§ 2.37 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, I was asked by my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire to make his apologies to your Lordships to-day for his not being present on the Bench. He is touring abroad and I know your Lordships will understand why he cannot be here.
Your Lordships will recall that on May 11, 1961, in preparation for South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth, a temporary provisions Bill was brought in to govern the operation of United Kingdom law in relation to South Africa. The effect of that temporary Bill was to treat South Africa as though she were still in the Commonwealth, but clearly that had to be a temporary measure because South Africa could not be treated permanently in that way. But the purpose of the temporary Bill was that it gave time to study the complex relationship which had grown for over 50 years, and, so far as legislation was concerned, went back even further than that. It was because of South Africa's new constitutional position that our legislation has had to be reshaped and, in some respects, action taken which was not governed by legislation at all. On the one hand, in considering legislation on this subject we had to take account of the fact that South Africa has ceased to be a member of the Commonwealth and therefore cannot continue to enjoy the benefits and privileges of Commonwealth membership. South Africa cannot, in other words, go out of the Commonwealth and continue to enjoy all the advantages of being in. We have also had to take account of the links and ties of common heritage and common endeavour between our two countries, which had gone on for a very long time, and the reciprocal co-operation which had become so much a part of the day-to-day life in both our countries. To damage that indiscriminately would have been needless folly. Therefore, the task before us was a very difficult one: the task of finding the right balance between two partly conflicting considerations.
563 The Bill which is now before your Lordships deals solely with the legislative relationship between this country and South Africa, and although the change in relations and the need for this legislation have been brought about by political change, I am sure your Lordships will readily agree that this Bill should not be used to attack the policies of the South African Government.
The laws which we have to consider here are laws which directly or indirectly affect the lives of individuals and the well-being of South Africans and persons in this country. Because of the claims of many of these people, we thought it right to examine all the laws that have applied to South Africa, either to South Africa specifically or in general to members of the Commonwealth. It has been a very complex and heavy task. I do not know whether your Lordships realise it, but there were 90 or more laws which had to be looked at, and many of them adjusted, touching all sorts of aspects of the lives of individuals. Therefore, we thought it right that the Commonwealth Governments should be informed in good time of the changes which we thought of making so that they could comment. We consulted Colonial Governors in so far as the laws touched on the relationship between the Colonies and South Africa. In most cases the Colonies are able to make their own arrangements. And, of course, we had to have the most detailed discussions with the South African Government. All I can say is that in the review of these very complex arrangements we have met with understanding, and these talks have been conducted in a spirit of good will. The result is this Bill which is before the House to-day. It is almost impossible in a Bill which embraces so much to give a simple presentation, and therefore I have arranged for all the more important Acts to which this Bill refers, and especially the first four Schedules, to be put in the Printed Paper Office.
I will now try to make as simple an exposition as possible, having taken the precaution to enlist the aid of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, because many of these matters concerning nationality are extremely technical and he has an unrivalled knowledge of these subjects, in which a layman is apt 564 to flounder. The most important and symbolic provisions in the Bill are those dealing with nationality, which are contained in Clause 1 and the First Schedule. In deciding what to do about these matters concerning the lives of individuals we had to recognise the human problems, the sentiment, the sympathy for the feelings of individuals and, too, a reluctance to bruise the personal ties of the past, recognising that all this to some extent conflicted with the hard constitutional realities; and we had to find a balance between the two which was fair and just.
Our starting point is that South Africa is outside the Commonwealth and therefore cannot be among those countries listed in subsection (3) of Section 1 of the British Nationality Act. Therefore, South Africa becomes for the purposes of our nationality laws, as for all other purposes, a foreign country. All of its citizens who have no source of British nationality other than South African citizenship will lose their British nationality forthwith and will become aliens. As aliens they would normally have to rely on naturalisation to acquire United Kingdom citizenship and thus to recover their British nationality.
It was thought inappropriate (I think your Lordships will agree as to this) to adopt the same arrangement as we devised in the case of the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Republic really was a special case, and I do not think could be used as a precedent. But we think that South Africans should for a limited period be given an opportunity to acquire citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies by registration, as in the past, instead of by naturalisation. In fixing the period we have taken into account the fact that for many this will be an important and perhaps crucial decision in their lives, and it may not be easy to take or to take quickly. We have therefore given until the end of 1965, that is three and a half years, for those people to decide what they want to do and to take the necessary steps to do it.
I have already mentioned that the basic nationality provision of this Bill is that after May 30, 1962, South African citizenship will no longer confer on those who possess it the status of a British subject. This is provided for by subsection (1) of Clause 1. The result will 565 be that South African citizens who have no other citizenship conferring British nationality will acquire the status of aliens on May 31. This will not be true of those South African citizens who are also citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, for example, because they or their fathers were born in the United Kingdom. By virtue of their second citizenship the position of such people will continue unchanged, and they will not be affected by this Bill.
The transitional provisions for the recovery of British nationality are contained in subsection (2) of Clause 1, read in conjunction with the First Schedule. As your Lordships will be aware, nationality law is a highly technical subject, and the transitional nationality provisions of this Bill are necessarily exteremely complicated. Since, however, the whole question of how British nationality can be recovered is likely to be of very close personal interest to the individuals concerned, I feel that it is important to explain in some detail just how they will work.
The general effect of subsection (2) of Clause 1 is to extend to South Africans after May 31, 1962, and up to December 31, 1965, those sections of the British Nationality Acts which allow Commonwealth citizens to apply for registration as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. The relevant provisions of the British Nationality Acts are specified in the First Schedule, and if your Lordships do not mind I will mention what they are. They are three. The first is Section 6(1) of the 1948 Act, which provides for registration on the grounds of residence in the United Kingdom or in a Colony, or of Crown service. The second is Section 3(2) of the 1958 Act, which provides for registration on the grounds of employment with an international organisation of which the British Government is a member, or of service with a home-based United Kingdom firm. Those two sections are specified in paragraph 1 of the First Schedule. The third provision which is to remain open to South Africans temporarily is Section 12(6) of the 1948 Act, which allows registration on the grounds of descent from an ancestor in the male line born in the United Kingdom or a Colony, coupled with close connection with this country or a Colony, and the intention 566 ultimately to make his ordinary place of residence here or in a Colony. This is covered by paragraph 4 of the First Schedule.
I should perhaps emphasise here to your Lordships that the concession which we are making to South Africans consists in allowing them to register at all. What we are doing is to permit South African citizens, notwithstanding the fact that they are aliens, to acquire citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies during a limited period on the same terms as if they were still Commonwealth citizens. I said earlier on that the transitional provisions were to run until the end of 1965, and this is in fact the basic terminal date for this concession. But, as your Lordships will no doubt have seen, subsection (2) of Clause 1 does not require that an actual application for registration must in all cases have been made by December 31, 1965, since it concedes that, as an alternative, it will be sufficient if notice of intention to apply for registration is lodged before that date.
Since this means that some South Africans will be able to apply for registration after the end of 1965, which at first glance might appear to run counter to what I said about the transitional provisions ending at that date, it will perhaps be helpful if I explain how the notice of intention procedure works, and why we have introduced it. The purpose is to help those South Africans whose applications for registration are based on the qualifications of residence or service. These provisions would not have been necessary had it not been for the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, which happens to have crossed the path of this Bill. These people might be put out of court by the new five-year qualifying period for which the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill provides, and a South African who had to show a five-year period of service or residence before becoming eligible for registration might well not have time to qualify by the end of 1965. He would thus lose the benefit of the nationality concessions under the Bill.
Paragraph 1 of the First Schedule therefore allows such a person to apply for registration after 1965 under those provisions of the British Nationality Acts 567 which require a qualifying period of residence or service, but only if he gives notice before the end of 1965 of his intention so to apply and puts in his actual application for registration within five years of giving notice. The complementary provisions of paragraph 2 of the First Schedule ensure that notice of intention is not lodged unless the person concerned is already in qualifying service or has started a period of qualifying residence. Thus, for those South Africans who take advantage of the notice of intention procedure, the operative date on which they will have to decide whether or not to seek registration as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies will still be December 31, 1965. The only difference in their case will be that they will have to wait to complete the balance of the qualifying period before their actual application can be submitted.
In fixing December 31, 1965, as the terminal date for these concessions we have tried to achieve a reasonable compromise between our sympathy for individuals, faced with what in many cases will be a most difficult choice, and the inescapable logic of the situation in which South Africans, as citizens of a foreign country, cannot indefinitely be treated as if they did not possess that status. So everyone will have three and a half years in which to decide what to do. We feel that this is as long as we can reasonably give, and, as I said earlier, we feel that we have achieved a reasonable and a fair balance. Nor, of course, will the door be completely shut thereafter to South Africans. The ending of the transitional provisions will mean merely that, like other aliens, their avenue to British nationality after 1965 will be by naturalisation.
I do not think I need detain your Lordships long on the remaining provisions of Clause 1. The second part of subsection (2) provides that a South African woman who applies for registration as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies on the strength of her marriage shall, until the end of 1965, be treated as if she were a British subject. This concession does not affect her entitlement to registration, since the relevant section of the British Nationality Act applies equally to aliens and 568 British subjects; but it will have the effect of exempting South African women from a requirement to take the Oath of Allegiance and to pay a fee.
Finally, in this part of the Bill, subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 1 provide that South Africans who on May 31, 1962, are in employments or professions from which aliens are debarred by Statute shall be exempt from that disqualification until the end of 1965. Without such provisions those who became aliens on May 31, 1962, would automatically become ineligible to remain in their jobs or in their professions. They will now have until the end of 1965 to recover British nationality and thereby safeguard their employment. For the great majority of them this will be ample time, since most of the employments to which the disqualification applies will count as qualifying service for the purposes of registration. But for those few who may not be able to complete the necessary qualifying period of service or residence before the end of 1965, it may reasonably be assumed that the Home Secretary would be prepared to exercise his discretion to accept a shorter period in order to prevent hardship.
The provisions affecting nationality are, as your Lordships will have seen and I have reason to know, the most complicated part of this Bill. They are also the provisions likely most widely to affect individuals. The remaining provisions in the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Schedules are less complicated, and also most of them have more limited application. They fall into two general groups. The first includes Statutes which we consider should remain in force without any specific limitation in time. That is because these Statutes operate in the interests of the welfare of individuals, or assist in the smooth maintenance of the commercial relationship with South Africa which we wish to preserve in our own interests. The second group includes Acts which we consider should be retained for a specific transitional period, or in respect of which some saving provision is necessary in order to make the future position clear.
I will deal first with the first group. They are to be found in the Second Schedule to the Bill. The first Act referred to 569 there is the Colonial Probates Act, 1892. This provides for the recognition within the United Kingdom of probates and letters of administration issued in British possessions, and also for the reverse case. It has applied to South Africa, as a British possession for the purposes of the Act, since 1914. There is nothing like this provision between the United Kingdom and foreign countries; so that, unless we were to make arrangements for it to continue these facilities would cease to be available to individuals in both this country and South Africa, and the result would be inconvenience, if not hardship, to individuals. We therefore propose to retain these arrangements, and the South African Government have confirmed that they are willing to do so, too.
Similarly, there is no arrangement between us and foreign countries parallel to that provided by the Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act, 1920. This is dealt with in paragraph 2 of the Second Schedule. Under this Act maintenance orders made in South Africa may be enforced in the United Kingdom, excluding Scotland, and those made in the United Kingdom may be enforced in South Africa. This arrangement has applied in relation to South Africa since 1923, and your Lordships will appreciate its usefulness as a means of avoiding hardship to wives and families. It therefore seems right that we should continue it not only in respect of maintenance orders that have already been made, but also for those which may be made in the future; and the South African Government have also agreed that this is a useful provision. We also have a law which provides a simple procedure for enforcing maintenance liabilities incurred by Royal Naval personnel—the Naval Forces (Enforcement of Maintenance Liabilities) Act, 1947. We propose to retain this, too. Paragraph 3 of the Second Schedule makes the necessary provision.
Under the Companies Act, 1948, which is dealt with in paragraph 4 of the Second Schedule, United Kingdom companies conducting business in South Africa are able to keep branch registers of members resident in South Africa, and to transfer shares registered in that branch register without paying United Kingdom stamp duty. That Act also 570 provides that, so far as our law is concerned, companies in South Africa can keep branch registers in this country, and these registers may be inspected by persons having an interest in them. These arrangements assist in the smooth maintenance of many business links between this country and South Africa, and the Bill therefore provides for their retention.
The next provision, paragraph 5 of the second Schedule, concerns sugar. This is in fact merely a financial provision to enable the Sugar Board to assume responsibility for payments in respect of South African sugar. The reason for this is that as South African sugar can no longer be handled under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, we have considered it advisable to make other arrangements for it. Therefore, these arrangements take the form of a bilateral agreement between the Minister of Agriculture and the South African Sugar Association; and that was announced in a Written Answer to a Question in another place on November 15 last year.
The provision in the Bill enables South African sugar bought under the new bilateral agreement to be handled by the Sugar Board in the same way as Commonwealth sugar. The new Agreement runs for five years up to the end of 1966, while the Commonwealth Agreement runs until 1969, with provision for extension. Under this bilateral agreement with South Africa we shall purchase from the South African sugar industry 150,000 tons of sugar at a price of £35 15s. a ton. The amount of 150,000 tons is less, in fact, than we have been purchasing from South Africa under the Commonwealth Agreement, and the price is nearly £10 a ton less than the current price under the Commonwealth Agreement.
This bilateral agreement with South Africa does another very important thing, which your Lordships will notice. It ensures that Swaziland will continue to have a guaranteed market in South Africa for her sugar. It does more than that, however: it provides for an expansion of Swaziland sales to South Africa; and that is really very important.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, could we not have a little more explanation upon this matter? I gather that there is to be a sort of three-tier price for sugar, if I am 571 interpreting the Foreign Secretary correctly: a world price, a special South African price, and a preferential price to the Commonwealth. Apparently the South Africans are to get a special price, a better price than the world price, in comparison to the preferential member of the Commonwealth, and therefore will take a larger share of the market than she would have been likely to get under the preferential terms. I should like an explanation from the Foreign Secretary upon this.
THE EARL OF HOME
I should like to give a more considered answer, but under this bilateral agreement which the South Africans have with us they will sell South African sugar to this country at a price of £35 15s. a ton. Under the Commonwealth sugar arrangements the price is about £10 a ton higher. If I may, I should like to communicate with the noble Viscount later on. Perhaps my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will be able to say something about the world price of sugar in relation to both of these prices, so that we can examine it further then. What I am mainly concerned with here is the fact that this Agreement with South Africa is of great importance in relation to the Swaziland sugar crop, and provides not only that they will have a guaranteed market in South Africa for Swaziland sugar, but that there will be an expansion of Swaziland sales.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, is it not a fact that what the noble Earl is saying is that Swaziland will in fact get £10 a ton less than it would get if it itself came under Commonwealth preference?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, it is a fact that Swaziland will get £10 less than if it were under this Commonwealth arrangement, for the five years for which this Agreement runs; I think that that is so. But it also gets—which is immensely important to Swaziland—a guaranteed market for the sugar, which it otherwise might not have, and it also gets the benefit of the provision for expansion of Swaziland sales. I think on balance the noble Lord will find that Swaziland gets an advantage out of this bilateral arrangement.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, could I ask the noble Earl one 572 question, because this is a most remarkable statement? In view of the very difficult situation that to-day exists in South Africa, why cannot we give Swaziland a guaranteed market?
