§ 2.11 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF LONGFORD) rose to move, That this House endorses the decision of Her Majesty's Government to accept the Working Document worked out by the Prime Minister and Mr. Ian Smith on 3rd December, deplores its rejection by the illegal régime in Rhodesia, and supports the decision of Her Majesty's Government now to implement the undertakings given in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers'Communiqué. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I hope the House will allow me to distract them from the vital Business with which we have just been concerned and move the Motion standing in my name. I am sure that everyone will believe me if I say that I seek support for this Motion with genuine regret and feelings of sorrow: I bring it forward in a spirit of painful duty.
§ In the last two years, still more in the last two months, and most of all in the last two days, since I sat, as it happens, in Downing Street while the news was coming through that our proposals had been rejected, I have asked myself again and again whether something could have been done that was not done to produce a settlement, something, of course, without betraying principles and without letting down millions of people of all races who have trusted us, and something that did not involve a loss of honour. I am clear in my own mind and conscience, without of course claiming perfection in detail for everything done or not done, that in essentials we in the Government have followed, and are continuing to follow, the only course of duty and honour.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, was asked, soon after Mr. Harold Wilson's election as Leader of the Labour Party at the time when we were in Opposition, what would be Mr. Wilson's most difficult problem if he became Prime Minister, and the noble Earl replied without hesitation, "Southern Rhodesia", which might have surprised, I think, a good many hearers and viewers. Again, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who I am so glad is going to speak in this debate, has before now reminded the
House of the long list of Conservative Ministers, including brilliant negotiators like the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, who have sought in vain to find a solution for this problem. In the event Rhodesia was on the verge of U.D.I. when the Labour Government came into power in the autumn of 1964, and since then we have never spared ourselves in trying to reach a settlement on the basis of the Five Principles originally propounded by our Conservative predecessors, to which a sixth has since been added, I think with general agreement. So far there has been a strong basis of agreement between the political Parties, which is not to say that dissentient voices have not been heard on the Right-wing or the Left. Last year, when I.D.I., as it is now called, was declared, the agreement among the political Parties taken collectively was overwhelmingly impressive. I do not wish to extract debating points by selective quotations, and I think this is about the only one that I shall use, but the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, will I am sure forgive me—and I think I did tell him I might refer to this—if I quote one passage from that splendid speech of true leadership quality which he delivered when this House was approving sanctions on November 15 last year, and I now quote the noble Lord, Lord Carrington:
We should do nothing this evening which could be construed in the smallest degree as giving comfort to Mr. Smith and his Government. By no action we take this evening must we ever be accused of condoning what he has done. I hope that this evening all of us, whatever Party we belong to, will be agreed that, however distasteful it may be to us, and for however short a time we hope these powers will operate, the Government should have the powers they ask for and we should allow them to have the Second Reading of this Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270, col. 409]
That was the attitude so finely and firmly stated by the noble Lord last year, and I hope he stands by it still. So far at least there was general agreement, with admittedly a few dissentient voices.
§ This House will not expect me to speak at great length, with so many distinguished speakers to follow, and therefore I must not dwell too long on the tremendous efforts made on the British side to avert U.D.I., including the visit to Rhodesia of the Lord Chancellor, who is 1232 to wind up the debate to-night, and Mr. Bottomley the then Commonwealth Secretary, and culminating in the Prime Minister's own visit to Rhodesia. Since then we have seen two visits by the Commonwealth Relations Secretary, long discussions between officials, and finally the attempt that was represented in the meeting on the "Tiger". No one—and I feel this will hardly be disputed—whether he agrees or disagrees with our policy, will fail to pay tribute to the imdomitable and indefatigable exertions of the Prime Minister assisted most closely of all by the Lord Chancellor, the last Commonwealth Secretary, the present Commonwealth Secretary and the Attorney General, and many others, including devoted officials. Certainly no one speaking from this Box can fail to ask this Houseto recognise once again the heroic role of the Governor throughout the whole of this business, and to ask the House as a whole, without reference to Party or particular views, to send him a further message, which if possible should be even more heartfelt, which would express once again our immense admiration.
§ I shall no doubt be asked to say some words, though in view of the length of the debate and the discussions in another place yesterday perhaps not too many, about the essential features of what is called the Working Document, the Document which constitutes Appendix B of the White Paper and was signed as a Working Document, though without commitment, by Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith on the "Tiger". It was fully explained by the Commonwealth Secretary yesterday, and therefore I hope the House will excuse me if I do not go through it in detail. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will, of course, be prepared to answer any detailed questions which arise.
§ It is tempting, and yet a shade misleading, to consider this Document as divided into two main sections, an Independence Constitution and provisions for the interim period. I say it is a shade misleading because, as I will explain later, Principle 5 of our agreed Principles, the acceptability of the Constitution is inextricably wrapped up with the interim period, in other words with questions of procedure. Postponing that 1233 point for a moment, I would say simply that in our view the Independence Constitution set out in this Working Document fully satisfies the principles which all Parties in this country have insisted on as essential conditions of independence. This must be surely said to represent, at least on paper but at any rate in some sense, a considerable achievement for which credit is due to all concerned.
§ I will only mention the implementation of two of the Six Principles. First, unimpeded progress to majority rule, which has hitherto been the greatest stumbling block, seemed when this document was signed at last to have been adequately covered. Putting it very shortly, one can say that the Africans to-day and the Europeans in the future, when the Africans gain the majority, would be assured of a blocking quarter, to use this technical expression, in the voting arrangements. This would mean, in practice, that the Africans could defeat any movement in the next two years, should it take place, to interfere with the Constitution in a manner injurious to their advancement; while, on the other hand, in years to come, when the Europeans were in a minority, they—the Europeans—would be assured of the same kind of protection. I hope the House will feel—I am certain that we are all convinced in our minds—that the other principles are also well looked after.
§ Well, my Lords, I should perhaps say one word about another principle, Principle 5, although this, of course, brings us to the question of procedure. But if we take the Fifth Principle, the test of acceptibility to the people of Rhodesia, under the Working Document this would have been carried out, in conditions of political freedom, by a Royal Commission whose terms of reference would have been agreed by the British Government with the legal interim Administration. Censorship would have been ended, and an impartial judicial tribunal would have reviewed the cases of detainees. Those who doubt whether at the present time Rhodesia is a Police State should read what was said at some length yesterday by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs. If they do that I think their doubts will be dispelled.1234
§ What of the interim period? How would things have worked? An Order in Council would have been made as soon as possible, permitting the appointment by the Governor of a Prime Minister and other Ministers in Rhodesia. The Governor, as laid down in paragraph 12, would have invited Mr. Smith to head a broad-based interim Government—this is immensely important—which would include, in addition to representatives of existing political Parties, independent members and Africans.
§ In my view, everything hung on the idea that this Government would be genuinely broad-based, and also on the supposition that by a "broad-based Government" Mr. Smith meant the same kind of thing as we did. The Commonwealth Secretary explained most carefully yesterday (and I have no doubt that, for the most part, noble Lords, certainly those who are going to speak, will have read his speech) that Mr. Smith seemed quite happy, when he was on "Tiger", with the specified names of five new Ministers, including two Africans; and he seemed perfectly prepared at that point to eliminate half, or nearly half, of his existing Ministers. I submit with confidence that if that understanding had been maintained, the various technical points arising could have been dealt with readily enough. But without an understanding of that kind, without a mutual trust on that basis, the whole project was doomed to failure.
§ It has been conceded, I think, that all parties concerned deserve credit for reaching agreement on the kind of Constitution which would operate after legal independence had been established, and it is understood that this part of the Document was in the event acceptable to the Rhodesian régime. Why, then, has a breakdown occurred? I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and other noble Lords will address themselves to this issue of whether the breakdown—which in fact was accompanied by a vehement criticism on the part of Mr. Smith, and I imagine his colleagues, of the supposed basis—was inevitable in the circumstances. We may be told that the difference was a minor matter, and that if we had waited a little longer we could have reached agreement. May we look at those two connected points? May I, in asking the House to reflect on the 1235 rightness or wrongness of those contentions, remind noble Lords of what Mr. Smith is reported as having said since the breakdown?
Since the breakdown, Mr. Smith has described the request for a return to legality as "utterly impossible." He said:
The British Governments expectation that the Rhodesian Government should abandon the 1965 Constitution before a new Constitution had been finally secured and put to the test of public opinion, is utterly irresponsible".
He added—and he said all this since the breakdown:
The Rhodesian Government would be extremely foolish were they to abandon the substance of their present Constitution for the shadow of a mythical Constitution yet to be evolved.
The powers to be invested in the Governor on the still widely undefined return to legality were dismissed by Mr. Smith as "repugnant." He also described the Working Document as amounting to "a surrender and submission of power".
§ My Lords, that is what Mr. Smith, since going back and joining his colleagues, has said about this Document. I do not want there to be any misunderstanding. I am not saying that he was in any way committed to this Document on "Tiger". I can only say, having been present while the reply was coming through and was reaching the Prime Minister, that I am sure there was great hopefulness among those who had been negotiating with Mr. Smith that in fact a settlement would be reached. But he has dismissed the whole thing with a gesture of disdain.
§ Does anyone suppose that a régime which took that view of the document was likely to accept it within a few days or a few weeks, bearing in mind that when they rejected the document they knew how little time was available? I am addressing myself to the point that if we had waited a few days or a few weeks, we might have got them to agree. The same quotations that I have given surely make it plain that the differences were not a minor matter. How could they be a minor matter, from Mr. Smith's point of view, when he has described what was said as "utterly impossible", "utterly irresponsible", "repugnant" and "a surrender"? So we must feel 1236 that, by the time he got back there, in that atmosphere, or after discussions with his colleagues, he found a major difference.
§ This Document, or this basis of settlement, if it had gone through, would have involved a high measure of trust on our side—perhaps on both sides—but I am speaking at the moment of the British side. One absolutely essential feature in my view, and in the view of the Government—and I hope in the view of most noble Lords—would have been the emergency of a broad-based Government. Clearly, the talks on that point, as the Commonwealth Secretary has made quite plain, became most detailed, and in fact were far advanced, with names being passed across the table most freely. Certainly it seemed that in his talks on the "Tiger" Mr. Smith was ready to give this idea of a broad-based Government sympathetic consideration; but when it came to the point he has, as I say, treated it with disdain. I cannot believe that there are many Members of this House (there may be some, but I should hope not many) who feel that we should be honourably discharging our duty to the 4 million Africans in Rhodesia if we handed over their future to a Government whose composition was unchanged from that of the present Rhodesian soi-disant Cabinet.
§ We must perhaps pause for a moment more on this point. Was our insistence that Mr. Smith and his colleagues should return to legal rule before independence a matter of words, a quibbling, to use the modern expression, over semantics, or a matter of amour propre? Heaven forbid that that should be so! Heaven forbid that we should let a possible settlement break down on an issue of verbal technicalities or procedure! But who could argue that the Fifth Principle, the acceptability of the Constitution, could be properly tested unless conditions could be established in which a free expression of Rhodesian opinion was possible? And who could trust an illegal régime—a régime maintaining a Police State, which insists on maintaining its illegality in the composition of its illegal cabinet—to make possible such a free expression of opinion? In other words, if I might sum up this part of the discussion, it is not true to say that the Rhodesian régime accepted the Six Principles and disagreed with us simply on procedure. It can be 1237 called, if you like, a disagreement on procedure, but the disagreement on the so-called procedure in fact destroys the whole value of their acceptance of Principle 5, one of the most fundamental Principles of all.
§ In that situation we have had no option but to carry out the undertaking expressed in the Communiquéat the end of the Commonwealth Conference. At that Conference there was tremendous pressure, which we all recall, on the Government to have no further parley with Mr. Smith, but to proceed immediately to mandatory sanctions. That pressure we resisted—it must have been a painful experience for our Ministers, led by the Prime Minister, but we resisted that pressure in the hope of peace. We secured the agreement of the Commonwealth Conference to make one last effort to reach a settlement, a settlement, of course, which had always to be consistent with the Six Principles.
§ But it was made clear beyond any possibility of misunderstanding in the Communiquéthat followed the Commonwealth Conference what would happen if the illegal régime refused to take the initial and indispensable steps to bring the rebellion to an end. In that event—all this was made perfectly plain, and can be found in the Communiqué which has been published—given the full support of Commonwealth representatives at the United Nations, the British Government would be prepared to join in sponsoring before the Security Council of the United Nations before the end of this year a resolution providing for the effective and selective mandatory economic sanctions against Rhodesia. The House will appreciate, therefore—and there is no escaping this point, whatever conclusions the House draws from it—that we could not now go back on the plan for selective mandatory sanctions, provided that full support was obtained from the Commonwealth representatives, without breaking faith with the entire Commonwealth.
§ I do not wish to give the impression that the reason for initiating mandatory sanctions is solely a desire to placate, or even, if one likes, to keep faith with the Commonwealth, though we have no intention whatever of breaking faith with the Commonwealth. We support these sanctions on their own merits. After all, 1238 what was the object of the sanctions adopted when illegal independence was declared, and supported by all Parties in this House, most eloquently of all perhaps by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington? The sole object was to bring Rhodesia back to constitutional rule, without the use of military force which, I am sure quite rightly, we renounced and still renounce. The Leaders of the Opposition in this House accepted sanctions, admittedly with regret, and they reimposed them with much regret, but they insisted that if imposed at all they must be effective.
§ There are those who pour scorn on the effectiveness of sanctions up to now. It would be a mistake, surely, to underestimate their impact now and in the time immediately ahead. The effect of sanctions on Rhodesia is that incomes from sales of industrial and agricultural products has fallen there by something like 25 per cent.; commercial turnover has fallen in similar proportions. Unemployment, both among Europeans and Africans, is increasing; European emigration is rising. Exports have been reduced from about £143million to about £80 million. The conclusion is inescapable. Our present sanctions are having a marked effect, but there are breaches in the sanctions wall which must be closed if the sanctions are to satisfy the test of effectiveness, and these breaches must and will soon be closed.
§ We are now ready, therefore, given the full support of Commonwealth representatives at the United Nations, to support a resolution in the Security Council, a resolution providing for effective and selective mandatory economic sanctions against Rhodesia. Hitherto the sanctions imposed by various countries against Rhodesia have been taken on a voluntary basis. No country for example, up until now, has been breaking the rules of the United Nations by failing to make sanctions effective. But under mandatory sanctions all countries will be not only invited, as now, but required, to take the necessary steps and to report to the Secretary General accordingly.
§ I will not delay the House with a discussion of details. The precise form of the resolution and the commodities to be included are under discussion with Commonwealth countries. Our draft resolution, when we join in sponsoring it, 1239 will obviously have to cover the commodities which we have already specified as prohibited exports from Rhodesia by our own Orders in Council, and we shall be considering what other items should be included in our selective sanctions.
§ As the House will be aware, there is considerable pressure for action to stop the oil leakages into Rhodesia. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made it clear, as has the Commonwealth Secretary, that action must not be allowed to develop into a confrontation either economical or military with the whole of Southern Africa. We shall be discussing with our Commonwealth colleagues at the United Nations how best the wishes of our Commonwealth partners in regard to an oil sanction can be met. I would hope that all or most Members of the House would send good wishes to Mr. George Brown, who is acting in conditions of some difficulty on behalf of our country in New York?
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
As I mentioned earlier, sanctions on the present basis have reduced Rhodesian exports to £80 million—they have cut them down from £143 million to £80 million—which is certainly not a negligible reduction. Mandatory sanctions on the basis outlined will substantially reduce the present level of Rhodesian exports. There is not a great deal more I need say about sanctions in those respects.
I would, however, add this. As the existing United Kingdom embargoes on trade have resulted in a virtual cessation of British trade with Rhodesia, mandatory sanctions will not involve the United Kingdom in any appreciable additional costs. I want to make it clear—this is a point which I know is of considerable concern to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, among other noble Lords—that in going to the United Nations for mandatory sanctions we are not abdicating responsibility for Rhodesia, nor are we transferring responsibility for the Rhodesian problem to that organisation. This could be done, if it ever were done, only by an Act of the British Parliament. I realise that there are a few Members of this House who were always opposed to 1240 sanctions, but those who favoured them a year ago—the vast majority, including Leaders of the Opposition—must recognise that if they really believe, as they have hitherto claimed to do, in effective sanctions, the time for voluntary sanctions has passed, and if we are genuine in wishing to make sanctions work we must press on with mandatory sanctions, otherwise we are willing the end and shirking the use of the means.
I am now coming to the end of my remarks. We on this side—I know that this is true of very many outside our Party ranks—see this as a moral issue. No doubt there have been taken, and remain to be taken, a large number of decisions, both big and small, which might be described as political or economic, technical or tactical. I, certainly, as I said earlier, do not claim some sort of infallibility for every step that is taken at every hour of the day. But the central choices are all moral, and those central choices seem to me to be three.
First, do we, or do we not, still accept a responsibility for all the people of Rhodesia—the 200,000 white and the 4 million Africans alike? We say that that responsibility at the present time is still fairly and squarely on our own British shoulders. Secondly, can we, in conscience, in the light of all that has happended, transfer that responsibility to the illegal régime and the Rhodesian soi-disant Cabinet as now composed, whether for a short time or long? We say that we should be betraying all we stand for if we did any such thing. Thirdly, can we let matters drift? Can we just sit by and allow events to take their present course, without setting out still more strenuously than hitherto to restore Rhodesia to constitutional rule? We say that it is our clear and bounden duty to step up the economic pressures so as to cut short the agony as soon as possible.
Many problems and difficulties will confront us, and it may well be, though I hope it will not be, that we in the British Government, and perhaps in Britain generally, will be misunderstood by some who may agree with our aims. But, certainly, speaking for the Government, I can say that we intend to pursue inflexibly the strait and narrow path of duty, and we have no doubt about the final outcome. In the interests of everyone—of 1241 the Rhodesians, the white and most of all the black—we trust that that outcome will not be long delayed.
When the House comes to register its opinion on the Motion standing in my name, I hope that no noble Lord, whereever he sits, will forget those cogent words used last year by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington.
We should do nothing this evening which would be construed in the smallest degree as giving comfort to Mr. Smith and his Government. By no action we take this evening must we ever be accused of condoning what he has done."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270, col. 409; 15/11/65.]I say that those words are as true to-day as they were a year ago.
Still more widely and deeply, I hope that all noble Lords will agree that this country at its best has still an unrivalled moral influence and power of example. I hope that this House will agree that our standards of behaviour are still studied more closely and anxiously, even by our critics abroad, than are those of any other nation. I hope and believe that every noble Lord will satisfy himself that his vote, if there is to be a vote, will help to preserve rather than impair the name of Britain as a country which, having put its hand to plough, never looks back. My Lords, I beg to move.
Moved, That this House endorses the decision of Her Majesty's Government to accept the Working Document worked out by the Prime Minister and Mr. Ian Smith on December 3, deplores its rejection by the illegal régime in Rhodesia, and supports the decision of Her Majesty's Government now to implement the undertakings given in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Communiqué.—(The Earl of Longford.)
§ 2.43 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, we are meeting to-day in the shadow of grave events. Anybody who was present in your Lordships' House last Monday evening must have been very conscious of the gravity of the news which the Leader of the House read out to us and of the consequences for all of us which may follow. It is almost exactly thirteen months since the unilateral declaration of independence. Your Lordships will recall these events very clearly. I am very flattered that the noble Earl, the Leader of the 1242 House, should have quoted my words and remembered them. I think he quoted them twice if not three times. I very much hope that he will remember the speech which I am going to make this afternoon as clearly as he did the one I made a year ago.
By way of an introduction to what I have to say, I should like to recall very shortly the attitude to those events of those of us who sit on these Benches. There was no one, I think, who did not and does not deplore the fact that Mr. Smith and his colleagues declared unilateral independence. It is perfectly true, and it is a regrettable fact which we have to face, that, rightly or wrongly, many Rhodesians and Rhodesian Ministers had come not to trust the British Government, whether it was Conservative or Labour. I, for one, would not accept the charge of bad faith against Ministers, but we must not baulk the fact that this feeling existed. Yet it cannot, and could not conceivably, excuse the action taken by Mr. Smith. Once he had declared independence, it seemed to me, and it still seems to me, that certain things inevitably followed.
I do not believe any British Government could have accepted the situation. It was a challenge to their authority. It was clearly illegal. It was an act which, if even tacitly acknowledged, would have led to the gravest difficulties with our friends in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. And if the 4 million Africans in Rhodesia had been left with no guarantee of their future political advancement or rights, it would have been an abandonment of an important principle which we had all upheld in granting independence to our Colonial territories since the war. That is not to say that a great many of us, myself included, had no sympathy with the fears expressed by the white Rhodesians. It would be quite wrong to ignore the events in the newly-independent countries of Africa, and particularly those in some of the countries near Rhodesia. These had caused grave alarm among Europeans, and I do not wonder.
But although we had this sympathy, and I have this sympathy, I could not and cannot excuse the action taken by Mr. Smith in declaring independence. I think it was wrong and I think it was foolish. It was foolish because, in my view, it so obviously was not the way in which he 1243 was likely in the long-term to safeguard the position of the Europeans in Rhodesia. Most of us, therefore, on this side of the House—not all of us, but most of us—reluctantly, and sometimes with considerable misgivings and reservations, felt obliged to support the Government in the months which followed U.D.I. Though with no great faith that sanctions would succeed, we felt that the Government were obliged to demonstrate in some concrete fashion their disapproval of what Mr. Smith had done.
Since those days, and for the last seven months, conversations of one kind or another have been continuing between the Government and Mr. Smith's régime. As the Prime Minister has said, it appeared for a long time as if the gap was so wide that any negotiated settlement based on the Six Principles would prove to be impossible. Nevertheless, during all this period, and indeed ever since the Rhodesian crisis first arose, we on these Benches have repeatedly said that there was, and is, only one way to end this dispute, and that is by negotiation and by agreement. We believe that it was quite wrong for the Prime Minister to maintain, as he did maintain, that he would not negotiate with rebels, and in particular with Mr. Smith. When he finally did negotiate, we warmly welcomed his change of heart, and all of us in this House expressed our good wishes for a successful outcome of those negotiations. I do not think we ever understimated the difficulties which faced the Prime Minister. No one supposed that it was going to be an easy task to reconcile the two points of view. Yet there seemed to us to be no other logical or sensible way of tackling the problem, and we welcomed the fact that this seemed to have been acknowledged by Her Majesty's Government.
Even though at the close of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference we were presented with a Communiquéwhich filled many of us with grave misgivings, because the conversations were still proceeding we refrained from debate when Parliament returned, or from querying too closely what had been decided at the Prime Ministers' Conference, since we felt that as long as talks were proceeding there was still a hope of a solution. I shall have a little more to say 1244 later on what was decided at the Prime Ministers' Conference.
But now we are presented with a White Paper and with a Statement which all of us heard or read on Monday night, and subsequently with the speech to which we have just listened by the noble Earl, Lord Longford. What strikes me most when studying those documents, and indeed when listening to the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, is the remarkable amount of agreement which has been reached between the Government and Mr. Smith. For many months past the Government have been declaring that a solution of the Rhodesian crisis was dependent upon the Six Principles. It is a matter of great congratulation, and one upon which we should warmly congratulate Mr. Wilson and the Government, that, as I understand it, he and Mr. Smith have agreed on the Six Principles and upon the means of implementing them. So far as we can judge—does the noble Earl wish to intervene?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt, but may I just point out that I am afraid there was not agreement on Principle 5.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, Principle 5 I will come to a little later. But I think I am right in saying there was agreement on the Six Principles, because in an intervention in another place yesterday the Commonwealth Secretary, in reply to Sir Alec Douglas-Home, really bears out what I say about the Six Principles. So far as we can judge—and I have not read anything Mr. Smith has said which contradicts this—the future Constitution has been agreed. There is no disagreement about that. I think it is a truly remarkable achievement and marks a real breakthrough in this crisis. I do not suppose that, even a fortnight ago, any noble Lords would have believed that such an agreement was possible.
We are then left with the area of disagreement, an area which is almost exclusively confined to the interim arrangements which Mr. Smith found impossible to accept in the terms laid down in the document signed on H.M.S. "Tiger". I think this relates solely to a return to legality and to what is to happen in the four months before the Royal Commission declare their view as to whether or not the constitutional proposals are acceptable to the people of 1245 Rhodesia as a whole. Of course, I do not suggest that this is an unimportant point; it is an important point, although it surely should be regarded more as a temporary difficulty than anything else, for both Mr. Smith and Mr. Wilson have agreed that in the proposals there are sufficient constitutional safeguards in the long run. It therefore seems to me that we are discussing only transitional arrangements.
But it may be that what is really frightening Mr. Smith is not so much the interim arrangements for a Government appointed by the Governor or proposals that the Armed Forces should come under the Governor. For if we are to believe, as I believe, the statement which was issued by the Commonwealth Office, or the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday, or that made by the noble Earl to-day, these proposals could in no sense be regarded as direct rule by the Governor, although I must say that this seems to me in direct contradiction of the undertaking given by the Prime Minister at the Prime Ministers' Conference and which is to be found in paragraph 8 on page 7 of that document.
It seems to me that it may be that Mr. Smith is really anxious as to what his position might be if the Royal Commission decided that the constitutional proposals were not acceptable to the people of Rhodesia. He would then have thrown away his independence and gained precisely nothing. Equally the Prime Minister may feel that, in the circumstances of a rejection of the proposals, he would have preferred to have dealings with a legal Government with whom he could continue negotiations and would much prefer not to abandon economic sanctions. I think all of us understand the fears of both of them. But this is a matter of consequence and it should not be such as to cause a breakdown in negotiations at this time, the first time that a real breakthrough has been achieved.
Having come so far—and we have come a very long way—there must be some compromise possible over the road to legality which would be acceptable to both parties. I do not believe that two such experienced politicians as Mr. Smith and the Prime Minister could not find a compromise on this point when both are agreed about the far more im- 1246 portant problems of the Constitution. For myself, I greatly regret that Mr. Smith did not accept what we might call the "Tiger proposals". Here was an opportunity to settle, and to settle honourably. Though it may be that he had difficulty with his more extreme colleagues, he surely should have known the strength of his position and the tremendous support which he personally has among the Rhodesian people. I think that Mr. Smith missed an opportunity and that he is greatly and perhaps disastrously to blame. I certainly do not condone Mr. Smith's attitude.
At the same time, I do wish that the Prime Minister had not been in such a hurry. Surely it was not necessary to insist on an answer within a few hours of Mr. Smith's return to Salisbury. If there had been no insistence on a flat Yes or No to the working paper, would it not have been possible to discuss the interim arrangements and come to a sensible agreement? Of course, pressure must be kept up; but that is a different thing from trying to arrange a solution so fast that you get the wrong answer. Is it really wise to put oneself in a straitjacket of one's own construction? I am also convinced that the Prime Minister was much too precise in spelling out what conditions he would accept as outlined in the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Communiqué. It served the immediate short-term objective of holding the position with the Commonwealth; but in the long term it has hamstrung Mr. Wilson in his negotiations with Mr. Smith. And, as I shall say later, there was far too precipitate an undertaking to go to the United Nations for mandatory sanctions with, at that time, a very imperfect understanding of the consequences.
This, I may say frankly, I think is one of Mr. Wilson's great failings. He seems always to be sacrificing long-term solutions for a temporary easement of his difficulties. It may be that there are pressures at the United Nations; it may be that there are pressures within the Commonwealth; but none of these can be of such overriding importance as to prevent another attempt being made to come to a solution on what seems to me to be now a soluble problem. Mr. Maud-ling in the House of Commons yesterday made a suggestion as to a form of compromise, a suggestion which if I may say 1247 so, was treated in a most remarkable fashion by the supporters of noble Lords opposite, some of whom gave the impression that they did not even want a settlement. I hope that the Prime Minister to-day in another place and, possibly, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor who is to reply, will treat the suggestion seriously and give us a considered answer to it because it was put forward by my right honourable friend as a possible solution to this difficulty and certainly with the intention of being helpful.
