal or South Africa, but it will now be possible for Great Britain and the United Nations to know whether South Africa is the culprit. I know that we believe in the universality of man and allowed South Africa to remain a member of the United Nations, but surely we must veto a country which denies rights to the South African people and a country which perpetuates in Rhodesia a situation which is condemned by the world. Therefore, the events in Portugal are of great significance.
The Conservative Front Bench spokesman, the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), seemed to imply that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was trying to pressurise South Africa. Is there not a lurch to the right by the Conservative Party? We heard a speech in similar vein from the 1484 right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). He should talk to his father-in-law, because it was Harold Macmillan who went to South Africa and told its people about the wind of change. The truth is that we have had a lot of wind from the Conservative Party but not much change. The wind of change is not taking place merely in South Africa. There is a hurricane blowing, and we in this House must take note of it.
We must also bear in mind that the Pearce Commission has reported, and surely that was taken into account by the Conservative Government. Leaders of the African people have made it known that they want sanctions to be maintained. On this point I could quote Bishop Muzorewa in a speech at Oxford—and nobody could accuse him of being a racialist. He wants understanding with people of all colours, but he has pleaded for Britain to continue sanctions—and he is the leader of the African people.
There is much more I should like to say, but I have been asked by the Chair to be brief. I conclude by saying that Rhodesia faces a crisis which is fast reaching a climax. The crisis cannot be resolved except by intervention from outside. Complete trade sanctions provide the only effective means of intervention short of military intervention. That is the only other alternative. Either we carry on with the sanctions or it is military intervention. Economic sanctions may lead to a situation where the illegal Smith régime is defeated and where democratic changes can take place at the minimum cost in human suffering.
I have been to Rhodesia, and indeed I have been there during the tour of office of the illegal régime. It is a country of great beauty and of great wealth, but if we in this House are not careful the mistake made in South Africa and the mistake made in South-West Africa when that territory was handed over to South Africa and the apartheid situation was taken to Namibia—will be repeated, and we shall lay ourselves open to a sell-out to the illegal régime.
I hope that there will be a peaceful solution, but it must be a solution that meets the genuine aspirations of all the people. Many Conservatives are not friends of the white people of Rhodesia if they seek to encourage them not to 1485 come to terms with the democratic demands of the people of Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Hastings
I have not been present during the whole debate, but it cannot he said that we have at any time discouraged the white people of Rhodesia and the Rhodesian Government from reaching a solution with the Africans.
§ Mr. Evans
That is not what they are doing. If there was a genuine willingness by the illegal régime to have a constitutional conference with the ANC, why are so many Africans, such as Joshua Nkomo and Mr. Sithole, still in prison? They have been incarcerated in concentration camps in Rhodesia and have been denied the right to participate in affairs. One has only to read Nkomo's evidence to realise that there is no bitterness in the heart of that man, despite his evil treatment at the hands of the illegal régime in Rhodesia.
I appeal to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to ensure that we fulfil the promise we made to the people in February, when we were returned as a minority Government, and which we again made in October, when we increased our majority. It is the will of people throughout the world that we play our part to end the illegal régime in Rhodesia so that she may join the rest of the democratic countries and move forward to a better life.
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
This has been a serious and impressive debate, and I believe that the balance of argument during the four hours that I have spent in this Chamber has been against the continuation of sanctions.
I do not propose to talk about Portugal or the Portuguese colonies, but I know Portugal well, and I hope that freedom and democracy can be established in the country of our ancient ally and that it will not be smothered at birth by the extreme left wing.
I must congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) 1486 on his maiden speech. I thought he was lucid, fluent and somewhat salty. I was also most impressed by the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings). I hope the Government will take heed of their words.
This is the fourth speech that I have made on this dismal subject since 1971. In view of all that has happened in the world and in Africa in that time, it is a melancholy thought that no progress has been made towards a settlement and that the British Government's room for manoeuvre is still minimal. History tells us that sanctions have never worked, and certainly they have failed signally in this instance. It seems to me that sanctions are resorted to only when diplomacy fails.
We know that the situation in Rhodesia is different today, not only because of the change of régime in Mozambique but because of the increase in the cruel and ruthless terrorist activities in Rhodesia itself. However, in discussing this problem I hope that we shall not forget that there is far less violence in Rhodesia than, unfortunately, we have in the United Kingdom.
