§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. David Owen)
I will, with permission, Mr. Speaker, make a statement about the appalling tragedy which took place at the Elim Pentecostal Church Mission near Umtali on Friday, 23rd June. I am sure that hon. Members will join me in expressing the deepest sympathy of this House for the families and friends of the twelve people so callously murdered and our admiration for the Christian spirit and courage with which the Church has responded in their decision to stay on in Rhodesia working for conciliation and peace between all the people. We are in close touch with the Pentecostal Church Headquarters and are giving all possible assistance to their members and the families of the murdered missionaries to travel to Rhodesia for the funeral.
The fact that those who have been murdered were concerned solely with working for peace and conciliation between the races is a horrific reminder of the dangers in Rhodesia today and of the escalating level of indiscriminate violence which has been building up now for five years. The House will recall the incident at Gutu a month ago in which at least 50 Africans were killed, and also the killing of the two Salvation Army women. There have sadly been many other incidents involving both black and white Rhodesians.
This latest tragedy confirms the urgent need to bring about by every available means round-table talks to achieve a negotiated settlement which will bring an end to the fighting. We have a joint Anglo-United States team at this moment in Salisbury, and I believe that we are making some progress towards our objective of round-table talks. It is for the leaders of all the parties to respond now in a way that measures up to their overriding responsibility to bring about a nonracial, peaceful and independent Zimbabwe.
§ Mr. John Davies
Cannot the shock of this ultimate bestiality bring all concerned to their senses? Despite all their protestations, can there be any real doubt that the mounting toll of death and mutilation is the responsibility of the Patriotic Front, 1040 and none other? Do not the Government realise that by persistently cold-shouldering those leaders, both black and white, who have joined together in the internal settlement, they only encourage those who openly declare that their objective is power by the bayonet, the club and the gun? Will not the Government, even at this late stage, renounce their incomprehensible attitude and offer real support to those who have agreed to reach a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia, realising that only thereby can a negotiated agreement ever be reached?
§ Dr. Owen
Like the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), I hope that the shock will make all concerned come to their senses. I do not think there is anyone who can but hope that from this tragedy something will come which will bring about peace. But one must ask the right hon. Gentleman, what more can one do? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is saying that we should unreservedly support the internal settlement or whether we should lift sanctions. He has never said that before. In credit to him, he has come down against that.
I believe he thinks that there should be a warmer relationship. I believe that what is important is that we should keep contacts. That is why I have had in Africa a senior person from the Foreign Office. That is why there has been someone constantly in Salisbury. I believe that it is very important that we should be open to all sides. That is why I have spent many hours since the internal settlement was established talking to the leaders of the internal settlement and why I went to Salisbury myself with Secretary of State Vance.
But if it is argued that we should cut off all links with all the parties, I believe that we would jeopardise our chances gravely—[HON. MEMBERS: "The right hon. Gentleman just said that."] I posed the question. I believe that it would jeopardise our chances gravely. Within the limits of our ability to bring about a peaceful negotiation, I believe that we are right to adopt the attitude that we have adopted ever since the internal settlement was established—neither to condemn it nor to endorse it but to try to widen out the areas of agreement to involve all the parties in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. John Davies
But cannot the right hon. Gentleman realise that his constant pouring of cold water on the internal settlement and his constant references to its many weaknesses create not just a positive absence of support but a dreadful psychological absence of support? There is a feeling of complete and absolute abandonment by the British Government, and that must be put right.
§ Dr. Owen
The right hon. Member for Knutsford has not produced anything concrete that we should be doing differently. It is very easy to advocate that we should not be pouring cold water. I have never poured cold water on the settlement—[Horn. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I thought strongly that Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole should have the opportunity of going before the United Nations to present their case to the world. I resisted the United Nations condemning out of hand the internal settlement. I have sought to keep open the possibility of widening the areas of agreement.