My Lords, I now come to the next issue that I must raise. This is to be found in the Communiqué of the Prime Ministers' Conference. It says:The British Government will withdraw all previous proposals for a constitutional settlement…[and] will not thereafter be prepared to submit…any settlement which involves independence before majority rule.It then goes on to say that it will join in sponsoring a resolution providing for effective and selective mandatory sanctions. My Lords, do the Government really think that it is possible to get any settlement of this problem unless an offer is made to the Rhodesians of independence before majority rule? I cannot calculate from the proposed composition of the Legislature how long it would take before there would be majority rule in Rhodesia. I should have thought that, under the Constitution which we shall all read in the White Paper, it would be quite a substantial number of years. The Government were prepared to accept this situation as fair and reasonable. Do they really mean that, as from now, there can be no independence for that substantial number of years? They cannot seriously imagine that this is a position which is either tenable or sensible. I suspect that it was placed in the document solely for the purpose of bringing political pressure to bear on Mr. Smith—another example, if I may say so, of the short-term thinking of the Prime Minister. I hope that we shall hear this afternoon that the Government have dropped it, for it is neither sensible nor wise and it certainly makes any agreement impossible.
In spite of undertakings given to both Houses that there would be a debate before irrevocable decisions were taken, the Government have now taken the next 1248 step on the road to mandatory sanctions. This afternoon Mr. Brown is meeting the Security Council. I must say at once that we on this side think that the proposals for mandatory sanctions are wholly and absolutely wrong. They should be judged in purely practical terms: first, will sanctions be likely to lead to a settlement?; second, will they be effective? In both cases it seems to me that the answer is likely to be, No. Action of this kind will certainly not make Mr. Smith any more inclined to negotiate, and will certainly rally Rhodesians behind him.
As to their efficiency, I suppose it all depends what is meant by selective sanctions. How selective? For example, is oil to be included'? If I may say so with respect, we are none the wiser as a result of what the noble Earl, Lord Longford, said in his speech about oil sanctions. It will depend on how many countries are going to observe a resolution imposing such sanctions. It will depend, for instance, on how long it will take for various countries to pass legislation which would allow them to implement the sanctions. I believe, for example, that this is necessary in the United States of America.
It may well be that, when faced with an actual loss of trade and export, many countries will not be so keen to toe the line as they seemed to be when the question was merely hypothetical. We know, for example, that South Africa will certainly not abide by any such resolution. What happens then? Does everybody turn a blind eye? If so, what effect, except a comparatively marginal one, can the sanctions have? Or are sanctions to be imposed on South Africa herself—with truly disastrous consequences to our economy: consequences, it seems, from the Report of proceedings in another place, shrugged off by some Labour Members of Parliament as an irrelevance.
My Lords, the Prime Minister has said—and I hope I have not misunderstood him—that the sanctions are to be selective and in no circumstances directed at South Africa. But I do not understand how the Prime Minister thinks he is going to control events from now onwards. Pressures will be very great; and I foresee that he will be forced into a position where it will be seen that sanctions are ineffective unless Portugal and South 1249 Africa are brought in, or are made to conform, and that the implementation of sanctions against South Africa will lead to a crisis here of unparalleled severity. Furthermore, once the resolution has been put before the Security Council the Government are being very naïve if they think that they can control what happens there. Why should they imagine that the Afro-Asian group, for example, will be content with selective sanctions of the kind they want? Why should they imagine that South Africa and Portugal will not come under the heaviest pressure? Why should they imagine that resolutions will not be moved bringing these two countries themselves under mandatory sanctions?
One has only to look at the composition of the Security Council—ten of whose members voted for using armed force againstRhodesia—to realise that unless the Government are prepared to use their Veto the situation will be taken out of their hands quickly and, probably, catastrophically. I think I have read somewhere (I may be quite wrong) that the Government have said that they do not in any circumstances intend to use their Veto at the United Nations. I hope this is not so, and that later to-day the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will make it quite clear that the Government reserve their right to veto proposals which could have such far-reaching importance to this country.
My Lords, I want to say one more thing which, though related to this problem, is not quite so directly related. We have been told a great deal by the Prime Minister and others about holding the Commonwealth together, and this, no doubt, largely dictated the attitude of the Prime Minister last September. He was, of course, put under great strain in listening for about ten days to an almost unanimous condemnation of British policy by most of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers; but I fear, for the reasons I have already given, that the conclusions he came to were wrong. I think he will find that the vast majority of us are not at all in sympathy with the opinions of most of those Prime Ministers. We thought they viewed a resort to force far too lightly, and we thought them wrong. We felt that the only possible solution to the Rhodesian problem was negotiation; and I fear that 1250 what the Prime Minister has done, so far from strengthening the Commonwealth by his conciliatory attitude and by the Communiqué, has gravely weakened it.
I do not think that there is anyone in this House who wishes more passionately than I do to see the multiracial Commonwealth succeed. I have lived in the Commonwealth and have served it, and I believe it can succeed; but I do not believe that its continuation can depend upon the appeasement of those extreme opinions which are wholly contrary to the beliefs of most of us. Just as we must respect the problems and difficulties of each individual nation of the Commonwealth, so must they respect our problems and difficulties. No good will come of an attitude which, in order to maintain a figment of Commonwealth, allows reality to fly out of the window.
My Lords, to sum up what I have been trying to say, we on this side still believe that a negotiated settlement is the only possible solution. We still believe that, though we have been gravely disappointed by the outcome of the talks on board H.M.S. "Tiger". We would try to find a compromise over the problem of a return to legality. We wholly reject the Government's decision to go to the United Nations and ask for selective sanctions, and we greatly deplore the undertaking that no further proposals will be made for Independence before majority rule. Even at this late hour there is time for negotiation. If, at the end of the day, the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack can give us some hope that the Government are prepared to find a compromise, he will find wholehearted support from everyone in this House; but, if not, then I must ask your Lordships who sit on these Benches to vote against this Motion, which in my view contains the seeds of a national disaster.
§ 3.7 p.m.
§ LORD WADE
My Lords, I hope I shall be forgiven if I start on a personal note. It was decided, and I think rightly, that in such an important debate as this the first spokesman from the Liberal Benches should be the Leader or the acting Leader. I am very pleased that my noble friend Lord Rea is here to-day, but he is still convalescing, and he is not yet allowed by his doctors to play his full part. It was therefore agreed that my noble friend Lord Ogmore should speak 1251 first from these Benches, and we were all expecting him to do so. But this morning, unfortunately, I heard that Lord Ogmore had been taken ill. It is not serious (he is in bed suffering from influenza), but it falls to my lot to step into the breach at the last moment. I know that your Lordships are always very kind and forbearing on such occasions as this, and I am comforted by that thought. Nevertheless, it is a difficult task for me, and I am well aware that if I attempt to present some of the points that would have been made by my noble friend Lord Ogmore he would have put them very much more effectively than I could do.
It is certainly a great tragedy that no agreement was reached between Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith. I believe there are few who would dissent from that view. It seems to me all the more of a tragedy—if it is true—that had Mr. Smith taken the matter to his supporters in Rhodesia he might well have carried the day over the heads of his extremists. But we must consider the situation as it is, and not as we should like it to be. In supporting the Government in the action they are now taking—and I think we must do so—I admit that I have some serious reservations about the past. I think it was a grave error not to be more fully prepared for U.D.I. when it occurred. It was a grave error to talk about sanctions being effective "in a matter of weeks rather than months", whereas it seemed clear to many of us that it was bound to take a long time—and I am on record as having said that a year ago. But that, too, is past history, and I think the only point in the immediate past on which we are entitled to probe the Government for more information relates to these transitional terms in the Working Document.
I know that some of my colleagues, in welcoming the fact that agreement was reached on the Six Principles, have some doubt whether it was reasonable to expect the Smith régime to accept the terms for a return to legality. In saying this I think my colleagues and I are conscious of the lack of trust which exists, and which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. For this neither the White Rhodesians nor the present Government are wholly to blame. Part of the blame rests upon the Rhodesians 1252 in the past, and on previous Administrations. But this mistrust is a factor which has to be taken into account. Therefore I think we are entitled to ask: did Mr. Wilson really believe that there was a good prospect of these terms being accepted, or was it just that he bent over as far as he possibly could in order to try to reach agreement, and that he just could not go any further?
Secondly, was the timetable set for the acceptance of these terms for the return to legality essential because of the fear that Mr. Smith or his colleagues would, if they were given more time find a way of wriggling out of the commitments, or delay still further simply for the sake of delay; or was it solely due to our commitment to the Commonwealth countries and the fact that we could not postpone going to the United Nations any longer without a complete break-up of the British Commonwealth? I trink it is important that these questions should be answered clearly for the enlightenment of the general public. In view of the pledge given to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, I believe that Britain is bound to take the matter to the United Nations, although I would present the justification of this in a slightly different way from some who have strong views on the subject.
All political Parties in this country agreed that the policy of sanctions was necessary. I believe that we must now take the matter to the United Nations in order to get the support of members of the U.N. for the policy which Britain is pursuing, in order that members of the United Nations should support Britain in a policy which is still essentially a British responsibility. At the same time I think we should bring into the open those countries, and the people of those countries, who are helping to bring about a breach of the sanctions. I should like to see some machinery for making public the extent to which sanctions are being breached, and by what countries: and I believe that the U.N. could help in that respect.
That leads me to one or two questions about the mechanism when we go to the U.N. Under Article 27, have all the Permanent Members of the Security Council to concur in any resolution to invoke sanctions? I am under the impression that they have. Am I right in 1253 thinking that abstention will not suffice; that all the Permanent Members must concur? Secondly, if a resolution is carried, will action be taken under Article 41 or Article 42? Thirdly, will the countries surrounding Rhodesia be asked to admit United Nations observers to see whether sanctions are working properly, and fourthly, who is going to arrange the implementation of sanctions on behalf of the member countries of the U.N.? Does any machinery exist for this purpose? Is there any staff to collate information, or will it be left entirely to individual countries? These are clearly important matters, but most important is Britain's determination to carry this policy through. Ineffective sanctions are worse than no sanctions, and halfhearted sanctions are the worst of all.
My Lords, a few months ago I was very impressed by an interview on television with Mr. Harold Macmillan. In the course of that interview he talked about the sanctions that were imposed upon Italy at the time of the rape of Abyssinia. He expressed the view that they could have been successful, but that the British Government at that time were half-hearted. There were some members of that Government who were afraid of offending Italy. As a result, the sanctions failed, and I think I am right in my recollection that Mr. Macmillan said Britain fell between two stools. Certainly the consequences were far-reaching, and we got the worst of both worlds.
Ever since U.D.I.—and before—I have feared that Britain would fall between two stools in this matter. I do not believe that sanctions will necessarily be ineffective, although I know that there are many difficulties. I believe that it is just as much a psychological struggle as an economic struggle. But in my view the time may come when the illegal régime in Rhodesia will have a strong desire for recognition and will get tired of sanctions, if we are firm. Meanwhile, my Lords, certainly let nothing be done to rule out the possibility of honourable agreement. Let us consider this suggestion of another kind of Royal Commission. But, basically, we have to ask ourselves this question: is this a matter of fundamental principle? If so, then Britain must stand firm until an honourable settlement is achieved.
§ 3.17 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, we are discussing a tragedy, and, as so often in a tragedy, it is difficult to see any way through. But it is something if we can see what the tragedy is really about, and thus know morally where we stand. In this case some very misleading ideas are in circulation as to what the tragedy is about, and I think we must be rid of them if we are to get anywhere at all.
The tragedy is not that the two parties in this conflict, Great Britain, on the one hand, and the Smith régime, on the other, agree on the Principles and differ only on one practical issue in the consequential procedure. No, my Lords, the cleavage is a deep cleavage about principles, however much the propaganda from Salisbury in the last few days has tried to conceal this. If the Smith régime accepts the Principles, it has had, and still has every day, ample opportunity for taking actions, any actions, to show this.
Take one of the Five Principles:There would have to be progress towards ending racial discrimination.With control of the country in the last twelve months the régime has not only not done this, but has, indeed, been doing the opposite. I am especially interested in education, partly because the greater part of the schools in Rhodesia have been in the hands of the churches. What happens? Since U.D.I. a Government directive to the managers of church secondary schools refuses permission to take African pupils—and this in virtue of the Land Apportionment Act. The extension of the sixth-form work for Africans could expand rapidly if they were allowed to be enrolled in Government European schools at the sixth-form level. But no; it is not allowed. I need not mention the rejection of the offers from our own Government to assist African secondary education. Nor need I mention that persistent actions which horribly violate the elements of personal liberty and rights of citizens still continue.
The assertion that the Rhodesian Front accepts the principles and is only boggling at one point of constitutional procedure can be tested at every point not by words but by actions. When Mr. Smith says, "Fight on", does he really mean, fight on to carry out the principles 1255 he now, since Monday, says he accepts, or does he mean, fight on for an independence designed to thwart the principles from being applied to his country? Just a few actions by him could at any time, and could now, show—and by "actions" I do not mean diplomatic offers; I mean actions which seriously alter the treatment of the people of that country in respect of the principles.
The tragedy is still the deep cleavage about principles, about aims for the country of Rhodesia. I think that we must help our own people in this hour of tragedy to grasp what the tragedy is about. And it is all too easy to lose sight of it.
We can see the tragedy in the long-term setting of the European mission in the African Continent. The third Marquess of Salisbury once described the eruption of European standards into Africa asa great force, a great civilising, Christianising force".So, indeed. This has happened in broadly two phases. First, Africans have been brought immense material benefits and much health and happiness, and the Christian Churches had an immense role in this. But, secondly, there comes the stage of progress to social equality, responsible citizenship, maturity and political power. Here, things which took centuries to happen in this country began to happen rapidly, at an uncontrolled pace, in parts of the African Continent, when once the forces of nationalism and democracy erupted. And more than one tragedy has followed. There is the sort of tragedy in the Congo, where unprepared self-government has had the most frightful results, and I would never belittle the fears which such events create.
But in Rhodesia we are seeing a tragedy of another sort. It is a whole régime, with its supporters, which by its actions seems unwilling really to face the possibility that the African population can be other than a servant population. Be good to the Africans; work for them; but the idea that you could work with them in citizenship and in the running of a State or a national life, does not really seem to come into view. And it is not just that the pace must not be too quick; it is that there might really be no pace at all. So you have plenty of primary education, but 1256 even now there are only some 160 African sixth-form boys in a population of 4 million. It leads on to the final tragedy, the present tragedy of a Police State, with perhaps the nastiest of all the features of a Police State: that the police can interfere with you, not for doing anything or for saying anything but for being known to hold the wrong opinions. But the crowning tragedy is the firmly held idea of some that this regime is the right way of maintaining Christian civilisation in Africa.
I feel, therefore, that the talks and the efforts, both in Salisbury and on the "Tiger", have disclosed again how very deep the cleavage is. As The Times said yesterday:Salisbury thinking is different in kind from London thinking, and indeed from the thinking of almost the whole of the rest of the world.Therefore, the pleas to go on and on talking seem to me to offer now no more than a series of circles round and round. If things are really otherwise, then it can be shown, not by talk but by a few actions—actions in the régime's administration to meet the very generous actions of Great Britain. I believe that those who oppose our Government's actions now would help more, not by begging our Government to talk and talk, but by begging the Rhodesian regime to act towards their citizens in respect of the principles at stake.
Now, my Lords, what about the proposals before us. In a situation of real tragedy, I think that these proposals, and any proposals I have heard of to take action or not to take action, are distressing beyond words. About the proposals concerning sanctions, I would say two things. First, I long for an alternative, but I do feel that now the alternative of talking on and on means acquiescence in a wrongful situation. I do not mean that those who recommend this course want acquiescence—no; but that the incompatibility of principle now disclosed is such that all the great political skill of the Opposition, were they in power, as well as the great political skill of the present Government could not turn this circle into a square. Two or three deeds from Mr. Smith and then we are getting on. Again, I do not mean diplomatic moves; I mean actions on the treatment of the citizens in his country.
1257 Secondly, while sanctions have their costs and their risks, there is cost and there is risk of a very different kind in doing nothing. It is said that sanctions have a reflex effect upon the economy of our country. I think that it is also true, and it is very disburbing, that long acquiescence in the Rhodesian régime can have a reflex moral effect upon our own moral condition in this country. After all, we are responsible for the Rhodesian peoples, but the long dragging on of the matter has blunted our moral sensitivities. I wish that amid all the difficulties in our country between Government and Opposition, and this policy and that policy, there could have been an unceasing, united voice of national conscience. But we have had the usual rationalisations. It is a rebel régime, but only technically rebel: crime can be only technically crime; and perhaps persecution can be only technically persecution, and so on.
Now we hear that it is harsh to expect the régime to give up this or that. But if only those who say this, those who criticise the Government, would add one word of moral horror about the continuance—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—of people, African people, our own people, in confinement without trial! Our moral sensitivity for people for whom we are responsible has been blunted already. I know that horrible things have happened In other African countries, and horrible things happen in other countries with evil ideologies. But neither are those parts of our territorial responsibility nor do they claim to be the outposts of Christian civilisation.
I know the risk attaching to the policy of sanctions, though surely real skill could reduce those risks. But I dread the other risks, of helping to dull the consciences of our own people and of the rest of the world, the risk of the sort of damage from which we shall not easily recover. For that reason, with a heavy heart I must support the Motion.
Meanwhile, whatever happens, and whatever form politics may take in Rhodesia, there are those in that country who are trying hard to carry on the work which the third Lord Salisbury called "a great civilising, Christianising force". And it is that ideal, set out by the third Lord Salisbury, that is being 1258 so terribly contradicted and thwarted by the acts of the present régime. The churches in Rhodesia, who from the first provided the bulk of the schools in the country, are terribly torn by the present conflicts. There are tragic separations between white and black congregations, and of course, the educational policy of the régime promotes this. There are white congregations which have become supporters of the régime, and there are black Christians bewildered and becoming sceptical about the white man's God. But, in spite of this, there are still in the churches of Rhodesia those who work for and practise real partnership, and they want to know what we have to say to them and what the conscience of Britain means to do.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, often in recent months some of us have made hold from this Bench in your Lordships' House to warn the Government of the danger of the courses with regard to Rhodesia on which they had embarked. Those warnings, I know very well, have not won the approval or even, I am afraid, greatly excited the interest of noble Lords opposite. But I repeat them to-day at this crucial moment, for I gravely fear, as many others in this country do, that if the Government, even now, do not hold their hand, much that we love, and more than we can possibly afford, may be engulfed in the ruin which may ensue.
It is always difficult in politics to assess the long-term importance of any development or any occasion: indeed, I suppose there is no sphere of human activity where the trees so tend to obscure the wood. But I imagine that no one will be inclined to make that mistake to-day. The Government's decision to ask the United Nations Organisation to impose mandatory sanctions on Rhodesia must be regarded by all of us, in whatever part of the House we sit, as of fundamental importance, not only because of its implications for the future of Rhodesia itself, but even more for its likely repercussions on the whole pattern of our overseas trade and the character of the United Nations itself.
That being so, it is surely right that we should look back at the origin and nature of the dispute that has blown up 1259 into this tempest which may yet rock the whole world. What is the charge against the Rhodesian Government and public which is held to justify the Draconian measures which it is now proposed to take against them? It is, if I understand it aright, that by making their unilateral declaration of independence they have rendered themselves guilty of the crime of treason. My Lords, I am not a lawyer, and I should prefer to stand on the words of Edmund Burke, who said in rather similar circumstances:It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do: but what humanity, reason and justice tell me I ought to do.Judged by that test, set by one of our greatest patriots and political thinkers, I am bound to say that, whatever the strict legal position may be, it is one of the oddest forms of treason that I have even known.
This is not, and never has been, a revolt against the person of the Sovereign. Throughout all this troubled year the Rhodesians have remained obstinately loyal to the Crown. It is something quite different. It is a dispute between two of Her Majesty's Governments, one situated in Downing Street and the other in Salisbury, both constitutionally elected and both loyal to the Crown, as to the extent of the jurisdiction which one of these Governments can properly exercise over the internal affairs of the other.
§ THE EARL. OF LONGFORD
My Lords, surely we can judge the attitude of the Rhodesian regime by their behaviour towards the Queen's representative in Rhodesia.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I listened to everything the noble Earl had to say, and perhaps he will allow me to say what I want to say in my own words.
That, I firmly believe, when the dust of controversy has blown away, will be the verdict of history. It may, indeed, be that in a strictly legalistic sense the United Kingdom may claim to have the better of the argument. But, as was once said by a distinguished political writer of a very similar dispute between the United Kingdom and her American colonists nearly 200 years ago: whatever the strict legal position,A jury of men of the world would almost certainly conclude that imprudence rarely steered a more perilous course or followed it in a spirit less likely to escape shipwreck".1260 Yet it is on that rickety basis that the whole monstrous edifice of sanctions has been built up.
I am not suggesting for a moment that the Prime Minister had any idea a year ago where his policy was going to land him. There can be little doubt that he thought at the start that he had only to blow his trumpet and the walls of Jericho would fall down. But the walls did not fall down; and though they have undoubtedly been battered, they are still, in spite of bombardments by far stronger weapons than trumpets, essentially undamaged, and show no signs of collapsing either now or in the immediate future.
So the Prime Minister has had to stiffen his measures and call in more and more allies on his side to help him, until the whole conception—which was originally his own conception: that this was a constitutional dispute of direct concern between this country and Rhodesia alone—has had to be pushed entirely into the background and has had to be replaced by a completely new conception. And so we are now told that the Rhodesian problem is a danger to peace and, that being the case, that the United Nations must take action to deal with the situation under Chapter VII of the Charter. But, my Lords (and I hope I may say this with some knowledge, because I was one of the Ministers who represented His Majesty's Government at the San Francisco Conference where the Charter was drafted), Chapter VII of the Charter was never intended to deal with such a situation as this. It was inserted for one purpose and one purpose only—to deal with aggression. What are the words of Article 39? It can be invoked in three situations only: a threat to peace, a breach of the peace, or aggression. "Aggression", if I may quote the definition of that word in the great Oxford Dictionary, meansAn unprovoked attack; the first attack in a quarrel; an assault, an inroad.I can well believe that there is a danger of aggression at this very moment. But by whom, my Lords? Certainly not by Rhodesia. She is a small country; she threatens no one; she seeks only to remain at peace within her own boundaries. And if it can be argued by the Afro-Asian countries that by her very existence, under her own elected Government, she is inviting a breach of the peace, I 1261 would reply that that is just the kind of thing that Hitler said when he was attempting to justify his actions against Austria and Czechoslovakia. I am quite certain that Her Majesty's Government would not wish to base their policy on such a precedent as that.
Let me then repeat quite briefly and baldly that Chapter VII of the Charter is meant to deal with aggression, and the words "threat to peace", in the context of Chapter VII, mean therefore "threat of aggression". By no stretch of the imagination can Rhodesia be construed as contemplating aggression against anyone. To use Chapter VII, therefore, for the purpose for which the Government are now proposing to use it is, I suggest, to prostitute the Charter for a purpose for which it was never intended, and is, in addition, to create a most dangerous precedent for the future.
I do not intend to say anything today about the disastrous economic effects that this policy is likely to have on our overseas trade—the millions that it is likely to cost us; nor of a very real danger that mandatory sanctions, to use a very modern phrase, will escalate into force whatever the Government may say now. Others can deal with those points far better than I can. Nor do I intend to enter at any length, if your Lordships will forgive me for refraining, into the arguments which have just been adduced by the most reverend Primate. He has spoken with great moderation this afternoon, and I am sure we are all grateful to him. But I have read a statement by him and other Church leaders which was issued this morning, and that makes on me, at any rate, rather a different effect. They have, of course, exactly the same right as any other individuals to express their views on this or any other subject, but I am sure he will forgive me if I say that I do not believe they have a right to tell us, as they practically do in that document, that the views they happen to hold are the only ones compatible with Christianity. That is certainly the effect that the pronouncement made on me.
I will say one other thing. The most reverend Primate has given the impression that anyone of high principle would be bound, broadly speaking, to accept the conclusions to which he has come. I believe that if he would get out of his 1262 ivory tower—if I may so describe Lambeth Palace—he would find many good precedents both in this country and in Rhodesia, and among both the clergy and the laity working among the Africans, who incline to my views rather than to his. I am quite certain that the most reverened Primate means to be fair—I am quite certain he does. But I do not think he has been quite fair. For instance, he has attacked the attitude of the present Rhodesian Government towards African education. But I think he will find—I am speaking without the book—ifhe makes inquiry that the Rhodesian Government, although it is in receipt of no grant from the United Kingdom Government, and never has been in receipt of such a grant, is spending more on African education than any other State in Central Africa.
So much for some of the points that have been raised in this debate, and I do not want to trespass on your Lordships' patience too long. But I should like, if I may, before I sit down, to return for a few moments to the events on H.M.S. "Tiger". Great play has been made by Government spokesmen as to what happened there, and the picture that has been given to us—it was given, I think, by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, this afternoon—is of the Prime Minister as a man striving away, making attempt after attempt to get agreement, but always coming up against the obstinate intransigence of Mr. Smith and his colleagues. But, surely, that is a travesty of the facts; and that this is so is proved, I believe, by the Prime Minister's own triumphant words on his return: that he had given nothing material away, and that the Working Agreement was both within the terms of the Six Principles and what had been agreed at the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in September, at which, it will be remembered, Mr. Smith was not present. If, then, an agreement on the Working Plan was reached on the "Tiger" and the Prime Minister had not budged, it can only have been Mr. Smith and not Mr. Wilson who made the concessions. And that is no doubt what happened.
Nor, I believe, is there any more validity in the suggestion which is being sedulously spread abroad—though, I am glad to say, not by the noble Earl, Lord Longford—that failure of the talks 1263 resulted merely from differences on minor matters of the machinery which was to be set up to bridge the interim period between the signature of the agreement and the restoration of legal government in Rhodesia—mere matters, it is said, of protocol. But if anyone feels that, I would ask him to look at the White Paper and see what the Government of Rhodesia was asked to agree to during that period. The present Government of Rhodesia, which was elected by an overwhelming majority under the present Constitution of their country, was to be swept away and a new Government was to be appointed which would be responsible, not to the electors of Rhodesia at all, but to the Governor. The present electorate over this interim period would, as I understand it, have no further say in the matter at all. Moreover, though Mr. Smith would remain as a kind of puppet Prime Minister, he would not even be in a position to choose his own Ministers. They would be appointed by, and responsible to, the Governor and not to the Prime Minister.
In addition, the Prime Minister would no longer have any control over either the Armed Forces or the police. They, too, on whom the whole maintenance of law and order in the country depended, would be responsible not to the Prime Minister but to the Governor. Nor would the Prime Minister have any say as to who should be detained on security grounds. That would be decided by a judicial tribunal, not responsible to him, but again to the Governor, who would become a sort of autocrat. Nor would Mr. Smith who, I again repeat, has been elected by an overwhelming majority of the electors of his country, have any say as to the way the Rhodesian people as a whole were to be consulted as to the Constitution under which they were henceforth to live. That would be done by a Royal Commission, whose composition and terms of reference would be agreed, not by any democratically elected Government representing the people of Rhodesia (under any definition of that term) but by a Government responsible only to the Governor and by the Government of the United Kingdom. These terms may be regarded by some—
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am not sure whether the noble Marquess has placed some ban on my intervention, but I must tell him that he 1264 is completely misrepresenting the Prime Minister's Statement.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, it will be quite open for Government spokesmen after I have finished to do that, but I have read the White Paper with the greatest care.
These terms may be regarded by some as mere matters of machinery or protocol, but there are many of us who could not accept that. I described them on Monday as "terms imposed on a beaten enemy", nor do I see any reason to withdraw a single word of that, though if it would sound better to noble Lords opposite I should be quite prepared to substitute the words "unconditional surrender". At any rate, they are terms, I submit, that no Government with any shred of pride could have been expected to accept. I am told it will be for only a few months. But is that certain? It seems to me doubtful, from Paragraph 20 of the White Paper, and, in any case, that does not alter the principle of the thing. The one thing I should have thought that had to be avoided was to give the impression of a determination to rub the Rhodesians' faces in the dirt, and that was just the impression that was given.
Look at the reported remark of the Prime Minister, that all the white Rhodesians wanted was "power for its own sake". It made me very sad to read that. It showed such an utter misunderstanding of the whole position. It is not power that the Rhodesians want; it is the preservation of law and order and the security of the lives of the Rhodesian peoples, both black and white, and their wives and their children, and the right to run their national life in the way they believe it must be run if these things are to be preserved—in fact, just those things for which we have always fought in this country when they were threatened.