The hostility of the present British Government to the white settlers in Rhodesia is almost pathological. After all, these are not colonial people. They are settlers who have made their homes in Rhodesia. They have created the country and made it the country that it is from the savage backwater that it was before 1900. Government supporters seem to find that statement amusing. If matters here go on as they look like going on under an increasingly Left-wing régime, it may be that many more people from the United Kingdom will want to make their lives in Rhodesia.
Why should the British Government put physical pressure on these hardworking, independent and enterprising people who have left our shores and prefer to live in an orderly, civilised society which, incidentally, is one of the freest in Africa? Why should all this be sacrificed for the sake of a theory, which I believe is inappropriate there, of "one man one vote", or immediate majority rule? We took centuries in this country to reach the present state of democracy, and we have not all the time been wholly successful.
1487 I believe that the Government have compounded their previous errors by allowing the United Nations to become involved in the dispute. Sir Alec Douglas-Home said that mandatory sanctions should not have been imposed and that the day might come when we might have to go to the United Nations because the policy had failed. I submit that we know in our heart of hearts that the policy has failed. The United Nations, alas, has little moral authority. I believe that the only sensible and practical course is for the Government to try to come to terms with Mr. Smith direct before the situation deteriorates any further.
Realism is essential in diplomacy and in conducting a country's foreign policy. Surely Britain's interest is to see a strong and friendly Rhodesia in an increasingly troubled and turbulent Africa. Why Mr. Smith should be the sole bogyman of the Left when there are still characters like General Amin throwing their weight about simply amazes me.
Let us for a moment forget the atmosphere in this House and look outside to our constituents whom we represent here. Most people in this country have never liked the policy of sanctions, and they are heartily tired and sick of it now.
We now see the Government unfortunately cutting a singularly poor figure on the world's stage. Go abroad, open any foreign newspaper, and one will be very hard put to it to see a single line about what is happening in England or in this Chamber. We have become obsessed with our own internal troubles.
We now propose drastically to reduce our defence forces. The only roar that the poor old British lion can now emit is against little Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Stokes
I wonder what the great Foreign Secretaries of the past would have thought of this absurd and undignified behaviour. Can we wonder that the European settlers in Rhodesia and, indeed, a great part of the world look upon our attitude with amazement and dismay?
We know that the gap between white and black in Rhodesia is not great. We know that the ordinary African who is 1488 Non-political wants a settlement. We know that the ordinary African is not benefiting from sanctions. Sanctions benefit mainly our trade rivals. That is why I hope that on this tenth occasion we can end this miserable charade and bring this sorry farce to an end.
§ 3.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant and Waterloo)
I think the whole House will have listened with great interest to some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson). It would appear that the great arm of the Left's compassion is extending over a wider and wider range. No one can but agree that this is a wholly desirable development. One of our main criticisms has been that the compassion of the Left has been selective. This is a matter of judgment. I am reminded of a clerihew about another person whose second name was Tressider. The hon. Gentleman does not possess that name, but I can put it this way:The hon. Member's beatitudesreach wider and wider lattitudes,But does the hon. Member grow any blessider?This is a serious debate, and I begin by expressing a personal difficulty because it illustrates a fundamental problem that faces us in dealing with Southern Africa and in Southern Africa dealing with us.
The hon. Member for Penistone tends to regard anyone on this side of the House who opposes the sanctions order as in some way defending himself as a supporter of racialism. That is an unjustifiable and totally untrue position. I can claim, on my credentials, to be a most vigorous and total opponent of racialism in any shape or form in any country at any time, and I stand by that.
But there are great problems, because I find that when hon. Members on this side of the Atlantic discuss this problem they tend to over-simplify the complexities and difficulties, and the moment anyone attempts to show how immensely difficult and complex these societies are and how formidable the challenges they face—far more formidable than any challenge faced by any society in Europe—he is accused of being partial to appartheid or to racialism or, in more general terms, partial to Europeans in Southern Africa. I confess only a certain 1489 sympathy with the latter, because the communities in that part of the world have made many a grave error of political judgment, and many of their chickens are coming home to roost.