THE EARL OF HOME
I think there are a number of reasons, and the sale of Swaziland sugar has been very closely tied up with the South African market for many years. Under this bilateral arrangement the South Africans have agreed that for the five-year period they will guarantee a market for Swaziland sugar, and also increase that market. I think that this is a very desirable arrangement, at least for this transitional period, and that Swaziland will come off better under this arrangement because I do not know that they could at the moment sell their sugar in Commonwealth markets. I should like to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, says about this, because I know he knows a lot about this subject. And perhaps this question can be taken further when my noble and learned friend replies to the debate.
The next provision, the amendment to the Import Duties Act, 1958, makes a formal amendment to the reference to South Africa in the text of the Import Duties Act, so as to take account of South Africa's new constitutional position but to keep her within the Commonwealth preference area, as happened with Ireland and Burma. We have made it clear since South Africa left the Commonwealth that we hope that our trade arrangements with South Africa will continue. This arrangement stems from the Ottawa Agreement of 1932, and this is a bilateral agreement which need not be affected by the constitutional change. These arrangements are valuable to us just as they are to South Africa.
We must, too, take great care of the interests of the Territories. They are accustomed to dealing with South Africa; they depend heavily on South Africa as a market and for many marketing facilities. There are therefore very strong and practical reasons for retaining preferences for as long as we may be able to do so. If we join the Common Market it may be that these arrangements will have to be reviewed and in many respects modified.
THE EARL OF HOME
There is nothing to prevent that—except possibly the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition! But the South African Government recognise that this must be so.
I now turn to the Third Schedule, which contains the group of Acts which are of a strictly transitional or saving nature. The Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881, applies only to the United Kingdom and our dependencies and members of the Commonwealth; it will cease to apply between ourselves and our dependencies and South Africa after May 30. We shall have to replace it by new arrangements which we are at present discussing with the South African Government. They are not part of the South Africa Bill, and do not need to be, because it can be made separately under the provisions of the Extradition Act, 1870.
But, my Lords, in the meantime we must ensure that where cases involving the procedures of the Fugitive Offenders Act have already been properly started before May 30, they can be concluded. This is the effect of paragraph 1 of the Third Schedule. It does no more than apply the general principle that when a law is repealed or amended the repeal or amendment should not affect proceedings which have been started before it took effect. We have, however, excluded from this transitional process any offences which are not offences in the territory being asked to return an offender. In addition, we intend to introduce an Amendment in the Committee stage which will exclude political offences. It is our intention—and we have informed the South African Government of this—that the new arrangements, when they come into being, should similarly exclude such political offences. We also intend that they should exclude offences which are subject to the death penalty in South Africa, but not in the territory being asked to surrender the fugitive.
My Lords, I should like to make one short digression, to say that the changed constitutional position may necessitate some review, and perhaps re-shaping, of the relationship between the High Commission Territories and South Africa generally. We have reached agreement 574 in principle on some aspects of this relationship. We are still discussing the details, but from our discussions so far, and from the South African Government's statements, we have no reason to think that the interests of the individual, or of the Territories as a whole, will be significantly jeopardised. We have, in fact, been assured that if at any time the South African Government find that, because of circumstances in the Republic they wish to make any changes, we shall be given advance notice and afforded an opportunity of expressing our views. Naturally, my Lords, our objective would be to reduce to a minimum any damage to the interests of the Territories.
To return to the Bill, the next set of provisions, in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, are all of similar effect. They deal with the registration of persons with South African qualifications on the registers of professional bodies. Their effect is to allow those persons who are already on "Colonial" or "Commonwealth" registers to stay on them, and they provide that persons applying after May 30 will he registered on the "Foreign List". The list on which they are registered in fact makes little or no practical difference to their ability to practice in this country. Paragraph 5 of the Third Schedule concerns solicitors. At present, South African attorneys enjoy special facilities for admission to practise as solicitors here, and these facilities are available only to people from the Commonwealth. But there may be some South African attorneys who have already taken steps to qualify for admission here, and the purpose of the provision in the Bill is merely to allow them to finish qualifying. The effect of the provision concerning certificates of competency of merchant seamen is to enable persons, whether United Kingdom citizens or South African citizens, who hold South African certificates of competency to continue in employment on British ships for as long as they are not disqualified from doing so by virtue of their citizenship.
The provision concerning the indication of the origin of goods—paragraph 7 of the Third Schedule—is purely a transitional measure to avoid hardship to importers and traders. There are many South African products labelled "Empire" which are already in the 575 stores and stocks of retailers. Furthermore, my Lords, since in South Africa this is the height of the canning season, there are supplies of tinned fruit and other canned goods already committed to this country as "Empire" produce. The purpose of this provision is to give a five months' period of grace for these goods to be imported, and a period of grace of 17 months during which they may be sold as Empire produce.
The remainder of the Third Schedule deals with Statutes which affect the welfare of individuals and which, if not preserved would cause hardship and inconvenience to them. The first provides that, in effect, South Africans now receiving the old age non-contributory pension, or the blind pension under the Old Age Pensions Act, 1936, shall continue to receive it, and that any who would have qualified in the future had they remained British subjects will still be able to qualify. There is then the provision to ensure that certain divorce and nullity decrees made by the courts in South Africa and recognised by British courts, under a Statute which applies only in respect of Her Majesty's Dominions, may continue to be recognised. Finally, there is a provision to ensure that United Kingdom teachers already in the employment of the South African Government or South African public authorities will continue to be able to count such service for the purpose of qualifying for United Kingdom superannuation.
The last two Schedules, the Fourth and the Fifth, repeal various Acts in so far as they apply to South Africa. The effect will be that in all these cases South Africa will be treated in the same way as any other foreign country. In addition to all the Acts mentioned in the Bill, there are some 30 or 40 which will automatically cease to apply in the case of South Africa, without need for us to take any special legislative action to deal with them. As I have said, a list of these is available in the Printed Paper Office. Your Lordships will notice that this list includes the South Africa Act, 1909. We consider that, as a result of the constitutional change, this Act is spent, and we have so informed the South African Government.
My Lords, I do not remember having made such a long speech in your Lord- 576 ships' House, but I hope you will forgive me, because I thought it well to lay before your Lordships the main points of this very important Bill. I hope that what I have said will have helped your Lordships more readily to interpret the Bill, and to see it in perspective. I think it is a fair and reasonable compromise, and we sincerely hope that the day will come, and will come soon, when the present differences of view on racial matters and human freedoms which divide our two countries will be narrowed to insignificance. We do not want to do anything, either by this Bill or by any other measure, to retard that day. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.— (The Earl of Home.)
§ 3.18 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary has given us a very clear and very interesting exposition of the contents of the Bill. I am sure we are all grateful to him for the trouble he has taken, and it certainly was not necessary for him to apologise for the length of his speech. I do not think he said very much about the policy behind the Bill, or the policy implied by the provisions of the Bill. I think it is these matters of policy which, above all else, are relevant to a Second Reading debate, and these are the matters with which I propose to deal.
It seems to me that one can look at this Bill from two quite different points of view. You can look at it as the noble Earl did, very properly, from a Foreign Office point of view, and take as your criterion whether or not it is likely to promote good relations between this country and the Republic of South Africa. From that point of view, it is an excellent Bill. I cannot think of any country save Eire—and Eire was a special case; the noble Earl himself said that Eire was a special case, because, of course, of the large number of Irish citizens in the U.K.—which has left the Commonwealth on as favourable terms as South Africa has. Alternatively, you can look at the Bill from a Commonwealth point of view, and take as your criterion whether or not it will benefit Commonwealth relationships. From that point of view, I think it is a dangerous Bill.
577 It is detracting from the value of belonging to the Commonwealth, by giving to a foreign country many of the advantages now enjoyed by Commonwealth countries. It is offering South Africa advantages, in respect of trade and citizenship, which are a prized possession of the Commonwealth and which hitherto have been denied to foreigners. I am sure that the noble Earl, who, of course, has been at the Commonwealth Relations Office as well as at the Foreign Office, appreciates both viewpoints and is fully aware that they cannot be wholly reconciled. Indeed, during the course of his speech I took down one sentence because it seemed to agree exactly with what I had anticipated. The noble Earl said that the task of the Bill is to strike the right balance between two partly conflicting considerations.
My Lords, it may be said that the Commonwealth viewpoint is somewhat academic as no member State will leave the Commonwealth because South Africa is still being treated in some important respects in the same way as a Commonwealth country. No doubt that statement is perfectly true, but I think it is also fair to ask this question: what about British territories that have not yet decided whether or not they will join the Commonwealth when they become independent? I am thinking particularly of the British territories in East and Central Africa. These are all countries that will weigh very carefully indeed the pros and cons of staying in the Commonwealth before they finally make up their minds, and one has to remember that in their case the cons are very much more considerable than they are in the case of the existing members of the Commonwealth. Moreover, the inhabitants of these African countries are, after all, mainly African. Many of them will not understand that, by giving South Africa such favourable treatment as South Africa is receiving under this Bill, we are not condoning a policy they abhor—and, of course, their abhorrence is much greater than ours because for them the Africans in the Union are brothers as well as neighbours.
It may be said—and I am sure it has been said—in defence of the most important advantage accruing to South Africa under this Bill, the continuation of Imperial Preference, that British 578 exports to South Africa will benefit as well as South African exports to Britain. But the whole pattern of our export trade will change if we go into the Common Market—a possibility to which the noble Earl referred. It is reassuring to know—at least, this is what I gathered from reading ministerial speeches in another place—that we shall not treat South Africa as a Commonwealth country in negotiations with the Six, and that if we do in the end sign the Treaty of Rome our preferential arrangements with South Africa will fall into line with the rest of these arrangements. I rather think that that is what the noble Earl said, although he used rather different words. I hope I have not misinterpreted his meaning.
What I should like to ask is this: what happens if we do not go into the Common Market? Do these preferences go on indefinitely? The Sugar Agreement is a temporary, a transitional, arrangement, lasting only until 1966; but, of course, there seems to be no such provision in the Bill regarding these preferences. Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount, when he comes to reply, could say something about the future of these trade agreements.
I cannot help feeling that there is even less justification for the Sugar Agreement, about which there has already been some discussion between noble Lords on this side of the House and the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, because that gives South Africa the benefit of selling her sugar considerably above the world price; and I think that that will emerge as a fact when the noble and learned Viscount replies to the debate. The price of £35 15s. is, I think, considerably above the world price, something like £10 per ton of sugar above the world price, and there is no corresponding advantage to British trade. In fact, the British taxpayer will be paying almost £2¾ million this year to the South African Government on account of sugar, without getting a farthing in return. The amount of sugar we buy under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement is, of course, much less than many of the Commonwealth producers (such as the Commonwealth countries in the West Indies) would like to sell to us; and, surely, if 579 we are to subsidise sugar producers anywhere in the world, we should subsidise Commonwealth rather than foreign growers.
The Government have, of course, pointed out—the noble Earl did this—that we shall be helping Swaziland, a British dependency, as well as South Africa; but why cannot Swaziland, like the British territories in the West Indies, or like Mauritius, rather nearer the scene of what is happening in Africa, be treated separately from South Africa? It would get a better price for its sugar under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. The noble Earl has said that this agreement is giving about £10 a ton less than is being given for sugar under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. Moreover, of course, the agreement with South Africa ends in 1966: the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement goes on until 1969, and can be renewed. If, at the end of that time, at the end of the period of the agreement with South Africa, Swaziland is to get a better price than the world price for its sugar, it would have to become a party to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.
My Lords, why could this not be done now? I agree that the argument of the noble Earl rests on the balance of advantage, but it seems to me that the balance of advantage is the other way. Swaziland would get a better price for her sugar, and there is no reason why we should not absorb the small quantity of sugar coming from Swaziland in the way we absorb much larger quantities from other parts of the Commonwealth.
So far as nationality goes—and may I say, in passing, that I have never in all my experience found any branch of the law which I have had administratively to study more difficult and complex than the law relating to nationality?—and so far as I can understand the provisions in the Bill, we think it right that South African citizens should have three years in which to have the chance to acquire British citizenship if they so desire. This is a special privilege, but I think there is a very strong reason for allowing it. I am rather doubtful whether the qualification set out in paragraph 2 of the First Schedule to the Bill, and the other qualifications in the two Nationality Acts so far as they apply to South Africa, really 580 go far enough. Moreover—and perhaps the noble and learned Viscount would be good enough to answer these points when he replies, because I myself am in some doubt about the validity of the point I am about to mention—I am not altogether certain whether paragraph 2 of the Second Schedule to the Bill is consistent with paragraph 1, which says that certain parts of the British Nationality Acts of 1948 and 1958 will apply in the case of South Africa.
For instance, the latter Act, the 1958 Nationality Act, gives the Secretary of State discretion to accept an application for British citizenship by reason of the applicant's—and here I quote—close connection with the United Kingdom and Colonies".The noble Earl did not mention this as among the qualifications which would enable an applicant to obtain British citizenship. I believe this discretion would be useful where a person cannot satisfy the other conditions. I am all in favour of giving the maximum opportunity and encouragement to anyone who wishes to acquire British citizenship, so I should be very grateful if the noble and learned Viscount could answer that point when he comes to reply.
We are not by any means satisfied about the arrangements which have been made for dealing with the High Commission Territories. It is reassuring to know—and the noble Earl mentioned this at the end of his speech—that the South Africa Act, 1909, lapsed when South Africa left the Commonwealth, because it was this Act which gave the Union its tenuous legal claim to these Territories. This claim has in the past been pressed from time to time by the South African Government. I remember very well that Dr. Malan came here to discuss it with Ministers of the Labour Government which took office in 1945. I should be glad to know whether the South African Government concurs in the view that the lapsing of this Act has brought about the lapse of its claim to these Territories. So far as I am aware, there has been no public statement by the South African Government about its renunciation of the claim to the three Protectorates or, to put it in a rather different way, about any change in the legal position.
581 My Lords, we regret that the departure of South Africa from the Commonwealth has not been followed by new administrative arrangements for dealing with the High Commission Territories. It really is extraordinary, and I am sure quite without precedent, that an Ambassador to a foreign country should also he responsible as High Commissioner for the administration of three British dependencies. Surely we should have sufficient regard for our senior diplomats not to turn them into schizophrenics by giving them conflicting responsibilities. Moreover, the dual appointment will not inspire the Africans in those Territories with any great confidence in Her Majesty's Government. It would surely be far better to have a separate Government or High Commissioner, with administrative headquarters in one of the Territories—possibly in Bechuanaland, which would seem to be the most suitable. I cannot think of a single instance in British colonial history where a British territory has been administered from a foreign country. That is surely an extraordinarily anomalous situation, and needs a great deal of justification; but that is exactly what we are doing in South Africa.
The economic future of those Territories is, of course, entirely bound up with South Africa, and let us hope that the South African Government will continue to work with us in that field and will help us to improve living conditions in those economically backward areas. At any rate, it is extremely satisfactory that there appears to be no hesitation, in spite of the change in the status of South Africa, in continuing to collaborate in regard to the economic development, trade, and so on, of those Territories.