What, in such circumstances, my Lords, is to be done? The die has been cast; the Rubicon has been crossed. What can we do to mitigate the damage? In the present situation, when feeling no doubt is running high on both sides, it is difficult Ito put forward any constructive ideas at all. Mr. Maudling yesterday—and I think my noble friend Lord Carrington has already referred to it—suggested a Royal Commission for one purpose. That may be well worth exploring. Then there 1265 was the suggestion by Mr. Smith himself for a different Royal Commission with different terms of reference. That, too, might be explored. The great thing, I feel, is to prevent the Afro-Asians rushing the United Nations off its feet and taking complete charge. For their aims are not the same as ours, and irreparable damage might be done before wiser counsels prevailed. I hope the Government will make that their aim, and let us at any rate continue as best we may to keep open the lines between London and Salisbury. That will, at any rate, be something gained.
And now, my Lords, I have done. I would make only this last appeal. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, said that the Government must continue to follow the inflexible path of duty, and no one, in any part of the House, I am sure, would quarrel with that sentiment. But there are many of us who cannot but look at the situation of this country in rather a different way. In continuing to pursue this disastrous policy, it seems to us, the Government are like a man who has started to walk on what he believes to be firm sands and then, suddenly, begins to feel them shifting and quaking beneath his feet, and yet who, through mingled obstinancy and a lack of understanding of the dangers that are threatening him, continues to plunge forward, sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand which, if he continues too long on his way, will finally engulf him. I hope noble Lords will not regard this metaphor as too far-fetched or absurd. For we are in those quick sands ourselves now, and indeed we are in pretty deep already. Yet, in spite of warnings, the Government seem bent on staggering and lurching forward into even deeper dangers.
In this unhappy situation I would make this most earnest plea: can they not, even now, call a halt? Can they not, even now, feel their way back on to firmer ground? Soon, it may be too late. Control of the situation will have passed out of our hands and into the hands of others who care nothing for the welfare, either of Britain or of Rhodesia. The hard fact, and it is a fact which we shall all, sooner or later, have to face, is this: the policy of sanctions has failed, and failed disastrously, and it will, I believe, always fail. Let us then make the best terms we can. That is a decision which 1266 I firmly believe the British people want, and it is one, I am equally sure, that they will never regret. For only so will they avert disaster, not only for Rhodesia but for this country and, in the long run, for the United Nations, too.
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ LORD CAMPBELL OF ESKAN
My Lords, quite unlike the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury (and I feel I cannot immediately follow him into the quick sands), I rise to express unqualified support for the Government Motion so tellingly expounded by the noble Earl, the Leader of the House. I must say that I feel a sense of considerable humility in following, at one remove, the magnificent speech of the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
My Lords, like everybody else, I deeply regret that things have come to the pass they have over Rhodesia. I clearly recognise the dangers and implications of the present tragic situation; a situation for which Mr. Smith and his colleagues must bear the great weight of responsibility. After hearing my noble friend reading the Prime Minister's Statement on Monday evening, and after hearing his own opening speech this afternoon, I am convinced that no man could have gone further than the Prime Minister did to try to reach an effective agreement—an agreement which would be fair to Europeans and Africans—for the future of Rhodesia. Indeed, there must be many people in this country and in other Commonwealth countries who feel that he went too far. I myself feel that on H.M.S. "Tiger" the Prime Minister went every inch of the way he could go, with honour and safety, to meet the wishes, and the fears too, of the white minority in Rhodesia. He could not have gone an inch further without utterly ignoring the fears of the African majority and without sacrificing their rights and interests.
Many people speak as though a settlement in Rhodesia were an end in itself and as though it were the sole duty of the British Government to find the cheapest possible means of submitting to the wishes of Mr. Smith's illegal régime. Moreover, they speak as though the issue were a struggle for power between the British Government and the Smith régime; or even between the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith. The noble 1267 Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has referred to the proposed terms of settlement as being "terms which would be properly imposed upon a beaten enemy". I do not see the problem in this way at all. I see it as the problem of how we in Britain are to fulfil our obligations towards the 4¼ million people of Rhodesia whom, like millions of Africans and Asians before, we have promised to bring to independence under majority rule.
As one whose family has been connected with the West Indies since the 18th century and whose work and business has been concerned for thirty years with the Caribbean and with Africa, I have seen and have been involved with independence and its birth-throes in eight or nine Commonwealth countries. I have watched all the heavily defended positions of privilege which have eventually been given up. I have heard all the jargon, exaggerating and over-simplifying the realities, again and again: about extremists, and intimidation, and law and order; and people being "unprepared" and "uncivilised". I have heard all the lamentations about incipient economic disaster, I have heard Nationalist leaders as different as Dr. Banda, Sir Alexander Bustamante and President Kenyatta represented as the embodiment of evil—as a sort of cross between the Devil and Kali Marx. Almost incredibly, I have several times recently heard President Kaunda the wonderfully wise and able leader of Zambia, referred to as a sort of bogeyman.
My Lords, these new nations since their independence have had their ups and downs. For some of them things have gone wrong, sometimes terribly wrong, as in Nigeria. For many more of them, despite great difficulties, things have gone right. In none of them has there been social or economic disaster on the appalling scale of the Congo. In none of them, none of the Commonwealth countries, since independence have European lives and property been endangered, and if they now become endangered it will be thanks to Mr. Smith. It is true that most of the new Commonwealth countries of Africa have set up one-Party Governments. In this there are obvious dangers of the abuse of power and the oppression of individual men and women. But I have never seen any reason to believe that 1268 the North Atlantic forms of democracy can be transplanted elsewhere without transformation. The new and developing nations have quite different social and economic problems to cope with. Anyway, who taught them the tricks of autocratic government if it was not our Colonial administrators? Very often the new African dictator is old Colonial Governor writ large.
But I believe that there is an absolutely fundamental difference between tyrannies based on race and other autocratic régimes—notthat I seek to defend any Police State at all. In tyrannical régimes not based on race, however brutal and intolerant they may be, individuals and families can, if they wish, play along with the Party in power. This may be cowardly or cynical, but it does mean two things. First, they can, if they are prepared to abide by the rules, live more or less the same sort of lives as all their fellow citizens. Secondly, it means that the standards and idiom of the régime tend to be always imperceptibly changing, because a great many of the people who are apparently working for it will never be committed to it in their hearts and souls.
But in a tyranny based on race there is absolutely nothing that the individual or his family can do to avoid being oppressed and discriminated against as underdogs. At best the underdogs are patronised and promoted on their master's terms; at worst they are treated with contempt as pariahs. I always find myself shocked, as I was again a couple of months ago in Central Africa, by the sheer bad manners of many Europeans towards Africans. Rhodesia should be the last main chapter of Britain's colonial history, concluding in, or I like to think of it as culminating in, honourable decolonisation. And what we are discussing to-day in your Lordships' House is not disembodied procedures and settlements but the honourable decolonisation of Rhodesia.
Many people talk as though the chapter could be neatly closed with Mr. Smith agreeing to the so-called Six Principles. But six principles on paper are worth no more than the paper they are written on. What really matters is the means of ensuring that they are honoured in practical government. And this means Mr. Smith has flatly rejected. Surely the essential means of honouring 1269 a settlement cannot be, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, suggested, a temporary difficulty or a matter for compromise. Moreover, the facile way in which Mr. Smith seems to pretend that he has accepted the Principles but rejected the settlement on the points of getting back to legality from illegality and dismantling his Police State leaves one with no alternative to the conviction that he and his fellow Europeans are hell-bent on perpetuating that sort of white supremacist Government in Rhodesia which all British political Parties are committed to end.
My Lords, what valid evidence is there that the Smith regime will do anything other than resist African advancement and any real African encroachment on white privilege and power? What valid evidence is there? Without hypocrisy, I can say that I have very great sympathy for the dilemma which the white people in Rhodesia must face. But I have at least seventeen times as much sympathy for the Africans in Rhodesia because there are seventeen times as many of them and because they are treated with degradation as second-class citizens. I certainly cannot be sure how I should behave and what I should do if I lived in Rhodesia. I can only say—and I realise it is quite a different story—that in the businesses for which I work we have always actively supported and encouraged independence under majority Government in the countries where we operate. But I am fairly sure that I do know what I should do and how I should behave if I were an African in Rhodesia. I should do all I could to put an end to Mr. Smith's Government as soon as possible.
My Lords, we in Britain have direct responsibility for the 4 million African people in Rhodesia. I believe that far too many people—and not only noble Lords opposite—are saying and thinking that we should stand for principles; we should act with honour; we should fulfil our responsibilities to Africans, but that in this case of Rhodesia we cannot afford such luxuries. Well, how much do we care what happens to the Africans in Rhodesia? How much are we prepared to pay for our own self-respect and to earn the respect, or to avoid the contempt, of most of the rest of the world? What is the price of our principles—in terms, for 1270 instance, of reduced imports or increased interest rates? Is it a penny on cigarettes or a shilling on petrol, or 10s. on a bottle of rum—about which I must declare an interest? I do not know. Perhaps the people who talk and think in this way have a tariff worked out in their own minds.
My Lords, I think that to have gone an inch further than the Prime Minister went on the "Tiger" would have looked as though Britain was being utterly cynical in standing up for a racial minority and protecting them from the coloured population of the world because it was financially expedient for us to do so. We really do have to remember that although the white nations still have a majority of wealth and power in the world, we are in a small minority of human beings. When we complain that the United Nations is unrepresentative, are we not in danger of saying that money and power are more important than men and women? And, if we are saying that, what meaning has all our talk about democracy, moral values and social justice? Are we looking for eternal white minority rule in the United Nations?
I have talked for long enough, but before sitting down I feel that I must at least mention selective mandatory sanctions, because unless I do it will be said that I have not properly counted the cost or faced the implications of a course of action over Rhodesia which I believe to be as morally right as it has become inescapable in practice. It will be said that impractical idealism has run away with me. But, my Lords, who are the impractical idealists, the people who see the world as it really is, with its incoherent mixture of races and cultures, and of riches and poverty; or the people who see it not as it is but as they would like it to be—whiter than white?
Britain's role in the world has changed. Reverting directly to Rhodesia, although remaining constitutionally responsible we have become only one among many members of the United Nations involved in the concept of mandatory sanctions. And there are bound to be all sorts of conflicting views and pressures before a decision is reached as to how precisely to move forward. But I would make three points. First, it is no good extending sanctions on a broader basis than 1271 they can be effectively enforced. Secondly, it is not true to say that sanctions must be, as it were, all or nothing: that either we continue with British sanctions alone or involve ourselves in an all-out conflict in Southern Africa. My noble friend the Leader of the House made this clear. And, thirdly, the British Government should be wary of making advance commitments about what they will or will not do in the field of sanctions, and about what sanctions will or will not achieve.
The purpose of sanctions must be to bring Rhodesia back to a constitutional form of government which protects the rights and interests of the African majority. Sanctions cannot be expected to bring about the immediate or complete defeat of the Smith régime. But they can be expected to subject it to con-considerable pressures and embarrassments, and so to undermine the confidence of the white minority in the security of their fool's paradise. The ultimate objective must remain the independence of Rhodesia under majority rule. Of course this whole tragic and weary process is going to involve Britain in sacrifice and expense. But I do not think that those people who exaggerate the probable cost do anything but harm, rather than help, Britain and sterling. This is certainly not to minimise the difficulties or the dangers.
I have talked about hurt to Rhodesia and to Britain. But what about Zambia—caught between the upper and the nether millstone through no fault of her own? Zambia and the Zambian Government need and deserve much British understanding and assistance. The social and economic stresses brought upon them by the Rhodesian situation are well-nigh intolerable. I am sure that it is vital that Britain does all it is within her capacity to do to help Zambia to adapt her economy to at least the temporary exclusion of trading and working with her Rhodesian neighbour. Malawi, too, needs continuing British help and understanding.
Now that the obstinate and undisguised racialism of Mr. Smith and his regime has forced the issue of sanctions into a wider field than Britain alone, it remains essential that Her Majesty's Government do all they can to restore the confidence of African countries and their Govern- 1272 ments—and indeed the whole Commonwealth—in the good intentions and the good faith of British policy.
§ 4.12 p.m.
My Lords, I rise to speak for the first time in your Lordships' House, and I do so with great diffidence during such a debate as this on Rhodesia. By custom your Lordships are generous on these occasions, and in craving your indulgence I promise to be as brief and as little provocative as I can. My excuse for speaking is that, until recently, I have spent all my working life in Africa, at grass-roots level, and in everyday contact with the realities of life and the problems of Africa and its peoples. I have also had the personal experience of seeing how some of the new African countries reached independence, and of seeing some of the consequences that followed that.
I would say straight away how deep is my own personal regret that no settlement has been reached between this country and Rhodesia, particularly since agreement was reached on the fundamental and, to my way of thinking, by far the most difficult issue: that of a suitable Constitution for independence. It is not for me to say more on this subject than is necessary; but it seems to me to be a tragedy that, having agreed on this most complex subject, perhaps now overshadowed by events, the terms and procedure for putting that agreement into effect should have been framed in such a way as, in my view, makes acceptance by the Government of Rhodesia unlikely, and consequently to place us all in the unhappy position that we are in to-day.
I have read the White Paper carefully, and from reading paragraphs 11 to 20, and with some little knowledge of the suspicions that exist, whether rightly or wrongly, about British intentions, I am not surprised that the reaction from Salisbury has been what it has been. We are told from statements which the Prime Minister and the Minister for Commonwealth Relations have made in another place that no intention was held of anything in the nature of direct rule from Britain through the Governor of Rhodesia and his appointed members of the interim Government. If that is the case, the White Paper reads badly and cannot but give rise to certain fears; for 1273 anyone, such as myself, perusing it could only come to a quite different conclusion from that which we have heard from Her Majesty's Government.
Paragraph 20, in particular, I noted with some alarm. I know how things can, and do, happen in Africa, and I think it could appear as almost an incitement to extreme nationalist politicians to stir up the maximum opposition, through intimidation and worse, in order to make the agreed Constitution unacceptable. I am, of course, certain that this was never the intention behind that paragraph, but it is capable of that interpretation, and I believe it is a thoroughly dangerous one. It might have been phrased or dealt with in another manner.
I cannot conceive what further can be done now to close the gap, unless Her Majesty's Government could, and would, be prepared to seek the assistance of a third party to try to resolve the present deadlock on the return to legality, or to create in some way a fresh démarche. I do not know whether either is feasible, but, in spite of the breakdown, perhaps even now it is not too late for a few last words before this country washes its hands at the Security Council of the United Nations.
As other noble Lords have said to-day, the implications of a continuation of this conflict are grave indeed, and, in spite of the assurance given by the Prime Minister that selective sanctions against Rhodesia only will be invoked at UNO, the likelihood of continuing them at that level seems to me utterly remote. All this may be a matter of opinion, and of course opinions vary from different political viewpoints. However, there are two aspects, or possible points of perspective, that I should like to touch on. I believe they are important in Africa. They seem to be seldom mentioned, but they have reference now to Rhodesia. One is the primary need of all African people for just those essentials of life: food, shelter and some employment. The second is for the protection of stable government, without which these most elementary needs cannot be met, let alone improve the standard of living which is so often marginal, owing to the extremes of climate. Many noble Lords will know how precarious is the balance of food supplies throughout Africa against the vast popu- 1274 lation explosion which is now taking place. Rhodesia is no exception. I believe that this background is sometimes forgotten in the maelstrom of tribal and racial differences surging through Africa, and that the basic needs of its inhabitants are lost sight of in the heat of political controversy.
As has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the Leader of the Opposition, it is deeply disturbing to see the spreading chaos in parts of tropical Africa, an area which until recently has shown so much promise and hope, and which could again do so, in my view, if certain attitudes, both here in the Western World and in Africa, could be reorientated. A great deal has been said about democracy and majority rule. I do not intend to add to it, except to observe that the combination in Africa is rare, and seldom survives for long. My plea is for attitudes which will encourage responsible and representative Governments wherever they may be, and irrespective of political or racial prejudices wherever those may be held.
During the past seventy years in Africa British rule, with all its omissions and mistakes, provided the cement which bound tribes and regions of great disparity together and by and large maintained a great measure of justice, tranquillity and growing prosperity. To me, the over-hasty withdrawal of the Colonial Powers has dissolved that binding material, which, with insufficient preparation of durable substitutes, has resulted in catastrophes in a number of countries recently independent. Whatever may be the cries of nationalist politicians, sometimes perfectly genuine, sometimes power-hungry, sometimes self-motivated, the real cry of all Africa is, I am quite sure, for just those same things which we all recognise: security and the chance to make some sort of living free from hunger and fear and the awful chaos of civil strife.
In a recent debate in your Lordships' House the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, drew your Lordships' attention to the increasing refugee problem in Africa, as well as elsewhere. I listened to her remarks with the greatest attention and sympathy. She gave figures for various African countries totalling some 657,000 people—an appalling 1275 figure, when one considers that, apart from sporadic raiding, this sort of problem was almost unknown in this part of Africa in this century until the 1960's.
Against this background (in trying to describe which I hope that I have not exhausted your Lordships' patience) is Rhodesia, a country which has had possibly the best record of race relations, as well as great constructive growth, of any other similar State. In the short period of 70 years, in the last 43 of which she was entirely self-governing, Rhodesians of all races have developed a modern economy, with no great riches to rely on, built one of the fairest cities in Africa and lived together harmoniously. That peace and achievement is now in jeopardy. Proved and effective government—whatever else may be said about it—that prerequisite of all future hopes for prosperity, has been required to give way, with no apparent sureties for the future, to the experiment of indirect or interim rule. Taking into consideration events elsewhere, I think that perhaps the action of Mr. Smith in rejecting the mechanics for this possibly undetermined period, as outlined in the White Paper, with all the unknown consequences, is not so directed to purely sectional advantage as some opinion in this country might have us think.
It is no part of my case to speak solely for one racial group. All countries, and all races, particularly those adjacent in Central and Southern Africa, are vitally affected by what will happen to Rhodesia in the next year or so, and by the wisdom and restraint shown here in Britain, through, I hope, an increasing understanding of the basic issues and their complexity. I do not believe it makes sense to attempt through further sanctions—and possibly, later, other measures as well—to try to destroy a going concern and bring down a Government which, even under great pressure, is so obviously supported by a large proportion of those in Rhodesia, black as well as white. Further hostile action now will kindle animosities already too apparent and might light a torch which will burn away our historic links with Africa, to our own great financial disadvantage, and have adverse effects on all those other African countries which now rely on us for financial help and much else.
1276 Can we be sure that, in attempting to destroy a nation's economy to bring down its Government in face of that country's defiance, we are not assisting in the precipitation of a series of national disasters such as those which overwhelmed Nigeria, or the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Zanzibar? Good and responsible government is a rare plant in Africa. The arts of government are not easily acquired, particularly by peoples so far unaccustomed to their exercise. Dictatorships and the rule of the Army become more prevalent almost every month. In Salisbury men of both races still sit in Parliament together, a somewhat unique feature if one looks across the map of Africa to-day. Do your Lordships not think that they would have a greater chance of working out their destiny together, given a more understanding attitude here in Britain? It is their own destiny at stake, not ours. It is in Africa that the solutions must be found. And if we in this country are to have any residual influence or, through our own experience and greater wealth, to be of any further help in Africa, we should realise how essential it is to go carefully, rather than prejudice and possibly destroy the work of the past 70 years in Rhodesia, to the detriment of all its inhabitants and its immediate neighbours.
Finally, I believe that what is required now is some inspired act of statesmanship to bring about some reconciliation on these details of the return to legality, so that there may yet be a chance that this hard-won and agreed Constitution can be implemented, with all that that will mean in fresh hopes and renewed progress for all. I am quite certain that threats and international sanctions and hatreds are not the right way to deal with Rhodesia, and all those problems which, we might well remember, are not confined to Rhodesia alone.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, it is my great privilege to voice what I am sure is in all our minds. We have listened to a very remarkable speech with enjoyment and with admiration. We hope that it is the first of many speeches of equal merit in the future. I value my privilege the more because I knew well two great members of the noble Lord's family. A number of your Lordships 1277 will probably remember Josiah Wedgwood, and we remember at the beginning of the First World War those scenes of Cromwellian courage of which he was the centre. I knew even better and more intimately a man of equal greatness and stature, Ralph Wedgwood. I worked with him and knew him intimately and it is therefore with great pleasure that I make these remarks this evening.
I now return to my more onerous and less pleasant task. I propose to talk on one subject only, but a not unimportant one: the economic aspect of the whole question before us. Others have spoken, others will speak adequately, on the legal, political and other aspects of the question. I shall confine myself to this one aspect, and I shall do so very briefly, rather enumerating the items which I think any responsible person should take into account than adequately discussing them. I promise your Lordships that I shall not ask for your attention for more than five minutes.
There is just one preliminary remark which I would make before I come to my own main theme. I was very glad to hear the noble Earl. Lord Longford, say that he and his Government were opposed to force. Yes, my Lords. But if the course which he defended and advocated—mandatory sanctions—is once entered upon, is he sure that force can be avoided? And, if force is once resorted to, is he sure that his Government, or any Government or anyone, can prevent its extension; and if it is extended where will it end? Will it end short of the end of our civilisation itself? I know not.
As a background to what I have to say there will be in all your Lordships' minds what has been happening in the City during the last few days. I do not, of course, mean the fluctuations in the current selling price of the pound in terms of the dollar. These are always minute so long as the pound is being supported at its present parity by the Bank and by the Treasury. What I mean is the obviously and seriously increased strain on the pound, the expenditure of our reserves and the new obligations we have incurred. They are known to be great, though as yet we do not know the exact dimensions.
1278 I wish I knew, and could quote to your Lordships, the opinion of Mr. Callaghan, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as to the part which the money spent, and the financial obligations incurred, have already played in his difficulties with the balance of payments, and with the maintenance of the present parity of the pound; and the immensely greater difficulties he doubtless anticipates if mandatory sanctions are imposed. I say that I wish I could cite his views to your Lordships. For my own personal and unspoken reflections I need no such information. I know that Mr. Callaghan is an able and responsible Chancellor, and enough follows from that to enable me to reach my own personal conclusions.
May I remind your Lordships that if the pound should be forced from its present parity by the strains to which it has already been subjected, and the immensely greater strain which the decision to impose mandatory sanctions would immediately cause all the benefits we had hoped for from stability, and from confidence in its maintenance will be lost: all our "invisible" exports, which depend upon the world's belief in the pound; the status of the pound as one of the world's two great currencies, with its very great benefit both to other countries and to ourselves. If this is what is now to happen we should have done much better to devalue earlier. The immense debts which we have now incurred will have to be repaid, some of them very soon indeed. The best of our realisable securities, most of which we have now lost for ever in obtaining foreign exchange to support the pound, will have been lost without benefit. When a great world currency is forced off its basis, as it was in Mr. Dalton's time, it may be restored. When it is forced off again, as in Sir Stafford Cripps' time, it may with cost and difficulty be restored again. But not now once more. All we have spent, and all the obligations we have incurred, will have been completely wasted without benefit to our economy.
I will try to name, without any attempt to assess or even discuss, the items of costs and losses which those who attempt to calculate responsibly the price we have already paid for the Rhodesian affair must include in their calculations. Here, then, are the main items, for no one of which have the Government yet given us 1279 enough information to enable us to reach a reasonably accurate assessment. There is first—but least—the direct cost of the official visits, the movements of naval vessels and the movements of the Armed Forces. Next, there is what we have spent in supporting Zambia.
Thirdly, there is the great loss of trade, present and prospective, some already serious, some at present less visible. I saw in The Times this morning that Mr. Douglas Jay, the President of the Board of Trade, speaking at the annual dinner of the Chamber of Shipping last night, said:The possible adverse effect of the Rhodesia dispute on Britain's balance of payments has been exaggerated.…Only a very small fraction of our overseas trade is with Rhodesia.But what matters is not our export trade direct to Rhodesia, but the effect of the Rhodesian dispute on our trade with other countries. I could give other examples, but I will now give only one. Our export trade to South Africa is approximately as great as to any other country in the world, except the United States. The effect on this market has already been serious though at present, of course, incalculable. The future effect will be immense and still less calculable. Fourthly, there is the loss and danger to our economy resulting from the copper situation.
But all this, my Lords, is up to the present only. It is in total immense, but it is as nothing by comparison with the threatened future. I would ask the Government, and this House, to reflect seriously on the new factors which I am, without discussion, about to name. First, there is the very grave warning recently issued in such serious terms by South Africa, which was given far too little place and attention in our Press and elsewhere. Secondly, I would ask all those responsibly concerned to consider how likely new sanctions without oil are to be ineffective; and how dangerous they will be, if oil is added, to our relations with South Africa, with Portugal (our oldest ally but now among the first to be spurned) and also with America. For, thirdly, I would ask the Government to consider gravely the present attitude in America—which has been very greatly strengthened by the Congressional elections of last month—to oil sanctions, 1280 or indeed to any others which may seriously embroil us, or them, with South Africa. Mr. Brown will doubtless have brought back some impressive information to the Government. But we here have no need for his report. The truth is blazoned for us publicly through every responsible and important channel of news in America. My Lords, the damage of the past has already been immense; the danger of the future is immensely greater and beyond all calculation—and it may be fatal.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, may I add my felicitations to the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, on his maiden speech? I shall look forward, as I am sure your Lordships will, to his next and more controversial utterance with a considerable amount of excitement. I do not propose to follow the last speaker. I found what he had to say completely irrelevant, and a mixture of utilitarianism and cynicism which I believe is utterly inappropriate to the discussion of this matter.
What I should like to do in the first place is to make some comment on the rather incautious, oblique reference that the noble Marquess made to a statement which appeared in this morning's Press over the signatures of every representative leader of the Protestant Churches in this country. Moreover, I believe it is only a matter of protocol which prevented our friends of the Roman Catholic Church from adding their signatures as well. It would, of course, be ridiculous to pretend that this is an ex cathedrâ statement, but would it not be equally impudent to suggest that these, who are the elected representatives of the Christian Church, are not entitled to represent to your Lordships a concerted sense of conviction and opinion which ought to weigh very heavily with your Lordships? For, after all, they are the accredited representatives of the Church, and should be in some. I think, authoritative, though not totalitarian, position to express what is its mind and heart. I find myself in entire agreement with their statement, but I would have preferred the last part of it to begin, not with the interrogative "if" but with a plain statement about sanctions themselves. But let us be grateful for small and, in my judgment, essentially Christian virtues.
1281 I should like, then, to go on to say something about the profoundly moving claim which the most reverend Primate made, that this is a moral disaster with which we are concerned, and to lay out in some detail facts about the degrading and, further, the worsening situation that has taken place since U.D.I. For it may be that your Lordships, though impressed by the generalisations and the particular reference (shall we say?) to education which the most reverend Primate was able to adduce, may feel that he was a little extravagant, perhaps, in his claim that the situation is worse, and is progressively worse. I believe he was completely right, and would suggest one or two pieces of information which may, as yet, not have come to your Lordships' notice. If they have, I apologise for them, but they have not been reflected on the comments made from the other side—and I venture to wonder whether Members of this House on the other side really know what is going on in Rhodesia at the present time.
Let me refer, in the first place, to a Bill which was before the Parliament of Rhodesia on November 9, and was passed. It is to provide for the registration of welfare organisations, and it makes it obligatory that any welfare organisation of any kind shall first be registered before it is entitled to operate. What is more, if there is any intention to contest the decision of a board, the only reference that can be made is to the Minister of Social Welfare. In other words, here is an extension, and not a diminution, of the Police State. Here is the restriction of every welfare organisation—and let me quote, if I may, one or two of the additional facts. The provision of all or any of the material, mental, physical or social needs of persons or families is prohibited unless it is registered and agreed. The rendering of charity to persons or families in distress is prohibited unless it is agreed by the board; also the provision of funds and other charitable objectives as may be included for destitute families, and provisions of other means for those who are in need. This is part of the progressive deterioration of a State which claims U.D.I. and then goes on to express what in fact were the intentions behind it.
If that is not sufficient, my Lords, may I quote from the Amendment to the Constitution of Rhodesia Act, 1965? If your Lordships will read Section 6, you will find that it is an almost entirely accurate 1282 copy of—and it is substantively the same in transcript—the similar law passed in South Africa. This is part of Section 6 which I would especially bring to your Lordships' notice, remembering that this has happened since U.D.I. It is the prohibition or regulation ofthe recording, reproducing, printing, publishing or disseminating by any person of…speeches, addresses, writings or statements by; or…photographs or pictures of; persons who are detained or restricted or who are released from detention or restriction subject to specified conditions…".This is another way of saying that you condemn these restrictees, and those who are in any way restrained, into limbo, and you make it entirely impossible for anybody to take any effective action even to represent their case.