What we are doing is not helping them, and that is because our understanding is too limited. The hon. Member for Penistone claimed that some of us had no knowledge of Africa. I hope he will absolve me from that form of ignorance. However, we are all ignorant to a certain extent about the situation there.
I went back to Africa a few months ago, and I should like the House to know one or two conclusions that I reached. I deliberately sought out the opportunity of talking to a wide range of individuals, black and white. I went to Mozambique and Laurenco Marques, among other places. There was no doubt that the shape of events was discernible, and I shall come back to one or two conclusions that I drew.
At the heart of this order lies the question of pressure and a judgment about whether it is appropriate or effective for a major middle-sized Western Power such as ourselves to attempt to exercise pressure on a community of the size, scope and extent of South Africa because of a different political judgment of how they conduct their affairs and the way that we would conduct their affairs if we were in their shoes.
The question is whether, by economic pressure in this way, or the incidental pressure that we can apply as a result of having used the veto at the United Nations, we can achieve an objective. There is no major dispute between the two sides of the House on what that objective should be, and I shall define it.
I want a stable, just and enduring multiracial society. I do not think there is any dispute about that. Where the dispute arises is whether, by applying pressure as we have been endeavouring to do—totally without success in my view—during the past 10 years, we have gone any further down the road towards achieving the objective of altering opinion.
My opinion is that we have not achieved that objective, for a number of fundamental reasons. One of the most fundamental is something that this House 1490 tends to lose sight of. If we consider the 4 million people in Rhodesia and South Africa—I am deliberately ignoring the other 20 million Africans who live there—who make the decisions and have political power, we forget at our peril that they are of British and Dutch stock.
They do not react to pressure any differently from the way in which we would react if pressure were put upon us. Therefore, we make a fundamental error of judgment if we think that by putting on a limited amount of economic pressure—and that is all we can do—we shall fundamentally alter their judgment of their interest. They may think that our judgment of their interest is totally mistaken. They may be partially influenced by our judgment, but they will not take measures which they do not consider to be necessary.
Even more perversely, if we apply pressure which they feel to be unjustified, based on an ignorance of their true situation and a total lack of sympathy with people who are facing one of the most profound predicaments in the Western world, they will not only not agree with us; they will tend to react perversely. As one of my hon. Friends said, they will form a laager and dig in. This is something that we do not want to happen.
But, even apart from that, on the pure logistics of the question, will it work and has it worked? In 1965 I drew the attention of the then Government to the nature of the boundary between Rhodesia and South Africa, the river bed of the Limpopo—largely dry for eight or nine months of the year, and completely open. I pointed the community of interest between these two peoples and said that on that basis alone there was not the slightest chance of this policy being effective. So it has proved.
What have we done; what have we achieved? One thing that we have achieved is that, as the situation in Mozambique has collapsed, at great speed and with great determination, the Smith Government have pushed through a rail link to Beit Bridge, I think about 14 months ahead of the due date of completion, and they are now examining the completion of another rail link between Bulawayo and South Africa.
Whatever hon. Members may think about the merits of these decisions and 1491 of this situation, let us just consider the order in that context. Has it the vaguest hope of success? What will the Beira patrol achieve when most of the main strategic minerals and other strategic economic exports from Rhodesia naturally and inevitably flow down through South Africa?
There is an even more fundamental point and one which absolutely must be made over and over again. The Western world as a whole is strategically dependent, and likely to be more so, on a number of the most important materials in Southern Africa. At the head of the list is uranium. Southern Africa is likely to be the major source of the free world's uranium and, therefore, its nuclear power. Then there is platinum, the only effective catalyst to prevent pollution in motor vehicles. For asbestos, chrome and manganese, Southern Africa is the major source not only for this country but for much of Western Europe.
If pressure is now to be put by our policies on questions of economics and trade, should we not look just a little further ahead and see what sort of reverse pressures might be applied in certain conceivable circumstances? I ask the House to remember these points. They are fundamental, certainly to any political decision on whether we go on with this extraordinary and wholly ineffective policy of sanctions.