I was rather hoping that the noble Earl might repeat what the Lord Privy Seal said in another place about the mandated territory of South West Africa. I think it should go on record in this House, as well as in another place, that it is not the intention of the Government to alter by this Bill its attitude to the status of this territory. If I may disgress for a moment, your Lordships will remember that the International Court of Justice decided in 1950 that South West Africa was still a mandated territory and that therefore the Government of South Africa was still under an obliga- 582 tion to rule it in accordance with the Mandate, and to make annual reports. The Government of South Africa has not accepted this judgment or the authority of the United Nations. It would seem, on the face of it, that becoming a Republic has made its position in International Law even weaker, as the original Mandate was given (here I will read some words from the Preamble) to—His Britannic Majesty for and on behalf of the Government of the Union of South AfricaThe noble and learned Viscount shakes his head, but perhaps he will enlighten me when he comes to reply.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, the view I have always taken—I do not think anyone has ever disputed it—is that that is the technical way of expressing the Crown in right of the Union of South Africa; and when the Union of South Africa passes from the Crown, it leaves no residual duty on the Crown. That is what I intended to convey by the shake of my head. If the noble Earl has any argument to the contrary, I shall be very pleased to consider it. I did not know that there was one.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I think I should need a very long period of study to produce any argument to the contrary. I am obliged to the noble and learned Viscount. I was just putting a layman's view on the basis of the words in this document. I think it is extremely important that the treatment of South West Africa, a part of South Africa for the purposes of this Bill, should not give anyone the impression, either here or in Africa, or indeed at the United Nations, that we recognise the annexation of South West Africa, or the sovereignty of South Africa over the mandated territories. Now that South Africa has left the Commonwealth, I hope that we shall support the United Nations and the International Court by our deeds as well as by our words. My Lords, too often in the past have we sat on the fence at Lake Success. The time has now come for us to uphold the authority of the United Nations on every possible occasion, and to urge South Africa to carry out its obligations or to relinquish the mandate.
The unexampled generosity of this Bill towards a country that has left the 583 Commonwealth will, I hope, convince the people of South Africa that we bear them no ill-will for having done so. It will show them that the cause of the rupture with the Commonwealth was simply and solely a policy that has shocked the conscience of the world. This policy of apartheid was, and is, the only obstacle between us. There are opponents of this policy in South Africa, and they are not confined to the black and coloured population. I am sure that we can all say to the forces of progress in the Union that if and when they succeed in reversing the present racial policy we will welcome their country back to the Commonwealth.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I feel that this is a melancholy end to what was a noble experiment. In 1908 it was thought, by the Government of the United Kingdom at that time, that having made this experiment in statesmanship, all would be harmony, and that the Boers and the British would live amicably together. Well, they have not done so. There is no doubt about it that the Boers, looked at from the point of view of the British in South Africa, were intent upon reversing the decision which had been arrived at in war, and upon dominating the populations in the Union. The British, from the standpoint of the Boers, seemed to be selfish and arrogant, and not prepared to take their due share of the administration of the country. Whether those views be right or wrong, there is no doubt that the black and the coloured people were not sufficiently protected by legislation, although it is very difficult, of course, to protect people by legislation when the majority parties are not interested in their being so protected.
I feel a personal blow, because South Africa was, in a sense, part of my boyhood. My father's people were colliery and electrical engineers, and they went out in the very early days of the mining industry to the mines in South Africa and did great work there. Some of them are still living there to-day. My grandfather went out there 60 years ago on a visit, and when I was a little boy I heard a great deal about affairs in South Africa. So, in a sense, I feel that this is a personal break 584 with a link forged in my childhood; and, as we all know, those links are very dear to us, and very strong.
This situation is not an easy one for the Government here to deal with. One cannot pretend that it has not presented this country, and the Government of this country, with a very delicate problem. How does one deal with a situation of this kind? The implications of South Africa's withdrawal, it seems to me, have not been thoroughly worked out by anybody. It created an entirely new situation in the Commonwealth which had never occurred before quite in this way. That country was one of the original partners, it may be said, who withdrew owing to pressure from other, and in some cases newer, partners. What happens now? Is it open to others to urge Ghana, for example, to leave the Commonwealth? I think that, whatever may be the results, we have not yet fully worked out the consequences of what was a brave action at the time, and which may lead to quite a different kind of Commonwealth in the future.
The situation in South Africa has been bedevilled largely by apartheid; and when you have a people like the Afrikaners, who are not like ourselves—that is, utterly illogical—but are logical people, being originally Hollanders, and therefore people who have a logical mind, you get absurd results. In South Africa to-day, a Japanese is regarded as an "honorary" white man and has all the benefits of the white race. Lately the case of Mr. Sung, a Chinese, caused some interest, because he was treated as a white man while Mrs. Sung, who is no more nor less Chinese, was treated as a coloured woman; and the absurd position arose that if Mr. and Mrs. Sung live a normal married life, they can be charged under the law which prohibits association of a sexual nature between men and women of different races. That shows how absurd one can get by being truly logical in this world.
What Dr. Vorwoerd has been doing is little understood in this country, because he really means what he says. We have tended to think that the Government of South Africa have been putting up a smoke-screen and that they do not really want to take an interest in the future of the Africans. But I think that they are interested in the future of the Africans, 585 in the light in which they see that future. Of course, it is entirely different from ours. The South Africans are logical, and that is not understood in this country. And they will try to carry out this policy. They have started several Bantustans—that is, colonies—within their country. They have, for instance, self-government in the Transkei. The Transkei will have certain elements of genuine self-government—not very great, but still far greater than any black African has had up to now in South Africa. They are going to spend £57 million on Bantustans during the next ten years. These facts ought to be made known because, unless we understand what they are doing, we cannot understand their motives.
Another development in South Africa, which is perhaps not so healthy, is that they have decided to take away the restrictions on the sale of European liquor to Africans and coloureds, who in future will be able to buy whisky, brandy and gin as freely as white men. This will have one peculiar result. The numerous white men who have made an easy and handsome living by selling illicit hard liquor to Africans will be out of business. What other results there will be, time will show.
Developments in South Africa are of immense importance to us because of the responsibilities we still have for large areas of Africa. There is no doubt that, both inside and outside the Union, Black Africa is watching and waiting, and time will show to what extent they will be prepared to take action in support of what they believe the future of Africa should be. It is quite impossible to regard South Africa in isolation. It is part of Africa as a whole, and anything done there has repercussions in other areas where we still have responsibilities, just as things done in other areas have repercussions in South Africa.
Coming directly to the Bill, I think that the cases for and against have been well expounded by both the noble Earl Ole Foreign Secretary for the pros, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for the cons. I think we have heard practically all the arguments that could be adduced for and against the Bill. The criticism has been on three grounds. The first, of which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, made a great deal, is the question of whether South Africa should have any 586 more privileges than any other foreign country. Should the fact that it is an old member of the "Club" give it any advantages? The only other two foreign countries who have the same sort of position have already been mentioned by the noble Earls. As the Foreign Secretary said, Ireland, in this, as in most other things, is not a good example to take from the legislative point of view. We have always regarded Ireland in an ambivalent way, because of its close proximity to our shores and because it is our ancient friend and copartner. I do not propose to go into the other special case, Burma, although I could do so at length, because both the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and I had something to do with the steps leading to the independence of Burma and know that there were special circumstances in that case.
The special arrangement with regard to nationality—people are given 3½ years to decide whether they want to retain or obtain British nationality or not—has been criticised. It is thought that this period should be shorter. I do not make a great point of it. Having regard to the centuries of contact we have had with South Africa, I think probably 3½ years is not unreasonable, but some have thought that twelve months would be enough.
There has been greater criticism of the retention of South Africa in the Commonwealth preference system. I do not think any answer has been given to the question of why South Africa should retain Commonwealth preference, and certainly the noble Earl did not attempt to give one to-day. We should genuinely like to know. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that in this respect this was a dangerous Bill. I think that is going a little far, but I believe that if we water away the benefits of being in the Commonwealth too far, there is nothing left. What can we offer people to stay in the Commonwealth, if countries going out retain the important benefits? There is nothing left at all. I believe—and I think I am the only person in this House, in this Parliament or in this country who believes it—that we have had far too few obvious signs of our Commonwealth allegiance. There will be one obvious sign when Her Majesty the Queen opens the new Commonwealth Institute in Holland Park.
587 That will be an obvious sign, to the hundreds of thousands of school children and adults who will visit it, that this Commonwealth means something. It is the only Commonwealth institution on whose governing board all the independent Commonwealth countries are represented and which as partly financed by them, although, of course, it is mainly financed by the United Kingdom Government.
The last point of criticism is of the Sugar Agreement. New bilateral arrangements are being made by the two Governments to bring the South African Government into association with the Agreement or at least with most of its benefits. I gather that the difference is £10 a ton. We have not really been told why, having gone out of the "club", the member should receive this valuable concession. I ask these questions—and I am sure your Lordships will want to know the answers—in no sense of criticism, knowing, as I have said, that the Government have a difficult task. But they are points to which we ought to have answers, and I hope that the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will be able to give us the answers.
I feel that, so far as we in this House are concerned, one of our most important tasks to-day is to secure the position of the protectorates. As your Lordships know, these three protectorates, the High Commission Territories, are in a peculiarly difficult situation. Basutoland is entirely surrounded by Union territory, while Swaziland and Bechuanaland, although not entirely surrounded by South African territory, are to a large extent. Their history has been that they have developed, as is only natural, in very close association in all ways with the rest of South Africa.
The Government have recently recognised the special significance of the Territories by removing the control of them from the Commonwealth Relations Office to the Colonial Office. But they have not gone the further step which I should have thought desirable—namely, to remove from the High Commissioner, who in future will be an Ambassador, the responsibility for the Governorship of these Territories. It was just possible in the old days—although I never thought it a convenient arrangement—to have the High Commissioner also 588 as Governor of the three Territories. But, as South Africa is now a foreign country, to have someone as an Ambassador, accredited to the country from the Foreign Office, who is also regarded as a Governor, responsible to the Colonial Office, is a task which we should expect no man to undertake.
I see no reason why we should not at this stage (and everybody will understand the situation), a new office having been assigned to look after its interests, appoint a separate official to be Governor of the three Territories, with, if possible, a separate headquarters. This latter suggestion, I recognise, presents difficulties, because the most convenient central spot for the three Territories—and it is not very convenient—is, in fact, Johannesburg, in the Union of South Africa. There is really no place which is very central with regard to the three Territories. But I am certain that it will be found impracticable to have the administrative and legal headquarters of what are three Colonies in a foreign country, as it is now. I would suggest that Her Majesty's Government should seriously consider the creation of a separate capital for the three Territories in Mbabane,which is in Swaziland, which seems to me (I shall be corrected if I am wrong) to be the only possible site for the capital of these Territories.
I have one further point on the vexed question of sugar. I must say that I do not understand the sugar position—at least, I understand the sugar position, but I do not understand the Government's reasoning on it. But, as always, I am open to be persuaded, and if I am wrong—it is a difficult situation—I am quite prepared to learn from the Government and from the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, who is to reply. The present position, as I understand it—and I have gone to some trouble to find out what it is—is this. Swaziland sugar production is at present limited, by agreement with the South Africa Sugar Association, to 80,000 short tons per annum. This sugar is sold within the markets available to the South African sugar industry in the Republic and overseas. Marketing and price arrangements are laid down in agreement between the Swaziland milling companies and the Association, and are generally those applicable in the South African sugar industry.
589 Towards the end of last year, only a few months ago, it was agreed between the British Government and the South African Government that in the 1964–65 production season, and subsequent years, the present figure for Swaziland sugar production of 80,000 short tons per annum should be replaced by a limit of 8½ per cent. of the total sales of South African and Swaziland sugar. So that after this Bill was in gestation, or when, no doubt, it was pretty well on the stocks, the British Government made this new arrangement with the South African Government, departing from the old idea of a block grant, as it were, or a block amount of 80,000 short tons, and tying the Swaziland production to a percentage of the total South African and Swaziland production. That seems to have been a curious thing to do just at that moment, although there may have been good reason for it.
I feel that the test in all these things should be not what we think is right for ideological reasons, but what is to the benefit of Swaziland. If the Government thought this was right, and have facts to support them, that is fine, and we should not quarrel with that decision. But I think the onus is on them to say why, a few months ago, when this great change was impending, they altered the system which had been in operation for some years and went into an entirely new system, based not on the ceiling amount of sugar, but on a percentage of the sugar production and sales.
Swaziland, in fact, as the noble Earl admitted in his answer to me when I intervened, is going to lose £10 per ton on the price of sugar, compared with what they would receive if they were in the Commonwealth sugar scheme. I think that is a matter which the Government have to defend. Why should Swaziland, which is a Protectorate, and is our responsibility, be in a different position from, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, Mauritius, which is in the Indian Ocean and not so far away? There may be good reason for it, but I personally do not understand what it is. Swaziland is building up a considerable export in sugar, and it seems to me that it could well come under the normal Commonwealth Sugar Agreement 590 instead of being linked into this new agreement with South Africa, with the result that it will receive £10 a ton less than under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.
§ LORD DERWENT
The noble Lord Will forgive me for interrupting. He says that Swaziland is building up a big export trade in sugar. To where is that, apart from the Union of South Africa?
§ LORD OGMORE
I did not say "a big export trade in sugar "; I said they are building up an export trade. But there is an export of sugar into Rhodesia, I believe; and I am glad to say that there is an expanding economy in Bechuanaland, and there is no reason why we should not sell sugar there. Sugar, soap and tea are, I gather, the first recipients of the benefit of development anywhere. Where there is economic development, people begin to wear white clothes and want soap; they drink tea, and they use sugar in the tea. So with the development of the standard of living in other parts of Africa, particularly the Rhodesias, there is no reason at all why Swaziland should not develop as I gather, subject to correction, it is developing, a good export trade to other areas, apart from South Africa.
My final point is with reference to the difficulties of citizenship in the protectorates. The noble Earl the Foreign Secretary said that this was one of the matters which was going to be safeguarded, I think with an amendment of the Bill. I am glad to hear that, because there have recently been cases in which people from the protectorates have been arrested in the Union of South Africa. There was one case recently of Dr. Swame, a Swaziland politician, who had had the unfortunate experience of being arrested while returning from a visit to Basutoland, which seems very hard luck indeed. He was a citizen of the High Commission Territories and was going from one of the territories to another. He had to cross a piece of South African territory on the way and was promptly arrested. That is the sort of case which I am quite sure the Government have in mind in proposing this amendment, and if that is its intention it will certainly have my support when it comes on the Order Paper.
My Lords, this is a very important point. To the best of my belief, although Dr. Swame was resident for a while in Swaziland, he is, I am told, a Zulu. Could the noble Lord confirm that?