This is an abomination, and it is about time it was recognised for what it is. I am sure noble Lords on the other side of the House, if they were aware of these matters, would not continue to harp on constitutional and procedural issues, as if these were the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is that we have a Police State which is worse than it was—and perhaps it is worse in principle because of U.D.I., which has given the instrument and power to those who first inaugurated it and intend to prosecute it to the eventual exclusion of any kind of universal democracy in Rhodesia.
May I add one other and equally important comment? I am a little sorry that the most reverend Primate has had to leave before this, because this is an addition to what he said about the effects of the Education Act. On April 9 of this year, the Minister of Education in Rhodesia spoke of secondary education; that is, education which can qualify for the "A"Roll—and this is the point. Somewhat generally people have been speaking, not only in this House but in many places, of the amount of money that has been expended on education in Rhodesia. That is perfectly true, but it is education of a primary nature; and the number of those who have the opportunity to acquire education up to the "A" status is 12½ per cent. of those who are Africans compared with 100 per cent. of those who are European. This was included in a statement made by the Education Minister himself. It is a further declination of the situation, and a further evidence of what I believe the barometer of the Christian Churches now 1283 in Rhodesia can demonstrate and can corroborate.
There has been division and bitterness because it has become apparent—all too clearly apparent since U.D.I. was proclaimed—that what is happening in Rhodesia to-day is a process analogous to that which has already happened in the South African Republic: a situation in which there are different and divergent means of education, and different status for the black and the white in order that, in the end, apartheid may be not a permanent segregation but an eternal or at least a consistent programme for the future. It is in this light that I believe we have to consider the more recent situation, and to look at it not with prophetic zeal. I notice that people have been wearing ill-fitting prophetic garments all over the place, and saying what is going to happen. I think your Lordships would much prefer that we made some assessment, if we can, on what already is the situation, and what normal and natural, rather than hypothetical, results are likely to flow from it.
The argument on the other side of this House apparently is that we should go on negotiating because there is at one and the same time a general agreement on principle but a disagreement on procedure. In the light of what has been happening in the last year, is it not factitious, indeed is it not facetious, to think that the agreement in principle is not the same thing, in the eyes of Mr. Smith, as his disagreement on procedure? For it is, in my judgement—and, I suggest, in the judgment of many others much more competent than I am to assess this matter—that what has happened is that Mr. Smith, like a great many other political alcoholics has been drunk with power for so long that he cannot live without it. He cannot live without it for the very obvious reason that if he tries to live without it he will not be able to prosecute the programme to which he is committed. That programme will be all right provided he is in the saddle. Incidentally, as was said in another place only yesterday, what sort of guarantee could be given to any African that if Mr. Smith were in the saddle the process of the application and explication of the present Constitution, or of an agreed Constitution, would be carried out?
1284 May I refer your Lordships to a letter from a very consequential authority, none other than Mr. Tom Beetham, Africa Secretary of the Conference of British Missionary Societies? This is no casual reference; and those who have known Mr. Beetham over the years will not fail to appreciate what he has to say. It is his conviction that any Royal Commission carried out by white people would he regarded with such suspicion in Africa, and particularly in Rhodesia, as to be non-effective. May I venture to read a little of what he says? It was in The Times last Saturday:Second, a Royal Commission would in practice constitute a betrayal of the plain words of the fifth principle.This may surprise some of your readers. Let them consider that Africans will not feel able to give their honest opinion to a body of Europeans, even if the majority, including the chairman, be British judges. They will see the Commission arrive, escorted by police under white officers. They will enter the building where the hearings are heard past more police. Inside they will note that the interpreters and the stenographers are employees of the white régime. In such circumstances, in a people conditioned by the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, few Africans will be brave enough to risk the consequences of speaking in opposition to a settlement which they know has been agreed already by the white authorities.Whether or not that is true, it becomes doubly cogent if, in fact, those who operate that Royal Commission will still be those in present control in Rhodesia.
Therefore I regard the situation as a moral situation which has deteriorated and, further, I believe that, though the economic possibilities of what will happen should not at the moment be derided as unimportant, they should take a secondary place to the consideration of what action we, as a responsible Government, ought to take. It may please certain noble Lords—though perhaps not for the same reasons that it pleases me—that I regard the use of violence and of force as utterly wrong. I do that as a pacifist. I confess to that faith and I am proud of it. But I recognise at the same time that there are illimitable and dangerous consequences of lighting a fire in any part of Africa. There is a real and pragmatic danger that it may prove a conflagration engulfing the whole of that Continent. Therefore I ask: are we committed to, and can we proceed to, negotiation?
1285 In the light of what I have just tried to say, in the deteriorating moral position, in the clear indication of the churches in South Africa, Rhodesia and others that the clear and unmistakable marks of approaching apartheid are already visible in Rhodesia, and have been accelerated since U.D.I., what is the point of further negotiation? I see no point in it at all. It seems to me that this is just a delaying tactic, because as yet the difficult and perhaps ugly alternatives are not faced.
I recognise the difficulty in which I find myself. If I am not prepared to use violence or to use force to correct what I believe to be a moral evil in a place for which I, with others, am responsible, I recognise also the kind of illiteracy which prevails in alternative programmes. We are an illiterate community in the West because we have so long confided in violence, and have therefore not taken adequate trouble to find out what are other and suitable means of social change. All right. I do not like sanctions. I should certainly not be in favour of them if they were committed in such way as to bring people to starvation. But here is a blunt, though, as I think, the only effective instrument, and I must find it in my heart to say "Yes" to it; even if at a later date those sanctions have to be modified and even if we cannot pre-view and see with any clarity what masks the final result.
I believe that this is the thing to do now; and I, for one, take some comfort from the fact that as a practising Christian I believe in living a day at a time. And I believe it is right now that we should apply this process of discriminatory selective sanctions. We do not know what they are. A great many of the more dubious prognostications, I think, are not justified. There is plenty of room for disagreement, but if we are to retain or recapture any sense of prestige that we have, in some people's minds, so irretrievably lost, if we can regain any of that respect from the African people, we must here and now, whatever the difficulties, embark on a programme which to them seems to be right and to them seem to be in the principles of justice.
My Lords, you have been very patient in listening to what is, after all, a cri de coeur. I found in Isaiah 54, verse 16, the following quotation: 1286Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work.I found that entertaining. I am not prepared to agree with the first part of it. But I believe that Smith is the man who is blowing the coals in the fire and not this Government. I also believe that U.D.I. is the instrument he has created for his work and not the work to which we in this country ought to be dedicated. Therefore, with a heavy heart, the next step seems to me to be the right one: that we should now proceed to selective sanctions. We should live a day at a time, but we should do everything in our power to persuade those to whom we are committed, in love as well as in justice, that we are seeking to do what is right and are unafraid of the consequences if we are once convinced it is right.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF EFFINGHAM
My Lords, on this not very happy occasion I rise to speak to a Motion put down by Her Majesty's Government which as a whole picture may contain many problems dominated by the masked spectre of mandatory sanctions to be applied, as laid down in Chapter VII, Articles 41 and 42, of the United Nations Charter, against Mr. Smith's illegal Government. With your Lordships' permission I am going to quote these two Articles. They are very short and they have been mentioned before. Article 41 says:The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.I should have thought that that was bad enough, but Article 42 says that:Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade and other operations by air, sea or land forces of Members of the United Nations.I cannot imagine anything being more ambiguous than this. In other words, the United Nations, when they take over from the United Kingdom, can apply any kind of force they so wish. I cannot, 1287 in any way, find an adequate excuse for the application, nor is there any historical example of the success of this sort of industrial blackmail. It can only end in doing the most harm to the coloured population, the very people that Her Majesty's Government are professing to wish to protect. Furthermore, I believe that if applied it will lead to even greater determination on the part of Mr. Smith's Government to resist to the very end what we are most anxious to achieve, and it can only lead to bitterness as its aftermath.
The Prime Minister has assured us that force will not be used. But once the United Nations have taken over from the United Kingdom, what guarantee have we that force will not be attempted by other African States against the people who came to our assistance in two World Wars on a far greater scale than their manpower warranted? No, my Lords, I cannot conceive of any reason why those of your Lordships who still think this sad state of affairs can be settled by agreement acceptable to both Governments could advocate the imposition of mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia and handing over a British problem to the United Nations with all its uncertainties.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, it falls to my lot to do something which I think that Members of your Lordships' House on both sides always enjoy doing. I have to express our appreciation to the noble Earl, Lord Effingham, on the maiden speech he has just delivered. To us somewhat newer Members of your Lordships' House it is always a particular pleasure to thank a maiden speaker because it gives us a feeling of seniority: we feel that we are moving up a little in the scale when we have the opportunity to congratulate someone a little newer than ourselves in coming to this Chamber. I am quite sure that all of us, on both sides of the Chamber, whether or not we are able to agree with what the noble Earl said, will greatly commend his courage in doing his best to make a non-controversial speech on such a very controversial subject. He did at least do it with great charm and in moderate tone, and I am sure we shall all look forward to hearing him again in the near future when he 1288 feels able to be not so moderate and to express his opinions—I was going to say even more clearly, but I may say even more forcefully. We enjoyed listening to the noble Earl very much indeed.
Almost exactly a year ago, in fact a year ago practically to the very day, December 7, I remember feeling great trepidation on rising to speak in this House. I think that all of us, whether we are experienced or not, always feel trepidation on rising in either House. But mine on that occasion was quite simply that I wondered whether those of your Lordships who have particular and first-hand knowledge of Rhodesia would feel that those of us who had not still had a contribution to make. My Lords, I felt then, and I feel very much to-day, that there is a contribution to be made in a debate of this nature on behalf of the many thousands of people outside either House of Parliament who have not first-hand knowledge of Rhodesia, but who very definitely have something they would like to say on this matter. It seemed to me then, and it seems to me even more so to-day, in view of the position in which we find ourselves, that there is a place for our contributions.
I listened very carefully, as have the rest of your Lordships, to what has been said to-day, and I think we feel that this is a matter of right and wrong. It is a matter of moral responsibility, on which the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke so movingly, and there is something with which I am very much concerned, as I am quite sure are others in your Lordships' House, too. It is the ethics of honourable behaviour by Opposition and Government in this country. I feel very strongly about this, and it is on this matter that I want to speak to-day.
I should like to say, first of all, that in speaking of the conduct of the Opposition on this particular matter I should like to separate the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury—and I propose to say why—from what I am going to say next. It is quite impossible for anybody to be a Member of this House for long without knowing of the great respect, the affection and esteem in which the noble Marquess is held in this House. I certainly include myself in that feeling. Having said that, I would go on to say that I do not think 1289 anybody in this Chamber would have expected the noble Marquess to say anything different from what he did say, whether to-day, yesterday or in the future. This is something which, to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, is even more of a cri de cæur than the noble Lord, Lord Soper, said were his feelings a moment or two ago.
But the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, who are the two official spokesmen for the Opposition in to-day's debate, are, I am quite convinced, held by us all in considerable respect—I wish my noble friend on the Front Bench would stop muttering. It is very off-putting to those of us behind.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
That is quite all right. I have nearly forgotten where I was—I was saying nice things about the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, is now in charge "over the way", but I am wondering whether, when the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, comes to reply tonight, he can make some comment on one or two points which I wish to raise. It is not that they are important in that they come from me personally, but they do cause me great concern, and have caused me great concern, in arguing with Conservative friends outside this House. I am very distressed by the attitude the Opposition have taken up on this matter, both in this Chamber and in another place, and I should like to ask one or two questions about this.
My Lords, on November 27, last, the Sunday Times, in an editorial, said this—and I want to quote it because it is very short:Both Conservative and Socialist Governments stand pledged, for reasons of honour and self-interest, to certain things, which do not include the right of the White Rhodesians to keep a permanent check on the rate and scale of African advancement—the very core of the present differences between London and Salisbury.In the debate in another place yesterday, as reported in col. 1376 of Hansard, 1290 the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Bowden, spoke of the "braking mechanism"—which was the description Mr. Smith himself gave—for checking the advancement of the Africans to majority rule when, in the opinion of the Government of the day, that became necessary. Mr. Maudling, speaking yesterday in another place, seemed to imply that he thought Mr. Smith had now removed that "braking mechanism". I can only go to column 1379 in the OFFICIAL REPORT of yesterday's debate when Mr. Bowden, speaking of this slight advancement by Mr. Smith, said that just before they left "Tiger" Mr. Smith…came back to that point,"—that is the point of the braking mechanism—which would seem to indicate that he was still unhappy with the proposed changes."—[OFFICE REPORT, Commons, Vol. 737 (No. 112), col. 1379; 7/12/66.]I have just been saying some very nice things about the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, in the hope that I shall get a reply from the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, on this matter when he winds up the debate. It does seem, in the opinion of Mr. Bowden, that this braking mechanism had not been satisfactorily settled. Now I go on to what the Prime Minister had to say on December 6, two days ago, in his broadcast. I wish to make only three points, and it is again on this particular matter of responsibility by Government and Opposition in our democracy that I want to mention them. Mr. Wilson said:We had to agree on the Constitution which would operate in an independent Rhodesia and which would guarantee beyond all doubt that the principles laid down by the previous British Government and by ourselves would be honoured.And contrary, perhaps, to what noble Lords opposite have done, I put the words "previous British Government" in red on my notes, so that they would leap to my eyes. But I think there is no doubt that both Governments, Conservative and Labour, did make this point.
I suggest, my Lords, that chief among these was the guarantee that while, almost for the first time in our history, a British country would secure independence with only a minority of its people having the 1291 right to vote, steady and unimpeded progress to ultimate democratic majority rule would be ensured. I am sure that there is not a Member of your Lordships' House opposite, whether on the Front Bench or on the Back Benches, who would not agree that those two points that I have been making were laid clown by the previous Conservative Government and by the present Labour one. There is, obviously, no doubt about that.
The other requirement was that Rhodesia must first return to legality. This was necessary to honour another vital principle—and this again was one on which successive British Governments had insisted: the principle that before the British Parliament could be asked to confer independence on Rhodesia the new Independence Constitution should be shown to be acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole, of all political views, and of all races.
I wonder if I may ask the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, whether he would help me on this point—I do not know whether I am treading on dangerous ground. He spoke about the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I know the knowledge of the noble Lord on these matters and I have none at all; but what I cannot sort out is this. I understood from what I read, and was told, and heard, that at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference it was only by the utmost tenacity of the Prime Minister, for which he was considerably reviled, that something much stronger did not come out of that Conference.
I am willing to be corrected if I am wrong, but I understood that it was only because Mr. Wilson insisted, with the help of very few Commonwealth Prime Ministers, that we got out of that Conference as moderate a recommendation as we did. I am not saying whether other people think it moderate or not, but I believe that it is. I believe that if Mr. Wilson had not taken the stand he did, we should not have got the moderate statement we did. To people who want to quarrel with this, I suggest that we cannot have it both ways. If there is a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference and a vote on policy, and by a great majority a decision is made, I want to know whether the Opposition of the 1292 day—in this case it happens to be the Conservative Opposition—say we should either dismantle the Commonwealth or ignore the majority decision the Prime Ministers have arrived at.
§ LORD HARLECH
My Lords, that part of the Communiqué was not agreed by other Prime Ministers. That was a statement of the British Government's position.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, it is quite a new departure to have majorities in the Commonwealth. Until recently it was done as a consensus of opinion. That is a very radical departure which I, for one, greatly deplore.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
This was a strong consensus, and I do not think we can go on ignoring the consensus of opinion of such a Conference and doing nothing about it. There is no doubt that this is a world issue, and what has been puzzling me for a long time, and people I have met, is what the Conservative Opposition would do if they were in power. It is just not true to say that taking this question of mandatory sanctions to the United Nations is the same thing as transferring the whole problem to the United Nations. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, did not say that; but it is something that has been said very often. And I shall be able to show my Conservative friends in the country, with Hansard, that the noble Lord indicated dissent when I made that statement just now.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I should hate to think that my dissent meant that I was agreeing with the theme of what the noble Lady was saying. I think the noble Lady will agree, if she re-reads what I said yesterday, that my fear was that, as a result of introducing a resolution to the Security Council, the Government would lose control over what happens in the Rhodesian crisis. That was my point.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I am quite aware of that, but it has not been the point of view of the Press supporting the Conservative Party over the past few weeks—for which the noble Lord was not responsible. I feel greatly honoured that I am at least drawing some blood from the 1293 Opposition Front Bench. I wonder what the Conservatives would do if they were the Government. We heard something about this yesterday. I believe that we have a first-class Press. I think the best in the world, but I am sure that everybody knows that if one is present at a ceremony or a meeting and then reads afterwards in one particular paper what has happened, and has not the good fortune to read several, one finds that the report and one's recollections are completely different.
With regard to the speech made in another place yesterday by Mr. Maudling, obviously we can take our pick.
The Sun said:Mr. Reginald Maudling, trapped by his own Conservative Party and by an angry Prime Minister, gave the unhappiest performance of his career in an explosive Rhodesia debate in the Commons last night.The Daily Express said:In his most devastating form, Mr. Maudling spelled out exactly how such a step must mean…The Times spoke of Mr. Maudling, perhaps thinking of Francis Chichester, as "a dismasted schooner". Obviously we can all take our choice of the terms which appeal to us. Mr. Maudling was not really getting on very well yesterday, when he unfortunately said that this had all boiled down—
My Lords, may I remind the noble Lady that we do not quote anybody but Ministers in another place and I think that we generally try to refrain from criticism.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
I am sorry, my Lords, but I was not quoting directly. I thought that it was permissible to make a statement about what was said in another place.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I speak in the presence of some old and distinguished Members of the House and past Leaders of the House. I certainly agree that, if pressed, a speaker here is not supposed to quote anybody who is not a Minister in another place, but the habit of paraphrasing them is used freely. I do not think that any noble Lord has ever felt inhibited from criticising altogether speakers in another place, whether they he Ministers or not. I think we try to avoid acrimony. But I 1294 believe that it would make life very difficult here if—and I speak subject to correction—no one were allowed to refer in a critical way to speeches made in another place.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, as an old Member of the House of Commons I would say that one can quote Ministers, because, odd as it may seem, Ministers' statements are supposed to be pronouncements of policy on which one can rely. Therefore they are quotable, in inverted commas. It is always quite in order to refer to a speech made in another place by paraphrasing with reasonable accuracy what was said.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I am most grateful to the House. I think that those who are not fortunate enough to be Members of the House miss a great deal. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, if my paraphrasing sounded like a quotation, but I was paraphrasing and I am now going on to paraphrase again. When Mr. Maudling was speaking yesterday about what should be done, and saying that he thought that the Government's proposition had fallen down because of some minor details, he was asked a very relevant question—and I am going to paraphrase the question—as to whether he thought it was a minor matter that Mr. Smith had refused to end his rebellion, to stop his censorship, to dismantle his police State or to close his concentration camps. Mr. Maudling did not give an answer to that question.
In common with the rest of your Lordships, I heard the whole of Mr. Maudling's speech yesterday. I may be wrong here but I have again read what he said in Hansard to-day, and I cannot find—I do not know whether noble Lords opposite can find—any reference in Mr. Maudling's statement about what the Conservative Opposition think should be done if Mr. Smith refused to accept the findings of the Royal Commission that Mr. Maudling himself was proposing. I thought this was so incredible, and I wondered why some members on the Government Back Benches yesterday, when they had a chance of putting a question, did not ask it. But I did not hear then, and I cannot find in Hansard—I will willingly sit down if any noble 1295 Lord opposite knows where it is and can tell the column number—
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Lady, but I think it is evident from what she says that she misunderstood Mr. Maudling's proposal. The whole point of the proposal was that, on the one hand, sanctions would be continued all the time; on the other hand, Mr. Smith's Government (or, if I console the noble Lady's feelings, Mr. Smith's régime) would still be independent. So if he rejected the findings of the Royal Commission, there would be no change in the situation: the position of the Government would not have worsened, and the position of the regime also would not have worsened. Things would have remained the same.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I have great respect for the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, but I do not agree with him. I do not think I misunderstood it in the slightest, and I can find no reference to this matter. This is, I believe, very germane to what the Opposition are putting forward. The Commonwealth Secretary, Mr. Bowden, yesterday in the House (and I may quote him, as he is a member of the Government) specifically told us that when he asked Mr. Smith what he would do if the findings of the Royal Commission went against him—whether he would again declare U.D.I.—Mr. Smith said: "Yes; I would have no alternative." U.D.I. has been condemned by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who opened this debate to-day, and it was condemned by Mr. Maudling in the House of Commons yesterday. I want to ask the Opposition whether they will tell Members on this side—because it certainly puzzles me—if Mr. Smith has said that if the findings of the Royal Commission went against him he would have no alternative but to declare U.D.I. again, where they stand on this.
May I go on from there? We all stand by the Six Principles. But, my Lord, do the Opposition really contend that the acceptance of these Six Principles by Mr. Smith, without the guarantee that they would eventually be enforced, is something which the Government could accept? Would the 1296 Opposition accept it? I will sit down if the noble Lord wishes to say something.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
The noble Lord is getting very restive Would the Opposition accept the guarantee or statement by Mr. Smith that he accepts the Six Principles, but that he is not going to abandon his position while these are being inquired into, and that if the decision goes against him he is just not going to play and will declare U.D.I. again?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, it is rather an unusual thing to conduct a debate in this House by interrogation. What we usually do is to ask the Opposition a number of questions, and in due course, when they come to make their speeches, they can answer. I hope the noble Lady will not think that because I do not interrupt her every time she asks a question, which is very often, there is no answer, or that we have not got an answer.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
I am getting far more answers than I thought; and I shall listen with great attention at the end of the debate, however late it is, to what the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, has to say. But I want an answer to the question I have just asked.
I believe that the Prime Minister went as far as was politically possible for him to go in this last effort to bring about a settlement. As to that, I think there is no doubt at all. As the House knows, Mr. Smith was not even willing to accept the idea of a broadly based interim Government containing members including Africans. I wonder whether this would be acceptable to the Opposition. Those of us who were present yesterday heard Mr. Bowden tell the incredible story (it is column 1381 of the Commons Hansard), that when they discussed this interim Government with Mr. Smith they discussed actual names, and they were agreed to by Mr. Smith, but that when reports were made from Salisbury none of the names they discussed appeared in them. This would, at least, appear to be a little odd.
May I go back (I am not choosing Labour papers, and I have nearly 1297 finished now) to the Sunday Times of November 27. They said:Another line, which will presumably be the official Tory argumentet cetera. They said that Mr. Smithshould be left to stew in his own juice…—the Opposition have not said that—with existing sanctions taking their slow toll, but without recourse to further sanctions under the United Nations".This was suggested yesterday in another place, and I think it has been said also to-day. What the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said rather followed the prophecy of the Sunday Times:Meantime strenuous efforts should he made to keep negotiations going"—as though eighteen or more months had not already been fruitlessly spent on just this task. The Sunday Times thought:This attitude is rather like that of the ruler of seventeenth century Japan, who believed that the way to deal with difficult situations was not to look at them and they would go away.Does the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, really believe that after eighteen months of negotiations there is anything more to be said at the present stage?
What the Sunday Times said at the end—I do not know whether the Opposition accept this; and it was this that distressed me—was this:It is a position which is permissible, if not particularly honourable for the Opposition; impossible for any Government.I think—and I appreciate that I am only one, and a relatively new, Member of this House—that the position and attitude of the Opposition on this particular matter is not one which commends itself to the highest traditions of Parliamentary procedure. The Economist, on December 3, said:There remain the Conservatives. It seemed this week as if Mr. Heath and Mr. Maudling had made up their minds to lead the centre and right of their party into outright opposition to mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia. It may be that Mr. Wilson's manoeuvres will yet save them from this embarrassment. It is to be hoped so. The reason why Mr. Heath and Mr. Maudling have been moving towards their right wing is clear enough. They have to hold the Party together, to avoid the repetition of that terrible three-way split last December 21st. But if these talks fail and the Tories then implicitly reject the principles that they upheld in office they will deserve severe censure.I believe, as the Prime Minister said on Tuesday, that it was a generous settlement that we offered Rhodesia; and I 1298 remember that the Prime Minister said that never in his lifetime had Britain been prepared to offer independence to a country before it had reached a stage of majority rule. He could have done no more. We on this side of the House, and many outside, are proud of his efforts, and regret that he did not succeed.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, there is little in the agreeable speech of the noble Lady with which I can agree, except on one thing, and that is to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Effingham, on his maiden speech. We are all delighted that he (I think I am right in saying this) succeeded in restoring his earldom and his right to sit in this House. Certainly he has commended himself to-day most thoroughly by showing that he has already mastered what many of us regard as the two first principles of speeches in this House: the first, that they should be brief; and the second, that they should be to the point. Both those principles he has discharged in full.
I should have been quite content to-day to cast a silent vote, though a very definite vote, on the issue upon which we shall divide to-night. But having had for a number of years a large responsibility for Rhodesia (the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and I shared the responsibility for some time, and at other times had it in succession) I feel that perhaps I owe a duty to the House quite briefly to give my views, and also to try to help your Lordships through the maze of verbiage, communiqués and formulæ with which I say this question has become bogged down. If we can thread our way through this jungle, I think the facts and the issues become pretty clear.
Let me leave the noble Lady opposite in no doubt (I do not speak for the Party; I am no longer a leader, but I was not turned out) where I stand on the position of U.D.I., and I will come to what I should do in a moment. I said at the time, and I am still definitely of the opinion, that U.D.I. was unquestionably an illegal act. I also said, and I still think, that it was not merely an illegal act; it was a foolish act, because under their 1961 Constitution the Rhodesian Government had practically everything and nobody could interfere with them. They had complete power, 1299 and therefore I think they were foolish as well. It follows from that that I am clearly of opinion that it is right that the Rhodesian Government—and it is the Government of Rhodesia, whatever people may say about it, under Mr. Smith, which declared U.D.I.—should, if I may so phrase it (I believe I use more or less a legal term) purge its illegality by returning to constitutional rule. Again, I use the word "illegality" deliberately, because quite frankly I decline in this connection to use the word "rebellion", which I regard as lawyers' jargon.
There was, and I think still is, a perfectly simple way of doing that. Mr. Smith could go to the Governor and say: "I acknowledge your position as the Queen's representative. I am prepared to tender to you my resignation as Prime Minister, and if I am invited to form a new Government I will do so and abide by the 1961 Constitution until we agree upon a new one under which Independence will come into force. "In fact, the terms of that Constitution have been practically agreed, and that seems to me to be a most remarkable achievement. It seems to me that the Government are now trying to whittle that down. But I think it is a tremendous achievement, and I would hazard a guess that that achievement owes not a little to the presence of the Governor and of the Chief Justice, who have been not only towers of strength, but also pillars of wisdom, if that is a correct expression, through this whole business. The Governor could then accept Mr. Smith's resignation and forthwith commission him to form a new Government which, not by a diktat from Whitehall—which is really what the White Paper is—but because it was consonant with Rhodesian opinion, would be able to include a number of other persons who are not in the Government today, make it broader based, and not only more acceptable here but, I believe, more acceptable also in Rhodesia.
It is a very simple proposition. I do not know whether it was considered, but that without doubt would be a definite and a straightforward return to constitutional rule. Was that ever tried? If not, why not? If the noble Baroness will allow me to say so. it is perhaps even more appropriate for Back Benchers on this side of the House to put questions to 1300 the Government than to put them to the Opposition. Instead of that, Rhodesia was told that they must accept what in effect is Crown Colony Government for an indefinite period. The noble Marquess was challenged by the Leader of the House for making that allegation. I wholeheartedly endorse what the noble Marquess said. After all, I really do know what Colonial Government is when I see it. I was Secretary of State for the Colonies for a number of years when the whole of the Crown Colonies were under Crown Colony Government, and so I think I really do know.
I have read and re-read the White Paper, the Prime Minister's various statements, and also the latest hand-out—I do not use an offensive term; I think that is the correct description of something given by an Office to the Press—from the Commonwealth Office on this subject. I am bound to say that I do not find it altogether easy to reconcile these different documents. But, after reading them separately and together, I am still left firmly of the opinion that this is Crown Colony Government.