We are allegedly following this policy to achieve democracy in Africa. There are many definitions of democracy and great dispute about what it should be. I should acquaint the House with what I was told a few weeks ago just before the troubles in Laurenco Marques. I deliberately met two individuals closely associated with Frelimo. One had abandoned the organisation and the other was still fundamentally in favour of everything it stood for and proposed to do.
The one who had abandoned it was very interesting, telling me a great deal about the general view of Frelimo on Rhodesia. When I asked why he had abandoned it, he said "I had taken certain attitudes, and it had been made clear to me that I was for the chop". I asked him what he meant. He said "The Frelimo have certain ways of getting rid 1492 of those with whom they have political disagreements. A number of my friends have disappeared, and I know what happened to them. They were buried shortly after outside a certain camp in the north of Mozambique". So let us not be too mealy-mouthed about what people like Frelimo mean by freedom and liberation.
Much more important, however, the other individual I met was a man of great experience and great dedication to the Frelimo cause. It was clear to me that Frelimo was going to get power in Mozambique, so I said to him "You have fought this great battle for freedom and you have now almost won". He agreed. I said "When you come to power, are you going to establish here in Mozambique anything remotely resembling the rule of law and the freedom of political argument which we in Western Europe would recognise as being an essential attribute of the freedom which you proclaim?" To his great credit, he looked me straight in the eye and said "No".
That is the answer. Therefore, when we talk about freedom fighters, I ask the House just to remember that particular incident. There are many others.
Time is short. I shall make only one appeal to the Foreign Secretary. I understand his argument and his disinclination to visit Rhodesia and South Africa in the great tour that he proposes. But I put the matter to him in this way. If he is really serious about making an assessment of the whole problem and about contacting those who have in their hands the power to solve this problem—Heaven knows we all want to solve it—to visit Africa but not to visit Rhodesia and South Africa is like going to the bank for an enormous overdraft but refusing to speak to anyone except the teller. I beg the Foreign Secretary to enlarge the scope of his talks. I am sure that he would find that valuable, constructive and extremely useful.
Earlier in the debate I exploded somewhat, perhaps, when the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) made some rather slighting references to the general position of the Europeans in South Africa. He referred to them in some ways as supporting Fascist views. Later he said something which was perfectly accurate—that some of the proponents of apartheid, particularly those who started the whole thing going during the Second 1493 World War, were open sympathisers with the Nazis. I know that. There is nothing inaccurate in that. But I want to emphasise an important point, with all the distinction and command which only Burke could bring to this House. We should not condemn peoples. Never should we condemn peoples. Let us condemn those of their leaders who fail and those of the philosophies they proclaim which cannot be defended. But let us never in this House, for any reason what-soever, condemn peoples—because if we do so, we do ourselves a far greater injustice than we do them.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)
In accord with the promise that I made to Mr. Speaker, I intend to be very brief. I made that promise when I did because I knew that I should be out of the Chamber for quite a long time today. However, it is entirely wrong that an order of this importance should be put in on a Friday and then for appeals to be made to hon. Members by the Government to be brief in order to make their convenience the better.
If we are to have subjects of this importance for debate, they should he given a full day. It is no good people who want to be able to go somewhere else whining when trying to get the matter through to completion and complaining when hon. Members exercise their right to speak. [Interruption.] It is no good hon. Members interrupting me. The one thing that they cannot do with the hon. Member for Torbay is to imagine that they can browbeat him into being shorter. The more remarks that are made, the longer I shall be.
Mr. James Callaghan
I do not want to stop the hon. Gentleman, and it is a case not of browbeating but of getting it right. I did not hear this protest from him last year when the debate was not for a full day but only half a day. It started at 7.22 p.m. on a Thursday.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett
I think that the Foreign Secretary should look up his book. He would see that not only did I then say that we should have had a full and long debate but I also abstained when the Conservative Foreign Secretary was in power, because, first, I found that sanctions were ineffective and, second, I made 1494 the same point that I intend to make today.
I repeat my warning that if there are any more interruptions and attempts to shut me up, they will have absolutely the opposite effect. I have until 6.30 p.m. to catch my train.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
Order. I shall do my very best to ensure that there are no interruptions.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that you will be successful in that aim.