Unfortunately, there is a question of choosing here. I do not believe that it is in the British interests or in the interests of the people of Rhodesia for us unconditionally to support the internal settlement, as many right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches seem to think we should do. I believe that if we had done that when it was urged upon me in this House some months ago, Britain's policy now would be totally bankrupt. We would have lost all influence with all the parties. We would have damaged greatly our standing with some of the key African countries whose support is vital if we are to bring about a negotiated settlement. We would have damaged gravely the Commonwealth. We would have lost our friends and allies in Europa and in the United States, who would not have gone with us. And we would have made the great error that British policy has made so often before of changing from its central objective, which in this case must be to achieve a negotiated settlement between all the parties.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the whole House will share the feeling of horror which he has expressed at these senseless atrocities and will wish to be associated with his expres- 1042 sions of sympathy to the relatives of those who have been murdered? May I also be associated with the right hon. Gentleman's admiration of the Pentecostal Church and its decision to stay on? Does the right hon. Gentleman regard this as an opportunity for a major diplomatic initiative by Her Majesty's Government involving the President of the United States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the five front-line Presidents to obtain a cease-fire, such as was achieved before the Geneva talks as a vital prelude to talks?
§ Dr. Owen
There is no doubt that if we could achieve a cease-fire before talks it would create a climate for talks. Even if we could achieve some reduction in the level of violence during or before the talks, that would be of great benefit. The House should know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the President of the United States are in fairly constant contact by varying means with the front-line Presidents, who, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, have a crucial influence to bring to bear on this issue and who have devoted a great deal of time to persuading the Patriotic Front to adopt a reasonable position and to trying to persuade all the parties to come together in round-table talks. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he said about the Pentecostal Church and about the relatives of the people so tragically killed, and I associate myself with his sentiments.
§ Mr. Hooley
Does my right hon. Friend agree that this tragedy will be the precursor of many similar tragedies unless the Smith regime now finally abandons its futile rebellion and acknowledges the constitutional authority of this Parliament, which is recognised by every other country in the world?
§ Dr. Owen
I have never shirked from our constitutional responsibilities, though I have often drawn to the attention of the House the fact that it does not, unfortunately, carry with it great power and strength to impose our will. We have to persuade people. But we have a legal responsibility. There have been very many viable policies put forward by successive Governments which would have brought about peace in that country over the past 12 years. Tragically, the opportunity has all too frequently been lost. 1043 The opportunity still exists for roundtable talks. It is very, very important that they are arranged now before any side feels that it is in a commanding position to impose its will. That would be a solution which would be bound to be resisted fiercely.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
The right hon. Gentleman asked what more could be done and in that context referred to sanctions. Is he not aware that the sole justification for sanctions under the United Nations Charter is a threat to international peace? Is it not transparently clear from these callous murders and torturings that the threat to international peace comes from those who perpetrate them and those who assist and condone them? That being so, will he not raise again in the United Nations the question of sanctions with a view to their early discontinuance?
§ Dr. Owen
I do not believe, and I am sure that the right hon. Member for Knutsford does not believe, that it would be right to lift sanctions at this stage. The previous Conservative Administration, when facing this question when it put forward proposals to the Rhodesian people, did not feel able to lift sanctions until it was certain that the proposals had won the acceptance of the people as a whole, compatible with the Fifth Principle. I believe that we should stick to that principle.
§ Mr. MacFarquhar
In the light of the conflicting reports and allegations, can my right hon. Friend say who is supposed to have been responsible for this terrible massacre and whether he believes the reports that Mr. Robert Mugabe said that he would not take part in any roundtable talks?
§ Dr. Owen
I do not know. I wish I did know. Various allegations have been made. It may be that the truth will come out. It is important that Mr. Mugabe, who has previously not denied sometimes being involved in some incidents, has on this occasion specifically denied any responsibility. I am not aware that he has changed his position which was agreed in Dar es Salaam that he would come to round-table talks. Certainly I believe that all the parties should come.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser
In view of what the right hon. Gentleman said, will he send out a mission immediately to investigate the imputations which he has made today? Secondly, relating to the question of the rights and duties of this House, as a sovereign Parliament protecting British subjects and British citizens, surely the time has come for the right hon. Gentleman to make proper protests to those who are harbouring murderers, namely the States of Mozambique and Zambia? That is his duty as a Member of this House.