Just look at what is proposed, because I think it is important that we should realise that. If we do not, we cannot realise why—what is condemned so roundly from that side of the House—it was rejected by Mr. Smith and his colleagues. It is proposed thatThe Rhodesian Parliament shall be dissolved.It was to be dissolved by the Governor proprio motu, not in accordance with the recognised constitutional principle, not by advice of the Prime Minister tendered to the Governor. It is quite true that a Governor is representative of the Monarchy, and it is an unusual thing to refuse a dissolution or to refuse at once to give a dissolution. But what is quite unique is that the Monarch, in this case the Queen's representative, on his own and without any reference to his Prime Minister should dissolve Parliament.
It is next said:Legislative and administrative power will be vested in the Governor.It is said that he will act on the advice of Ministers. But he need not do so: there is nothing to compel him to; they are merely advisers. This is no reflection, let me say at once, on Sir Humphrey 1301 Gibbs, who is a very old friend of mine and a man for whom I have the greatest admiration—I am dealing now with the position of the Governor qua Governor, whoever he may be. He need not act on the advice of Ministers: the power is in him. And observe, my Lords, that even assuming he does act on the advice of Ministers, they are not selected by the Prime Minister. The Ministers are selected by the Governor. Clause 13 of the White Paper Independence Constitution says:This Government will be appointed by the Governor in his discretion.Not even appointed by the Prime Minister; not necessarily recommended by the Prime Minister. Surely that is tantamount to the Executive Council of a Crown Colony in the old days, when I knew 40 or 50 Crown Colonies and was responsible for them: an Executive Council appointed by the Governor of the Colony, composed of people he thought would be suitable, to be dismissed by him whenever he thought fit; their advice to be sought, but entirely at the discretion of the Governor.
Then, as my noble friend pointed out, the Governor will control the Armed Forces and the police. It is quite true that there is to be an Advisory Defence Council. They may advise; but where is the power? Again, it is in the Governor. If there was one problem that used to come up over and over again in regard to Constitutions, as my noble friend will remember, it was the problem that used to arise about India about who should have control of the police. It came up in Bengal, for instance. If ever there is an attribute of authority and governing power, surely it is security and the control of law and order. If this proposal is not tantamount to Crown Colony government, then I do not know what it is. Your Lordships will also observe that it is to continue for an entirely indefinite time. I may observe, incidentally, that none of these powers will work unless all the people to be controlled and ordered about and administered voluntarily come under the Governor's administration.
Observe, too, that this Crown Colony government is to be imposed on a country which has not been subject to Crown Colony government for more than forty years, if ever. In the early 1920s Rhodesia was offered a free choice—and 1302 I think the people had a referendum to decide it: the free choice of whether they should join the Union of South Africa or should be, not a Crown Colony but a self-governing Colony. They voted (and I am proud that they did, although I do not think they would do so to-day) to be a self-governing Colony. While there was, it is true, the technical power of veto in the Secretary of State for the Commonwealth, it was never exercised; and observe, again, that this self-governing Colony was never put under the Colonial Office. It was deliberately put with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in order to emphasise its special and peculiar position. There was this theoretical power of veto, but it was never exercised. My noble friend never exercised it; I never exercised it, and indeed no one ever exercised it. I can tell your Lordships exactly why. One reason was that Rhodesia had the great good luck to enjoy more than twenty years of Huggins (now the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern) as Prime Minister, and owing to his wisdom there could never really be any question of exercising that power of veto.
But the matter does not stop there. Under the 1961 Constitution even that conventional power of veto in the Secretary of State was abolished: it does not exist at all to-day. For that was substituted the Constitutional Council, with a right of appeal to the Privy Council. Let me remind your Lordships of this, because it is too often forgotten. It is assumed that all this would be unpopular with Africans. Not at all. This proposal to substitute the Constitutional Council for the Secretary of State was put, in terms—not in general principles but in absolute detail—to the Constitutional Conference which contained the eight delegations representing all the people of Rhodesia: black, white, coloured—everybody. And all eight delegations accepted this as an entirely satisfactory solution.
Let me add another point. It is one which I find in conversation is not generally known, but it emphasises the peculiar position of this self-governing Colony. Every Imperial Conference (they were called Imperial Conferences in those days, and not "Commonwealth Conferences" and I am not sure that baptismal regeneration has made for more harmonious relations) was attended 1303 by the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, not because the British Government told him to attend but by the resolution of what were then the self-governing Dominions who said, "We must have Rhodesia here with us".
It did not end there. I do not want to speak for too long, but I think this would interest the House. When the Federation was established and Lord Malvern became Prime Minister of the Federation, having been Prime Minister of Rhodesia, I myself wrote to every one of the Commonwealth countries who were members of the Commonwealth Conference, including India and Pakistan, and said, "Would it be your wish that Lord Malvern, as Prime Minister of the Federation, should continue to attend the Commonwealth Conference, as he has done in the past as Prime Minister of Rhodesia?" Every one of those Prime Ministers, said, "Most definitely, yes", and he did attend it. In the face of all that, how could any Rhodesian Government be expected to accept Crown Colony Government in place of that special position?
I believe that agreement can still be reached on the lines I have suggested: Mr. Smith going to the Governor, handing in his cap and jacket (if I may so put it), being commissioned to form the new Government and returning to constitutional rule. I do not claim any particular virtue in that copyright, but it seems very simple. There may be other ways. But do not let us close the door. After all Mr. Smith himself has said that no doors are closed. Why not try again?
This is Britain's responsibility; it remains so. I will not go into the point again because it was established so very clearly by my noble friend Lord Salisbury. We should certainly never have gone to the United Nations on this domestic matter. By doing that we have abdicated on an issue which was reserved to us by the Charter. The Prime Minister says he hopes to control it. He may hope, but what reliance can we put on that hope? Once he has sent the matter to UNO it has passed out of his hands. We have already seen that the Afro-Asian bloc are pressing for sanctions which the Government know would be disastrous.
1304 I found the speech of my noble friend Lord Salter this afternoon enormously impressive. Pace the noble and reverend Lord, Lord Soper, who said that this is irrelevant, I would say that he must try to look at things with a more balanced mind. Far be it from me, or I am sure from my noble friend, to say that we are not bound to have regard to all moral considerations; but to say that financial considerations, economic ruin, have no place in this debate is very odd. If South Africa and Portugal become involved, and maybe there is armed intervention, that way disaster lies. If all this is put forward, what will the Government do? Exercise the veto? What a position to be put into! You go to the United Nations, you abdicate to the United Nations, you put up proposals to the United Nations; they turn down the proposals and tell you and other countries to go and do something quite different. What do you do? You either have to take that lying down or you make yourselves ridiculous and unpopular—and it would be the better way out—by exercising the veto.
There is still time. There is time to draw back before we are all engulfed. We are told there is a deadline. I have always thought firm dates were pretty dangerous things except in the past—1066, and all that—but not looking forward; it is very dangerous to fix dates. Why should there be a deadline? To talk about a deadline as if you have to get your money on before the 3 o'clock race starts really is not sense and is not responsible. This is, it remains, Britain's responsibility, and the Prime Minister's first duty is to Britain, Great Britain. Let the Government try again.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD GARDINER)
The noble Earl raised a number of questions. I did not like to interrupt, but he will find the answers to his questions in Article 45 of the Rhodesian Constitution, which provides that the Governor, in his discretion, may dissolve Parliament; the Governor, in his discretion, may appoint the Prime Minister, and will otherwise act on the advice of his Council or of the appropriate Ministers. It is not a question of Crown Colony rule; it is the Constitution of Rhodesia.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
That seems to answer only about one of the five 1305 points, and I should certainly like to see what are the conditions in which it is contemplated the Governor will take this unusual action. It is not suggested that this is the normal course the Governor would take, vis-à-vis a Prime Minister.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, it is clearly not for me to try to answer all these formidable questions. We have had some very interesting autobiographical reminiscences from the noble Earl, and also a very fine excursion back to the end of the eighteenth century by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who told us that treason now is not what it was in Burke's day. It may be worthwhile to recall what the Attorney General did say about it, because it is the law as it is now which will or will not punish people who may be guilty of treason, and one does not want to lure them into it.
This is what my right honourable and learned friend said on November 12, 1965: He pointed out that he could not indicate any conclusion on criminal law in any individual case—and of course none of us here would do that—and then he went on:But it is right that I should point out in general terms that there is abundant authority for the conclusion that conduct of the kind that has taken place"—that was U.D.I.—is treasonable. So would be steps taken by anyone whether in Rhodesia or in this country, or by anyone else owing allegiance to the Crown, with the intention of furthering the objectives of the illegal régime or inciting others to take such steps."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 720, col. 516; 12/11/65.]All I need say about that is that it seems to me very different from what it was at the time when Burke was speaking, and I prefer the law as expounded by the Attorney General of the day as a test of criminal liability to the law according to Burke one and a half centuries ago.
I really am sorry for the Tory Party; I get waves of sympathy for them. We have had a lot of experience in the Labour Party about papering over cracks, and there are so many cracks visible to-day in the Party of noble Lords opposite that it must be awfully hard work trying to paper them all over. I listened with fascinated interest to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. I did not know what 1306 was coming at the end of it all; and what came at the end of it all was that we should have some more talks. That is the only suggestion I have been able to discover from every noble Lord who has spoken opposite. Some have tried to indicate what the talks ought to be about, and some have not; but that is all.
One has to remember, however, that the most persistent efforts have been made for over a year past, first of all to get talks, and secondly to get the talks any further; and it was not until a very short time ago, when Mr. Herbert Bowden went to Salisbury, that Mr. Smith budged an inch. And then they had the talks on the "Tiger". The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and others have been talking as though the talks resulted in agreement. They resulted in a quite clear statement by the British Government what they were willing to do and what they suggested as the settlement. They expected Mr. Smith to arrive, as apparently he had said he was going to, with powers to conclude agreement. He had no such powers; and from the whole of the description given by Mr. Herbert Bowden in another place one sees that the thing was simply, from Mr. Smith's point of view, an exploratory essay. At least it ended as that, but I am not clear what went on in Smith's mind. My own conclusion about the man is that he is very weak and quite untrustworthy, and I will tell your Lordships why.
In another place Mr. Bowden said—I am quoting from the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Commons of yesterday:I suggested to Mr. Smith…that if he had to take the document back he could perhaps agree, when we had finished our work on the document—and there was still a little work to do—to tell us whether he could or could not commend it to his colleagues.It was signed without commitment, your Lordships remember.His reply was that he did not think that an unreasonable request"—Nor do I—and he would advise us before he left the ship if he could do that. Within the last 20 minutes before he was due to leave H.M.S. 'Tiger' his answer to that question, which I regarded as a straight question, was rather mysterious. He said to me and my colleagues, I must think about it because I cannot yet convince myself'."—[OFFICE REPORT, Commons, Vol. 737 (No. 112), col. 1380; 7/12/66.]That is not a very strong answer. It does not indicate a man who apparently is 1307 able to deal with his own colleagues in the illegal régime. My interpretation of this remark is that, whatever Smith thought about the proposal when he first arrived, by the end of the journey he had begun to entertain grave doubts as to whether he could put it over, and he decided that he must not seek to amend it too much, or counter-propose anything, or he might get into trouble.
The result was that at the end of the journey this party on the "Tiger" dispersed, with the British Government having said quite clearly what they thought was the right solution, having got Smith to agree in detail to all sorts of things about it, but quite non-committally, and latterly, at any rate, with the intention not even to commend it to his colleagues. What a man to deal with! Then he goes back to Salisbury, and what he does then (I am not going to trouble your Lordships with the details; they were clear enough in Mr. Bowden's speech) is to issue what is obviously a completely false account on a good many things that happened.
If that is the position, it is not the first time that Mr. Smith has been considerably at variance with members of the British Government about what was said or done on some important occasion. If that is indeed the position, is it much use going back and talking to him? Is it much use getting anything out of him? It does not seem to me possible to get far with a man like that. I know that he is in power, but to approach this problem, which is a serious and grave one—it is, as somebody rightly said, a tragedy—with the uncomfortable knowledge that we are dealing with a man who is de facto the head of Rhodesia and, being so, cannot be relied upon; and, being so, does not appear at all able to cope with his own colleagues, does not make matters any better; it makes them worse. It does not encourage one to go on talking especially when all the suggestions about what is going to be said are quite different.
I agree entirely with every word that was said both by the most reverend Primate and, from an entirely different angle but in exactly the same sense, by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Eskan. They said the same thing in substance, 1308 and I entirely agree with them. It is simply because the Tory Party has got itself into such an awful mess over this business that they start talking about talking again, and trying this and trying that, and they all have different suggestions, each inconsistent with each other. I do not particularly mind their mess, but in a way I am sorry because they used to be a great political Party.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Believe me, my Lords, the Tory Party is not getting itself into nearly so much of a mess as the Labour Party at present.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, that is the noble Marquess's opinion. Mine is the one I have just stated, and I repeat it. They used to be a really considerable Party. They used to have views, too, about important questions which were really dependent on the merits and not on questions of protocol—"the jungle", as the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, called it. He then, having called it a "jungle", put up an even better jungle, I thought, of his own. But that is neither here nor there.
Let us come back to the main point which is this. Not only is the Government in Rhodesia an illegal Government, but it does not represent at present the Rhodesians. It may represent the white Rhodesians, but they are a small minority, and they are holding their power and their primacy in a Police State by force. They are interning their inhabitants, they are denying to the people of Rhodesia any education worth having unless they are white people—and I say that with some knowledge of what is going on. They let them go some way, but not far enough. It is exactly the same as the detested Bantu education in South Africa, which is one of the most hated instruments for maintaining apartheid. This is an apartheid in Rhodesia, and nothing else.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, the noble Lord referred to the Bantu education in South Africa. Is he not aware that the money spent on and the standard reached in the Bantu education in South Africa is higher than in any other part of the African Continent?
§ LORD MITCHISON
No. My information is directly contrary to that. My wife goes month after month to 1309 Botswana and she has met people who have run from South Africa because they could not stand their children being cribbed and confined by the doctrine of Bantu education, because the white is always and in all circumstances better than the black.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I am sorry but again I cannot refrain from interrupting the noble Lord. If he searches international statistics regarding the point that I have just made he will find that his representation now is completely erroneous.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, I do not think it would be profitable or useful to conduct a controversy with the noble Lord across the Floor in regard to this matter. I can see from the grin on his face that we agree on that one, at any rate. If I may take this on a step further, one question here is: Can these people maintain white supremacy in Rhodesia? The real question is: How long can they maintain it, and how much damage are they going to do in the process?
The substantial risk is not only in Rhodesia; it is in the rest of Africa, too. If this goes on as it is going on at present, and Smith and his jolly colleagues manage to keep their position, with all their enemies interned, the children starved of education and the black inhabitants of Rhodesia kept well under their thumbs like that, then it is going to have a had effect on the rest of Africa, whether it is South Africa on the one hand, or the emergent States in Africa somewhere else. You cannot deny people freedom indefinitely, whatever the colour of their skins. You cannot deprive them like that. Sooner or later, they are going to come out on top, and it is hopeless to suppose that this kind of situation can go on indefinitely. But it may go on long enough to do damage to the country, to the cause of freedom and democracy in the world, and to the decencies of civilised life, and it may be difficult indeed to remedy.
I share, I hope, with other noble Lords some belief in the possibilities of man. We have never attained them to the full. They may be harder and harder to achieve in these times where our opportunities, in one sense, are much larger, and in another are so much more difficult to use. This 1310 is a case where a changing world has brought about a problem that is comparatively manageable, and in my submission it is quite clear where the right in this matter is. I am not talking about these particular negotiations. I am talking about the broad problem. Indeed, I find it difficult to see how any of your Lordships can take another view. You cannot in 1966 really believe that a white man by virtue of his being white, is better than any African. You cannot believe that all African States are hopeless propositions. You cannot believe that chaos is going to spread over a Continent unless you have strict white control and Police States here and there. You cannot really believe in apartheid. I wish we could, in this debate at any rate, stick to what is the real, deep point in this matter, whether a civilised man can in fact cope with his environment and get the better of his prejudices, and do the decent and right thing.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I rise, oddly enough, to speak on the Motion before the House. That Motion asks us to say that the House endorses the decision of Her Majesty's Government, et cetera, and commends various things. Our line on this Motion must depend, if we are honest, on our view about its merits. The one thing missing, it seems to me, from every speech made in favour of this Motion this afternoon was any argument that the selective sanctions proposed were likely to bring about any of the results that anybody desires. I think that is the point.
Let me say at once that, of course, I agree that the problem presented by Rhodesia is a difficult one. I would add that I am not at all without sympathy for some of the problems of the Ministers who have tried to cope with it. I have no doubt of the honourable intentions of the Secretary of State who made the first speech in another place yesterday; I had the pleasure of serving in the Commons with him and we all entertained a very high opinion of him.
There were two reasons why I nearly decided not to intervene in this debate. The first is that, unlike so many noble Lords, I have no direct experience of Rhodesia and I have never gone there; but I have a great many friends who have 1311 visited that country. They have spoken to me about it, and I can only say that, as a result of what they have told me, in the last two years I found that I have been much more able to forecast events there than the Government seem able to do. The Government constantly made confident declarations about what was going to happen quite soon. It never did. But what my friends told me they thought or feared would happen generally did. I am reinforced in speaking, notwithstanding the disadvantage that I have never visited the country, by the really admirable maiden speech which we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, who made, I think by general consent, one of the best maiden speeches which any of us has heard in Parliament. What he told us certainly agrees with such information as I have received. The other reason why I hesitated to intervene was that I expressed my opinion on this problem in the great debate we had on November 15 last year, to which reference has already been made. The noble Earl the Leader of the House quoted the Leader of the Opposition with approval for what he said in that debate. If I may, I will refer a little later to what I said.
The reason I intervene notwithstanding these two facts is that I believe the proposals now before the House and the country are both morally wrong and disastrous in practice. In making that statement, may I make it absolutely clear that I am not attacking the bona fides of the noble Earl the Leader of the House or of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. Indeed, as I said at the time in the debate on November 15 last year, I thought he made one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard in Parliament, and I meant it. The reason for my admiration of the Lord Chancellor's speech on that occasion is that he presented with care and accuracy a great many of the points of view which we have to consider in this very difficult problem—and it is a very difficult problem. I can sympathise with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack because I am quite certain what a disappointment he must feel if all his efforts are to end in failure. But I must go on to give the reasons why I believe these proposals are utterly wrong, and indeed morally wrong.
1312 Perhaps it may seem reckless of me to differ on a point of morality from the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, but I must tell him, frankly, that he shocked me, and he shocked me for a very simple reason. He did not seem to pose one of the vital questions that must be posed, which is: would what he is advocating do any good? I am a very miserable sinner, but I am fairly certain of one thing: that God gave us our brains because he wished us to use them. If we do not even pose the question what will be the consequences of our actions, I believe we are doing something which is morally wrong. I see no reason whatever to think that these sanctions will bring about any of the results that Her Majesty's Government themselves say they desire.
That brings me back to my own attitude in the debate on November 15 last year. Noble Lords may remember that I raised no opposition to the legal powers which the Government were taking. I did not object to their taking powers to impose sanctions; I did not even say that all sanctions would necessarily be wrong. But I implored them to do one thing: that before they imposed any sanction they should at least ask themselves the right question: would the imposition of that sanction be likely, or would it be unlikely, to bring about the result that they themselves desired? I do not, of course, deny that the imposition of sanctions might, though it seems now unlikely, wreck the economy of Rhodesia. It is not very likely that it would bring about the complete destruction of law and order, though sanctions clearly might have both those results. But the declared object of the sanctions which I quoted from a speech of the Prime Minister last year was to bring about a Government in Rhodesia which our Government would think a preferable Government to the present régime. I called attention to the risk that sanctions, if they appeared to be vindictive or unjust, might have precisely the opposite effect; they might strengthen the support which the Smith Government was receiving, as I think they have, and might do no good at all to compensate for the evils they would bring about.
The noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, was very anxious that we should not seem 1313 to encourage the Smith régime. I do not hold the same view as he does, for reasons which I shall later give, of the character of Mr. Smith, but I have never met him so that I can only guess what his character is. But what I feel virtually certain of is that the policy which Her Majesty's Government have now committed themselves to pursue will greatly strengthen Mr. Smith. It is directly calculated to strengthen Mr. Smith.
What will bathe reaction now of taking the matter to the United Nations by what I agree as a matter of law with my noble friend Lord Salisbury is a very strange use of the United Nations Charter? What will be the effect on them of their fate being discussed at the United Nations, with nobody being allowed there on their behalf to put their point of view? Will that strike them as just? Will it not strengthen their view that they are the victims of injustice? Will it not line them up behind Mr. Smith?
I do not wish to speak for long, but there is one other matter which I should like to mention. I mentioned with approval and praise the speech which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack made in the debate on November 15 last year. I must contrast that approach with the approach of the Prime Minister. One of the troubles in this whole matter is that we cannot entirely trust the Smith régime; and that the Smith régime does not trust us. Those are facts which cannot be denied by anybody. To diminish those suspicions, one ought to try to think that one's opponent may conceivably be honest. Various people have speculated on the reasons why Mr. Smith turned down these latest proposals. Let me give my own guess. It may be wrong, but everything that I have noted makes me think it may be right.
Mr. Smith feels a real responsibility towards the people who have elected him. There is a Constitution in Rhodesia, and he was elected under the Constitution which was then in force. He feels that that gives him a responsibility, and before he can say, "Yes", he has to consider very carefully all the proposals made. I believe that if he were really the shifty person that some people think, he would have been much more likely to say "Yes", and then go back on his word. 1314 But I think he is rather careful of that sort of thing, and that one of the motives of the man is the responsibility he feels to his people.
What is the attitude of the Prime Minister? Last year he described Mr. Smith and his Government as "frightened men". If they were frightened men, I have never known frightened men behave quite in the way these men have behaved, with apparently ever-increasing support from their countrymen. And what did the Prime Minister say in that melancholy statement on Monday night? He referred (he has already been quoted) to the only explanation being their desire for power for its own sake. Could anything more grotesquely untrue be alleged about that Government? Then he went on to talk, in answer to a supplementary, of "the dream world of a Walter Mitty independence "The reference to Walter Mitty seemed to me grotesquely untrue as a reference to Mr. Smith, but psychologists might find it deeply significant of the attitude of the man who said it. Whatever we think of Mr. Smith, not only is he the elected leader of his people, with some sense of responsibility towards them, but he is also, as the law courts of that country have decided, the head of the only de facto Government there.
May I say that there was one other man, apart from my friends, who has influenced the view which I have taken over the last year or so about the Smith régime, and that was the late High Commissioner for Rhodesia, Mr. Evan Campbell, whom I had the pleasure of meeting—I forget whether it was on one or two occasions. Any of us may be wrong, but I thought him an honest and humane man. When I see these men, and meet my friends who have come back from Rhodesia, I cannot believe that this is a Government with whom it is impossible to have any dealings. But let me say this—because I respect the approach of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I have never doubted that his view of morals and his humanity were very much of the right kind—
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the noble Lord is talking about the character of the people who compose the régime in Salisbury. Am I to understand he is saying that Mr. Evan Campbell was a member of the Government?
§ LORD CONESFORD
No, my Lords, of course I did not say that. But I am grateful to the Minister for intervening, if I did not make the matter clear. I rather wish that Mr. Campbell were a member of Mr. Smith's Government. What I said was that I had never been to Rhodesia, and, therefore, my general view of the régime must be based on what my friends, mainly English friends who have come back, had told me. I said that I had met one prominent Rhodesian, and that was the High Commissioner; but I never said for one moment that I thought he was in the Government.
I was referring a moment ago to the Leader of the House, because he concluded his speech with a number of questions which I know he thought pertinent, and I should like to give him at any rate my own answer. The noble Earl asked: "Are we really to throw over our responsibility for millions of Africans? Well, my Lords, it depends what he means by "responsibility". I am perfectly certain that we ought not to throw over responsibility to do the best possible for them. I have no doubt about that. But I think it is quite absurd to talk about our responsibility for them without at the same time recognising the state of self-government which their country had reached, as has been pointed out by my noble friend Lord Swinton and others. It is very difficult, indeed, when you have not exercised direct responsibility and control for forty years, to pretend that you can now have the power and exercise the authority which, if the country had never had that self-government, you might have had. But I should absolutely agree with the noble Earl that of course we must do the best we can for the coloured people of Rhodesia. I have never doubted that.
Then he asked—I think this was his second question:" Ought we to transfer control to the Smith Government? "My Lords, it is not a question of transferring control: they already have it. The question is—I will certainly yield to the noble Earl if he wishes to intervene.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, if the noble Lord is being kind enough to quote me—and I realise how difficult it is, when somebody is making a long and rapid speech, to take down his words correctly—I talked about trans- 1316 ferring responsibility. I did not use the word "control" in that case.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I am sorry, my Lords. The last thing I wished to do was to misrepresent the noble Earl, for whom I have a good deal of sympathy in this matter, on his approach. Where I am so wholly against the Government is in the policy to which they have committed themselves, which I think cannot succeed.
What I should like to say to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury is this. What, after all, is the object of these sanctions? The immediate object is to cause suffering and pain. Let me be fair: that is something one sometimes has to do, in order that some good, some greater good, may flow from it. I have never been a pacifist, but I see no reason whatever to suppose that any good will follow from the sanctions that are now proposed. Whom is it thought they will injure? They are very unlikely to diminish support for the Smith régime. They may inflict greater suffering on Zambia, whose sufferings have already been mentioned, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Eskan. And, lastly, they may inflict great suffering, I fear, on the coloured people of Rhodesia itself.
My Lords, I hope the House will forgive me if I have detained it too long, but I am certain in my own mind that these sanctions, these proposals of the Government, are morally wrong, and I fear that the result, in practice, may be disastrous.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, as I have listened to some of the speeches in this House to-day I have wondered whether we remember what happened in Rhodesia thirteen months ago. Then, a Government which represented only 5 per cent. of the population seized independence. That action was described on the Government Benches in this country as "rebellion" and "treason" and it was described by Mr. Heath, representing the Opposition, as such an illegal action that Great Britain should have no dealings with the members of that régime.
I think we have to be truthful with ourselves and recognise that if an African Government had behaved in that way there is no doubt what the answer of the British Government would have been. If, 1317 in any Colony, before independence, a Government composed of Africans had denied the right to vote to the majority of the European community; had arrested leaders of European political movements and detained them; had established a censorship on the expression of European opinion; had created a Police State which in many ways reminded one of Nazism in Germany; and had defied Britain by declaring itself independent—if that had happened there is no doubt that our Government would have immediately intervened by force, would have suppressed that regime and would have arrested its members. We are a little self-righteous, I think, if we do not recognise that the different attitude towards the illegal seizure of power in Rhodesia from what it would have been if the Government had been African is because it was composed of white persons and Europeans.
There have been thirteen months of sanctions. I will not say they have been ineffective, but they have failed. Now we are approaching a situation in which new policies must be adopted if we are to bring down the illegal Government in Southern Rhodesia. I was greatly interested in the reference which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, made to the interview with Mr. Harold Macmillan on television, because the parallel between what happened in the case of Abyssinia and the sanctions now being imposed on Southern Rhodesia is extraordinarily close. On that occasion, under the Baldwin Government, Sir Anthony Eden, who is now Lord Avon and a Member of this House, was instructed by Mr. Samuel Hoare to limit the sanctions proposed at the League of Nations because of fear of the reaction by Italy. Mr. Samuel Hoare—this is so relevant to-day—actually instructed Sir Anthony Eden to exclude oil from the sanctions which would be proposed against Italy. The result of the limitation of the sanctions was that they failed, and that brought about the dishonourable Hoare-Laval Pact. It was against that, I am glad to say, that Lord Avon had the courage and the principle to resign his position in the Conservative Government. I believe that to-day we have to face a similar fact. The sanctions—
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, may I just correct the noble Lord on one thing? That was not the occasion when 1318 Mr. Eden resigned; it was on quite a different matter, and later. The man who resigned was Mr. Samuel Hoare.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I recognise it was later, but it had a very close relationship to that situation.