I have no apology to make for mentioning the fact that we have not had a full debate, because this matter is very important. There are some of us on the Opposition benches who are not suddenly inventing an attitude of mind because the Labour Government happen to be in office. Some of us have held it steadfastly, as I have, for 11 years, since 1963. I said then—I should love to have quoted it had I not promised to be brief—that sanctions would prove to be ineffective, for one good reason to which my hon. Friend the Member for Havant and Waterloo (Mr. Lloyd) has referred, namely, that we forget the sort of people we are dealing with. The more pressures and the more duress they have exerted on them, the more likely they are to react in the opposite way from that expected.
We proved to be right, because in the 11 years since then sanctions have not worked. Hon. Members on the Government side today have spoken as if sanctions have been effective. They were meant to be introduced, as the Prime Minister said at the time, to induce a political change of mind. They have done that. They have induced a more reactionary and a less tractable frame of mind than existed when sanctions began. So they have accomplished that, certainly.
Having said that I am steadfastly opposed to sanctions and have been proved to be right, I move on to the question of military intervention which has been mentioned today. It trips very oddly from the lips of Labour hon. Members, who are in the process of slashing our defence and security forces to a degree to which they have never been slashed before, to start talking in terms of the alternative to economic sanctions being a military venture in Central Africa.
1495 Hon. Members opposite know full well that that is treated with as much contempt in Salisbury as anywhere else. There is not one hon. Member who believes that we have either the capacity or the will to launch a war in Central Africa today as an alternative to ineffective sanctions. We on this side will take the opportunity of reminding hon. Members opposite of this when the defence review is announced.
The other day the Foreign Secretary, who despite his intervention just now knows full well that I have a considerable respect for him, answered me fairly when I queried what the effect of ending the Simonstown Agreement would be on the effectiveness of the Beira Patrol. He then said that he agreed that the patrol would be more expensive and more difficult. I must be fair to him and state that he said "marginally more difficult". He then said that it need not even be marginally more difficult because, after all, that would depend upon the readiness of the South Africans to continue to provide us with facilities to enable us to enforce our blockade.
That seems to me to be wandering into the reals of the idiotic, to expect that we should break the Simonstown Agreement with the South Africans and say to them "For political reasons we no longer want to be associated with you, but hope that you will go on allowing us to use your full facilities so that we can maintain a blockade against your ally, Southern Rhodesia." If that is the attitude of mind, I know what my reaction would be if I were a South African; and I have no doubt what the reaction will in fact be.
It is a very odd fact that it is not only on this side of the House that it is being said that sanctions are ineffecive. We used to have facilities for our naval and air patrols in Malagasy, which is an African republic. It withdrew facilities from us many years ago because it said, sanctions were an ineffective nonsense. This is not a wicked military South African Government. It is a pure African Government that refused to continue going through the charade of facilitating one frigate marching up and down the South African coast trying to prevent non-existent ships trying to get petrol through Beira when 1496 the pipeline has not been used for many years and the Rhodesians have been getting petrol from somewhere else at a cheaper price than is being paid in the country enforcing the sanctions. And let us wait until Tuesday to see what comes now here.
Hence I say this today, as I have said it consistently for 11 years. This is an ineffective charade. It is unpopular among the Navy and among the naval and other personnel who must carry it out, because they know that they are indulging in an ineffective charade, but they are too loyal not to obey their orders. There is not one hon. Member who, if he talked to anyone who takes part in the patrol, at either officer or other-rank level, would not find out some of the comments which are being made.
It is untrue that Sir Alec Douglas-Home, as Foreign Secretary, last year gave a blanket endorsement to continuing sanctions. What he said was that we might very well in the near future have to review the effectiveness of the whole thing, but he thought that at that time, while there was a genuine chance of negotiations between the two sides succeeding, it would be wrong to withdraw sanctions. But that is not what the Labour Government are saying. They say that they do not mind whether negotiations are pending or not. They want to go on backing sanctions because they want to go on backing sanctions because they want to go on backing sanctions, and so on. They cannot in reality have any faith in what sanctions are intended to achieve. I shall vote against this futile exercise.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. David Ennals)
I was not a Member of the House between June 1970 and February 1974, and, therefore, missed four volumes of the annual debate on the order. I am not certain how much I missed in view of today's speeches, which, clearly, have been repeated on previous occasions. Whatever changes may take place in Rhodesia and other parts of Southern Africa, not many changes have taken place here. I have had a sense of déja vu.