§ Mr. Faulds
Will my right hon. Friend accept that some of us are relieved that he has hinted that there is a strong possibility that this ghastly attack was made not by forces of the Patriotic Front but, as has happened before, by agents of the Smith regime—
§ Dr. Owen
I must say to my hon. Friend, as I said to the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser), that I have not implied or imputed any such thing. I have not hinted at that. I have said that I do not know. That is the factual position. I do not know. 1045 But I believe that the House would do well to mirror the example of the Elim Pentecostal Church, which seems to have been able to get strength and succour and to decide to stay in Rhodesia and work for peace and conciliation—not spending its time looking backwards but showing its confidence that that country can reach independence and can have a non-racial society.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan
May I express my own horror at what has happened, and the horror of all of us on this side of the House? May I also remind the right hon. Gentleman that this was predicted by some of us on this side of the House as the sort of incident likely to happen after the Cubans arrived in Angola? Will he accept that this is part of a general attack, of which the attack on Zaire and the rumoured future attack on Namibia are also part, being mounted by enemies of the United Kingdom? Is it not clear evidence that Mr. Mugabe at least is seeking personal power rather than the so-called liberation of Rhodesia? Will the Foreign Secretary, in his future conduct of affairs on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, at least recognise that he is dealing with people whose personal ambitions outweigh their desire to serve the country which they hope to rule, by force if necessary?
§ Dr. Owen
There is no doubt that Rhodesia has been bedevilled by the inability of the nationalist leaders, even pre-dating UDI, to come together and work for the independence of that country under a united leadership. That has been one of the greatest problems. It has been predictable that this sort of thing would happen. The right hon. Gentleman is not alone in having made such predictions. I have myself predicted that violence would increase and that this sort of incident would take place.
The question of Cuban involvement raises a very serious issue. I believe that Cuban involvement in Africa has been damaging, and that it must be a central part of British foreign policy to avoid that involvement spreading. I believe that there is danger of it. I believe that were Great Britain to avoid the search for a genuine internationally acceptable solution in Rhodesia, it would hasten or at least increase the risk of Cuban influence 1046 spreading to other countries in Africa than Angola.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the Rev. Roy Lynn, murdered with his wife and baby girl of three years of age, was a constituent of mine and that he was born and bred in Cullybackey, Ballymena, in the heart of North Antrim, and that his mother and father continue to reside there?
Will the right hon. Gentleman take it that although Northern Ireland has had its terrible share of such bitter murders, the people of the Province stand aghast at what has happened in Rhodesia? Will he take it from me that his words of praise of the Christian fortitude and forgiveness expressed by the Elim Church will be welcomed on both sides of the House?
Is it not a bitter irony that the Anglican Bishop of the area has had to make it clear that these terrorists are receiving grants from the World Council of Churches and yet are engaged in murdering missionaries from this country? Will the right hon. Gentleman not look at Northern Ireland and realise that such men as these terrorists cannot be negotiated with and must be told that they will have to be rejected from any final political settlement because they engage in such acts of barbarity and crime?
§ Dr. Owen
I have great sympathy with the hon. Gentleman. I was aware that his constituents were affected, and I am sure that the whole House would wish to extend its sympathy to those relatives and friends who live in his constituency.
I recognise that there is a very difficult dilemma for any of the Churches over what sort of help should be given. They do not supply arms. Nor do the British Government or other Governments supply arms. There has been help for humanitarian purposes, and I have no doubt that sometimes that help has been misdirected, but, like the hon. Gentleman, I think that we must try to draw some comfort from the spirit of Christian fellowship and understanding shown by the Pentecostal Church, which I know operates in his constituency.
On the question of a direct analogy with Northern Ireland, I would only say that in Northern Ireland there have always been free elections and that the 1047 people of Northern Ireland have repeatedly, fairly and openly, made their views clear about controversial issues through the ballot box. That is not the situation in Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in all parts of the House there is horror and revulsion at this most recent wanton and senseless act and that our sympathies go to the relatives of those killed. Is he aware that they also go to the relatives of those many black Rhodesians brutally murdered by the Smith regime both inside and outside Rhodesia?
Will my right hon. Friend also understand that that regime in Rhodesia, which has completely frustrated every attempt to achieve a peaceful solution, bears a very heavy responsibility for the toll of both African and white lives in that country? Does my right hon. Friend understand, and cannot the Smith regime understand, that there can be no peaceful settlement in Zimbabwe until Smith goes and the Patriotic Front is involved in direct negotiations?
§ Dr. Owen
I have no doubt that there have to be direct negotiations, and I believe that they have to involve all parties. I take account of the realities and power structure that exists there, and therefore I believe that these round-table talks have to have representatives of Mr. Smith and that it is probably necessary that Mr. Smith himself attends. I have always recognised that. That is why I have been prepared to go to Rhodesia myself and speak to representatives of the regime and to Mr. Smith. That is why I am still prepared to meet and negotiate a settlement.