I believe that to-day we are in a very similar position. The sanctions already imposed have failed, and they have failed largely because supplies have continued to come, not only from South Africa by rail but in an increasing measure through Laurenco Marques, the port in Portuguese occupied Mozambique. I think it is as clear now as it was clear in the case of Abyssinia that unless sanctions are strengthened to include oil and to prevent supplies from South Africa and Portuguese territory, they are likely to fail in the future as they have failed in the past.
I want to face the realities of this situation. I recognise that it may involve South Africa and Portugal in economic conflict with this country. South Africa has already indicated that it will not conform with a United Nations decision on mandatory sanctions, and I appreciate, in the financial position of this country, that this will create difficulties for us if, in consequence of South Africa's action, the United Nations impose sanctions against South Africa. The British investment in South Africa are 60 per cent. of our total investments. They are valued at £1,000 million, and the interest on them contributes £60 million a year to the solution of our balance-of-payments problem. I do not want to shirk the difficulties which that would cause to this country. It is another subject, but I believe we could remedy the loss effectively in another way—that is to say, if we cut some of our large defence costs, specially East of Suez. However, I would add that if we should suffer in that situation, the South African Government must realise that it would be likely to suffer still more. South Africa, needing expanding investments, knows that, if it got into a situation of that kind where it might apply harsher taxation on investments and where it might even stop temporarily the payment of interest on investments altogether—if it adopted policies of that kind, its Government must know that the securing of investments from other territories would be very much more difficult in the future.
1319 When we turn to trade, it is perfectly clear that South Africa would (suffer much more than this country. We are South Africa's largest customer and 28 per cent. of all her exports come to this country; only 5 per cent. of our exports go to South Africa. I think it is clear that South Africa would think twice before embarking on a policy from which she would be likely to suffer more than this country—and suffer when I think even her statesmen must know that inevitably in the long run the present small, white, illegal regime in Southern Rhodesia must end.
I want, however, to urge this. We must recognise the fact that this is not only an issue of Southern Rhodesia; it is an issue of the whole of Southern Africa. It is the issue of regarding the white race as the superior race: the right of 200,000 people in Southern Rhodesia to govern over 4 million Africans, and the existence of apartheid in South Africa. Sooner or later this issue must be faced by us; it must be faced by the United Nations; it must be faced by the world. I do not underestimate the financial consequences which might come from confrontation with South Africa, but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Soper, who said that the moral principle of racial equality is bigger and deeper even than those considerations.
The world to-day is faced with three great dangers: one is war; the second is hunger; the third is racial inequality—and I am not sure that the third is not the deepest of all. Until we begin to understand and apply in our policies the principle that all men and women, of whatever race or whatever colour, should have equal opportunities in life, we shall have the problem of Southern Rhodesia, the problem of Southern Africa. I am glad that to-day we have a Government which is beginning to accept this challenge; that we have a United Nations which is beginning to accept this challenge; and I hope that, not only in the other place but here to-day, the Government may receive a majority for its Motion which will indicate that in this Chamber, too, we are beginning to live for the principles of the new world of equality towards which we are moving.
§ 6.45 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, speaking from these Benches, I could wish that this crucial question were not one on which it had seemed necessary for the House to divide. I say that partly because of the tragic situation which is developing and partly also because I suspect that any Government standing in the shoes of the present Government not only would be faced with the same questions but would recognise that it is an impossibly thankless task. There will be some who will say that we are dragging our feet, as they have said already; and there will be others who will say that we are refusing independence to one country where we have granted it freely toothers—quite regardless of the fact that the kind of independence we are seeking is a greater and a more real independence than the one that has at present been claimed. It is indeed a case that those behind cry "On!" and those in front "Back!". The Government will get no thanks out of this; Great Britain will get no thanks out of this. All the more important, therefore I think it is, that we should reiterate, as many of us have already, and, notably, the most reverend Primate, that we are faced not only with diplomatic issues and matters of tactics or politics, but a genuine moral problem that we have to solve.
We are seeking to safeguard the genuine, complete interests of Rhodesia—and by "Rhodesia" we mean all Rhodesia and not one part of it. In particular, because of both their numbers and their helplessness, we are committed to the steady advancement of 4 million Africans towards enfranchisement and a free share in their own society, with such conditions of free life and justice that we should want for ourselves and as may be possible. These Africans look to us as the paramount authority, as, indeed, their protector. We have a very critical obligation to them at this moment which, however costly, we cannot disown without sacrificing our own integrity. Handing them over or leaving them, without adequate guarantees, to one section of the community, however close that section seems to us personally, would be disclaiming a responsibility which must be ours, which no one else can take in our place and which, if we surrender, will 1321 win us no respect, not even from those at variance with us.
This is really a basically moral issue which I suspect could not in itself divide the House. It is in fact enshrined in the Six Points or Five Principles which not only this Government but preceding Governments have endorsed. The implementation of those is our obligation, if we are to see Rhodesia to independence. Moreover, the Six Points are not matters of just verbal agreement; they depend for any real fulfilment not merely on the assent that any Government can give but on the good faith and the standing of the Government in power in Rhodesia. Without that good faith they are worthless as undertakings. Let us take, for instance, the qualification for the vote. On what basis of education or economic standing are Africans to acquire their share in the enfranchisement of their land? As the noble Lord, Lord Cones-ford, reminded us, God has given us brains to use; he has given Africans brains to use. At what pace is the education of these Africans—who have brains in principle or in content no less potential than ours—to advance to the point where they can qualify for their vote? Is it to be faster? Is it to be slower? Is it to be something that can he restricted? This is a matter of Government decision and inevitably rests with any Government in power there.
Take the economic standards. We had some alarming figures put before us, I do not know with what foundation, on television the other night. How many African Rhodesians are likely, under the present wage structure, to reach the economic standards that will be required? But who is to alter this or to see it remains as it is? It is a matter of Government. Always one comes back to the same point. In the matter of the Fifth Point, the acceptability of any Constitution to the country as a whole, certainly it is true that no Constitution will be acceptable to all and we must not, perhaps, be too starry-eyed in putting down this particular condition. But, none the less, to get any Constitution which is generally accepted must imply that the freedom of expression of opinion and discussion in Rhodesia, among Africans as well as whites, is unimpeded in itself, and not carried on under a shadow of a repressive regime; that men may have 1322 time to sit back and, as it were, to get their breath from the present emergency so that they may think freely; and that they may be able to speak without fear of reprisals either now or later.
Who will guarantee that this kind of condition of free speech and discussion will be possible among Rhodesians as a whole when it comes to deciding what Constitution will be generally acceptable? It will be the Government who is there. It must in other words be a Government which can be so broadly based as to ensure this freedom of discussion and investigation; and I suppose that here is the nub of the matter on which we divide. To many of us it seems quite clear, from the drag in negotiations over the years and from the ultimate breakdown last week, that the question is not in a matter of detail or policy, and that Mr. Smith and his régime—I do not know Mr. Smith personally, but certainly of his régime—and the British Government are aiming at entirely different things and no further conversations between us are likely to alter that plain fact. What is the guarantee in the present situation, before the steady development forward which we have envisaged? There has been a great deal of argument about the process of negotiations. I cannot express an opinion about those. I cannot however believe that the breakdown arises over technicalities; over a particular clause; over a matter of a few months. To suggest this, I think, falsifies the whole ultimate issue.
From our point of view it seems to me tragic that our own discussions together on ways and means of handling this seem to be producing so much controversy, on a matter which ought to unite this country; that we are failing to make clear, both to Rhodesia and to thirst of the world, the particular moral implications which we accept in our own responsibilities and our own determination to see that those are carried out. If we do not do this; if we only pretend to do this; if we suggest we are too hopelessly divided to be able to face our responsibilities; or if we seem to disclaim them, or take such inadequate measures that we are clearly not taking our responsibilities seriously, we must be prepared to forgo our claim to any kind of moral leadership in this situation at all, or in many others. We shall have to 1323 forgo our proper position as the head of a Commonwealth whose policies we are seeking to implement. We shall forfeit, and rightly, the respect of the world. I cannot but believe that, whatever mistakes have been made, the Government are entirely right in making an ultimate stand for conditions which will ensure progress forward, and while I heartily wish that from this country we could say that to Rhodesia with one voice, I must at least take my own humble stand on the side of the Motion.
My Lords, it seems all the more important that we should recognise our own moral responsibility here because, as has been remarked by many of your Lordships, there is an immense cost and suffering which is going to be involved in the stages ahead. The advocates of strong measures, and reluctantly, like others, I range myself with them, must admit this cost. The cost will be grim for all concerned, grim for white and black in Rhodesia; grim for Zambia, grim in some ways it may be for this country, and many others. It is like war—no one will gain; everyone will lose. But we must say this about the cost. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, rightly reminded us that we must be realistic about the cost that could be implicit for us in these measures.
What we do not want to do is to let it be supposed that we are giving priority in our decisions to a kind of profit and loss account and the financial implications for us. This in the course of debate is in danger of taking place. I believe that the people of this country do not put this first whenever matters of real principle are brought home to them. I do not think they would in this case, either. Napoleon may have called us "a nation of shopkeepers", but he soon learned otherwise, as others have done since; and we would certainly not, in the spirit of this debate, wish the country to suppose that shop keeping on the widest possible scale is the primary consideration before this country. What is before us is the question raised by many of your Lordships as to the balance of loss and suffering between going forward and holding back, that would come partly to many white people in Rhodesia, and partly—and still more of course—to the black people of Rhodesia. In the immediate 1324 future they will suffer most and we must recognise that; although I think their own vocal members have already recognised this for themselves and many have accepted the necessity for it.
But when we are concerned with the cost that is coming to the Africans under the present proposals, are we equally concerned with what would be the cost—I think, what will be the cost—to them in the more distant future if a different course of events takes place? The path of acquiescence like, alas, the path of appeasement has often proved that present distress can be avoided only at the cost of greater trouble later. To let the existing Rhodesian Government, or any like it, have its way might indeed save some immediate hardship for Africans. They would go on as they are for a time, although I take it that the present state of emergency there involves a good deal of hardship now; but there is no doubt that, as the pressure from Africa and elsewhere mounts, the existing Government of Rhodesia, or a similar successor, will be tempted either to throw in their lot with South Africa or at least to align themselves more and more with its policies and attitudes.
The grim results of apartheid policy in South Africa—which spokesmen on both sides of the House have categorically denounced—and which are already showing and raising their heads in Rhodesia, will saddle that country in the future with the possibility of explosion and strife which will be far worse for the Africans than the present crisis. I believe therefore that the lesser of the two evils is to accept the consequences of action now and take such practical steps as are possible for bringing to an end the existing regime, or bringing it to a different frame of mind, rather than to allow a situation to build up which will prove far more bitter, far more insoluble, but nevertheless one which our successors will lay at our door.
My Lords, our concern, of course, is not with this present situation and what we can do for it, but with the whole future of Rhodesia. The legacy of this breakdown will be very harsh, and we must keep in mind hope for a future in which conciliation is possible, and aim at a state of affairs where the races in Rhodesia can live side by side in a multi- 1325 racial community. During this present period the Churches in this country and in Rhodesia have sought to keep in fairly close touch. We here are aware of the great tensions in Rhodesia: congregation, ministers, are divided among themselves.
I think that we have a responsibility for healing these divisions, and certainly the churches in England will wish to do what they can to keep the doors open for meetings, for discussions and for understanding. Other noble Lords will bear out this experience in other ways. For this reason—and here I would appeal to the Government—let our talk not be too much on the negative aspect of ending a rebellion and of unconditional surrender. There are elements in white Rhodesia which do not side wholly with Smith, but which have no opportunity for expression. What kind of encouragement can we give them? What kind of promises can we hold out that we are aiming at a new Rhodesia, in which they will have their guaranteed place?
We have so far retained the initiative, and it is on that initiative that we are resorting to the United Nations. But can we be certain, can we make it clear beyond doubt, that if and when there is genuine evidence that some elements of Rhodesia are ready to talk on the basis of the full agreement proposed by the Prime Minister we can call off the dogs of economic warfare and reopen negotiations? What we seek to avoid is a situation in which the parties involved become increasingly bitter and antagonistic, so that even the most reasonable elements of white Rhodesia and black Rhodesia are driven to throw in their lot with the extremists on either side, and hope of an ultimate settlement will fade far away.
I know that this sounds more obvious than easy, but it means that in this country we must surely keep our sense of proportion. It may not be in the end the measures we take so much as the spirit and intention, the general design that is behind them, which will have most effect. I hope that we can be wise enough and big enough not to let any bitterness or local disagreement among ourselves mar the possibility of seeing the rise of a new Rhodesia, which 1326 we ourselves will have our proper part in creating.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS (LORD BESW1CK)
My Lords, the debate is by no means ended, but already we have had some remarkable speeches, not least that with which my noble friend the Leader of the House moved the Motion that is before us. I should like to add my congratulations, if I may, to those already offered to the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, on his well-argued if not entirely non-controversial maiden speech. I hope the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken will not mind if I make special reference to the speech made earlier by the most reverend Primate, a speech which I would say makes one feel proud to be a member of the Christian Church. He seemed to bring to the Christian religion the meaningful doctrine that we ought to be hearing more often from some of the priests who serve under him. Then there was the speech, entirely of an honourable character, from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, to which I hope to refer later. We had from the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition a reasonable and a reasoned speech, though, as I will try to show, he based his reasoning on some dubious assumptions.
I should like to consider more closely two specific matters which seem essentially to be at the core of our debate. First, there is the point which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and other noble Lords made, that we appear to have come so close to agreement only to find ourselves facing a new and probably calamitous step because of differences on a procedural question. Secondly, I should like to look at the credibility of this apparently reasonable offer from Mr. Smith to appoint a Royal Commission charged with the task of sorting out all the difficulties, an offer which some noble Lords think we ought to accept. But first, how near were we to an agreement during those remarkable two days on H.M.S. "Tiger"? At one time we were very near, indeed. Very considerable concessions, compatible with honour and within the Six Principles by which we have always stated we will stand, had been made by the British Government. 1327 It would be less than frank not to admit that the concessions were so significant that the settlement, if reached on that basis, might have been difficult to sell to some of our fellow Commonwealth countries, and indeed to some Government supporters in this country.
I say that it might have been difficult to sell this settlement, but I do not believe it would have been impossible, since the advantages, not least to the African Rhodesians, of starting a movement forward towards political democracy, even if gradual, together with the resumption of economic development and educational advance, would have been immeasurably greater than the present miserable prospects of political stagnation and economic decline. Without any doubt whatsoever, the opportunities which the "Tiger" proposals offered to Mr. Smith were hopeful. They were seen by him, at one stage at any rate, to be hopeful, and certainly they were so accepted by both the Governor and the Chief Justice, to whom the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, referred in such friendly terms. With this one point, namely, his praise of the attitude of these two Rhodesian gentlemen, I should like to associate myself.
It is fair to say that throughout the discussions, as the Prime Minister made clear in his Statement on December 5, Mr. Smith had his doubts about giving up what he called "Independence" without the certainty of getting the Constitution agreed on the "Tiger" accepted by the Rhodesian people as a whole. Nevertheless, there was no time when he appeared to think that this doubt was so important as to constitute a reason for breaking off negotiations. In the opinion of observers who were there, he was at one time very near to signifying agreement, certainly very near to the point of agreeing to recommend that his colleagues in Salisbury should accept the document which jointly had been drawn up aboard ship. In the event, as we already know and as the Commonwealth Secretary told us yesterday in another place, there came a change in Mr. Smith's attitude to the document, presumably after he had had some contact with Salisbury. After that contact the possibility of getting his agreement, even 1328 agreement to recommend the document, seemed less hopeful, though still possible.
Mr. Smith and his colleague therefore returned to Salisbury, and despite the fact that the first intention had been for members on either side to have power to agree on the spot, we accepted that both sides should consider the document in their respective capitals and indicate assent or otherwise. The British Government, of course, assented immediately. The régime in Salisbury went to the limit of the time allowed before any decision was given and then for some hours beyond that limit. Clearly the settlement proposals could not have been completely unacceptable, otherwise the protracted argument that went on for hours in Salisbury would not have been necessary. Despite all the talk about complete unity among his colleagues, clearly Mr. Smith must have been at variance with some of the individuals concerned. Some wanted to accept, some would not. And for the noble Marquess to say that no one with any pride in Rhodesia—with any scrap of pride, I think, were the words he used—would have accepted these proposals, is surely departing from the facts of the situation.
It is clear that there were some in Salisbury who opposed Mr. Smith; and those who opposed him equally clearly must now hold the balance of power in Salisbury. Moreover, those who do hold the balance of power are not reasonable people. They are not people with whom one could hope to reach a reasonable settlement, unless some further pressure is exerted upon them. I would claim that it is fair to call these people unreasonable and untrustworthy when one looks at the remarkable and, indeed, hysterical document which was published after their decision to reject the proposed statement. The Rhodesian people have been given a statement—and the noble Marquess apparently also heard it—which said, among other things:The British proposals demand the unconditional and abject surrender to Mr. Wilson…and the immediate introduction of rule by inexperienced and unfit persons.The statement goes on to say:The Quisling Government would not be responsible to the people of Rhodesia, but would be nominated by the British Government's representative.1329 But all this was about proposals which had been agreed by Mr. Smith with Mr. Wilson, and which provided for an interim government, agreed as to names by Mr. Smith and headed by Mr. Smith himself, with another Rhodesian, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, still in Government House. How is it possible to churn up that kind of propaganda if one really looks at the facts of the situation?
The noble Marquess, if I may say so, seemed equally at variance with the facts when he criticised in a similar vein the proposal to appoint a Royal Commission, as he said, by the British Government. He seemed to think that this was entirely incompatible with Rhodesian honour. But Article 17 of this Working Paper lays it down quite clearly that the agreed settlement will be submitted to the test of acceptability by the people of Rhodesia as a whole, by a Royal Commission whose composition and terms of reference will be agreed by the British Government with a legal interim Administration.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the point I was trying to make was that the Royal Commission would have its composition and terms of reference agreed by the British Government—that is to say, the United Kingdom Government—and the legal interim Administration, which was not responsible to the electorate of Rhodesia but was merely appointed by the Governor. I said that it did not seem to me that the electors of Rhodesia were brought into the matter at all.
§ LORD BESWICK
The noble Marquess is now putting his remarks in a more moderate vein. But it is certain that this Royal Commission was to be agreed with the interim Government; that the interim Government itself, as I have said, would be headed by Mr. Smith, and would be composed of five members of Mr. Smith's present Government, of three other Rhodesians, agreed to, certainly unofficially, by Mr. Smith, and by two Africans whose names, we were told, were also accepted by Mr. Smith.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But they would he responsible to the Governor, and not to the electorate.
§ LORD BESW1CK
This interim Government certainly would be responsible to the Governor in some matters, but they would not be responsible to him on the composition of the membership of the Royal Commission.
The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, if I may be allowed to refer to his speech, seemed to have similar views about the position of the Governor, and referred in most extraordinary terms to "Crown Colony rule". I think he was promptly and adequately corrected there by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. But I really feel that if one is to come to this House and make serious statements such as the noble Earl made about Crown Colony rule, one should at least read more carefully the document that has been published as a White Paper, or the Constitution of 1961, which laid down very clearly and carefully the limitations on the power of the Governor, and limitations which were not exceeded by the proposals for this interim Government.
I see that Mr. Gondo, the Leader of the Opposition in Salisbury, stated yesterday that:The fact that the Rhodesian Cabinet has rejected the working document produced by Mr. Smith and Mr. Wilson means that they have rejected a plan made by their own leader and that this is more or less equivalent to a vote of no confidence in him.I think this is an opinion which most members in this House must surely share. It may or may not be useful to speculate about the personal qualities of Mr. Smith. I may say that hitherto my experience has been that those who have had control of aircraft, in the main, have tended to be direct, straightforward and accurate in their relations with their fellow men, and, in view of his experience in the Royal Air Force, I have always had rather a soft spot for Mr. Smith. Yet it seems evident, after his behaviour on the "Tiger" and afterwards, to many who have had considerable and close dealings with Mr. Smith and who were earlier prepared to accept him for his earlier good faith, that the man is now shown to be either, at best, weak, or, at worst, dishonest.
What does seem quite certain is that the collective character of the people with whom we are now dealing is such that 1331 there can be little doubt that appeals to reason are now futile, and reliance upon further words is useless. "Action", said the right reverend Prelate, "and not words are now needed to restore confidence". With that I think we should all agree. Nevertheless, it is at this point, having condemned root and branch in their extraordinary Press statement the proposals which the British Government and Mr. Smith had together put forward, that we now have more words: we have this plausible plea for a Royal Commission.
§ VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question? As a soldier, I find myself in great difficulty in following all the thought that is going on. Would it be true to say that, because of the discussions at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference and elsewhere, when it came to the confrontation on the "Tiger" Mr. Wilson found himself in a position where he was really unable to manæuvre?—which is a very awkward position for a General to be in. The second part of the question would be this. Is it true to say that, because of his inability to manæuvre, he was forced to lay down conditions which the Rhodesian Cabinet were really quite unable to accept? Could the noble Lord answer those questions?
§ LORD BESWICK
I will endeavour to answer them, and I would say this. There was no question of limiting the manæuvrability of our Prime Minister on the "Tiger". Indeed, one reason that he went to the "Tiger" was because of the terms of the Communiqué agreed by the Commonwealth Conference. The noble and gallant Field Marshal will recall that in that Communiqué it was stated:That the Heads of Government also noted that the British Government proposed immediately to communicate its intentions…through the Governor to all sections of opinion in Rhodesia and to inform the illegal regime there that if they are not prepared to take the initial and indispensable steps whereby the rebellion is brought to an end…the following related consequences will ensue.But what our Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Secretary were trying to do aboard the "Tiger" was to persuade Mr. Smith to take these initial and indispensable steps; and they were urging upon him the urgency in view of the time 1332 limit which had been imposed by the Commonwealth Conference. There was no limitation on his manæuvrability: the limitation, of course, was time. We had committed ourselves to trying to get a settlement with Mr. Smith within a reasonable time laid down.
§ VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN
As a soldier, I find it difficult to follow that, because as a Commander-in-Chief in war I find that if you limit your manæuvrability by time you will lose the battle.
My Lords, the noble Lord has used the word "indispensable" several times. What is the basis for indispensability? Indispensable to whom?
§ LORD BESWICK
The words I used were the words in the Commonwealth Communiqué. So far as the noble and gallant Field Marshal is concerned, he may have wanted a little more time to fight his battles, but, after all, we have had thirteen months already, and to have said that some step should be taken within the next two months—which is what it amounts to—is not being unreasonable.
§ LORD BESWICK
I should not like to accept that we have lost this one. I was going to comment upon the plausibility of this idea of a Royal Commission. Some people seem to think that Mr. Smith is offering to submit to mediation or to arbitration the whole of the dispute when he suggests now that we should have this new Royal Commission. The idea of a Royal Commission is put in general terms, and it must not be forgotten of course, that there has not been any precise proposal, even through semi-official channels. So far as one can understand it, it was a proposal to implement Principle 5, the acceptability of the Independence Constitution. The idea of a Royal Commission for this purpose is not new. It was proposed by us. There was never any argument about the composition of the Royal Commission; it was to be agreed between the British Government and the interim Government in Rhodesia. As I have already said, there was not any argument really about the conditions under which the Royal Commission would work. The real sticking point 1333 was whether both sides would accept the findings of the Royal Commission. We were prepared to accept its findings. Mr. Smith ultimately said that he was not so prepared. As my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry has said, in answer to a direct question Mr. Smith admitted that he would have no alternative, if the findings went against him, but to engage in another illegal declaration of independence.
What, then, were the differences in Mr. Smith's new proposal and that of a Royal Commission which is embodied in the Working Document? It is not that the members of Mr. Smith's Commission would be more highminded or more objective. The only differences are that the Commission at best would be working under conditions in which it would be less easy to ascertain the truth, and, secondly, if their findings reversed Mr. Smith's expectations, then he would more readily be able to retain his illegal power. He would, throughout the operations of the Royal Commission, as he conceived it, be maintaining his illegal independence. And, of course, if the Royal Commission found that the proposed Constitution was unacceptable to the majority of people in Rhodesia, then he was enabled to hold on to his illegal power.
The difference between his new proposal and that which we agreed with him on the "Tiger" is simply this. If, as a result of the test of the Royal Commission appointed jointly, the British Government had been satisfied that the proposed Independence Constitution was acceptable to the people of the country as a whole, then they would have commended it to Parliament. If the Royal Commission had found against the proposed Constitution, the position then would have been that further negotiation would have taken place with the legal Government, with a view to finding new agreed proposals which could in turn be put to the test.
But Mr. Smith, despite his protestations that the great majority of people in Rhodesia were in favour of independence on the proposed basis, was unwilling to see it put to the test with his so-called independence at risk. We have since heard of a refinement of Mr. Smith's proposal. Those who have chosen to take his side during the course of this debate put up the idea that this Royal Commission should go out to Rhodesia for the purpose 1334 of testing an opinion, but with the provisions of Paragraph 15 of the Working Document in operation.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I think it very unfortunate that the noble Lord should have used the phrase "those who are taking Mr. Smith's side". It is those of us who are trying to find a solution to this problem.
§ LORD BESWICK
I quite agree that the noble Lord opposite has never ranged himself alongside Mr. Smith—I fully accept that. On the other hand, I found it difficult to listen to speeches in another place without thinking that they were, as the Prime Minister said, really acting as spokesmen for Mr. Smith. I cannot conceive how anyone can convince himself that this proposal—the Royal Commission, working under the conditions of Paragraph 15—is consistent with the facts of the situation with which we are dealing. In the first place, Paragraph 15 itself calls for the removal of censorship and the resumption of normal political activities. But how can one have normal political activities in the police State which Mr. Smith has built up in Rhodesia? Paragraph 15 also asks for an impartial judicial tribunal appointed by the Rhodesian Government, and including one British representative nominated by the Lord Chancellor. But Mr. Smith's régime has already attacked this proposal as one designed to release individuals implicated in thuggery and terrorism, and to enable them to re-instate a reign of terror in Rhodesia.
What is the essential difference, therefore, between these new Conservative proposals and those that were agreed aboard the "Tiger"? The essential difference is surely one between legality and illegality. They want to have a Royal Commission operating under an illegal régime. The agreed proposals provided for the Royal Commission to carry out its work effectively and properly under a legal Government—not a Whitehall-based Government, not a Crown Colony type Government, but a broadly based temporary administration headed by Mr. Smith and whose other members had been agreed by Mr. Smith—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, may I ask one question? Can normal political activities be permitted 1335 and carried on if the existing Legislature has been dissolved and there is in fact no Parliament in existence?
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I should have said it was more possible to carry out normal political activities in a country in which censorship has been lifted, in which the apparatus of the police state has been dismantled, rather than in a country in which Parliament, by agreement with Mr. Smith, has been temporarily suspended. Noble Lords should bear in mind that this proposal for an interim Government, which certainly provided for the dissolution of Parliament, had been agreed by Mr. Smith. It was Mr. Smith himself who, in the course of these discussions, had said that during the interim and limited period of four months there was unlikely to be a requirement for legislation.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I think that is a definite proof that I am not a representative of Mr. Smith. I am asking this question for myself. I do not see how it can be done.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I am endeavouring to answer the noble Marquess in his capacity as a Member of this House and not as a representative of anyone else. What I am trying to say is that, although it may seem an objectionable feature that Parliament should be suspended, the fact of the matter is that this aspect was discussed, as I understand it, in a friendly atmosphere aboard the cruiser. Mr. Smith himself said it was unlikely that there would be any need for legislation during the period of four months, and therefore he agreed that the four-month interim period with a dissolution proposal should be embodied in the Document.
Supposing, however, he were to accept what I have called, for shorthand's sake, the Conservative proposal. Does anyone in this House seriously believe that every opportunity would not be taken by the illegal régime to delay further, to procrastinate, to argue, to split hairs, even on the composition of the Royal Commission? After all, that has happened over the last weekend. After the way we have seen the régime twist and distort the honourable terms that were offered 1336 to them, which were agreed by Mr. Smith, does anyone seriously believe that the group who are in control in Rhodesia would agree to a Royal Commission operating in the territory and submitting a finding which they would accept if it went against them?