The Labour Party remains united in its view that sanctions must be retained as a means of pressure upon an illegal 1497 régime which continues to impose minority rule against the wishes of the majority of the people. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said, we have taken action to make sanctions more effective and will continue to examine other means of stopping up the loopholes. I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans) and my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) that we shall not relent. We shall stand by our pledges to the British electorate and to the people of Rhodesia.
The Opposition Front Bench continues to support a policy which it pursued in office. I am glad that it is doing so. But Conservative back benchers are in total disarray. I congratulate the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) on assuming his important post as Shadow Foreign Secretary. I felt that his support today for the order was somewhat perfunctory, but I am sure that it was sincere, and his support is none the less welcome. I am sure that he must have felt a certain sense of regret that only two hon. Members behind him were prepared to stand up and support the position he took.
I also congratulate the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) on his very eloquent maiden speech. It is not easy to make one's maiden speech, but he did so with great confidence. I am refreshed to learn that the House, during the four years of my absence, has got away from non-controversial maiden speeches. I cannot recall another maiden speech which concluded with the words, "So I shall vote against the policy advocated by my own Front Bench". We shall want to hear the hon. Gentleman on many future occasions and hope that he will show the same courage and independence of mind as he has shown today.
I want to deal with as many detailed points as I can but begin with a general observation. This concerns the extent to which we in Britain can decisively influence the situation in Rhodesia. I would not want to minimise our influence. What Mr. Smith wants is international recognition for his illegal régime. That he has not got. Nor has he any chance of getting it as long as Britain stands firm in her refusal to accept the present situation. The policy of sanctions, of course, has economic implications, and 1498 our intention is that the pressures will mount following the actions that have already been taken. But it has even more profound political implications, and these seem to have been ignored, particularly by some hon. Members opposite.
The time must come at some time or other when Mr. Smith and his colleagues in Salisbury wake up to the fact that the future for them is grim and uncertain until they come to terms with the reality of their increasing isolation in Southern Africa. White domination and the denial of human and political rights to men and women because of race or colour not only is obnoxious but cannot last, the point made in a courageous speech by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook). The question for those who practise it is whether they will themselves set in motion the process of change, or whether by their stubbornness they will deny to Rhodesia the prospect of a peaceful transformation to a State that can gain recognition in the world community. Time is not on their side.
I noticed that during the debate no Opposition Member sought to answer the question put by my right hon. Friend, who asked what would happen if this order were not carried. Are they making the assumption that everything would be all right in Rhodesia and that the pressures for change in some form would not be there?
There are some, in the House and elsewhere, who think that, given the will, Britain could itself quickly and decisively act to impose a new social and political structure. I wish that it were so, but it is not so. If it were so, the Government or one of their predecessors would certainly have acted decisively long before now and put an end to the problem of Rhodesia.
The hard fact is—and we have to accept it—that our influence, though far from negligible, is limited. It is untrue that British policy is designed to sabotage the interests of the Europeans or those of the Africans. The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said that we should not take sides. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I are not taking sides as between black and white We are taking sides on questions of principle. We are taking sides on whether it is right that people should be given the opportunity of choice and equality, 1499 or whether those things should be denied to them by a minority.
We have been asked whether we stand by the Six Principles. We take sides against oppression wherever it applies. We take sides against detention wherever it applies. We take sides wherever there is oppression of any sort. We take sides against those who detain illegally anywhere in the world, and that is regardless of the political complexion of the Government concerned.
But we should not imagine that a change of emphasis in British policy could ensure for the whites a maintenance of the privilege of the status quo—we could not do it even if we wanted to—or, for the Africans, the achievement of majority rule. We cannot do either of those things. It is the Africans and the Europeans, the population of Rhodesia themselves, who will decide how the balance is to be struck, and no third party can impose a solution from without to protect one side from the ambitions and aspirations of the other. What outsiders, and particularly Britain——
§ Mr. Amery
What the right hon. Gentleman has said is important. He says that it has to be left to the Africans and the Europeans to find a solution. At the same time I had the impression from what his right hon. Friend said that we would maintain sanctions until the Africans reached agreement. Does this mean that if they asked for majority rule now we would continue to maintain sanctions until that was given to them?