§ Mr. Blaker
Is there not a danger that by giving the impression, as I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has done, that he is leaning against the internal settlement and in favour of the Patriotic Front, he may weaken the internal settlement to such an extent that the Patriotic Front may feel that it is not necessary for it to attend any talks and that its best course is to fight it out?
§ Dr. Owen
I do not believe that I have given that impression, although it has been assiduously cultivated by some people. I do not believe that it has any substance in fact. It has been the lot of 1048 Foreign Secretaries through the ages to be attacked for talking to people variously described as guerrillas and terrorists. I believe that it is necessary to do so. I believe that it is necessary to talk to all the people involved, and I shall continue to do so.
§ Mr. Kelley
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are three opinions about this appalling situation in Rhodesia? There is the official opinion of the media, printed, oral and pictorial, which has been expressed by several hon. and right hon. Members opposite; there is the idea that there was possibly some connection with the massacre of 17 people in Mozambique who belonged to the alleged guerrilla forces; and there is also the situation developed by my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds). Is it not advisable, therefore, for my right hon. Friend to undertake a more thorough investigation of what happened in Mozambique a few days before this appalling incident in Rhodesia, and into whether there was connection between the forces of the Smith regime and the engineered incident which has been referred to by hon. Members?
§ Dr. Owen
I do not believe that any of us has enough information to draw any conclusions as to exactly what happened at Umtali on Friday. My hon. Friend has referred to Mozambique. On 22nd June, it was reported that Rhodesian troops attacked a UNDP experimental station in Manica Province, and that there was the killing of a Belgian couple and other refugees. Again it has been extremely difficult to verify what happened. As is so often the case, there is more than one story, and more than one figure was given for the number of casualties. What all of us must do is to try to look forward from these events to see how we can bring about the peaceful settlement that all of us want. I do not believe that there is any other way than that which I have put to the House.
§ Mr. William Shelton
The whole House is aware of the Foreign Secretary's determined, indeed obstinate, search to impose what one might call an external settlement. Does he accept that his goal may elude him indefinitely? If that is the case, what does he propose should be done other than his pathetic reiteration of what is an increasingly impossible goal?
§ Dr. Owen
I have always said that if we are unable to achieve a negotiated settlement and the internal settlement continues, elections are held and it is shown, despite the level of violence, and in the fair judgment of the House, that the settlement does have the support of the people of Rhodesia as a whole and the Fifth Principle has been fairly fulfilled, I should expect the House to act accordingly, leaving the matter to the Fifth Principle. However, that is some months away. In the meantime I believe that the House and the Government should work as hard as is humanly possible to bring about a negotiation between all the parties. In view of the mounting violence that we have heard has been occurring in Rhodesia over the past few weeks, it will be extremely difficult to hold any fair test of opinion.
§ Mr. Newens
Whoever is responsible for this appalling and inhuman tragedy, is it not a fact that there are likely to be more massacres of both blacks and whites until a settlement is reached that recognises the legitimate rights of the Patriotic Front? Is it not equally a fact that right hon. and hon. Members who continue to attack the Patriotic Front make it more difficult to achieve a just settlement? Does my right hon. Friend agree that they are making it likely that there will be more massacres by continuing to help to put off a proper peaceful settlement?
§ Dr. Owen
As my hon. Friend knows, I believe that the Patriotic Front has legitimate rights, but so have other nationalist parties and so have the white minority parties. That has always been recognised by my hon. Friend. That is why many people outside the House have always seen the necessity of involving all the parties. I may repeat these words endlessly in answering questions in the House, but it must be recognised, especially by some on the Opposition Benches, that we shall not achieve a settlement by trying to exclude powerful groups of opinion.
§ Mr. Gow
Bearing in mind that Rhodesia is a British colony and that those who are in danger there are British subjects, does the right hon. Gentleman understand that his answer "I do not know" is extremely offensive to the House? Does he agree that he should 1050 send a full mission to Salisbury so that we may understand the facts?
§ Dr. Owen
I do not believe that it is offensive to the House to tell the truth, and that is what I have done in admitting that I do not know the consequences. The hon. Gentleman must appreciate the impracticability of sending a mission to a country which I do not administer and which is currently run by a Government whom we do not control.