§ LORD OGMORE
I am not quite clear about Dr. Swame's antecedents. But whether he was originally a Zulu or not, the fact is that he is the leader of one of the Swazi political Parties. In fact, the Government of Swaziland made urgent protest to the South African authorities and he was released, so they must have regarded him as having some claim upon their activities and their protection. I instance just that one case—there are others—because I think it shows that this proposed amendment by the Government is an important one, and one which we ought to welcome when it comes. That is all I have to say. I am sorry that it has been necessary for the Bill to come forward. I can only hope that, at all events, the association between the High Commission Territories and South Africa will be a harmonious one.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, as a South African deeply interested in South Africa and Basutoland, and with family and business ties going back for nearly 90 years, I should like to say that I welcome the moderate, businesslike way in which this Bill has been received in this House and, indeed, in the newspaper Press of both this country and the Republic of South Africa during the period which it was going through the House of Commons. It was to be expected that, when the Bill was being discussed here, and Mr. Louw's synchronous statement was being discussed in the Parliament of South Africa (because although they have not had a Bill parallel to this in South Africa as yet; they have had a statement endorsing the principles involved and indicating that the two Governments have, so far as possible, seen eye to eye in these matters) the Opposition in Cape Town and in Westminster in the Commons would "go to town", to some extent, in indicating their strong feelings about what the Government were doing. That is one of the functions of Opposition.
I should like also to say that I thought the Lord Privy Seal, in presenting the 592 Bill in the Commons, when he had claimed that he had found a balance between sentiment and reality, was making a just claim. I think it as well to judge countries and peoples by what their Governments do, rather than by what oppositions say—" By their deeds shall ye know them "is a good motto. If we look at what the Governments of the Republic of South Africa and the United Kingdom are doing in relation to this question of trying to provide a permanent arrangement for living together in this world, as evidenced by this Bill and by the non-legislative steps they are taking, we shall find, it seems to me, that they are in fact doing wisely and well. They have been tolerant, even generous, to each other, and they have come to broad, general arrangements for working together which are sensible.
In South Africa, they have resisted the views that might have been expressed by Afrikaans-speaking or English-speaking Oppositions of diehard natures, and in England the Government have resisted the opposition of Leftish persons in the House of Commons, and rightly so. It was to be expected that Mr. Fenner Brockway would make a demonstration, and I am very sorry that he is depriving himself of South African oranges. I hope he will get some satisfaction from eating Spanish oranges, and that they will not give him doctrinal indigestion. There still seems to be in some quarters a slight feeling—I am glad to say very slightly represented in the speeches today, as I listened to the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel—that we must punish South Africa in some way for her internal policies or that we must not perhaps trade with them as freely as we should with some others, lest by doing so we contaminate ourselves. This retributive attitude, or "holier than thou" attitude, happily is not widespread, and I think it is true to say, looking at this matter as dispassionately as one can, that Britain and South Africa as a whole have decided to live together in a friendly way, notwithstanding what minorities or Oppositions are going to say about it.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, but my noble friend Lord Listowel being out of the Chamber I must say that in my hearing 593 he never said a word that could be construed as punishment, retribution or anything of the sort. I really must protest on his behalf.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
I shall be very happy if, when I read his speech, I can feel as the noble Earl does. I hope that is so. In the light of the view expressed, may I say that however the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, put it, there were those in the House of Commons, and there are others in the country, who seem to me, at any rate, to be expressing this retributive view. I was trying to give what I thought was some small answer to it. Since the view comes rather more frequently from members of the Labour Party than otherwise, it is right to bear in mind that it was during their term of office that both Burma and Ireland were given special treatment nearer to a Commonwealth relationship and slightly different from that of a foreign power. It is worth underlining that, because the Labour Party are making rather much of the point that Burma was a special case and Ireland was a special case. Why should not those of us who love South Africa be entitled to say that South Africa is a special case, with a great history of co-operation and friendship?
May I make one comment about liquor? I was not sure whether the noble Lord was referring to the new freedom to drink in South Africa now to be applied to coloured men and to Africans themselves—whether he had a critical idea in his mind or not—but he seemed to imply that it was open to some criticism.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I should like to point out that I was only saying that we know too little about what is happening in South Africa, and I gave some instances with the development of the Bantustan and this freedom, in future, to drink. I do not see why they should not have this freedom; they are having it in other parts of Africa. I was not criticising; I was only instancing development in South Africa.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
Then the noble Lord evidently agrees with me that it is a good thing. I am glad to hear that. The object, of course, is to enable them to drink decent drink in lawful and proper circumstances instead of having to do it, as usually happens, in 594 less worthy circumstances and with much worse liquor. On balance, it is a good thing. It is supported by the police, who very much dislike having to go to clean up unlawful stills.
This Bill is long and complicated, but we are dealing with the Second Reading debate in which principles should be in our minds, and perhaps I might devote myself in the main to the two major matters which are dealt with in the Bill and just touch upon the principles involved. The Bill deals mainly with trade and citizenship. I will take trade first and, in doing so, I will attempt to answer some of the questions or points made by those who spoke before me. Imperial Preference agreements are not of the essence of the Commonwealth relationship; they were bilateral agreements reached at Ottawa. Each one of them was a separate agreement, and there is nothing in the fact of South Africa's going out of the Commonwealth to cause a breach in the trade agreement between Britain and South Africa. There was therefore no reason why the retirement of South Africa from the Commonwealth should alter that agreement. There may be other causes for altering the agreement which may arise in the future—new agreements can always be entered into by Commonwealth countries or foreign countries, by Britain or by any other country—but moving outside the Commonwealth, that particular instance of last year, was not one that made it necessary for that agreement to be abrogated. It therefore goes on, and this Bill does not, in fact, do anything except tidy up that position.
Now some have said: "It is not fair that these people should have this preference; let us alter it". Very well; if it is to be altered let it be done in due course for good reasons, and not because of the fact that South Africa has gone out of the Commonwealth. We have almost similar agreements, to mutual advantage, with many countries, and we can perfectly well continue this one. I think the Government have been sensible to do nothing in this Bill to diminish the extent of trade which has gone on under this bilateral agreement and to allow it to continue. Of course, as has been said, they may all come to an end in the next year or two. All well and good. But for the time being they go on.
595 I will say a word or two about the general balance of advantage which has been entered into by these two Governments and which is the reason for this Bill. But I want to divert just for one moment to say a word about sugar. It may well be that the sugar arrangement is part of a kind of package deal which the two Governments have made, the one with the other, touching many of their interests. There are certain things which we should want very particularly from South Africa; there are certain things which South Africa would very particularly want from us; and, undoubtedly, in recent months the two Governments have been in discussion about all these matters. In one instance no doubt they have given way a bit, in another taken a bit, and, by process of give and take, this viable arrangement has been entered into between the two Governments and is now, I hope, to be given the force of law. The sugar arrangement takes into account the special circumstances of Swaziland, about which I am sure the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, will be well-informed when he comes to speak. It takes into account the special relationship between ourselves and Natal, which is of long standing. And it takes into account the large sums of money which have been invested and the propriety of giving time for adjustment. All these are circumstances which I think should be taken into account.
I should like now, my Lords, to turn to citizenship. The general principle here is that a few older persons with special connections in the two countries, persons like myself, for example, may enjoy the citizenship of the two countries for quite some time. But it cannot be contemplated that our children and our grand-children can enjoy an option to revive their United Kingdom citizenship for all time. I mention this matter, because while in South Africa quite recently I met a number of persons with British connections, such as myself, and Scottish connections, who said: "Why cannot I, or my son or grandson, have the option to retain our British citizenship indefinitely? Why just for five years?" I had to point out that there must be some limit to the time during which a person who adopts the manners of a country, and who lives and becomes 596 part of that country, can go on doing that without opting to become a citizen or to lose the advantages of becoming a citizen.
Therefore, the arrangement contemplated between the two countries whereby some older rights or older privileges may be honoured but whereby the younger generation must, within a limited time, make a choice, seems to me to be the right one, and I think it has to be understood from both points of view—not only from the British but also from the South African. If there are some points in this matter which we can deal with on Committee I shall be very glad to concert with others to see whether they seem to be valid matters. But, by and large, I think the Government are right in the proposals they are making about citizenship, and I believe it will be found that they are in accord with the wishes of the South African Government as well as of our own.
Dealing with this question of trade, I do not think we can fail to be concerned with the amount of the trade unless we are going to be complete humbugs. I should like, very briefly, to mention one or two figures which will illustrate it. There is an investment of £1,000 million of British money in Southern Africa. I may say, in passing, that apart from the proper interest which Her Majesty's Government is entitled to take in so large an investment, we may well rejoice that that investment over a long period of years has done much to raise the standard of living of South Africa, and particularly the standard of living of the Africans themselves.
Last year the United Kingdom sold to South Africa £154 million worth of goods and bought from South Africa £106 million worth of goods, in addition, of course, to taking all their gold and uranium, amounting to some £200 to £300 million worth, and distributing it throughout the world. Not only are these very substantial figures in themselves, but it is a paradox indeed that the very nice balance of trade between our two countries, the Republic and the United Kingdom, is not matched in respect of any other pair of countries, in the Commonwealth or out of it. The trade done between Britain and Canada, between Britain and Australia, between Britain and New Zealand is not as good 597 to the two countries or as substantial or as well balanced as that done between Britain and South Africa. Let us bear that in mind in considering this whole question of trade.
Now, if I may, I will say a word about the protectorates. These three Territories are very dependent upon South Africa, and Basutoland is absolutely dependent upon South Africa. It does not grow enough food to feed itself; it has not access to the sea. It cannot survive without work in South African mines and industry, and without exporting its wool and mohair through South Africa and selling its beasts to South Africa. The criticism has been made that it would be better if those three Territories were governed by a Governor, a separate person with a separate office. That may come in due time. Who knows how that situation will develop? But I think we ought to remember that there is a great tendency in Colonial government to over-govern, to have too many Lieutenant-Governors and too many Governors; and every one of those Governments is very expensive. To have yet another Government and another capital there, on top of the three Governments and capitals we already have, would, I think, be a needless expense.
Moreover, it is not true to say that Sir John Maud, our proconsul out there, has a divided mind or schizophrenic mind in this matter. He is working for the two countries, not for the one against the other, or the other against the one. He, above all, realises that it is very important for Basutoland to remain a comfortable, healthy, happy British Protectorate and, at the same time, to remain a friend of what is really its Mother Country, its surrounding country, the Republic of South Africa. He is therefore working for both and not for one against the other. I may say, in passing, that I think that both Governments, in the Republic and here, owe a deep debt of gratitude to Sir John Maud for the very able way in which he has guided us and for the help he has given us both to bring about the agreeable result in which we are taking part to-day.
There is one other figure about South Africa which it is well to have in our minds. The lowest point reached by their reserves of gold and dollars during last year was £76 million. The figure 598 to-day, only ten months later, is £166 million. That is partly due to the turn of trade, and partly to restrictions of capital movement and of imports. But already in this brief time both the restriction of capital movements and the restriction of import trade are beginning to be relieved. The economic growth in South Africa this year is some 5 per cent.; the average in the world generally is 1½ per cent. There are, therefore, good reasons to hope that South Africa may be in for a time of quite considerable prosperity; and I, for one, believe that she is destined to enjoy, behind her moderate or even reasonably high protective screen—I think she is destined to a little inflation, which she can stand better than many countries—some years of prosperity. And that ought to make it all the easier for us to get on with her, and for her to help to support and aid our important interests in the three Territories, about which noble Lords have expressed concern.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that he would like to know if any official statements had been made about the Republic's designs upon the Territories or about their intention to incorporate the Territories—which was, of course, the traditional attitude, and one that was forecast in the South Africa Act, 1909. On February 9, in the House of Assembly, Dr. Verwoerd said, by way of preparing his own Parliament and his own people for a change of view, that incorporation was no longer an active matter in the policy of the Union of South Africa. He has personally told me the same thing within the last few weeks, and I believe that there will be no troubles between the Republic and Basutoland except those that may arise out of fugitive offenders and chasing delinquents and other similar troubles which must always worry people who have borders, as I suppose our Irish friends will know so well.
Now may I turn to South West Africa? It was said a little in this House, and very much in another place, that the Bill should not be given a Second Reading because it does not clearly define the British Government's policy towards South Africa; or, putting it another way, that, because it applies to South West Africa the same preferential arrangements and the same citizen arrangements, therefore the British Government 599 must be condoning the assimilation of South West Africa into South Africa, and they should not do that since the matter is before the Court at The Hague. I should like to make just a few remarks on this point.
I should not wish to anticipate, and I could not anticipate, what the Court may say; but whatever the Court says I think it is not unwise to look at the facts. Here is a Territory very far South, a long way from any other place, contiguous with, and geographically part of, South Africa, with similar problems of water and drought and farming; with similar native experience and primitive peoples governed by and living among the whites. It is only natural that this Territory should be governed by South Africa. One of the noble Lords who spoke before me reminded us that it was a Liberal Government here in Britain that placed the affairs of South Africa, its destiny, in the hands of the whites to the exclusion of the coloured and the blacks. It was a Liberal Government under Mr. Grimond's grand-stepfather, I think. Of course, your Lordships will remember that he was a Liberal.
It was not unnatural, when the Great War came to an end, and South Africa was one of the victors, and when the old German territories had to be divided up, that this one should be handed over to them. And so it was. One of the obligations placed on a mandatory Power is to manage the country according to their lights; to assimilate it into their government, and look after it according to their methods. Words to that effect were enshrined in the old League of Nations schedules, or whatever they may be called, which dealt with this question of Mandates. And it must be so. You cannot expect a mandatory Power at one end of the world to manage a place in a different way from the way in which it manages its own people. The very fact of placing it under South Africa recognised the fact that it was going to be under the whites and was not going to be under black government.
Geography and history suggest that this is the right and the sensible thing to do. We could all go on for ever imagining what could be done that would be better. We could say, "Let someone else have the Mandate". But who? It 600 would not be agreeable to South Africa that Britain should have it. It certainly would not be agreeable that America should have it. Or Russia. Then who? Same impotent Power quite incapable of managing a Mandate on its doorstep, much more incapable of managing a Mandate at the other end of the world? Or is it to be left to U.N.O.? That is the easy way out: that U.N.O. shall do it! But what is U.N.O.? It is three or four great Powers with amphibious Fleets and the means of enforcing sanctions in various parts of the world—three or four Powers with Fleets, and 97 others who have produced no intelligent proposals, who talk nonsense and get into a muddle whenever they intervene. So, "Leave it to U.N.O." is no solution.
My Lords, there is no solution for South West Africa but to let South Africa manage it. That is the sensible thing to do. May I also point out to your Lordships that it is most unlikely that the South African Government will invite or permit a United Nations committee to go in and investigate what is going on there? If South Africa does not, then it is unlikely that Britain will allow such a committee to go through Bechuanaland. Britain refused to do that only the other day; and rightly.
There is only one other way to South-West Africa, and that is by sea. There is a most inhospitable coast, and there are few who have the amphibious means to do it. I do not think that Britain or America would want to. I am quite sure that none of us would want Russia to do it. So do not let us talk quite 130 much nonsense about South-West Africa. It is a good thing to learn about the facts of this world. We have all of us, on all sides of this House, learned to live with Russia. We are not constantly bringing Russia up to the United Nations in order to ask when she is going to report on Latvia or Estonia, or on all the countries on her borders, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, which she has brought under her Government, by artifice, by war, by "fiddling" or whatever. We do not do that. Why should we always be persecuting South Africa and chasing her up over this matter? I also warn your Lordships that part of the inhospitable coast on which an invader would have to land is called the "skeleton coast".