§ Mr. Ennals
One of the reasons why this sanctions order is taken annually is so that we may determine what the situation is. The thought that we are imposing sanctions for ever is not correct. Once there is an agreement worked out between the peoples of Rhodesia which we can accept and which is in accordance with the Six Principles, particularly the fifth one, this House will willingly and joyfully accept a new situation in Rhodesia. It is for them to decide.
We have to recognise that we cannot impose a solution. But we can use our influence to the maximum, and that is what we are doing. We can do so in conjunction and in conversation with those in Rhodesia. That is what we are 1500 doing. We can do so in conjunction with our friends in other parts of Africa, and this is why my right hon. Friend is visiting various countries in Africa in the next few weeks.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), who apologises for not being able to be here at this stage, said that the basic choice was between peaceful progress to majority rule or violence. I agree. Perhaps I could invite hon. Members on the Tory benches to reflect on the following statement:Leading Rhodesians, European and African, have the incentive now to come to an agreement, for unless they can contrive an orderly settlement the terrorists will take the future of Rhodesia out of their hands—out of the hands of Mr. Smith and his Government, out of the hands of the moderates in Rhodesia.That was Sir Alec Douglas-Home speaking at the Conservative Party conference at Blackpool on 11th October 1973. I wish that a few more of the speeches we have had from the Conservative benches had reflected the mood of intent and integrity embodied in that statement.
Sadly, the prophecy Sir Alec made is coming true a year later. It may still not be too late to achieve the orderly settlement of which Sir Alec spoke. That is our hope. But it is too late if Mr. Smith has decided that there is no middle course between the status quo and capitulation to what he calls extremism.
Mr. Smith owes it to the people of Rhodesia, black and white, to try again, but he must do so with sincerity and with a true appreciation of the way the tide of history is running in Southern Africa. He must understand that to remove the cause of the discontent and anger on which terrorism feeds is not to surrender. On the contrary, it is an act of statesmanship. That is what Rhodesia needs now, not another round of petty haggling about a parliamentary seat here or a handful of votes there. It is a recognition of the winds of change to which reference has been made.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham referred to sanctions as an ineffective exercise. I do not agree. I agree that they could and must be made more effective. The Government are always ready to look at any proposals for ways 1501 in which the effectiveness of sanctions could be increased. I do not accept that progress made since the Government came into power has been unsatisfactory. We have made some real strides forward.
My right hon. Friend has told the House what we have done in the United Nations, with other countries in the EEC, and in our bilateral relations. I was, frankly, a little surprised that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, with his deep commitment to political co-operation through the EEC, did not choose to say some words of commendation to my right hon. Friend for raising the sanctions issue there. I am sure that his hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), who, unfortunately, is not present but who intervened in last year's debate and pressed Sir Alec Douglas-Home on this point, will be pleased at the initiative which the Government have taken.
In opening the debate, my right hon. Friend explained why it is more important to get the present sanctions to work as effectively as possible than it is to introduce new measures. The existing sanctions are aimed at the basic Rhodesian export and import trade and are very comprehensive. New measures can, therefore, deal only with peripheral matters. In the matter of improving the working of the present sanctions, we have made gains. During 1974 there have been some significant successes in uncovering Rhodesian sanctions-breaking systems, which means that the Rhodesians have to try to devise new and less advantageous schemes.
During 1974 also there has been a marked and steady increase in the amount of attention devoted to the subject of sanctions enforced by the international community. The Government welcome the interest which, for example, the Japanese Government have been showing in preventing sanctions-breaking by Japanese firms. On 11th September the Japanese Government made it an offence for Japanese firms to export goods to Rhodesia via third countries, and they are currently examining other ways in which sanctions might be more strictly enforced.
There are indications that Rhodesia is now feeling the pinch of higher costs of ocean and rail freight and raw materials. [Interruption.] If hon. Members wish to 1502 intervene, let them stand up and do so rather than mumble away from a seated position.
§ Mr. Hastings
Yes, but I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman none the less. What we were saying among ourselves was that we had heard those phrases year after year for nine years, and it would be just as well next time to bring in a gramophone.