I answered the hon. Gentleman's question on Northern Ireland in reply to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). I do not believe that we can draw parallels. Many people throughout the world have tried to draw parallels with what I think are genuine liberation movements and have tried to ascribe them to Northern Ireland. I want to make it clear that I do not believe that those parallels exist. In Northern Ireland there is scope for fair and free elections and referenda to seek the views of the Northern Irish people. In Northern Ireland there is no doubt about the requirements underlying the Fifth Principle. We know what the people of Northern Ireland think, but we do not yet know what the people of Rhodesia think. Our task must be to let them fairly choose to which authority they wish to entrust their future.
§ Mr. Anderson
Does my right hon. Friend accept that the British public will, on the general issue, applaud his untiring efforts to seek peace in the troubled country of Rhodesia and his refusal to be tied wholeheartedly to a crumbling internal settlement? However, is it not clear so far as can be, that the finger in this incident, this shocking savagery involving British subjects, points at the forces of Mr. Mugabe? Therefore, will my right hon. Friend make representations to Mr. Mugabe and the Mozambique Government on the issue, which has so shocked and revolted British opinion?
§ Dr. Owen
If I see Mr. Mugabe, I will make representations, as I have done in 1051 the past, as I have done constantly to all those taking up arms, and will reiterate my strong belief that such actions will not achieve results, especially when we are now making some progress towards a political solution. I assure my hon. Friend that I shall make representations and that I shall continue to strive to bring the parties together. I shall do so on the basis that no one party has a monopoly, no one party has a veto and that all parties will have to compromise. That is necessary if we are to achieve a negotiated setlement.
§ Mr. Cormack
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that many of us are extremely disappointed by the attitude that he has shown this afternoon? Will he do three things? First, conditionally if not unconditionally, will he recognise that there is a new regime in Rhodesia, and will he do what he can to assist it? Secondly, will he unconditionally condemn what has happened and tell the leaders of the Patriotic Front that there is no place for them in any Government if they condone this sort of murderous, barbarous act? Does he accept that they have so acted against black as well as against white? Thirdly, will he send out a mission on the lines of the Pearce Commission to ascertain exactly how the people of Rhodesia feel? If he does not know, will he please find out?
§ Dr. Owen
It is extremely difficult to get any test of opinion while fighting is going on. I refer the House to the views published by the Churches in this country, many of whom have close links inside Rhodesia and with what is happening, about the feelings concerning the internal settlement and the deteriorating situation. As for conditionally accepting that there is a changed situation, I have already done so. I have refused any claims that I should treat Bishop Muzorewa, Mr. Sithole and Chief Chirau as members of an illegal regime and should ban them from the United Kingdom. I have said that they have entered into an agreement and that I shall treat them exactly the same as I treated them before. I have, therefore, accepted that there is a situation in which they have genuinely striven.
I believe that that is not sufficient to achieve the objectives at which we are all aiming. I do not think that I can make 1052 it any clearer than that. That is the purpose of the mission that is now in Salisbury—namely, to meet all the parties. The mission has been to Lusaka and Maputo—it will go to Maputo again—to try to find a formula and a measure of agreement that will lead to successful round-table talks. It is no use entering into another Geneva conference ending up in failure as a result of insufficient preparation.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I must tell the House that I propose to call five of the hon. Members who are still standing. There are about 11 hon. Members standing, but if I call five I believe that that will be fair and will get the points of view across.
§ Mr. Charles Morrison
The right hon. Gentleman has repeated again and again that he neither condemns nor endorses the internal settlement. Is he aware that his damning with faint praise amounts to condemnation in the eyes of those who are opposed to it? Will he even at this late hour give the internal settlement a little more encouragement, partly because it is the only foundation which exists upon which he can build? Secondly, does he think that the ghastly massacre that we have witnessed justifies the sort of support that has been given by his hon. Friends to freedom fighters over the years?
§ Dr. Owen
We cannot possibly ignore the fact that there are parts of the internal settlement that have been proposed by the British and American Governments and have been advocated in the House. Therefore, it would be wrong for me to condemn the settlement. The final endorsement of any arrangement will have to come from the people of Rhodesia as a whole. That is why successive British Governments have always insisted that it is not for the House to determine whether the arrangement is satisfactory. It is for the House to determine whether it is satisfied that the people of Rhodesia as a whole are satisfied with the arrangement. It is that task that still has to be assessed.
I think that there is evidence that there is a considerable division of opinion within Rhodesia about the internal settlement. I can and do try to avoid what is 1053 described as pouring cold water on it, or drawing attention to its deficiencies. The criticism that I have made of it has been minimal. I have been criticised for taking that approach. The main reason that I have not criticised it in detail is that in the abesnce of any other agreement that brings black people and white people together, it would be foolish totally to condem it and to throw it away.