If we had taken up this fresh offer there would have been further delays. For months now the British Government have been facing mounting criticism from our Commonwealth partners, and for months we have been asking for one more chance, for just a little more time. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred to what he called the "precipitate decision embodied in the Communiqué of the Commonwealth Conference". There was no precipitate decision there. There were days and days, and indeed nights, of argument as to what was the right course to adopt and eventually we embodied in the Communiqué proposals which we thought balanced and justified. If we were now to go back on the undertakings which we gave to the rest of the Commonwealth, does the noble Lord really think that we could justify this demand for still further delay?
I am bound to say that the Opposition appear to dismiss the importance of our commitment made at the Commonwealth Conference very lightly indeed. I hope the noble Lord will not object if I make this point. I grew up under the impression that the Conservative Party was the great Party of Empire and Commonwealth, and it really has been somewhat surprising to me since I got into politics, since the Commonwealth started to develop, to see how lightly the Conservatives regarded the Commonwealth, and recently see how readily they were prepared, apparently, to see the dissolution of the Commonwealth in order to appease a small group of white men in Rhodesia.
We have given our word to the Commonwealth Conference; we have given our word in specific terms that if no steps have been taken by the illegal régime to bring the rebellion to an end before the end of the year a resolution providing for effective and selective mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia will he brought before the Security Council. No undertaking could be clearer than that. It was not a precipitate undertaking it was reached after careful consideration, and it is one that we propose to honour.
1337 Noble Lords opposite may say that they reject sanctions and that they want further talks. But why did Mr. Smith agree to go to H.M.S. "Tiger" and have those talks? It was not because of any sudden good will in the Salisbury régime, or because there had been any change of heart. They decided to talk because of the pressure of sanctions. We have had criticisms about the effect of sanctions so far, but the sanctions which we have applied voluntarily were sanctions which made it possible to have those talks on H.M.S. "Tiger". Unfortunately, in the event, the solution which was devised aboard ship was rejected by a majority of the régime; but it was rejected because the sanctions did not hurt enough. One thing now seems to have been proven absolutely by the events of the last week. Those who hold power in Salisbury will not relinquish that power unless they can be convinced by mounting economic difficulties that they have no alternative but to do what the whole world, less two countries, requires them to do.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has his doubts about taking action in the United Nations. I can understand the doubts which he has expressed, but does he really think that if we do not take this initiative the matter will not be taken to the United Nations anyhow? Does he really think that we should be more "in control", as he put it, if we allowed others to take the initiative there? Does he think we should be more in control, or does he think we should present a more dignified figure in the world if we found ourselves in the minority with Portugal and South Africa, objecting to resolutions in the General Assembly which called for sanctions against Rhodesia, or for action in Rhodesia? Does he really think we should cut a more dignified figure in the Security Council if we were compelled to exercise our Veto there because other countries had put to the Security Council the resolutions or the proposals which we now place before them?
The noble Lord, Lord Salter, made a gloomy analysis of our economic position if we do what we think is right at the United Nations, but has the noble Lord analysed the economic consequences of not doing what is right? Does he think we should be able to continue trading 1338 with other members of the Commonwealth if we were to break our solemn obligation to them in this matter? If noble Lords opposite insist on considering the economic consequences of this, it is not irrelevant to remind ourselves that the economic consequences in Rhodesia and South Africa are no greater than those presented by the remainder of the Commonwealth, and by other countries in the world who undoubtedly would take action against us if we broke our word in this connection.
I hope the majority of this House will support this Motion, not because of the balance of economic advantages but because the choice is between legality and illegality, between retaining or rejecting principles that have already brought 750 million people to independence and freedom within the Commonwealth of Nations. It is a choice, indeed, as the most reverend Primate said, between right and wrong. This House has taken some decisions of late which have put the stamp of progress upon it. I hope that the vote to-night will confirm that newfound reputation for progress.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, the noble Lord was good enough to say at the beginning of his speech that I made a reasonable arid reasoned speech but that some of the facts upon which I based my case were wrong. I should like to point out that in a speech of nearly half-an-hour he has not refuted any single one of the facts on which I based my case.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has indeed made a long speech. He has not destroyed any of the arguments of my noble friend, and I think I can say that he has shed not one single ray of light or of hope upon this desperate situation. All that he has said, in half an hour or more, is that this problem has been handled magnificently by the Government; that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have been superb negotiators: that Mr. Smith is impossible and unreliable, and that there is nothing more to be done than to watch us slide down this slope to unimagined disasters.
The noble Earl, Lord Longford, in his opening speech, said something to the 1339 effect that no one could fail to pay tribute to the Prime Minister for his indomitable efforts to solve the Rhodesian problem. I must disabuse the noble Earl. A lot of people can fail to pay him tribute. A lot of people feel that the Prime Minister has made every mistake in the book right from the start; right until last week-end; right until his last broadcast; right until, I have no doubt, the speech which he has made in another place this afternoon.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am afraid that I do not recall exactly the words I used, but I think I said that no fair-minded person could fail to pay tribute.
§ LORD COLERAINE
I would dispute that. I think that most unprejudiced people, when they have studied the facts of this matter, and when they reflect on the events of the last thirteen months, will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that the Prime Minister has wrecked Africa, has wrecked the Commonwealth and looks like wrecking this country.
This is the prime Minister's policy. It was designed to divide the Rhodesian people against their Government. It has only united them. It was designed to secure cohesion in the Commonwealth and to command the respect of world opinion. The Commonwealth is bitterly divided, is quite clearly cracking up; and as for the respect of world opinion, I should ask President Kaunda about that. We have earned nothing but derision and contempt. The Prime Minister, in this last week-end on the "Tiger", modelling himself, I have no doubt, on a former naval person, but he is not a former naval person; he is more like a pinchbeck Hitler—
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, in another place the noble Lord, as he knows, would be forced to withdraw that remark; but I think, because this place recognise certain courtesies of not interrupting, he should nevertheless withdraw it.
§ LORD COLERAINE
I am sorry that I cannot oblige the noble Baroness. I will not withdraw it; I will justify it. Since he came back from the "Tiger" the Prime Minister has made to show how utterly reasonable and considerate he was; how fair he was to Mr. Smith; how he met Mr. Smith at every point, and how Mr. Smith rejected all those courtesies, all this fairness of mind, and went away and rejected the arrangement which he had already come to. Of course he had not come to the arrangement, because even on the Prime Minister's admission he had reserved certain points.
I wonder how that meeting in the "Tiger" will strike the historian. I think it will strike him very much like the meeting between Dr. Schussnigg and Herr Hitler at Berchtesgarten. It was, in fact, for Mr. Smith a summons to Berchtesgarten. There he was, cut off, isolated, with no communication with his own Government—his own régime, if the noble Baroness prefers it.
§ LORD BESWICK
Is the noble Lord aware that he went there quite voluntarily, with agreement that he should be in communication, if he so wished, with the members of his Government, and with power to act on their behalf when he reached the ship?
§ LORD COLERAINE
Of course he went voluntarily: Dr. Schussniig went to Berchtesgarten voluntarily; and of course he could communicate with his Government through Whitehall, whereas there was this perpetual shuffle,of helicopters between the "Tiger" and Gibraltar keeping the Prime Minister in communication with his colleagues at home. This man was completely isolated in "Tiger" except for the few men he brought with him. How could he protect himself under all the pressures exerted? Really, to imagine that this was a negotiation between equals in fantastic.
But the fact remains that the Prime Minister, after thirteen months, has brought this country to a position which cannot be held, from which there can be no retreat without shame, and from which there can be no advance without ruin. At the beginning of this controversy some of us compared the Rhodesian rebellion to the American War of Independence. The Prime Minister never 1341 admitted that analogy. Now I can concede that he was right. By comparison with our present Prime Minister, Lord North was a Solomon for wisdom, an Aristides for probity and a Churchill for magnanimity. Whoever comes out of this with a tarnished reputation, I do not think it will necessarily be Mr. Ian Smith.
If I may say so without disrespect, I should like to revert to the speech that was made earlier this evening by the most reverend Primate. I do not myself come under the most reverend Primate's spiritual jurisdiction, because I belong to a Church which does not hold with Archbishops, or even Bishops. But I reverence his high office; I admire his intellect, and I cannot fail to recognise the sheer goodness which shines through his utterances, even when he is uttering principles with which I do not agree. I should like to put this point to your Lordships and to the most reverend Primate. What is the moral principle that lies behind majority rule?—because I leave been quite unable to discover it. It seems to me that the wisdom, or otherwise, of majority rule must be purely a matter of political judgment.
§ LORD COLERAINE
By all of us; by each of us a matter of political judgment. The most reverend Primate will correct me if I am wrong, but Palestine, the Holy Land, in the early years of the Christian era, knew nothing of majority rule. The Holy Land was a colonial dependency of Imperial Rome. If majority rule had been an issue of such supreme moral importance, surely that would have been evident in the sayings of our Lord. But there is not a word about it. All we have bearing on that subject is:Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's.Of course oppression of man by his fellow men is a moral evil. It was a moral evil in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago. It is a moral evil in Birmingham to-day. It is a moral evil in Rhodesia or South Africa. It is a moral evil all over Africa, wherever it occurs. But surely it is a mistake, something unsupported by history or experience, to suppose that majority rule precludes the oppression of one man by another. Indeed, there is a great deal of evidence 1342 which goes to show that majority rule intensifies oppression by man against man.
I do not know whether your Lordships are familiar with the International Commission of Jurists. That is a body of eminent lawyers from every country—the United States, India, Nigeria, this country, every country. Although it is a non-governmental organisation, it has consultative status with the United Nations and UNESCO—I say that to explain that it is not a branch of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society. The September Bulletin of the Commission has something to say about South Africa which it condemns, something to say about Spain which it condemns, and something to say about Malawi since independence. I am sorry that the most reverend Primate has had to withdraw, because I think this would have interested him particularly. This report in the Bulletin of the International Commission of Jurists explains how, the moment Malawi got its independence under the system of majority vote, it became a one-Party dictatorship. It goes on to explain that it became the worst possible kind of Police State, because one body of the population—the Young Pioneers—was put even above the authority of the police. The Bulletin sums up the position by saying:The resulting position in Malawi to-day is that people live in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, while Government supporters commit a wide range of offences from murder down free from the risks of prosecution.That, my Lords, is one of the fruits of majority rule.
The Prime Minister said the other night in his broadcast that never in this century had we given independence to any State except on the basis of majority rule. He did not go on to say that in practically all the States to which we had given independence on the basis of majority rule, majority rule had ceased to exist. We make a great mistake, I think, in elevating this principle of majority rule into a moral imperative; it is not. In the context of Africa to-day it is dangerous, and dangerous above all to the African themselves. We talk of a Police State in Rhodesia, but the dictatorships in the independent States of Africa are far worse than anything Rhodesia can show.
§ LORD PEDDIE
My Lords, is the noble Lord suggesting that the point at issue is that immediate majority rule should be introduced in Rhodesia?
§ LORD COLERAINE
No. What I am suggesting is that majority rule as a principle is a matter of political judgment and not of moral judgment. I think one of the reasons for the tragedy we are going through now is that everybody has pretended that this is a moral issue, when it is really a political issue. I wonder what our descendants will think of us in 100 years' time—if, indeed, this planet has any inhabitants in 100 years' time. The eighteenth century was called the age of enlightenment; the nineteenth century was called the age of progress. I think that this century will be known as the age of humbug.
The noble Lord, Lord Beswick (I am sorry he is not here), devoted a good deal of his speech to denouncing the suggestion which Mr. Maudling made in another place last night, the suggestion for another Royal Commission. I expect the House is aware that three Members of another place, a Conservative, a Liberal, and a Socialist, sent a telegram to Mr. Ian Smith asking him three questions. They asked Mr. Smith: would he accept a Royal Commission to test public opinion on the acceptability of proposed amendments to the 1961 Constitution? They asked him: would he lift restrictions which would enable the Commission to carry out its work? And they asked him would he accept the findings?
§ LORD COLERAINE
They asked him to reply by 8 o'clock, and an hour ago the reply was on the tape. The reply was "Yes", "Yes", "Yes": Mr. Smith would accept such a Royal Commission; he would lift restrictions, and he would accept the findings. What I hope we shall know before the end of the evening is whether the Government, in spite of that, are determined on this suicidal approach to the United Nations, or whether they will reopen negotiations and attempt to find a rational solution to a problem which is not really insoluble.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ LORD WILLIS
My Lords, I think we were all very saddened when we heard 1344 that Ian Smith had turned down the working document. I personally was appalled when I saw him appear on television, looking rather like a head boy who has been told he can carry on for another term, and reject the document. But nothing that has happened in the last week has appalled me more than the speech I have just heard from the Benches opposite. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has spoken of humbug at one point, and of Hitler at another point, and I think that his speech proved that he is an expert at both.
The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his eloquent speech, made the point that he had waited and hoped for some expression of horror from noble Lords on the opposite side concerning the restrictions, the indignities and the lack of freedom which are inflicted on the African community in Rhodesia. I have listened in vain for some kind of word, some expression of horror in response to what the most reverend Primate asked. It has not come. I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, who dragged in the War of Independence in America, that out of that War of Independence there came a Constitution in which were enshrined some of the most noble words that have ever been written. Those words were:We hold these things to be self-evident: that all men were created equal, and that they were endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.And among those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I should like to ask whether the African population in Rhodesia to-day have either liberty or the right to pursue happiness.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for allowing me to intervene. There is no mention in that eloquent quotation which the noble Lord gave of majority rule. I would say that the people of Rhodesia have more chance of liberty and the pursuit of happiness than the African people in most of these African dictatorships which, in our unwisdom, we have set up.
My Lords, I would rather like to ask the noble Lord if the American Constitution allows the holding of slaves.
§ LORD WILLIS
No. I am talking about the actual words which were enshrined in that Constitution. Nobody in this House, or anywhere else, would want to praise what is going on in some of the African States—some of the dictatorship and violence that have been introduced. But this is not the point. When the noble Lord talks against majority rule and says he is talking against the principle of majority rule, then he is taking us back thousands of years—or, at least, twenty-five years, to what was happening in Germany. Majority rule may not always be the most comfortable kind of rule. The counting of heads may not always provide the best kind of government, but it is the best kind we have found so far.
§ LORD WILLIS
Because of one simple reason—and I will come to Africa in a moment: that unless you have majority rule, you lay yourself open to dictatorship by a minority and the denial of freedom and liberty.
What is the principle in Africa? The principle in Africa, and in particular in Rhodesia, is that we should move steadily towards majority rule; that we should educate and train the vast majority of the community, who happen to be coloured, so that at some point or other majority rule could take over. Nobody has suggested that this should take place to-morrow; nobody has suggested that it should take place in two years. It has been suggested as a process. Nobody can deny the moral justice of that, because you cannot hold that 200,000 white people can keep the lid on that pressure-cooker for ever. What will happen if Smith and the Smith régime continue to have their way is what has happened in Malawi; because by denying the Africans the right to education, by denying them the right to political organisation, by failing to grant the facilities which will enable a political leadership to be properly trained, they are sowing the seeds of violence. They have, in fact, taught the African political opposition in Rhodesia just what violence means. They have seen it, and therefore they are not likely to have too much respect when the time comes for them to take over majority rule.
1346 We heard this fantastic and elaborate attack on the Prime Minister on the ground that he failed to achieve agreement because he demanded too much of the Smith régime, and we heard an attack on the Prime Minister for the proposal to take the issue to the United Nations. I should like to look at these charges for one moment and separate the substance from the shadow.
First, the attack on the Prime Minister because he failed to secure agreement by demanding too much seems to me to be the weakest and most contemptible of all charges, for by some curious moral inversion what has happened is that we now have the following situation. The implication has emerged that Ian Smith, Jolly Jack Smith, stood out courageously against an attempt by wicked Harold Wilson to impose Whitehall dictatorship on Rhodesia; that Wilson was rather unreasonable at best and too tough at worst; and that Smith as a man of honour could not allow himself to compromise his principles. This systematic building up of a sympathetic image for Mr. Smith has been one of the most remarkable features of the past few months and of some of the speeches I have heard to-day. Some of the noble Lords opposite may deny, or may not wish to give, aid and comfort to the Smith régime, but some of the speeches I have heard to-day must make them cheer when they read them in Rhodesia.
During the last few months our Government have been trying very hard, as we know, to keep talks going, in spite of the fact that only recently did the Smith regime show any sign of movement. But while the talks were going on and there was some hope it was clearly not politic to attack a man you are trying to negotiate with, or to tell the real truth about the character of his régime. But his friends in Britain have not been bound by any similar sense of responsibility, and the result has been this careful and systematic attempt to improve his image, to build him up as a bluff, tough, plain-speaking democrat, a hit heavy-handed, perhaps, but basically one of us chaps, the sort of fellow you could get agreement with if only you had the right man to talk to him, and really we have not got the right man.
I was longing for somebody to get up and attack Mr. Smith, and attack him for the duplicity that he has shown, particularly in the reply to the Working Document which was full of untruths. I 1347 would remind the House also that it is only a year ago that our Prime Minister said of the Smith régime that they are…men to whom the very notion of democracy, the very idea of the rule of law, even the loyalty they profess to Britain, is anathema.The leaders of all political Parties agree that Rhodesia under Smith is a police State. The only thing that has changed in all these thirteen months is that the situation has got worse. There is more repression, more censorship, and a greater determination to block advancement for the huge African majority.
An African family in the township is not allowed to have one friend to stay at night. This is the rule. Great blank pages appear in the newspapers because of censorship. Political Parties and political meetings are denied to any kind of real Opposition, and we have the régime where the police still knock at the door in the cold hours of the morning. This is therégime, and this is the real issue. The real issue is not the declaration of U.D.I.; the real issue is the declaration of phoney independence which is recognised by no country in the world. The real issue is that this phoney independence was declared so that the white Rhodesian Front could escape its clear moral duty to the African population, and that is the basic issue behind the whole discussions that have been going on.
The Smith régime wishes to deny the Africans the right to advance to majority rule. It wishes to deny the Africans the elementary freedom which is their right, and it is prepared to go to any lengths to prevent that happening. It is a régime which is based on the poisonous notion of white supremacy and on racialist dogma, and no camouflage can disguise these facts. If we had any doubts before they should be resolved now. They should be resolved now, when we study the reasons given by Smith for the rejection of the Working Document. He says that he agrees with the Six Principles, but refuses to allow the setting-up of machinery which would guarantee those principles. This is rather like saying that you agree to the building of the Channel Tunnel but you refuse to allow any architects or surveyors to move in to draw up plans and to put the scheme into operation.
1348 Unable to face his people with the truth, he resorts to lies about a possible British Army of Occupation and so on. He is opposed to the proposed Government that was worked out in the Working Document because—why? He says that it would be Whitehall dictatorship. We know that, in fact, if you read the document you will discover that the Government was to be made up of Rhodesians, but from Mr. Smith's point of view the wrong Rhodesians; and from Mr. Smith's point of view there are a devil of a lot of wrong Rhodesians. You read the enormous catalogue of efforts that have been made by the Prime Minister and the Government to get talks started in face of rebuffs, the dozen and one different proposals put to Smith and rejected, and to call this "failure" is to prostitute the English language. The failure belongs to Smith, and the consequences for Rhodesia will be heavy.
I should like to deal with one of the arguments which has been made in the debate and which rather frightens me—the argument that Britain cannot afford to apply mandatory sanctions, or that they will not work anyway. There is even the perverse and strange argument that it will strengthen support for Smith. In other words, do not do anything, do not apply any pressure, because if you do the Rhodesians will get annoyed and they will rally round Smith, and our task will be all the harder. This is like saying that you do not put Freddie Trueman on in a Test match because you will make the Australians angry and strengthen their batting. It is this kind of perversion which has been going on in most of the arguments we have heard to-day.
We have been told that we cannot afford the cost of mandatory sanctions. Well, of course, we could walk away; it would be cheaper. We could wash our hands; it would be cheaper. We could allow the situation to continue as it is now; it would be much cheaper. We could allow Smith to continue running the country and keeping the vast majority of the population in subjection; it would be cheaper. But what a sad day for this country when we count the cost of moral responsibility and start putting a price on honour! And I am not so doubtful about the effect of wider sanctions because, as the 1349 noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said, there is some evidence that present sanctions have worked to an extent. I do not believe that Smith would have asked for talks in April if they had not worked, and I do not believe that he would have come on to H.M.S. "Tiger" if they had not worked. Behind the bluff he is a worried man.
He now says that Rhodesia wants a practical and reasonable settlement. It is a pity he could not say this nine months ago. And, of course, he has a marvellous opportunity. Nobody needs to do anything at all. All he has to do is to apply the Six Principles and make them work. He has to remove censorship, he has to allow free political opposition, he has to allow Rhodesia to move forward to majority rule. If he showed us that he was doing this in the next six months, if he was really getting rid of some of the reactionary Iron Guard that are in his Cabinet, then we might be convinced, and he has only to do this in order to convince us. But so far there is no sign, and we are forced to the conclusion that, in fact, he is on the horns of a dilemma, and the dilemma is this; that sanctions are working and he is worried, and his business men are worried, but, on the other hand, he is frightened of the iron front men in his Cabinet.
This is a painful and terrible affair, and great emotions are being stirred up on both sides, but neither the emotions nor the cost of the conflict should blind us to the truth. Like all great political issues, this is not about mandatory sanctions, this is not about ordinary sanctions, this is not about item 1, 2 or 3 in a Constitution, or Clause 15 of a Working Document. This is about people, and if we forget that, then we forget the main issue. It is about a quarter of a million white people who have freedom—most of them—and 4½ million black Rhodesians who do not. It is about all these people, who have a right to live and work together on terms of equality as equal human beings.
I was in the West Indies last year and I met some of the coloured Chief Ministers of countries out there. One after the other they came to me and said, "What would be the position if the situation had been reversed? Suppose a small black minority had taken 1350 over a country with a vast white majority, and imposed a dictatorship". I found it difficult to answer. I should have liked to believe that we would have the moral courage to take the same line as we are taking over Rhodesia now, but I think it is much more likely that force would have been introduced.
To me this Motion to-day is more than just an ordinary Motion; it is a matter of honour and of principle. I accept the assurances from noble Lords on the other side when they say that they do not want to give succour or support to the Smith régime. But I must say this: that if this House fails to accept this Motion, if it is lost, if the Government are defeated on this Motion in this House, in my view this will be—and I think it will be so regarded in Salisbury—a vote for Smith and a smear on the honour of this House.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, before I came down to this House this afternoon I had been looking at a film, which had a private showing just before lunch, on the destruction of Florence—a city of which I have intimate knowledge and for which I have a very deep affection. It was called, as I say, The Destruction of Florence, and it was intensely moving and terrible. Coming down to this House, and in sombre mood, I read the Motion on the Order Paper, and at the end of it, after the last phrase, referring to the policy of Her Majesty's Government, I put, "namely, the destruction of Rhodesia". For we are discussing the destruction of Rhodesia, my Lords; and when I say that I mean Rhodesia as a country, and all the people who live in it, not just the Europeans.
Before I go further, I think that, in view of an incident that occurred in our debates on this subject a year ago, I should declare my interest. It is well known, but perhaps some noble Lords who have not been here very long would like to be informed. I was a permanent resident in Rhodesia from 1951 to 1957, where I was farming. I still own my farm, which is now worked in partnership, and I go there for a period every year. On the other hand, I hope I am able to say without fear of contradiction that noble Lords who have heard me speak on the subject of Central Africa 1351 over the past ten years will agree that I have always tried to take a middle road, bearing neither to the right nor to the left, and that I have pursued a fairly independent line.
In my speech when we discussed Rhodesia immediately after U.D.I., in November of last year, some noble Lords may remember that, after tracing the history of the developments leading up to the situation in which we found ourselves, I propounded the view that we all shared a deep moral guilt for what had happened—not only the Europeans in Rhodesia but the Africans there, too; the Africans outside Rhodesia; the United Nations; and, by no means least of all, the political Parties in this country. I still hold this view with conviction, and it colours my approach to the whole problem.
My Lords, in our second debate I ventured to question the interpretation of some of the Five Principles to which we all adhere; and, on reading the agreement as to a new Constitution which was reached on H.M.S. "Tiger" and signed by the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith, I was delighted to see that as to the first three Principles, to which I drew rather special attention, the difficulties inherent in the "A" and "B" Rolls and the possibility of fading out the "B" Roll, have now been satisfactorily overcome inasmuch as the fading out of the" B Roll will no longer be necessary in view of the inclusion of 17 reserve European seats in its place.
The fact is that we now have an agreed Constitution, and much too little has been made of this point during the course of this debate. After all, before the Declaration of Independence the negotiations were all about getting a Constitution on which Independence could be granted. We now have such a Constitution agreed; and if it had been possible to agree it more than a year ago There would never have been a Declaration of Independenece. I think this is perhaps the weakest link in the argument of the Government, because now they have this agreement on Independence and the whole thing has fallen down on the procedural side and the question of the interim period which is necessary before the new Constitution 1352 can be put into force and independence recognised legally.
I know perfectly well the difficulties that arise on this question, but I should like, if I may, to quote one thing which I wrote in a little book after spending five weeks in Rhodesia last February and March—so this is not hindsight, or anything of the sort—during which I travelled around freely to different areas of the country. This is what I wrote on my return home:In particular, the Europeans intend to cling to their independence. This may not be entirely rational, but even the liberal ones have no faith whatever in any future undertakings that may be given by any British Government. This is one of the facts of life that we must face, however unpalatable.My Lords, being convinced of this, as I was, if I had been in charge of these negotiations I should have endeavoured to reduce the interim period to as short a time as possible. Four months, I am quite sure, was too long—and I would not be so stupid as to suggest four days.
Quite obviously, the present de facto Government must return to constitutional rule before Rhodesia gets its independence. But I believe that the period could have been reduced, after careful study and negotiation, to a period as long as that required for a General Election—about three weeks. I know that other things would have to be carried out in the meanwhile—the question of finding out the will of the mass of the Rhodesian people—but these are matters for detailed negotiations. I refuse to believe that this is not possible in the future, and I believe it will have to be done at some time or other.
Frankly, my Lords, this did not come about, I am afraid, because of the basic distrust between the two sides. It is quite clear that the Prime Minister is suspicious of Mr. Smith and his Government, and he may well be justified. But it is equally clear that Mr. Smith and his Government are very distrustful of the Prime Minister—and this is something that goes back for many years. I said as much in your Lordships' House way back in 1960—perhaps I was one of the first ones to say it—when warning your Lordships of the terrible distrust that was even then growing up among the Europeans in Rhodesia against the Conservative Government of that day 1353 and also (I must bring it in) against the Labour Opposition. This is the real reason the whole thing has broken down, and it is a tragedy.
We have heard a lot about one of the reasons why it is not possible to have any trust in the Smith Government, or to overcome this last difficulty, and we have heard the phrase "Police State" so often. These are words which fall very easily, and even glibly, from the lips. I remember that during the last two years of the war I was working in Italy with the Italians and I was at first very surprised to find that there were no moderate people, no democrats, in Italy at all. They were all Fascists or Communists, in the view of the other Italians. Now we have to be very careful when we use words.
Another word which is used nowadays, and which has fallen into disrepute, is "democracy". It usually comes to mean what the person using it wishes it to mean. When we talk of a "Police State", I think we want to be quite sure of what we are saying. Again, I do not want to seem wise after the event, but perhaps I may read a very short sentence from my little book, which I completed last March:In conclusion of this section, my opinion is that Rhodesia has all the trappings of a police state but that the powers available are not by any means being fully used.My Lords, I stand by that statement. I should like to read something that the Bishop of Mashonaland had printed in full in the Rhodesia Herald. He was referring to a visiting preacher from England who had caused rather an upset in the Cathedral; and in part of his statement, which was signed, he had this to say:The 'tyranny of a police State'. The point I want to make about this is an elementary Christian one. Christians must of course condemn and expose evil practice wherever it exists,"—Your Lordships will note the phrase "wherever it exists"—in policy or public (and policemen have been beaten and killed also). But Christians must be the most careful of all citizens to be sure and precise about their accusations.In my judgment 'indiscriminate beatings, the use of torture and even the killing of Africans are reported' is simply not good enough. Unless the preacher had very sure information, this was an improper quotation to make from a pulpit.1354 We should be sure what we are talking about. It is a fact that throughout the African continent it will be almost impossible to find any country which is not a Police State in the sense that Rhodesia is; and I was rather astonished when the most reverend Primate brushed this difficulty off by saying that we had not responsibility for other African territories when in fact for many of them we had responsibility at one time.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Eskan, whose views expressed those of several of my best friends among the Europeans in Rhodesia, put a nice gloss on the whole scene in Africa; but these are facts we cannot and dare not overlook when we are thinking in terms of morality. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Eskan, that the problem is essentially how to fulfil our obligations on behalf of the 4½ million people of Rhodesia. This exercises me deeply. The principle at stake really is not democracy as we know it, and still less is it "one man one vote" or majority rule; it is a question of individual liberty and justice. This is something we cannot ignore and which we really should not ignore in other parts of the world when we are dealing with the problem of Rhodesia.