§ Mr. Ennals
I have not been here over all those years, but I must say that some of the hon. Gentleman's speech, in the light of what I have read in HANSARD, might well have been a gramophone record of his various interventions against his own Front Bench throughout these years. As I say, I wish I had not given way and offered that intervention.
This year's Rhodesian budget revealed an estimated deficit of 44 million Rhodesian dollars, which was to be made good in part by a retrospective 10 per cent. surcharge on personal and company taxes. There is ample evidence of growing doubts about the country's economic future. I heard one hon. Member opposite speak of people leaving Britain under this Socialist Government and going to Rhodesia. He has the facts totally wrong. European immigration has dropped substantially, and there has been an increase in the number of white emigrants from Rhodesia. If hon. Members doubt that, let them look at the facts, which prove my statement to be right. 'These are two important pointers to the decreasing confidence in the viability of the present régime.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham asked, as did his hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings), whether the Government had abandoned the Six Principles. My right hon. Friend said in opening that we adhere to the Six Principles, as previous Governments of both parties have done. The present Government have recognised, as did the Conservative Government when they accepted the Pearce Report, that the Fifth Principle means in practice that there cannot be a settlement without the support of the African people. There is no geting away from 1503 that point, which, indeed, is the key to the whole situation.
I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that it is much more than a matter of mere acquiescence, to use his term, and if he is concerned about how the views of the people can be obtained on whether they support any proposals which are set forth, his hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) gave the answer. The people can be consulted. I was delighted by that intervention by the hon. Member for Harrow, East. I was delighted to see that he took his place on the Front Bench. I wished that he had been speaking in this debate. He would have added at least one more in support of his right hon. and learned Friend, who desperately needed support.
§ Mr. Amery
I apologise for intervening a second time, but I think that the difference between support and acquiescence is a little more than just a matter of semantics. Previous Labour Governments, let alone Conservative, have always proceeded, as on "Tiger" and "Fearless", on the basis that there would not be majority rule now. If the right hon. Gentleman is saying that active support is the condition of British withdrawal of sanctions and recognition of Rhodesia, that could be giving a blank cheque to the African nationalists to say that they will sign nothing that does not give them majority rule before independence. Is that what the right hon. Gentleman is saying? I should like a clear answer, because if that is what he is saying the foundations of any bipartisan policy go.
§ Mr. Ennals
The right hon. Gentleman must recognise that the situation in Rhodesia has changed. The Pearce Report is over. We cannot determine what will be the result of negotiations among Rhodesians, black and white, as to what the future structure should be. That is the point I have been trying to make. It is not for us to determine. But one thing we shall have to decide, when we decide whether we recognise a new Government and grant them diplomatic recognition, is whether the Six Principles have been applied. It is not for us to determine whether there should be majority rule now or in five or 10 years. That must be decided in Rhodesia.
I made no such statement, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. I made the position absolutely clear, and I do not think I need take it any further.
The Beira Patrol is continuing and is totally effective. I shall write in some detail to the hon. Gentleman who asked about it.
I was also asked about pressure on South Africa. We voted against the expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations. The principle reason was that we believe that the United Nations should be a universal organisation. The logic of our decision is that we have a moral obligation to use our influence upon South Africa in the United Nations, directly in her own capital and by every other diplomatic means, both about Rhodesia and about the situation in Namibia. For this reason, only two days ago I had a meeting with the South African Ambassador in New York so that it could be understood why we had taken this measure.
Time is short, and many hon. Members want to catch trains. I hope that the House will support the order. Although it is tempting to see the Opposition divided, I hope that not too many Conservative Members will decide to go into the Division Lobby against the order. It is important that those who watch these debates, as people do in Rhodesia and other parts of the world, should know that the vast majority of hon. Members, and, I believe, of people in the country, stand firmly against a regime that has shown no indication that it has woken up to the rapidly-changing situation in Southern Africa.
Therefore, I hope that not only my right hon. and hon. Friends but Conservative Members will reflect, and that Conservative Members will take the advice of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham, who supposedly spoke on their behalf from the Opposition Front Bench, and will decide once again to support the order.
§ Question put:—
§ Question accordingly agreed to.