601 My Lords, think that this Bill is a sensible arrangement, made by two Governments who have not been moved too much by the views of their Oppositions. It is notable that most people do behave sensibly when they have the responsibility to do it. I think that we ought to give the Bill a Second Reading. If there are small points which we desire to deal with in Committee, let us do that. Meantime, let us rejoice that these two Governments, representing two peoples who have been friends for so long, are determined that that friendship shall continue.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
My Lords, I fear that my contribution to this debate may be regarded as most unsophisticated, and indeed naive. In compensation for that, I can assure your Lordships that it will be brief. In any case, it may be that on such an occasion as this it is not too bad a thing that some of the simple things should be restated. I think that would especially be the case if it were true, as I hope it is not, that we were attending the obsequies of a noble experiment.
The only reason why I have ventured to stand on my feet is that before the war I lived in South Africa. I had South African nationality as well as British. Throughout the war I served in South African uniform, and I was proud to do so. I wear to-day the medal of that war awarded by the South African Government. Indeed, I had every intention of returning and continuing my life in South Africa after the war, if fate in the person of Sir Winston Churchill had not forcefully intervened. I have not ventured to come to this House without studying the Bill which is before us, nor without reading the debate on it in another place; but I feel myself incompetent to comment on the complex details of the Bill. It is only with the broad principle underlying it that I am at all concerned.
As I read the Bill, it appears to strike a middle course. On the one hand, as the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary has said, it does not propose that the Republic of South Africa, having left the Commonwealth, should continue to be treated as if she were a member of the Commonwealth, or that she should continue to enjoy the full privileges of 602 Commonwealth membership. On the other hand, it does not propose to do those things which might be regarded as cutting off our own nose to spite our face, or slashing the South Africans' nose to spite their face. It is because it seems to me to be the kind of a Bill that strikes a middle course that I feel warmly in support of it.
Because one supports this Bill, it does not mean that one condones in every respect the policy of the Government of South Africa. I myself, I must admit, find that certain aspects of their policy of apartheid offend against my conception, at least, of Christian behaviour. I find that some of their ideas of government are not consonant with my idea of democratic freedom. I feel that their attitude towards South-West Africa, with which the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, has dealt so well, is difficult to justify; and, perhaps above all, I feel that a tendency which still seems to persist among a section of the Afrikaans-speaking population to wish to dominate the scene to the exclusion of the English-speaking element in the population, is most unwise, particularly in view of the common problems and perils that face them both. I think it right to say these things, but I also remember some things on the other side of the balance sheet.
Now as regards the native question. I apologise for using the word "native". I became accustomed to using it when I was in South Africa. Of course it is a most inappropriate word, because the Bantu races that are now in South Africa are no more indigenous to that part of Africa than are the European elements; but it is a convenient word. As regards the welfare of the native, I recall that before the war those natives who worked in our factory had to live in petrol-tin shanties, in stinking barges in Durban Bay, just where they could get cover over their heads. When they were sick, which they frequently were, they were sent back to their kraals, because there was no hospitalisation of any consequence to look after them. When they died my officers came to me asking that they should be buried at the firm's expense, because otherwise they would not get a decent burial. I did not hear any great outcry, either in this country or out there, about that state of affairs at that time, but I think it is 603 proper to say that at least the physical state of the native in South Africa is not worse but better to-day, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was fair and right to draw attention to some things which have been done to improve the lot of the native.
Another thing about this very difficult native question is that if South Africa were indeed to swallow the prescription which some people would have her swallow then the European population would be completely overwhelmed and would almost certainly have to leave the country within a short period of years. The British who lived in India can come back to Britain; the Belgians who lived in the Congo can go back to Belgium; the Portuguese who were in Goa I suppose can go back to Portugal. But a very large number of the white population of South Africa have no country at all, except the one in which they and their ancestors have lived for many generations, and in which they have as good a right to live as the Bantu races who live around them.
I remember, in brief, the history of South Africa since that war which is so curiously and incorrectly called "the Boer War." Mention has been made of the Act of 1909. Was that not a fine example of high-principled statesmanship on the part of both countries? It may be that its force is spent—I am sure that is right, as the Foreign Secretary has said—but it was a very great act of statesmanship, and we should to-day try to tackle these problems in the same mind.
Then I think of what happened in two World Wars. I remember in the First World War how I admired the performance of the South African contingent at Delville Wood and elsewhere. In the Second World War I remember the formations with which, and in which, I served and how magnificent they were at E1 Alamein and elsewhere—rough, tough chaps, but bonny fighters, like the football teams they send over from time to time. I remember the wonderful comradeship that existed between the South Africa and the British troops. I recall how, within a few days of the destruction of the Guards Chapel here in London by enemy action, £5,000 was raised in the South African Armoured Division from the officers and men: 604 that works out at about 10s. a head. Incidentally, I am very glad that the Chapel is about to be rebuilt.
Of course, in saying these things one knows that there were elements in the country which did not want to take part in these wars, and there were even some men who worked with our enemies. It is right to remember those things, and to recall that they are not all yet departed from the scene. But they were a minority, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, said, you judge a man or a country by their deeds—" By their deeds ye shall know them "which is not a bad yardstick. Then I think it fair to remember that since the last war there has been concluded a defence agreement between this country and the Government of South Africa, an agreement which is of great value to both countries and which is something we have not been able to get with all the other countries that have remained in the Commonwealth.
Finally, I recall to mind my friend and hero, Field Marshal Smuts, whose statue stands outside these Houses of Parliament; I recall all he stood for and all he fought for: "South Africa for the South Africans" he said—not just for this lot of South Africans, or that lot of South Africans, but for all South Africans. I look forward, I hope to live to see the day when the Government of South Africa will really take up that principle which Smuts laid down and put it into practice. I look forward to the day when the Government in South Africa will seek to repair such breach as is now being made between their country and ours, either by re-entering the Commonwealth or in some other way. The Commonwealth itself cannot be completely sheltered from the wind of change. Meanwhile, I hope that nothing will be done to make the repair of that breach any more difficult than it need he. And it is because this Bill appears to be drafted in such a spirit that I warmly support it.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I, like most of your Lordships, I am sure, was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Robinson of Oakridge, gave such a balanced picture of South Africa. We tend to personalise countries that we know and to colour them very black or very 605 white; and it is true that South Africans fought beside us in two wars. It is also true that in both those wars there were sizable revolutionary, rebellious elements—in fact, there was armed rebellion in both cases. There were powerful movements, like the Broederbond, that were indistinguishable from our enemies at that time. So, as regards character, let us say that South Africans are not wholly bad or wholly good.
But the noble Lord also said: "By their deeds ye shall know them". And surely that is what all this is about—the deeds of the ruling Party in South Africa, the Party that has been in power ever since the great Field Marshal Smuts lost power. It is that Party and its policies that have caused South Africa to leave the Commonwealth and have engendered such strong feelings on the part of millions of people in this country, in the rest of the Commonwealth and in the world at large. I would not admit that there was here a note of punishment or a wish for retribution, as was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale. I know that my noble friend Lord Listowel did not say anything that could conceivably be characterised by that word. But there is a strong feeling which does find expression in strong words and strong criticism. Because of this, some of us feel that this Bill is rather too neutral. It seems to wish to gloss over all the underlying movements that are the cause of South Africa's leaving, and to say "Well, let bygones be bygones". Surely, my Lords, if Commonwealth membership is to have any value at all, it must mean something. The departure of a country from the Commonwealth must mean that that country forfeits some of the advantages that it derived from Commonwealth membership. That is why some of us think that it is difficult to justify the continuance of preference—trade preferences, the sugar agreement, and the other provisions on trade.
The noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, talked a good deal about the Mandate. He let himself go, shall we say, on the United Nations. But if we ignore that I think he was wrong about the Mandate itself. It was only natural, when the League of Nations allotted the Mandate for South-West Africa that it should have been allotted to the self- 606 governing Commonwealth country of South Africa; but it was not only natural that this should be incorporated as part of South Africa. I cannot quote the provisions of the League of Nations' instrument which governed the Mandate system, but I am quite sure that no Trust Territory, was, in fact, incorporated in the country which held the Mandate. We were most careful that Tanganyika should be governed according to the terms of the Mandate. I do not think South Africa's action in incorporating its Trust Territory in its own Metropolitan area, making it subject to its own laws, can be justified in any way. Indeed, I think Her Majesty's Government do not admit that the annexation—which is what it amounts to—is justified. I was glad to see that, when the Bill passed through another place, a small concession was made in the terminology in the Bill, and in one or two places South-West Africa has been described as a Mandated Territory. That is a small but definite improvement in the Bill.
I was very glad, and your Lordships will have been glad, to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, a first-hand account of Dr. Verwoerd's present attitude on the High Commission Territories. I think it is most important that Dr. Verwoerd should have declared openly that the question of their incorporation in the Republic is no longer alive (or words to that effect), because those Territories and the Republic of South Africa must live together. Those Territories cannot exist without friendly relations with South Africa.
That brings me to the question of the governing of those Territories, and the combining of the post of Governor or High Commissioner of those places with that of Ambassador to the Republic. Nobody has accused Sir John Maud, as the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, said has been done, of having a split mind. But what many people have said is that the two functions are split: that they involve a split loyalty and split responsibility. Surely the case is even stronger now than it ever was for the control of those three Territories to be removed from the capital of the Republic of South Africa, from Pretoria or Cape 607 Town. I do not know whether, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, it would be possible to select one of the High Commission Territories and locate the combined capital at Mbabane in Swaziland; or whether those three Territories should not be made individually responsible to the Colonial Office, to Whitehall. I should have thought that that was another solution well worth thinking about. They are small Territories, but there are other small Colonies depending directly on Whitehall, and I should have thought it would be in accordance with precedent that the resident Commissioners there now should become Governors answerable direct to Whitehall.
My Lords, the Swaziland sugar question is highly complicated and, from what we have heard, I am not sure, even now, why Her Majesty's Government think it impossible to separate the Swaziland sugar production from that of the Union. We were told that it is to give an assured market to the Swazi producers. But is that so?—because we were told by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that the quota has been limited and adjusted to the production in the Union? If, as we have heard, there is already over-production in Natal, it is hard to see why the production of the two countries cannot be divorced.
Lastly, my Lords, there is a question which was mentioned in another place, though I do not think the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, dealt with it in his speech to-day; that is the question of the diplomatic representation of the Republic of South Africa in other countries. It has, of course, been the custom for British diplomatic and consular officials in many countries in the world to represent South Africa; and while that was perfectly reasonable, and obviously a sensible solution, when South Africa was in the Commonwealth, it does not seem appropriate, since she has left the Commonwealth, that that system should continue. Can we be told whether, in fact, it will continue in the future?
Much has been said, and most of the arguments have already been well set out on either side. I think all that needs to be said is that, while in this situation we should avoid anything like vindictiveness in our dealings with South Africa, 608 we must at the same time remember the rest of the world. What is the rest of the world going to think? The rest of the world will be watching very closely our relations with South Africa, on the termination of its Commonwealth membership.
There is no doubt that until last year, until Dr. Verwoerd decided to take South Africa out of the Commonwealth, we were suffering under a great handicap in our dealings in the world, particularly with the Communist countries, in having a member of the Commonwealth whose policies were so diametrically opposed to everything for which we said we were fighting the Communists. In fact, in the diplomatic relations between the so-called Free World and the Communist world, we were prejudiced by the fact that we condoned this policy by a member of our Commonwealth. Now, my Lords, we start with a clean sheet; we can hold up our heads, with our consciences to that extent clearer; but we must not forget the underlying, reason for South Africa having left. We feel that this Bill errs, if anything, on the side of being too kind to South Africa; nevertheless, we think that, on the whole, most of its provisions can be justified.
§ 5.1 p.m.
My Lords, in your Lordships' House you will not think it at all odd that I should be the third South African to address your Lordships this afternoon. You may wonder at my temerity in doing so, and I can offer as a possible reason only the fact that I spent six years after the war in that country and in Swaziland, and that it also, by a fluke, happens that I was responsible for installing the pilot irrigation scheme from which one of the two big sugar groups was finally developed. I left Swaziland permanently, although I have been back since, in 1953.
I must admit that I think that this Bill is a very good Bill. It is a very good compromise of a very difficult problem. I am not going to say much, because I heartily agree with the two speeches of my fellow (if only until the end of May) South Africans and I do not want to repeat their speeches again. But I must say, knowing how strong are the feelings of noble Lords opposite on this question, that those noble Lords have been very restrained; and although I 609 could say quite a lot in amplification of what the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, has said, I will not do so because I do not want to draw forth any controversy.
There are just one or two things about which I should like to ask. I am not clear as to the sugar position and as to the sugar price question. So far as I know, the Swaziland sugar quota was split from the Natal quota—under what sort of arrangements I do not know, but it was a proportion granted to Swaziland from the South African Government. Whether there were reciprocal arrangements, or things of that sort, I do not know. The other point about which I am not sure is that what I might call quite a large quantity of a very small quantity—the total quantity involved is round about 80,000 tons, I believe, but a large proportion of that—is consumed in Swaziland itself, and the vast bulk of the balance, I thought, was consumed in the Republic of South Africa. Whether the export price will control the South African price or the internal price I do not know, so I really cannot say how the price structure will affect Swaziland at all. I do not know whether anyone can tell me about that, but to understand the position is not quite as easy as it appears at first sight. There may be a loss of £10 per ton, and it is rather difficult if that is so, but I am not sure on that point.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, commented on the question of making alcoholic drink available, and I should like to add just one point on that subject. Just as in this country, drinking hours are prescribed in order to have some control over drink, and I know that control measures are contemplated in a Bill which I believe is being prepared or which is before their Parliament now. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, did not mention that fact, and I thought it might be of interest if I did. The noble Lord also suggested as a potential capital a place I call Mbabane. I think it is one of the most beautiful places in which I have ever been; but heaven help anybody who tries to make a telephone call! So that matter would have to be put right if it were ever used for that purpose.
I thought the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, put the reciprocal 610 preference in its true perspective, and I have nothing to add to that point. However, there are two very short points that I should like to add before I sit down. First of all, it has not been mentioned to-day, but we are also considering the wellbeing and the future and the kind of treatment we wish to be meted out to approximately 12 million Bantus. Now I do not for an instant say it is so, and I am making no accusations at all, but suppose certain people did visualise a tougher policy. I think we must also bear in mind that, if any suffering did come about, those whom we do not wish to catch in that policy would be the first people to suffer. That point should be borne in mind.
The only other point I wish to make is that there are a number of people who have bought building sites in Swaziland, which is a most beautiful country, with a view to retiring there, and a number of those people would have liked to retire there as citizens of the United Kingdom. Whether it will be easy for anybody in that position to become naturalised, even though, through reasons of not being in a position to retire yet, they cannot do so within the prescribed time limit, I do not know, but I should like to put in a plea that in a case of that kind anything that can be done to ease that situation should be done.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, my excuse for venturing to intervene in this debate is that I have returned only recently from a visit to South Africa, and I thought it might be interesting to your Lordships and helpful in the consideration of this Bill if I told your Lordships the conclusions I had come to and the impressions that I had gained. Honesty compels me to admit that perhaps the principal reason I went to that glorious country was to enjoy its sunshine and to leave your Lordships behind to withstand the rigours of a more than usually severe winter; but I went there also to see for myself what the conditions in South Africa were like and to learn what I could of the economy of the country.