§ Sir J. Eden
Will the right hon. Gentleman take this opportunity to explain to the House exactly what he meant in the statement that he issued over the weekend? Is he aware that in that statement he seemed to imply that, whilst it was wrong to murder missionaries, it would be legitimate to murder those who were backing the internal settlement or who are members of the Administration in Rhodesia? Will he make clear exactly what he meant by that statement?
Secondly, to return to the question posed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser), what action does he propose to take to protect the lives of British citizens in Rhodesia?
§ Sir J. Eden
Thirdly, in view of his justifiable comment about the plea for forgiveness on the part of the missionaries concerned, would that he himself would emulate that plea with some degree of humility.
§ Dr. Owen
On the last point, the right hon. Gentleman must examine his conscience and I will examine mine.
On the question of safeguarding the lives of British citizens, I think that I can do that best only by pursuing the path of a negotiated settlement. All those people who have decided to live in Rhodesia since UDI have done so in the full knowledge of the disapproval and disagreement of the British Government of UDI and all that has followed from it. Some people have gone to Rhodesia as missionaries to work for peace and conciliation.
That brings me to the first point made by the right hon. Gentleman. If he can interpret what I said on Saturday, in the first few minutes of shock after hearing of this incident, as saying that there is 1054 such a distinction, I do not believe that he has done justice either to the statement or to me. I said that all violence, all killing, is abhorrent. I went on to point out that we have not made statements about every loss of life which has occurred in Rhodesia over the last five years. The House does not have that type of debate. Ministers of the Crown do not issue statements about the loss of life of liberation fighters fighting either inside or outside Rhodesia or, indeed, of Rhodesian defence forces fighting inside or outside the country.
We have pointed out the sheer senselessness of the whole business. Those people were working for peace. I have never said that any form of violence is legitimate. I did not dedicate my life as a doctor, before becoming a politician, to qualifying life as being legitimate or illegitimate. I put that firmly and clearly on the record.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd
As the Foreign Secretary has chosen, perhaps rightly, to appeal to our sense of Christian charity and thereby to expose our human frailty, may I appeal to his sense of political reality and thereby expose its frailty? Since in recent years it has become perfectly clear that the dogma of one-man, one-vote has been transformed into that of one-barbarian, one-bayonet, one-baby, will he now suggest what can be done to inject a sense of reality and understanding of African affairs on to the Government Front Bench?
Will he make clear to my constituents and to many others in the country why in his hierarchy of values it is more important to consider and to persuade those extraordinary people who misuse the word "patriotism" and call themselves front-line Presidents than it is to carry with him the electorate of this country who are fed up with the African policies which have been emerging from the Government for many years? Will he now make clear that these people, these barbarians, will not be allowed into this country and that they will not be allowed to set up headquarters in London? Will he show some tangible evidence that this Government—if not this Government, then it is time they went in favour of some other Government—give some support to all the peoples of Rhodesia?
§ Dr. Owen
The hon. Gentleman is right to call for political reality. In the last analysis we, as politicians, must exercise our political judgment and make decisions on the basis of it. We are sent here to exercise our political judgment and realism, and I will do so.
The hon. Gentleman has always made his views on Rhodesia clear from the moment of the illegal declaration of independence. He has disagreed with his own Front Bench on many occasions and he has been respected for it. He has held a very different view on Southern Africa and on the position over Rhodesia. If fewer Members in the House had adopted the policies and views of the hon. Gentleman and others, I believe that we would have achieved a settlement a great deal earlier.
§ Mr. Michael Marshall
Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the impotence, of which he spoke this afternoon, will add to the sense of shock and outrage in the country? Will he reconsider the question of trying to establish who are these barbarians? Is he aware that some of my constituents rang me yesterday to ask whether we could get two minutes' silence during the World Cup Final? People are deeply shocked. If he would consider again the question of inquiries, perhaps through the United Nations, at least world opinion might be harnessed in the moral dimension.
§ Dr. Owen
I understand why people are shocked. If different interpretations of this incident go on, there may be something to be said for asking the United Nations to investigate. That has been done in the past. Certainly it is a move which I should support. I do not believe that we should have an unresolved issue of such severity as this. It might be possible to get agreement, although I think it unlikely, on a commission of inquiry from the United Nations and perhaps the World Council of Churches which would be seen to be fair by all sides. It would certainly need to be that kind of body, which would have and be seen to have impartiality.