During that protracted course of self-education, I travelled, in the company of my wife, about 3,500 miles. I visited the chief cities of Capetown, Johannes- 611 burg, Durban and Port Elizabeth. I discussed at length the problems with Ministers and the leaders of all the political Parties—the Nationalist Party, the United Party, and the Progressive Party. I talked to financiers, bankers, industrialists, professional people, and everybody from whom I could learn anything. I went over industrial estates and factories, and down gold mines and diamond mines. I visited those group areas where the nonwhites are forced to live as a result of this policy of segregation; I talked to them. Also, I visited those slum shanty towns where human degradation is at its lowest ebb. Those are my bona fides for venturing to address your Lordships this afternoon.
My Lords, South Africa is a Fascist State, and three-quarters of its population are living in a Police State: of that there is no shadow of doubt. The Nationalist Government's plan for the future of South Africa is writ large everywhere you go. The Nationalist Government in South Africa are trying to do precisely what Hitler tried to do in Germany. Hitler tried to set up a pure Aryan State, and to do that he tried to exterminate one of the greatest races in the world. The Nationalist Government in South Africa are trying to set up a pure Afrikaner State—a white Afrikaner State—and to do that their policy is to reduce to servitude the non-white population. Verwoerd will fail just as ignominiously as Hitler failed. But I would beg of your Lordships to ponder that this is no passing phase. The policy of the Nationalist Government in South Africa is firmly entrenched. There is no need for me to dwell on something of Which most of your Lordships know, but still fresh in my mind are the horrors of the working of the Group Areas Act, the Jab Reservation Act, the Immorality Acts, and all those many Acts—and they are legion—and regulations which strip every civil right from a coloured person. These, my Lords, are the facts.
This policy does not extend to only the non-whites. When I was in South Africa, there was a vitriolic campaign of vilification against the British Government—as the Government that "sells its citizens down the river". I must confess that the happenings in the Congo and in the Federation were readily used to propa- 612 gate that campaign. But, in my view, that was done for a far more subtle reason. I was interested in what the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary said on this question of nationalism. The vilification of the British Government in South Africa to-day has one express purpose, and that is to hold before the entire English white population of South Africa the picture that the Nationalist Government is the only sort of Government that a white man can trust. That is why it is done. And the sad thing is that it is collecting far too many adherents.
This question of nationality wants very careful handling, because when this present campaign has worked itself out there will be a Nationality Act in South Africa. That Act will give the white population of South Africa the choice of South African citizenship, British citizenship, or the citizenship of any other country—America, or wherever their hereditary allegiance may lie. I am quite certain that, when that choice has been made, there will be a disenfranchisement in South Africa of all those who have not opted for South African citzenship. That will remove practically the last sensible opposition to the policy of the Nationalist Government. I beg the Government not to lose sight of this. I do not think they will, because I am not telling them anything they do not know. But perhaps I can say these things from the Cross Benches in your Lordships' House. It would be a big mistake for anybody in this country to think that the Nationalist Government represents the white population in South Africa.
When this Bill was in another place I happened to be in Johannesburg, and I can tell your Lordships that it was received with the greatest possible relief by all the people concerned to whom I spoke. They thought that this Bill was one of the most generous actions that a Government could take. One person after another said to me, "We do not want to lose our British citizenship"; and they thought that the commercial part of the Bill was a generous action. In Nationalist circles, it is looked upon as just another trick by a British Government protecting their own selfish interests. I commented, "Since when need a British Government start apologising for protecting the 613 huge capital investment "—it has been mentioned this afternoon—" of £1,000 million, which has done so much to raise the standard of living in South Africa?" I felt that the British Government had no reason to make any apology in that direction.
My Lords, I came away sore and sick at heart. It was a heart-breaking experience to go round the country and keep one's eyes open and an impartial mind. South Africa will never be saved by her politicians. In my view, you will never, for as long as it is sensible to look forward, have a change of Government there. There is not a vestige of a chance of getting a liberal Government in South Africa, sorry as I am to say it. Of the three chief political Parties, only two appear to be engaged in fighting the common enemy, which is the suppression of three-quarters of the population. That should be the job of the Government. The duty of a Government is to work for the welfare of the whole people and not of a section of the people—and a very small section—as is happening in South Africa.
But I am not despondent. South Africa can be saved by the efforts and enlightenment of a first-class industrial community. In my contacts with this community I formed the highest opinion of the industrialists of South Africa, and one of the bright factors is the infiltration of Africans into the highest industrial circles. I have always held firmly the view that when political or racial ideologies come into conflict with economics, economics will win in the end. The forces of modern economic development affect all men without regard to the colour of their skins. It is from the force of this economic truth that the salvation of South Africa will come.
That is why I am so hopeful about this Bill. There are three things which are vital for the future of South Africa as a great country—outside capital, outside know-how and wise use of the country's vast resources of non-white labour. When in South Africa, I went over a huge works employing 4,000 operatives, 50 per cent. white and 50 per cent. non-white, working side by side on the same machines, under the same conditions and earning the same money. They were being paid the rate for the job right the way through. Yet, 614 when we get progressive industrialists like the owners of this works, who want to contribute their meed to the economics of their country, they find hanging over their heads, like the sword of Damocles, the infamous Job Reservation Act. The latest estimate I could get when I was there showed that the population of South Africa is just over 16 million: 3 million white and 13 million non-white. And the non-whites are increasing five times faster than the whites. How can a policy of segregation, of apartheid ever continue to exist under a condition like this?
South Africa requires a vast expenditure on secondary industries. The industrial advancement of South Africa depends upon countries like ours giving economic aid and not upon trying to veto a fanatical ideology, which we shall not do. These industries will want more customers, and more customers can be provided only by a higher standard of living, and it is only by increasing the standard of living that a greater sense of social responsibility can be brought about. I learned in South Africa that the non-white is a skilled operative, far more skilled as an operative than he is developed in a civic sense. How can we expect a high sense of responsibility when the non-white population are deprived of every social and civic right? As I left South Africa, the Government were just bringing in another Bill to take away the last vestige of their municipal responsibility.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, that the credit side must be mentioned. There are huge housing estates on the Cape Plains and outside Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Durban. I went over some of them and talked to people in the houses. But what is the good of decent housing if you segregate the non-whites from the people with whom they are working all day? How can you expect anything else but the fomenting of nests which can be fired at any time?
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, the noble Lord has said that, as he was leaving South Africa, they were taking away some municipal rights from the coloureds or natives. I was there at the same time as the noble Lord and I actually went and sat with a local native council, which was all black, including the chairman and secretary. 615 They were discussing local roads, lighting and sewage, and the rest of it, just like our local representatives. Far from taking this council away, they have just set it up.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, what the noble Lord says just illustrates the insidious way in which this apartheid policy is carried out—they are all blacks, all coloureds; not a real non-racial municipality. What are they proposing in the Transkei? They are proposing to put up factories where nobody wants to go. In many of these places they are intent on segregation right the way through, from top to bottom. That is an unholy doctrine.
That is my experience. That is why I welcome this Bill. It is a generous gesture. What we cannot afford to do as a country is this. Because we are at odds—and quite rightly—with a Fascist Government, we cannot take it out of the people with whom we have ties of generations. Of course there will be other examples. This is the shape of things to come.
The noble Earl the Foreign Secretary will not agree with me, but perhaps I might say this, which he himself would not like to say. Do not ever delude yourselves, my Lords, that South Africa will ever come back into the Commonwealth. That is just Cloud Cuckoo-land thinking. I think this is the first of a series of Bills like this. I have to confess something which I have said at other times in your Lordships' House: in my view, the Commonwealth as we have known it in the past, is a thing of the past. The tying together will emerge commercially and in many other ways; but if we think the next two years is not going to see the whole structure of our relationship with South Africa, Australia, Canada or any other part of the Commonwealth radically altered, then we are not facing up to realities.
Therefore, I welcome this Bill, and I hope that the Government will never do anything that is going to injure the ordinary people of South Africa. We have more friends there than would be imagined from what we read in the popular Press. It ill becomes anybody, as happened when I was in South Africa, to leave this country and make 616 inflammatory speeches and say the idiotic things that are said. Fancy going to a place like South Africa at a time such as this and castigating the British Press, saying they can only find all the things that are bad in South Africa and blow them up for the sake of selling their newspapers! When that was repeated to me when I was in South Africa, I had no hesitation whatsoever in characterising behaviour like that as rabble-rousing clap-trap—an inelegant expression, but one that fitted the circumstances only too well.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising to support this Bill, I should like, first of all, to offer my apology to the House for having been unavoidably prevented from being here in time to hear the first two speeches in the debate. If I may go on to say what my own credentials are for speaking at all, apart from a great interest which I have always taken in Africa, and especially in South Africa, I was privileged a few years ago to go there for some weeks as a guest of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, and I was given every opportunity, which I took, of making an intensive study of conditions in that great country.
I must admit that I have listened with increasing amazement to the speech to which the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, has just treated us. He concluded, to my amazement, by saying that South Africa was packed with friends of ours. All I can say is that if there are many more speeches which so, to my mind, totally distort the facts and the genuine position in South Africa as the speech to which we have just listened, then we shall certainly have very few friends left in that country. I propose to say one or two things in relation to those so-called facts before I conclude. Before doing so, however, I would say that I am not sure that in distorting facts the noble Lord has not a little distorted the subject of this debate. And I should like to go back to the Bill before us, and to say one or two things about the points which have been raised. I am afraid my remarks may be a little disjointed, because I have no wish to repeat in detail what has already been better said.
As I view this Bill. I think it is a very good Bill. The Government have sifted 617 through all the complex statutory relationships, keeping in mind relationships and arrangements the destruction of which would damage our interests as well as perhaps cause unjustifiable hardships to individuals, and not only European individuals, both in this country and in South Africa. It is obviously foolish, unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, to destroy links which have been woven over so long a period. I understand, too, that members of the Commonwealth concerned in these preferential arrangements, have all been kept informed of what the British Government propose to do in this Bill, and there has been no protest from them. Canada, I understand, proposes to carry on with her bilateral arrangements, and it will be a case of the status quo with that country, as no doubt it will be with others.
What is it that opponents of this Bill really want? I suggest that consciously or unconsciously—perhaps consciously—their opposition must be based upon a desire to punish South Africa for having a political system which they, and most other people, so heartily dislike. But surely there is no sense in allowing political theories and political systems in another country to affect one's judgment in economic affairs. There are so many things outside of politics, and indeed outside of the Commonwealth, with which this Bill deals. There is, for instance, co-operation in defence matters, which does not depend on Commonwealth membership. There is the fact that South Africa is an important member of the sterling area, and has trading relationships of the utmost importance with most members of the Commonwealth.
I think it was the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, who made mention of the diplomatic relationships. In passing, before I forget this point, of which I made a note, I understand that this Government have never diplomatically represented South Africa in any country. I gather that consular matters have occasionally been looked after by officers of this country; but surely that is a reasonable thing to do to a friendly country. I do not propose to go into more detail on these matters, because I imagine that the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will deal with them at the end of the debate. After all, it is for the Govern- 618 ment to reply to these questions about sugar. But I must admit that I have read with considerable interest the debates in another place where the representative of the Government made a perfectly clear explanation of why these sugar arrangements were made.
May I refer to one or two things the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said on Swaziland? I gather that in this quota of 150,000 tons Swaziland, by arrangement with South Africa, has been guaranteed something like 72,000 tons. I also gather that that quota is more than Swaziland can at present fill. In any case, if she were a separate member of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement she would not get any more than any member of that Agreement would, the full amount of her quota. So under this arrangement she is, in fact, very much better off than she would be had she been taken out of it. It is possible to go into this matter at much greater length; but, as I say, I have no doubt that the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will deal with that point.
The next point I should like to mention is the matter of South-West Africa to which reference has been made. The Mandate for South-West Africa is still held by South Africa. That is the legal position: it is legally administered by the South African Government. I think the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, said that he did not know, or was not sure, what were the terms. I happen to have a note that Article 2 of the Mandate for South-West Africa says:The Mandatory shall have full power of administration and legislation over the territory subject to the present Mandate as an integral portion of the Union of South Africa and may apply the laws of the Union of South Africa to the territory, subject to such local modifications as circumstances may require.To the best of my knowledge that has not been altered, and the legal position is surely the one to which we must pay attention.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, should not that Mandate be considered in relation to what have been the decisions of the successor of the body which issued that Mandate, the League of Nations? And should there not be incorporated in that policy the resolutions which have been 619 carried by the United Nations Organisation? That apparently is not being done.
§ LORD MILVERTON
I do not know whether casual resolutions can alter a Mandate. But I understand that that Mandate stands in its original form.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Those resolutions are no more casual than the resolutions which were responsible for the issue of the Mandates to trustees. The noble Lord is merely prevaricating on this point.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Is it not a fact that, with the exception of South Africa, all the other countries who have had Mandates have passed them over to the trusteeship of the United Nations?
§ LORD MILVERTON
I do not claim to be a legal authority, but I still maintain that I am not prevaricating. I am speaking what I believe to be the truth, and I still think that what I said was the truth. Surely the way to conduct trade is on an economic basis. We believe in encouraging trade with Russia and with China, so I am told. So why not with South Africa? The more we encourage trade and communications, surely the greater is our influence. If we once start allowing emotions to sway our economic policy, and if we try to apply economic sanctions to our distaste for the internal policies of other countries, we damage ourselves as well as others, and we certainly do not help the cause of freedom.
Surely South Africa has lost enough in her departure from the Commonwealth. She has lost in position and in prestige. She has lost in all those mutual communications and consultations which go with membership of the Commonwealth. Surely it is not necessary to add to those things, when there is no cause other than, once more, our dislike for certain of their policies. As I think was said by a Minister in another place, this Bill is not a "good conduct" ticket; nor is it an impeachment of South Africa. It is an attempt to preserve friendly relations with a country with whom we have had those relations in peace and war for such a very long period of years.
As I have said before, no Commonwealth country has protested about this 620 Bill. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland—all intend to preserve the present preferential arrangements with South Africa. African territories do not have such arrangements either with South Africa or with ourselves, so they do not have to make any such decision. Surely, as I said, we should not allow ourselves to be influenced by emotional distaste, nor should we allow the distaste of other friendly countries expressed to us, to dictate to us what our own trading arrangements shall be.
I should like to mention one or two vital points about our financial and industrial stake in South Africa. On this matter the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, gave a number of interesting figures. All the foreign money invested in South Africa comes to about £1,538 million. Of this sum, £900 million is British. In other words, our contribution is 58.5 per cent. The United States of America comes next, with 19 per cent., and then Europe, with 16 per cent. Our annual imports, excluding gold, from the Republic, as the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lansdale, said, come to £106 million, and she imports from us £154 million. Britain provides nearly one-quarter of her total imports; and, incidentally, she is a better customer of ours than India. Much of what we buy consists of raw materials, and we mostly sell her finished products. It would surely be difficult to replace this market, and any attempt to interfere with it would be damaging to a number of industries in this country.
There is another point to consider. If we were so foolish as to withdraw our stake in South Africa, the wide open door would be crowded with Americans, Germans and Japanese, only too willing to take our place. As has been said, South Africa's goldfields are the largest in the world, and each year's output is worth £260 million. The annual output of uranium is worth another £52 million. All this gold is sold to the Treasury which puts it on the market in London. Similarly, owing to the South African Diamond Corporation, 95 per cent. of the world's diamond output is sold through London.
The number of these things indicate how closely tied our interests are with those of South Africa. I agree also with the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, in saying that there are excellent 621 reasons why the High Commissioner or our Diplomatic Representative in South Africa should also deal with the Protectorate Territories, because those Territories are economically and in many other ways so closely bound up with South Africa that it is much more than finance, it is a matter of efficiency, that the position should be filled by one man.
In conclusion, and also in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, I should like to take up the reference made by the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, when he said: "By their deeds shall ye know them ". In listening to Lord Lucas of Chilworth, I am strongly in favour of being fair, even when one has such a violent dislike for certain things as the noble Lord has, and nobody would ever have guessed, when listening to him, some of these things which are facts of the situation there. For instance, four out of every five Bantu children are at school. Each year there are 100,000 more, and complete literacy will be achieved in this generation. There are 27,000 Bantu teachers and more than 2,000 university undergraduates. There are three Bantu universities. The annual cash income of the Bantu exceeds £500 million, and wages are far and away the highest in all Africa. Incidentally, it is extraordinary that in this "police State", as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, was pleased to call it, every year thousands of Africans flock in with a desire to work there from the Territories to the North, and come regularly, again and again, after they have returned home.
With reference to the appalling conditions, surely, in fairness, one must remember that particularly in the last eight years immense strides have been made by the South African Government in eliminating slums. That work, incidentally, was started by Dr. Verwoerd when he was Minister for Native Affairs. In the last ten years approximately £100 million have been spent on rehousing urban Bantu families and providing them with transport and other services, and by next year South Africa's greatest social revolution of this century will have taken place in that every family will have a roof over its head. In the early future slums will be a thing of the past.
622 I remember when I was there myself being shown over these places on the instructions of Dr. Verwoerd, who said "You want to see the worst; I will show you the worst." And, when I had seen that, and seen the plans which he had made for improving conditions and eliminating the slums, he asked me what I thought about it. I said: "I think that what you are doing is what any competent authority would attempt to do, and my only criticism is that perhaps so rich a municipality as Johannesburg might have started doing this a little earlier ". In any case, I explained that I thought it was not unusual, because I could show (and I told him this) conditions just as bad as these, and I named certain places that I knew, but which I will not mention here, in various parts of our own Commonwealth and also in the British Isles.
I am sorry to have appeared to have strayed so far, but I have been led astray by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth. Some of the best hospitals in South Africa are for the Bantu. One would never have guessed all this from listening to the noble Lord. The per capita income of South Africa's entire population exceeds the second highest in Africa by 50 per cent., and during the next five years £152 million will he spent on developing thirty-three towns and villages in the Bantu homeland. I could go on with these details for a long time, but I mention them now only in the name of justice to a country like this. I am not at all defending the political theories held there; I do not think they are relevant really to this debate. I think that this Bill has got the thing in the right perspective and has endeavoured to preserve those relationships which stand outside such considerations. My Lords, I support the Bill.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Killearn rises may I say to the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, that last year I also was in South Africa. The views that were expressed this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, are not his alone; they are to be heard repeatedly throughout South Africa, mainly, it is true from what are called the English-speaking South Africans. It is indeed a sorry thing that the English-speaking South Africans did 623 not wake up to the danger before they did, else perhaps the story might be different. In fact, my summing up of the situation is that the Afrikaners regard this Bill as the victory that came after the Boer War—that they have now achieved the independence for which they fought in the Boer War.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, by courtesy of the noble Viscount who is next to speak, I intervene for a very few moments. The only reason that I do so is that in his very clear summary of the contents of this Bill with which the debate was opened by the Foreign Secretary, it emerged very clearly that the status in future of residents in South Africa will be that of foreigners—I think he used that word, which is obviously quite correct. That is what impelled me to feel that I ought to get up and say a word or two. Because during the war, when I was in Cairo, we had a good deal of experience and a great deal to do with the South African Forces. Tribute has already been paid by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, to what they did in the First World War and, I think, in the Second also, and I am very glad to have the opportunity to record my tribute to those excellent forces that we had right through the War, both men and women. I, too, should like to pay the warmest tribute to their services.
It is quite a shock to realise now that they would be foreigners, not British subjects. That is really what brought home to me what this means. It seems to me to be a deplorable Bill, but an inevitable development, in the difference in status which it underlines. Probably everybody in this House thinks that this is a deplorable development; though inevitable. I certainly do. I felt that I could not let this opportunity pass without recording, as I say, my warmest tribute to the South African forces during the late War in the Middle East. Incidentally, during the war we had an opportunity of getting to know very well that great and good man Field Marshal Smuts—he has been mentioned only once in this debate I think—whose appalling statue, making him look like a boy scout, stands over the way in Parliament Square.
624 That brings me to two small anecdotes. The first concerns Field Marshal Smuts who, with his wife, came to stay with us in Cairo on many occasions, and we got to know them very well. There was a time, you may remember, when Rommel was not very far from our gates and some people were a bit flappy. There was Ash Wednesday and all that. At any rate, one day a message came to me that the Field Marshal's personal aeroplane had arrived at Almaza, and the purpose of the arrival of this 'plane was that the Field Marshal had come to the conclusion that Cairo was not a very healthy place for wives and families. That machine had arrived, the Field Marshal was good enough to suggest, to take my family out of the danger zone. It was a very noble thought. It was a Dakota, and not only was it a Dakota (which was fashionable in those days); it was gleaming silver shiny. The R.A.F. got on to me and said "We cannot keep this machine here because it is a beacon light to any attack; you can see it in the moonlight miles away ". Finally that particular problem was solved because my family said that nothing in the world would induce them to leave. I thanked the Field Marshal very warmly, and he did, in fact, take away quite a number of people, all South Africans I believe, who wanted to get out.
The other anecdote is apropos of the troops we had from South Africa. There were white troops and there were black troops. Incidentally, I had two members of those forces on my personal staff, so I got to know them pretty well. Now, before the invasion of Sicily a lot of maps had to be prepared, and they were prepared in the Toura Caves, just outside Cairo, where incidentally the stones of the Pyramids came from. They were huge caves. I went up there one day to have lunch in the mess, and there was a very smart Basuto guard, because there were Basuto battalions. I remember commenting on how smart they were and asking whether there was any trouble at all. They said there was no trouble at all except this: that they could not have a defaulters' parade because the one thing they wanted was to be defaulters, to be kept on and drilled and drilled. It was no punishment at all, but quite the contrary.
625 I do not want to go on any further. My whole point was to put on record, as formally as I could, the noble part, the fine part, South Africa played with her troops in the last war in the Middle East, as I can personally testify. We had them in Cairo. They behaved in a most exemplary way. They fought out in the desert, as we so well know. General Terun was the man we had with us in Cairo, but I need not go into that; it is a matter of history.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I must say it is quite essential for me at the moment to exercise a little self-control. I look back at the opening of the debate and remember. I will not say the appeal, but at least the suggestion, of the Foreign Secretary that this Second Reading debate should not be used as an occasion for attack upon South Africa. I think that my colleagues who have preceded me from these Benches have followed that suggestion, and I think I might say the same for the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. Whilst we have had points of importance raised from these Benches, there has been in no sense a spirit of common attack upon South Africa in connection with the composition of this Bill.
The Bill may be regarded as quite generous to the South Africans, in view of all the circumstances. This country did not move a motion of expulsion of South Africa from the Commonwealth. South Africa chose, because of opinions which had been expressed about the manner in which she was governing the country, to withdraw from the Commonwealth. The position which has to be met now arises from that fact. If one were to ask what is the general opinion in this country of the average South African citizen who visits us, not only the whites but the non-whites, it would be that the Briton you meet in the street expresses respect, very often admiration, and certainly contentment to be able to meet them and to associate with them. Nor do they forget the kind of associations we have had in the past in matters which were common to the necessities of the achievement of the rights of man and to the general defence of the Commonwealth and the freedom of the world.
626 As to whether one could say that these particular objectives in which they were associated with us are the sole objectives in these matters of the present Government in South Africa, I should have to begin to express doubts; and therefore from that point of view I cannot dissociate myself from what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, said on that issue. No one can justify the continuous, deliberate policy of apartheid. But now instead of "letting go ", as I should have liked to do, on all the matters covered by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, I think I will confine myself to the Bill.
I will begin, as my noble friend Lord Listowel ended, after he had put some detailed points: that was that he thought that, on the whole, this Bill was night. I think that, on the whole, it is right. I think it is essential that we should look a little more closely on the Committee stage at some of the points which are provided in the Bill. It was examined fairly in detail in another place, and some of the things that were then said have been taken exception to by Members of your Lordships' House. But it is important that when this Bill becomes an Act it should enter the Statute Book with the maximum amount of the nation's confidence in its provisions and in its likely achievements as can be managed.
The question of nationality is important. I will not hide from the Foreign Secretary that what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, said to-night as to the possibilities of what may be the future attitude in South Africa to nationality is very disturbing; but I do not think that can excuse us from achieving the main objective of the clauses in the Bill. If I may have in mind, for example, relatives of my own family in South Africa, who have been there for a century, I would say that if they wished to undertake a new citizenship they should have the option provided for them within the British Statute to opt for that citizenship. If it should be the fate of any of the people who opt in that way to receive very unfair treatment afterwards by the reigning authorities in South Africa, that will be perhaps an unfair punishment of our friends out there who wish 627 to take British citizenship, though we shall honour them for their choice in asking for registration as British citizens. I do not propose to say any more in detail about the citizenship matter.
Coming to the other matters contained in the Bill, perhaps the most outstanding one that we have to deal with is the question of the sugar preferences. It is perfectly true that when dealing with matters of this kind one needs to be careful before forming a final judgment as to what are the facts. I listened with great interest to the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven. In the course of the debate there have been suggestions that the sugar industry in Swaziland has been built up almost entirely through its particular association with the sugar trade as it was in the Dominion of South Africa, and that, in consequence, it would be difficult, in dealing with this matter now, to separate the parts of that industry in Swaziland and South Africa.
Nevertheless, I greatly hope that we shall bear in mind the general views expressed by my noble friend Lord Listowel—namely, that what has happened so far in respect of the sugar industry in Swaziland ought not to be regarded as the only guide to the future of the sugar industry in Swaziland. If not in this Bill, I hope that before long it will be possible to achieve at least equal opportunity for those who run the sugar industry in what will remain one of our responsibilities, the British Protectorate, the special Territories; and I hope that we shall try to get for them exactly the same amount of preference as remains for the rest of the sugar interests in the whole of the Commonwealth. I am bound to say that when this morning I read the questions and answers given in the Press Club in Washington on the future of the Commonwealth, I wondered just how long the Government are going to be able to keep the valuable position of the preferential situation which reigns at the present time in business matters in the Commonwealth.
Then I should like to say a word or two about the question which was raised regarding diplomatic matters. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, did not agree with the manner in which 628 my noble friend Lord Lucan referred to this. But I am bound to say that, with this sharp and strong division between the old state of South Africa as a Dominion and its position as a foreign country, it seems to me to be essential that territories such as the High Commission Territories should be now represented by direct representation; and, if necessary, that should be done on their behalf by this country. I hope that some arrangement will be made to see that that is carried through. I suppose that where the centre should be is a matter for the Government to negotiate with the people concerned in the High Commission Territories. I think that is a point that ought to be kept in mind. I hope that it will be referred to again, perhaps in the course of the further discussions that will come under the Bill.
I should like to say a word or two about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge. I was not present to hear it, but I had the elements of it reported to me. Having been a Service Minister for altogether twelve and a half years, including practically the whole period of the war, I should like to say that the way in which the Government conclude their negotiations with South Africa is bound to have a quite considerable effect upon the feeling of these two countries in matters of defence. I do not think any of us who have had wide experience of this would wish to do anything other than pay a tribute to South Africa for her association with us. Speaking as an ex-First Lord of the Admiralty in regard to the question of naval assistance and provision, I may say that it was an outstanding contribution, and we should not wish to let that be hidden in any way.
My Lords, I should like to conclude on the note which was struck at the commencement of his speech by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. In a Bill of this kind the Government have to face a melancholy end to what was, after all, a great attempt at securing, in a great country at the end of a war, something like a liberal presentation of what change there ought to be in the interests of democracy. It has failed not from any failure on our part here, but because the ideals of the British Commonwealth of Nations are to-day not being met by the reigning Government in South 629 Africa. That is the only reason why they are not continuing in the Commonwealth of Nations at present—they have themselves resigned.
When I look back on the tremendous number of meetings that I had with representatives of the Dominions in the course of the war; and when I think of the philosophy and, whatever he liked to call his faith, the Christian witness of Jan Smuts; and when I then associate that with the combination of the efforts of General Botha and myself at the time of the great constitutional change in South Africa in 1908 and 1909, I can do no more than deplore the melancholy circumstances which we face tonight. And I can only hope and pray that, whatever may emerge from this Bill as a means of increasing good will—and that remains to be seen—may begin to change the situation and not leave us, as Lord Lucas of Chilworth thinks it will, in a hopeless situation that will never alter. I hope that, somehow, sooner or later, the whole world will grasp the idea that man will be free; that he will fight until he is free; and of haw much better it would be if freedom were granted and fighting avoided.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the debate on this Bill has ranged over practically the whole field of our relations with South Africa. It has touched on many points which are not covered by the Bill, and some which are covered in only a formal manner, like the Sugar Agreement and Commonwealth Preference. But, ion the whole, I think I may say that the Bill has gained a great deal of support and almost universal acquiescence. I am most grateful to the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition for the tone of his speech. I hope he will allow me to tender him my thanks for it.
It is, of course, impossible to consider any aspect of our relationship with South Africa, or indeed with any other country, without giving some consideration to its general background. Certainly the Government, in preparing this Bill, have had fully in mind these wider considerations. I say that because I think that was the first point that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, wanted to impress on your Lordships: that this is not only a matter of the Bill; it is not only a 630 matter of bilateral relationships; but it is a matter of the position which they take in the whole world scene. In particular we have kept constantly in mind, as my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has made clear in his speech, that we are dealing with a country which has left the Commonwealth, and because it has left the Commonwealth it cannot continue to enjoy all the benefits of Commonwealth membership. I should like to say to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, with all the sincerity I can command, that we value the Commonwealth far too highly to undertake lightly any course of action which might seem, whether reasonably or not, to devalue it.
On the other hand, we have also felt it right to keep well in mind the fact that there are very many people in South Africa whose links with this country are very strong and have endured through many years and many variations of fortune. We could not ignore the fact that for more than half a century there have existed close and friendly relations, and, as my noble friend Lord Robertson of Oakridge pointed out—and I was glad this was underlined first by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and then by the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition—many of our young men have died in the same fields and for the same causes. These are things which we could not forget, and therefore we could not look lightly at the destruction of arrangements which have developed and operate to the benefit of South Africa and ourselves. These are the main criteria which have guided us in preparing this Bill. They have guided us in our discussions with the South African Government on a number of other aspects of our relations with them which are not affected by legislation and are therefore not in the Bill.
I am going to deal with the points in the order in which they were raised by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel; I think that would be a convenient course. I should like to deal with the point he made, which I put interrogatively: what has South Africa lost by leaving the Commonwealth? The noble Earl, I think, was slightly worried that she had not lost enough, if I may put it that way. My Lords, it is important to remember what she has lost. Because the Bill preserves to some limited extent some of the benefits, it has been contended
631 that South Africa has lost nothing. I suggest that this is a narrow view and ignores all the other many and varied benefits which South Africa has lost. If one takes into account all the Acts which will lapse in their application to South Africa, as well as those repealed in the Bill, there are, as my noble friend pointed out, more than 90 pieces of legislation of which South Africa will lose the benefit.