§ Mr. Hastings
Leaving aside the question of the cold water which the Foreign Secretary may have poured on the internal settlement, will he remind the House of one single word or phrase of support or 1056 encouragement for the internal settlement and for those who have with such difficulty reached agreement in Rhodesia? Have we had one?
§ Dr. Owen
The hon. Gentleman will find that I have on a number of occasions pointed to those parts of the internal settlement which are fully compatible with the Anglo-American proposals. I have said that we should widen the areas of agreement and have been attacked for saying that. For those reasons, I believe it was right that Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Sithole should put their case to the world forum at the United Nations. I have constantly seen and urged them that, in the discussions that they were having in the creation of the internal settlement, they should stand out rather more firmly than eventually they did on some of the fundamentals for which they were arguing. Had they held out for some of the things which they wanted, I believe that they would have found it much easier in the internal settlement to carry conviction, force and support inside Rhodesia. But, as is so often tragically the case, the white minority argued for too much and held out for too long. Events and time have moved on and have made it that much harder to achieve what was on offer even a few months before.
§ Mr. Dykes
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not wish to question your decision to limit supplementary questions to five, but, in view of the tragedy and horror of this incident, I wonder whether you will consider going on a little longer, because not all the points have been considered regarding how British subjects can in future be protected from such horrors.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I understand the hon. Member's feelings. But there has been a certain repetition in questions as time has proceeded. Were I to break the promise that I made of calling only five Members, I should be in difficulty on another occasion when the House feels deeply, because it will expect me to go on until everyone has been called, which 1057 the whole House does not require. I am deeply sorry. I had better stick to what tion, namely,
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely.the savage and brutal massacre of 12 British subjects, citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, at the Vumba mission school and the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to do immediately what is in their power to prevent the certain repetition of murderous assaults upon British subjects by persons operating from neighbouring territories with which Britain maintains diplomatic relations.I do not think that I need to contend for the specific nature of this matter. Nor is it even desirable that I should describe or condemn the appalling circumstances which attended that massacre. I do not ask that the House should spend time debating what happened. The importance of this matter is that unless something is done it is all too likely to be repeated in the immediate future.
Every hon. Member knows that almost certainly within the next week or the next few weeks there will be episodes of this character which, unfortunately, correspond with episodes of a similar character which have marked the previous weeks and months.
I shall not seize upon any passing infelicity of language of which the Secretary of State might or might not have been guilty. That would be quite wrong. But the general impression which has emerged from Government statements and from today's answers is that no marked reaction to this episode is contemplated and that no significant change in Government policy is to be expected.
Under the law of this country Rhodesia is a British colony. The Government of Rhodesia is Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. Not only the 12 people who were killed in those terrible circumstances last week but all the people of Rhodesia are British subjects, citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. One recognises the practical difficulty of the British Government in controlling events inside Rhodesia. But I draw attention to the British Government's power to control 1058 events in those bordering States from which all these murderous assaults come and with which we have formal diplomatic relations. All of them, without exception, are the recipients of considerable aid from the British Government out of the Consolidated Fund of this kingdom.
The matter which I wish to see debated immediately, to prevent imminent repetition of these appalling events, is the action which this Government should take to bring pressure upon those States, which is equal to the pressure which they have exerted upon the Rhodesian Administration, to prevent this happening again. Does anyone doubt that were such pressure exercised, that lower level of violence to which the Foreign Secretary referred would be attained? If we do not have an early debate on this subject the House will not reflect the emotions of the people of this country, nor shall we discharge our duty as the deliberative assembly of the nation. I ask for your consent, Mr. Speaker, for that motion to be moved.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) did me the courtesy of giving me notice this morning that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,the savage and brutal massacre of 12 British subjects, citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, at the Vumba mission school and the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to do immediately what is in their power to prevent the certain repetition of murderous assaults upon British subjects by persons operating from neighbouring territories with which Britain maintains diplomatic relations.As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9 I am directed to take into account the several factors set out in the order but to give no reasons for my decision.
I listened carefully to the exchanges this afternoon. It is not for me to decide whether there is to be an early debate. I merely decide whether there is to be a debate tonight or tomorrow night. I have given careful consideration to the representations that the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield has made. I 1059 realise the depth of feeling on the question. But I have to rule that the hon. Member's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and therefore I cannot submit his application to the House.