This, however, is of course only part of the picture. On May 31 last year South Africa ceased to be a member of a large number of Commonwealth organisations, both official and unofficial. These organisations cover a wide range of technical and economic activity. They are unique to the Commonwealth and they are important and substantial features of its structure. They include all the economic liaison Committees; also such things as the Commonwealth Education Liaison Committee and the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. The South Africans are also excluded from the normal, automatic, and very full exchange of information which goes on day by day within the Commonwealth and is part of the very lifeblood of the Commonwealth connection.
I have always felt—and I am sure we all agree on this point—that the minute to minute exchange of views which goes on through the Commonwealth Relations Office, when the old nations are being explained to the new, the new are being explained to the old, and world affairs are being explained to both of them, is a matter of great importance. It is all done on a level of complete equality and, as I say, I think it is of the lifeblood of the Commonwealth connection.
Furthermore, they can no longer look to us automatically—and this point was raised by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan—to look after their Consular interests in countries where they do not have their own representatives, and they have none of the advantages of Commonwealth exchanges of view which so help and strengthen members of the Commonwealth in facing up to the problems and responsibilities of life in this ever-shrinking world. Departure from the Commonwealth has meant to them a 632 deepening of their isolation. There is no way of measuring this. It cannot be evaluated by counting up lists of what has gone and what has been left. It is a hard reality and amounts to a real loss. I am sure no one—neither the South African Government nor any of the Commonwealth Governments— would seriously contend that this exercise has shown that leaving the Commonwealth makes no difference. Nor can it really be contended that the temporary and limited retention of some of the economic benefits is all that matters or compensates for the many other tangible and intangible benefits that have been forgone.
The next point which the noble Earl raised was the question of Commonwealth Preference. That has been criticised (though Lord Listowel did not put it as crudely as this) as giving South Africa an important benefit of Commonwealth membership after she has left the Commonwealth. I first would remind noble Lords that South Africa is not the only non-Commonwealth country to receive Commonwealth Preference—I think the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, referred to this; nor is Commonwealth Preference an automatic benefit of membership of the Commonwealth, to stand or fall with membership of the Commonwealth. There are, in fact, a number of Commonwealth countries which do not extend Commonwealth Preference to us or to each other.
However, this agreement with South Africa is a bilateral agreement entered into in 1932, and need not be affected by the constitutional change. This we have made clear from the very moment that South Africa left the Commonwealth. It is not a question of continuing to give a benefit to another country, as a price for good behaviour or as a gesture of approval of their policies. It is purely a question of maintaining an arrangement Which, because it facilitates the flow of trade between our two countries, because it has been an important base on which this trade has been built, brings benefit to us just as much as it gives benefit to South Africa. In these matters of trade it serves little purpose, indeed, it is misleading, to try to draw precise mathematical equations. All that we can say is that trade depends upon the will of people on both sides to trade with each other and upon the 633 facility with which they are enabled to do so.
Let us consider the other possibility. If we were unilaterally to abandon the Preference now, because of the constitutional change, it would be seen to be a deliberate gesture of political censure, a disguised attempt at some form of boycott or ostracism. It would not be realistic to expect that the South African Government, or even the majority of South African traders, would take this without trying in some way to retaliate. The result might well be damage, even considerable damage, to the flow of trade in both directions.
I ask your Lordships to consider it in this way. This is not only a matter of economics. It might well cause hardship not only to traders, but to workers of all sorts and of all colours, in both countries. This is not to say that the Preference arrangements will necessarily continue as they are, without any modification, for all time. For example, if we join the Common Market this is obviously an agreement which in due course will have to be reviewed, and it may well be that it will be necessary to alter it. But this would be a quite different situation. It would not be unilateral action capable of interpretation as a vindictive political gesture; it would be the inevitable result of a new set of circumstances in world trade, and I am sure that the South African Government as much as ourselves would approach it in this light.
I want to emphasise—as I think the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, knew and understood—that the fact that South Africa is remaining in the Commonwealth Preference area does not mean that we are pleading for South Africa in our negotiations concerning the Common Market. In those negotiations we are asking for special arrangements for the Commonwealth, not for the Commonwealth Preference area. The fact that South Africa is in the Commonwealth Preference area is no more an embarrassment to us in that context than the fact that the Republic of Ireland and Burma are in the Commonwealth Preference area.
I come now to the question of the Sugar Agreement, and I ask for your Lordships' patience in this matter, because I think every noble Lord who has spoken has mentioned it and added a 634 new complication to it. Therefore, if your Lordships will bear with me, I shall deal with the points as I understand them. I hope that noble Lords will have the chance of reading them as well as hearing them, and if there are any further points which I can clear up I hope that they will let me know. I think I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about the new arrangement at 81 per cent. The new arrangement regarding 8½ per cent. of the total South African sales is the way of securing an expanding market for Swaziland. South African sales are around 900,000 to one million tons per year, so that 8½ per cent. of this will certainly be above the present fixed quota; and if the South African sugar sales expand—as there is reason to think they will—Swaziland's 8½ per cent, will expand. We believe that this may well give all the expansion that the Swaziland sugar industry can deal with for the next few years. There are only about 80,000 tons of sugar planted at present, and it takes three or four years for sugar to grow after planting.
We made the arrangements with the South African sugar industry with Swaziland's interests very much in mind. With the world sugar market as it is, in a state of chronic over-supply, it is difficult to conceive that we would have been able to make an arrangement which would be more beneficial to Swaziland than the one which we have now secured. I realise that, on the face of it, it has appeared to some noble Lords that Swaziland loses some £10 per ton on her sugar; but, in fact, only a small proportion of the sugar—about 16 per cent.—was benefiting indirectly from the full Commonwealth sugar price, and it was doing so only because of the arrangement with the South African Government and not because Swaziland was in her own right a member of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. All her sugar benefits from the average price obtained for South African sugar in all its markets at home and overseas. Thus, Swaziland has benefited by the recent increase in the home price of South African sugar. That increase is about £3 a ton.
The net result, therefore, is that Swaziland is at present receiving more for her sugar than she was receiving last year, 635 when South Africa was in the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. Moreover, she has an assured market, at least for the duration of the present agreement, on her doorstep. What is more, she has an assurance of an expanding share in that market. These are important considerations for any producer of any commodity, and we are convinced that this is the best possible arrangement that could be achieved for the present: and it gives the Swaziland industry all the opportunities that it can at present use.
It may be that we shall in the future have to revise the arrangements or make some new arrangements, but by then the situation, not least the situation in the world sugar market, may be quite different. As I have already said, we must, in the interests of the Territories, deal with the situation as it is now. The Sugar Agreement, like our policy with regard to Commonwealth Preference, illustrates our belief that we should not suddenly, needlessly or wantonly destroy links that have developed between our two countries over many years, links which are of mutual benefit. In making the arrangement which we have made on sugar we have taken account of the fact that we are dealing with the sugar industry, not with the South African Government; that the benefits, such as they are, which we are continuing to give are being given to an industry and to an industry which was built up largely on the basis of our market.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I interrupt? I think that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has given a very clear explanation of the position at the present time. But there will be later stages of the Bill and I hope that, before that time, we shall get some idea of how much of the South African area's production comes into the administration of the general scheme, and how much of it comes to our market, so that we may have an idea whether some of that could be allocated to Swaziland.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will look up that point. There are just one or two points that were raised earlier in the debate to which I am very anxious to give the answer, and I am making 636 this as short as I can, but what I felt was that if I gave the answer to-day noble Lords would have a chance of looking at it, and it might save some time at the later stages of the Bill.
It has been argued that we should have ceased all concessions to the industry forthwith as a political gesture. Whatever merits that course would have had from this point of view—and I have my doubts about them—it would certainly have been an action in ill-accord with our reputation for fair commercial dealing. It would also have affected, perhaps seriously, the livelihood of many people, both black and white, whom the advocates of the course would wish to help, and it would have had repercussions in the sugar market, both in this country and in the world as a whole, which would have been detrimental to the interests of other producers of sugar within the Commonwealth.
My Lords, it should be remembered—I have I think made the point, but I want to make it quite clear—that Swaziland is not and never has been a member of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement in its own right. Even if she could now be admitted (and there are others waiting to be admitted) it is very doubtful whether all her sugar would be admitted—no other country has all its admitted—so she would still need a market for it. South Africa is a natural, and in many ways the best, market; and we have considered it right to ensure that it is preserved for Swaziland. It is true that these arrangements terminate in 1966, and we shall have to consider the position of Swaziland then; but, as I said, the circumstances at that time will probably not be the same as now, when there is chronic over-supply in world sugar markets. We cannot forecast what may then be necessary and possible. But I want to say this—and I am sure I speak for the whole House on this point: we shall see that Swaziland's interests are not adversely affected. In the meantime, we have made the best possible arrangements, in all the circumstances, for at least five years ahead.
My Lords, I am sorry to have taken some time to deal with that matter, but there was a great deal of interest shown in it during the debate, and so I have dealt with it fully. I want to say only one final word.
637 The Sugar Agreement is a bilateral trading agreement which is contractual, with a fixed term. The Treaty of Rome makes provisions for such agreements which are already in existence, and there is provision for review in the light of the circumstances. So there is nothing inconsistent in this agreement and our negotiations to enter the Treaty of Rome. I think I have dealt with all the points, and I hope noble Lords will take what I have said in the spirit in which it has been offered, and will write to me if they have points to raise about the Sugar Agreement. It is obviously the sort of thing on which we ought to clear the ground, and I am only anxious to help.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked me about paragraph 4 of the First Schedule, I believe, on the questions of nationality. It is a technical matter and I have the answer—I assure him there is an answer—but perhaps it would be more convenient if I wrote to him on that technical, though not very wide, point rather than detain the whole House. I am entirely in the noble Earl's hands, but if he will agree with that course I promise I will write and give him the answer.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble and learned Viscount. If that course is agreeable to the House, I am quite content to adopt it.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am very grateful to the noble Earl. There were two points about which I think the House felt a keen concern. The first was the question: should one man fulfil the dual rôle of Ambassador and High Commissioner for the Territories? This had long been the case when South Africa was in the Commonwealth; and I gathered from all the speeches that everyone thinks that the present holder of these two high offices, who is well known to most of us, is the last person to be liable to allow his responsibilities in one office to swamp his responsibilities in the other. But apart from that, I should like your Lordships to consider for a moment, the position that obtains at this moment.
The present arrangement seems to me by far the best possible, and your Lordships will, appreciate that it is of par- 638 ticular value at a time when negotiations are being conducted with the South African Government which affect not only the legislation of this country and of South Africa but also, either directly or indirectly, the relations between the Territories and South Africa. If there were two people, I think all noble Lords will agree it would be absolutely essential that the two people should be in constant communication with each other in dealing with the present situation, and should have an immediate appreciation of each other's problems and each other's objectives.
In that present situation, I ask your Lordships to consider the view that I formed—and I have been dealing with this matter continuously over the last year: that there is no better way of achieving this comprehension of the other's problems than by having the two offices combined in one man. I do not mean that that will necessarily always be the case, and I undertake to your Lordships that it will be kept under review. But, whatever the position may be in the future, at the present moment the existing arrangement is, in my view, the right one.
Now I should have liked to say more about the position of the High Commission Territories, but your Lordships have shown a great understanding of that position, and I shall therefore say only a sentence. In forming our views, in considering what we say (and I am sure the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition had this in mind), we must always be thinking of the people in the High Commission Territories. Being practically surrounded by South Africa, they are at the mercy of South Africa with regard to their products. But, more than that, if South Africa were to take a certain line about admission of labour from the Territories, they would be in very grave difficulty indeed. We all recognise that fact, and it is a good thing to face things frankly. All I can say is that I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken, from every part of the House, for realising how important it is for us to have always in our minds the position of the High Commission Territories and their people.
My Lords, I do not want to become controversial at all over South-West 639 Africa, because I know that it is a matter on which there are strong feelings. Therefore, will your Lordships again allow me to put it this way: that, in putting this Bill before your Lordships, we have to consider how the law will require to be changed, in relation both to the old Union of South Africa and to South-West Africa. From that point of view, as I understand the judgment of the International Court of Justice at The Hague and the Mandate, it is necessary for us to treat South-West Africa—that is, simply on the legal position—so that the changes we make in our laws that apply to South-West Africa bite equally in South-West Africa as they do in the rest of the Union.
That is the purpose of the Bill. I am very definitely avoiding going into the question of controversy which developed during our debate, but I assure the noble Viscount that, from our point of view of making our law fit the changed position of South Africa on its leaving the Commonwealth, we have to deal with it in that way. If he would like any further explanation, I could, of course, have given him one at length, and I will do so at the Committee stage, if he thinks that is right.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am much obliged. I think I have already said, on behalf of my colleagues, that we did appreciate that there was a slight amendment in the words of the Bill when it arrived here, in referring to it as a "Mandate Territory" instead of leaving it as it apparently was in the first draft, as if it were just part of South Africa. That seems to me the view of South Africa itself, which I think is quite wrong. I hope that we can clear the matter up and reach an even clearer understanding in the later stages of the Bill.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I wanted only to make clear to the noble Viscount that, in my view, whatever be the special position of mandated territories—that is a matter we could profitably discuss in itself—our immediate task is to make this Bill work and to make clear our relations with the two parts, the old Union and the old German South-West Africa. This is a 640 course that we have had to take as a matter of legal compulsion.
My Lords, I have a feeling that there were other matters which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, raised in his most interesting speech, but I think that these were the most important ones. I have tried, as I always do, whether successfully or not, to give a direct answer to his points, except the one technical point which I think he has agreed we can deal with by correspondence. In doing so, I think I have dealt with the points which have been most in your Lordships' minds. I want to say once again—a point my noble friend Lord Home pressed earlier—that the Bill we are now considering is not a declaration of policy. It is not, and it cannot be, an all-embracing instrument to deal with all aspects of our relations with South Africa. Many of these are not in any way governed by, or affected by, legislation.
The Bill deals merely with those things which are affected by legislation, and tries to deal with them in such a way that it preserves the things which it seems right to preserve in the interests of this country, in the interests of individuals who might otherwise suffer hardship, and in the interest of the maintenance of good relations with the people of South Africa. What we think of apartheid—and our frequent expressions of our opinion have made that perfectly clear—is one thing. What we think of South Africa and its people, and what value we put upon preserving our long-established ties with them, is quite another thing. It was interesting to-day that the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, jumped up at once to repudiate the idea that there was anything vindictive or punitive in anything that was said.
We come back to that sense of heart-break that the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition expressed so movingly a short time ago. They have been our friends and staunch allies through many difficult situations. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, pointed out, many of them are our kin. That was his own position. And I would repeat what my noble friend said: that we hope that the day will come when the difference in principle on matters of racial relations and human freedoms which now lie between us will disappear. My 641 Lords, that is our hope. In the meantime, we must deal quietly and in a workmanlike way with the problems in front of us. That is what this Bill does, and I ask your Lordships to give it a Second Reading.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at two minutes before seven o'clock.