Here again, if I may, I should like to quote another passage from the same article by the Bishop of Mashonaland. In this part he is referring to the very fine sermon on which we all commented and commended him in the Cathedral immediately after U.D.I. He said:…it was agreed on all sides in Rhodesia that the act of November 11 was unconstitutional that there was great and sincere division of opinion as to whether it was right; that members of the Church had every right to try to decide this, provided it was with real thought and prayer and examination of their real motives, and to come to different conclusions.A Christian 'has a right to form a judgment and act on it. That goes for all of us. I pray you to accept each other as Christ has accepted us all, just as we are'.I trust that no creature in Church will, within this Diocese use the expression the illegal régime'which contradicts this principle of charity.When I listened to some of the noble Lords and right reverend Prelates on the other side I envied their complete assurance as to the moral judgments which they were bringing to bear. I wish I could 1355 feel so certain that the arguments which they put forward are morally right. I, personally, adopt the Christian attitude as I see it; and, of course, the Bishop of Mashonaland is a leader of the Church on the spot.
My attitude towards Government policy and towards the pressure of sanctions through the United Nations is taken purely from the moral base and belief that this is not a Christian attitude; that it is an immoral action. I would say that, so far as the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference is concerned, the undertakings given by the Prime Minister in one respect—and a most important respect—thatThe British Government will withdraw all previous proposals for a constitutional settlement which have been made…and that they are not preparedto submit to the British Parliament any settlement which involves independence before majority rule.are not only impracticable but also immoral.
For this reason I am going to vote against the Government to-night. I wish to make it clear that I have taken up those noble Lords on the other side who produced this moral line—sometimes, I would say, almost with a sense of moral superiority, though that may not have been intended. I am taking my stand on this side precisely on the same moral principles to which the remarks of noble Lords and right reverend Prelates opposite have been directed. I am not convinced that it is morally right to go to the United Nations when we can continue to apply sanctions, as we have done, and can continue to negotiate, knowing all the difficulties that are there. I would prefer this course because I am afraid that, if I vote for the Government, I am voting for an immoral action which can lead to war. I am not prepared to do that, because that must finally lead to the destruction of Rhodesia and all the people in it.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ BARONESS ASQUITH OF YARNBURY
My Lords, I want first to express my deep regret that on this national, and international, issue we cannot speak here to-night in this House with one united voice. This is not a Party ques- 1356 tion; it is a great human question. I wish we could have spoken as the nation—a nation with a proud record of trusteeship, a nation which has led many younger nations along the path to freedom and to independence.
Listening, as I have done throughout the afternoon, to the criticisms from the Conservative Benches, criticisms of the Motion, of the Government and of the Prime Minister, I could not help wondering—as the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, wondered—what they themselves would have done to meet this situation if they had chanced to find themselves in power. We have had no answer to this question; we have had no single constructive alternative policy put forward during the whole of this long Marathon session. The only positive suggestion was that which was quoted by the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry; it was Mr. Maudling's suggestion in another place last night for a Royal Commission. I am thankful that he did make that suggestion because it invoked or elicited from Mr. Bowden the revelation that Mr. Smith had admitted on the "Tiger", that if the verdict of the Royal Commission went against him, he would seize independence all over again, and we should be back where we started from.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lady would comment on the all-Party approach to Mr. Smith.
§ BARONESS ASQUITH OF YARNBURY
My Lords, I did not hear what the noble Lord said. I will comment on the things I want to comment on. I have sat through this long debate and I now propose to make my own comments.
In past months the Opposition have, it is true, consistently urged the Prime Minister to negotiate; and he has negotiated. He has negotiated continuously and exhaustively, first by proxy in the so-called talks about talks which dragged on for months on end and elicited no kind of response or result. And finally, to his credit, waiving all red tape and protocol, he negotiated face to face with Mr. Smith on the "Tiger", for 48 hours on end, a feat of stamina if ever there was one. No one, I think, could have tried harder; no one could 1357 have shown greater patience or greater pertinacity in negotiation.
The offer he made was generous. By some it was thought to be too generous. I must confess to having quailed retrospectively when on Monday night, listening to his television broadcast, I heard from his own lips that he had actually offered Rhodesia Union with this country, and I was not very sorry that that part of it was turned down, though I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, may have been rather wounded in his feelings, that his kith and kin did not wish to join him.
§ BARONESS ASQUITH OF YARNBURY
Anyway, both those offers have been rejected, and the Prime Minister is taking the course to which he publicly pledged himself in the event of failure: that is, to go to the United Nations and ask for mandatory sanctions. This does not mean that we are abdicating our responsibility. It simply means that we are asking others to co-operate with us in making sanctions more effective. Nothing could be more futile than a policy of ineffective sanctions.
What does not seem to me to be fully realised by some noble Lords in this House is how deeply our honour is engaged. In fact I feel it is doubly engaged. First, it is involved in the solemn pledge given by the Prime Minister to the members of the Commonwealth. This pledge is reported in the White Paper, a copy of which we all possess, among the decisions—note the word "decisions"—taken. It was this decision which saved the Commonwealth from breaking up. Is it seriously suggested by any noble Lord in this House, to whatever Party he may happen to belong, that the Government should now dishonour this solemn promise given to the Commonwealth? Are they really going to cast their votes in the Lobby to-night for a flagrant breach of faith towards the Commonwealth?
I said that our honour was doubly involved. In my view it is morally even more deeply committed by the direct responsibility we bear for the 4 million Africans who are living in what we all recognised to-night, on both sides of the 1358 House, to be a Police State. It is a State in which human rights do not exist, except for the favoured few, and where arrest without trial, indefinite detention, restriction and banishment obtain; and from which there is no appeal or redress. These things are happening to those for whom we are trustees, and we are powerless to protect them. We cannot shrug off our responsibility and let ill alone.
I know that it is said that since Mr. Smith had swallowed the Six Principles, the Prime Minister should not have insisted so strongly on the framework of their implementation, on the mechanism of transition from an illegal to a legal Government. To this I would reply that professing and accepting principles is a cheap and easy form of righteousness. We all indulge in it. Implementing them is another matter. And for this implementation, which is the heart and nub of the operation, the British Government were bound to make provision. How, for instance, could the wishes of the people of Rhodesia be ascertained while freedom of speech does not exist in Rhodesia? It is no good just talking about—and here I quote from the Six Principles—progress towards ending racial discriminationandimmediate improvement in the political status of the African population".What this means and what needs to be done, as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his memorable speech, is more secondary schools in which Africans can learn how to practise their citizenship; it means less job discrimination, the end of the Land Apportionment Act; it means a wider franchise. What we need, above all, is a complete change, a revolution, in racial attitudes.
We have been warned that mandatory sanctions may deal a severe blow to our economy and that they are going to cost us dear. May I remind noble Lords that the history books tell us that these selfsame arguments were used in the last century against the abolition of slavery? People were told that this would be far too expensive, that we could not possibly afford it, that it would ruin us. Surely to-day we should all agree that no money was ever better spent than that which freed the slaves. I am not suggesting 1359 that there are slaves in Rhodesia, but there is something like political slavery. At present under 2 per cent. of its 4 million Africans are on the voters' roll. Their political leaders have been banished and all political activity is forbidden. In these conditions how can we expect them to graduate towards majority rule?
My Lords, I freely admit that the task that lies ahead of us is fraught with many difficulties and complications—even dangers. I do not seek to minimise them. I think we have to face that task because the alternative is a gross betrayal of our trust.
To the timorous I would say, "Take courage". Look back on our history when, for a cause, we have challenged Tyrants, Empires, Principalities and Powers, and, with the odds stacked high against us, we have won. In our history we have faced far bigger challenges than that of Mr. Smith. "What sort of people do we think we are?"
My Lords, politics is a strange amalgam of issues great and small; of values, some merely relative and others absolute. On the small issues we can often deal in compromise, adjustment, expediency and even in evasion. But, in my experience, on the great issues we are forced to choose between Right and Wrong. The issue we are facing now is a great issue. And, as I see it, this is the choice we must make to-night.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, for getting my cues wrong. It is one of the impressive features of this House that so many speakers have had actual experience. Always there is someone who can say, "I was there". The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said that he was at the signing of the Charter of the United Nations at San Francisco 21 years ago. I wish that the noble Marquess were present, because I am going to refer to him. From his presence in San Francisco 21 years ago he has, this afternoon, construed the meaning of the Charter and of Chapter VII. My Lords, I always respect the intentions of the founding fathers of the United Nations, but I sometimes wonder how many of them—and I include the noble 1360 Marquess—foresaw the circumstances in which these intentions might be construed. Would the representatives of Imperial Powers have been so magnanimous in their phrase about self-determination if they had seen, instead of 52 founding members of the United Nations, that there would be 120 members of the United Nations to-day, and that most of the additional 68 members would be newly emergent nations formed from the remains of their Empires? This is a fact of present times which some people find difficult to realise and accept. What amazes me is the way noble Lords opposite behave, literally as though they were the pallbearers of the British Empire. My noble friends and I on this side, curious as it may seem, do not regard ourselves as the pallbearers of something which is defunct, but as honourable trustees of those who are the heirs of the Empire, with whom we are glad to associate, and among those heirs are the peoples of British Rhodesia, the black and white Africans.
To return to the noble Marquess's interpretation of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, under which mandatory selective sanctions would be imposed, the noble Marquess says that the Security Council can act only in cases of aggression and that, by his definition. a threat to the peace and a breach of the peace are the same thing as a threat of aggression. He has founded on this something which I do not understand. The fact is that Chapter VII gives the Security Council broad discretionary authority. It does not define threat to the peace, breach of the peace or aggression. And deliberately so, for the good reason (and my noble friend Lord Francis-Williams, who was also there with the noble Marquess, will bear me out) that the lesser nations were afraid that the Great Powers, on the record of their behaviour at the League of Nations, would use legalistic specifications to evade enforcement measures. Therefore the Security Council was given, and has, a quasi-sovereign authority. It can consider on its merits the nature of any case referred to it and decide whether it is a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace or aggression.
I, too, can say that I was there—almost at any time after June, 1945, and the signing of the Charter. I have been in and around the United Nations and its activities in all parts of the world for the 1361 last twenty years. Sometimes I wonder seriously, when I listen to speeches from some noble Lords, whether they really know what has happened in the world in the past twenty years; whether, indeed, they are living in the 20th century at all. If they do know, all I can say is that they have refused to come to terms with the world which every child who reads comic papers knows.
The fact is, of course, that the world has changed. Man-made satellites encircle the world sixteen times a day. Every child knows it. Telecommunications reduce the world to a neighbourhood. You may not like your neighbourhood, but you cannot ignore it. Freedom has spread. By means of telecommunications, events within one country reverberate around the world, and events in the world reverberate within every country. That is why Ian Smith has to use "jamming" and censorship.
In this small world, this neighbourhood, Britain still has, and could increasingly have, more influence. But whether in the Commonwealth or in the United Nations, Britain is only one nation and cannot dictate. Its influence must be exercised by confidence and example, and through its sincerity and integrity must it manifest its sovereign wisdom. When, therefore, we understood the significance of full membership of the Commonwealth and pledged ourselves to take mandatory sanctions, to have done less would have brought us into derision and to fail to follow through now would mean the final loss of our leadership of the Commonwealth and of authority anywhere in the councils of the world.
The issue has now gone beyond the Commonwealth, beyond the family to the wider community of the United Nations; and there again we are one among the many. I know that some noble Lords may feel that this is an uncomfortable situation. There are too many black faces around the United Nations to-day. I have seen the impatience of those new nations who feel that we have been too tolerant with the Smith régime and believe that we should not have dealt so leniently with coloured usurpers if they had taken power instead of Smith. I sat through the Beira episode debates in the Security Council, when the United Kingdom sought to legalise its position under International Law, I think properly, for an action which was within our 1362 own purview of economic sanctions. That was the stopping by one of Her Majesty's ships of a ship going into the Portuguese port of Beira. I sat through two uncomfortable days with my noble friend Lord Caradon, in the Security Council, because on that occasion the impatience, and indeed the obstruction of what seemed to us a fairly self-evident thing, was due to the fact that many nations did not regard what we were doing as adequate.
Mr. Maudling said in another place, and the Prime Minister has agreed, that the dispute has now moved into a new dimension. It has moved out of your Lordships' discretion into the forum of the world. We can have mandatory selective sanctions, but we should be naïve if we did not take into account that our political behaviour and attitude in general might fail to influence the powers which may be involved. We want in wisdom to see that the sanctions are discretionary and not just going to lose us a bit of money or to make people suspicious. In our intervention in the Security Council we shall probably be accused of exercising economic pressure on South Africa. No one in this House can feel more strongly on the question of apartheid than I do, but I understand that the Government and all concerned in the United Nations have been trying during the last two years to keep the Rhodesian question and the South African question separate, because if they were to lead to a conjunction between Rhodesia and what is happening in South West Africa the situation might lead to a total confrontation between black and white Africa. This has been something which, although not spelt out, has been behind all the negotiations so far. I believe that sanctions can work, and I believe that they can work for the very reasons that many noble Lords opposite think they cannot work—because the League of Nations sanctions failed and because the demonstration of that will be a proof that they must be made to work. And they will be made to work, if we can convince the nations with us that they must see they are exercised. My Lords, what we are facing at the moment is a crisis—not the sort of thing that happened on the "Tiger"—hut a crisis in which this country stands at the bar of judgment of the entire world.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ LORD SINCLAIR OF CLEEVE
My Lords, I must begin by declaring an interest, in that I have a connection with a company which is a large employer of labour, both European and African, in Southern Rhodesia. That connection is no longer executive but it has enabled me to have some knowledge of that country and its people. I find it interesting to-night to recall that a year ago the information that I had—and it came from responsible sources at that time—was that, if the issue of the unilateral declaration of independence had been referred to the electorate in Rhodesia before it was, by what has been described as an historical mistake, taken by Mr. Smith, a large number of Europeans—and some of my informants would claim almost a majority—would have voted against it.
Another aspect of this is that I think it is the case that the majority of Africans in Rhodesia to-day—and I feel sure that the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, to whose most impressive maiden speech the House, and not least myself, listened with the greatest pleasure this afternoon, with his knowledge of that country and its people, would agree—pay little regard to the issue of majority rule. They are not vitally concerned with what we would regard as the political questions of the day.
The fact that such a large proportion have not obtained a voting qualification on the "A" roll is, of course, a matter of regret, but it is really paying scant justice to what has been done over the years in Rhodesia to say, as I think the most reverend Primate said, that in the matter of secondary education Rhodesia was going back. It is true that in the last year of U.D.I. it has not gone ahead at the pace at which it was going before, and this is not unnatural, because they relied to a certain extent on help which they were able to get from outside. But, from my own knowledge of what has been done, what is being done, and what many of us have helped to do in the matter of promoting education in that country, the record is an amazingly good one compared with that of other countries in Africa. I think that ought to be said.
At this late hour, and with so many speakers to come, I do not propose to go over all the points that I had intended to make, because most of them have 1364 already been made, but perhaps I may refer to two others which I think might be elaborated slightly. The first is that which the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder (I am afraid he has just left the Chamber), referred to as the Beira resolution of April this year. That resolution—and I do not pretend to be an authority on United Nations procedure—started, as indeed it had to start, with a clause which said that the Security Council determined that a threat to peace existed; and it went on in the fifth clause of the resolution to urge the use of force, if necessary, to make the embargo on oil effective. The United Kingdom, as the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder said, subscribed to and supported that resolution.
A similar resolution about selective mandatory sanctions will no doubt have to he made, and will have to start with a similar first clause. In spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder said, I beg leave to doubt that the resulting consequences of that action are going to be as simple, clear and straightforward as he implied. I have a grave fear that, however selective the first list maybe, it will very soon, despite anything that we can do, be extended beyond what we should desire. I think this is the beginning of an extremely slippery slope. The Prime Minister has said, as we all know so well, that the last thing he wants to see is a confrontation which would endanger the whole of South Africa. Once we are on this slope, it is going to be terribly difficult to stop short of such a confrontation.
The other point, following the line advocated by my noble friend Lord Conesford, that we should address our minds to the effects of the Motion before us, and in particular the last part of it, is the economic consequences of this. I do not pretend to be able to judge on the proper weight to be devoted to economic consequences as compared with the other issues, but they are important facts, and they should be understood not only in Parliament, but also throughout the country.
My noble friend Lord Salter most impressively outlined these consequences. He did not attempt to evaluate many of them. I do not pretend to do so with any great authority, but I think perhaps 1365 it would underline the points he made if I were to say that, while it is true that the President of the Board of Trade in his speech last night appears to have indicated that many of the economic consequences of the sanctions up to date—that is, sanctions as applied during this last year—have been overestimated, nevertheless, it is fairly generally known, and reported in the Press, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not concealed his anxiety about the consequences of sanctions as they are to-day, and particularly about the consequences of their extension. With sanctions as they are to-day, I think the cost in terms of balance of payments has been conservatively stated at about £100 million in the first year. Of that sum £50 million would be represented by the increased cost of copper, to which the noble Lord, Lord Salter, referred. The invisibles, and the extra cost of aid to Zambia, plus the extra cost of replacement tobacco, would bring this total up to something like £100 million.
But this is a relatively small item in relation to what the economic consequences in cost would be if extension of the sanctions to South Africa became a reality. As the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, pointed out most effectively—and I think, if I may presume to say so, with complete accuracy, facing the facts—the United Kingdom investment in South Africa is at the present time approximately £1,000 million. Our exports to that country are well over £250 million, and our imports from that country are not much less. That gives your Lordships an idea (and I think those figures are broadly accurate) of the great effect in an economic sense that these mandatory sanctions might well have.
As I said, I do not propose to attempt to deal with other points that have already been made, and made most effectively. I would simply content myself with saying that I agree most wholeheartedly with everything that my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech this afternoon, fearing as I do the very serious consequences to this country of losing control of the situation, which I think almost inevitably follows from this reference to the United Nations, unless in the meantime we can find some inspired opportunity for resuming negotiations to achieve a solution to the part which has 1366 so far proved a stumbling block. If that can be done, no one would be better pleased and happier than I. But, having regard to the facts that I have tried to argue, I feel that I must in these circumstances vote against the Motion before the House.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I feel it to be particularly important in this debate to-night that I should declare my background. For 27 years I served in the Colonial Service overseas, and for four years of that period I was put into a civilian gaol in Singapore when the country which we were administering was overrun. We elected at that time to stay in that territory because the people with whom we were associating were faced with a long period of privation, and it was considered a proper thing for us to do to remain with them.
I need hardly say that when we went back there after the war we were received with a good deal of friendship from that association, and I think the Administration which we were able to set up was set up in far easier circumstances. My other experience with colonialism in this connection was when, in the post-war period, Malaya was suffering subversion from illegal activities from outside her boundaries. I was present there when the late Sir Henry Gurney, a High Commissioner much beloved by all of us, was shot and murdered. I do not want to go into all the gruesome details of this period, which is burnt into my mind; but from the experience which I and others with whom I am proud to have been associated right through those years have had, we know what it is like when chaos and confusion faces a country and we know, too, the precautions which it is imperative to take to maintain law and order.
In the case of Rhodesia (and I do not want to be held as being an apologist for Mr. Smith) it is surrounded on all sides by landlocked countries, as I will refer to them, very similar to the case of Malaya. There has been incitement in my opinion, in the speeches made in the United Nations, and we have heard a great deal to-night of criticisms of a so-called "police State". I honestly do not understand why in that context we refer to "Mr. Smith's police State" when in Malaya, when I was there, we had detention camps and concentration camps 1367 to maintain law and order. It seems to me to be hypocritical in that context to refer to Rhodesia and not openly to admit that we did the same thing in another territory.
I am not a person—and I have had experience of this—who advocates the institution of concentration or detention camps, but I have seen that if one establishes these things in a territory it leaves the ordinary, decent population of the country the certainty of going to bed at night, husband, wife and children, and waking up in the morning alive. This is the benefit that a camp confers on the rest of the population when one pushes inside the people who may be responsible for stirring up trouble and inflaming feelings.
Therefore I think that in our dealings with Mr. Smith what we must try to do is to establish some form of conversation with him which he will understand with confidence. I think the thing that blocks us at the present moment in our dealings with the Rhodesian situation is that they feel we really do not understand their problem, and I believe it is true that in England, where we are not subjected to this kind of thing but where we go about our daily lives without fear of being shot or murdered, it is difficult for us to understand how people will feel when they are faced with those circumstances. Therefore what might seem repugnant to us is not necessarily repugnant or wrong in a country such as Rhodesia. There are other things which probably cause a lack of confidence and preclude us from coming to an agreement with Mr. Smith—
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me? He has defended detention camps in Southern Rhodesia on the ground of danger to individuals who might be attacked at night. Is he able to indicate a single case of anyone in detention in Southern Rhodesia (as distinct from those who are prisoners) who has been charged with any crime of that character?
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, while answering the noble Lord on this point, I am not aware of any of the circumstances to which he refers, but I feel that a great deal of play has been made with the fact that Mr. Smith has these deten- 1368 tion camps, and in a situation where speeches are made, particularly at the United Nations, this is apt to inflame opinion along the borders of Rhodesia. It is the essence of good government, stability, and so on, to maintain law and order and to give peace, and in doing so these detention camps are justified.
Finally, I would plead for a little restraint in our consideration of these problems and a realisation that everything that is written in this country or said in this House is read overseas in a matter of hours. We sometimes refer to Europeans in Rhodesia as being a privileged minority. I feel that a statement of that kind is inflammatory, and although we may not mean it in that context here, this is how it is received over there. I am not going to deal with other points which have been so ably expressed by other noble Lords who have already spoken. I was much impressed with the speech of my noble friend Lord Swinton, who in a most able manner told us why some of the misunderstandings at any rate could have arisen for the reasons he gave. I also warmly agree with everything that was said by my noble friend Lord Coleraine. It is now late and I do not wish to detain the House with anything further. I have had practical experience of some of the terrible things that can happen in countries outside England. I have given your Lordships my experience, and I have not spoken on matters of political expediency, with which I am not very conversant.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ LORD STAMP
My Lords, I feel at some disadvantage in taking part in today's debate. We have had so little time to consider the Prime Minister's account of the negotiations that have taken place in the past weeks, the White Paper, or Mr. Smith's version as to what happened and his reaction to it. In fact this is still coming through to us. Now we are being asked to give unqualified approval to the Government's conduct of negotiations and to the very momentous step they are taking in asking for mandatory sanctions from the United Nations.
So many factors have gone towards bringing about this tragic impasse. There are psychological factors—the clashing of personalities of the chief negotiators—that I believe played no small part in 1369 tipping the scale against a settlement at the time of U.D.I., and therefore in all that has happened since. There is also the not unimportant factor of pride. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the dispute may be, I wonder whether we have not been asking rather too much of the Smith Government in the conditions demanded under "A return to Legality", after all the mistrust, bitterness and even hate that have been aroused in the past year. If we are realists we do have to take human nature into account.
Then there is, too, this crucial matter of confidence—confidence that has completely ebbed away during recent months and had to be painfully re-established. The Smith Government was asked to have complete confidence that if they put themselves entirely in our hands they need have no fears. All the issues which have so tragically divided the two sides would be settled with complete impartiality and justice would be done. Whatever may be our views as to the lack of blame of past and present British Governments in the conduct of negotiations over the years, we know what the Smith Government felt. They had completely lost faith, as the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, pointed out earlier. Was it not asking too much to expect that this faith should so miraculously be restored? In saying all this I do not for one moment wish to give the impression that I support the present policies of the Smith Government. I am merely facing the facts.
Before giving my approval to the British Government's policies, as we are being asked to do, I should like to ask one or two questions. First, what do the Government mean by "majority rule"? Is it "one man, one vote", regardless of that man's understanding—or, rather, lack of it? This, to me, is nothing more than a travesty of democracy, and a tool of the demagogue. Or is it the responsible rule of an educated electorate? If they take the latter view, as I sincerely hope they will, it will have to be reconciled with the views of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, as recorded in paragraph 4 of Appendix A to the White Paper, which states thatthe principle of one man one vote was regarded as the very basis of democracy and…should be applied to Rhodesia.My Lords, there is no reservation about this statement, no indication that there 1370 must be certain educational standards. The question is of great urgency, since in the proposed referendum to ascertain the wishes of the people of Rhodesia as a whole, according to paragraph 9 of Appendix A of the White Paper, again we see it stated that this should be based on universal adult suffrage; that is, the concept of one man, one vote. If we accept the view, which surely must he that of all thinking people, that a true democracy must be based on an educated electorate, and this must be a prerequisite for majority rule, the problem of education in Rhodesia becomes of crucial importance. I am therefore most anxious to know what plans the Government have in mind to assist Rhodesia in this vital matter. It is a subject which I raised in a letter to The Times over a year ago, and had hoped to develop fully in this debate, if only a settlement had been reached. In spite of the turn of events, I feel that I must touch on it now.
A crash programme of education must involve, first, help in building schools, and teaching in primary and secondary schools, and at university level; and, secondly, in the training, not only in Rhodesia but also in this country, of teachers, doctors, agriculturists and others, including those intended for Government and other public services. It will be a gigantic task and made all the greater the longer this present tragic struggle continues and, consequently, the more impoverished Rhodesia becomes. It will be a task, though, that we shall have to face up to in spite of the straitened financial and educational resources, if we are to keep faith and justify the demands we are making. There will be tremendous urgency in the problem, which must mean the setting up of educational targets. For this reason, I strongly disagree with those who say that no timetable for majority rule should be laid down. In my view, the period within which it should be implemented should be categorically stated, and adhered to. This would be an earnest of good faith to the Africans, and equally a guarantee to the whites that there would be no giving way to pressure to implement premature majority rule.
However, all these plans will have to be postponed indefinitely if the Government really have given up all hope of a negotiated settlement. I would urge them to 1371 think again and consider that perhaps with yet another general attempt to reconcile the remaining differences our country, Rhodesia and the whole of Southern Africa may yet be saved from the abyss. Mr. Smith's reply to the cablegram sent by the three Members of Parliament about which we have just heard from Lord Coleraine, offers this last-minute opportunity. So much has been achieved in the recent negotiations—in fact, it would appear a working agreement on all the Six Principles. This in itself would have been considered a miracle a short time ago. It seems inconceivable that negotiations should be allowed to founder on a matter of procedure on the legal aspects of the dispute, which seems to me to be the main stumbling block. Surely it is the achievement of freedom, justice and prosperity for the people of Rhodesia, rather than the means by which this is brought about, that really matters.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, a good deal of what I would have said has been said by others, and I have listened to nearly all the speeches made in this debate. Nevertheless, there are two points which I believe are worth developing. As a matter of background, during many years in India I used to go about my business as a merchant adventurer (recently a dirty word, until hallowed again the other day by the Prime Minister) and I served in the Reserve of the Indian Army. I therefore had great opportunities to get to know the common people. I was privileged to live through the 'twenties and 'thirties and to work for and serve India during those years, and later through the difficult times of transition to independence. I am not, and never was, a diehard. Indeed, as a young man I was a member of a group of young Europeans who founded a dinner club with the object of entertaining individual Indian politicians when they were released from detention—Jawaharial, Bose, and Gandhi himself, among many others, met us in this way. I had dealings with many of these people after they had come to power. I say this only in terms of background, because if one turns to Rhodesia I must confess I have never been there, but I have friends and relations who have lived and worked in 1372 Rhodesia and who are there now, and I have contacts there as well.
So with my background, my impression is that many of us at home here are inclined to listen too much to the politicians and to overlook the poor people and the underprivileged. Indeed, I was horrified at the atmosphere in the other place when this matter was being debated yesterday. I could not picture these striving masses who need such help, but there they are, the hiving, striving masses of people, who do not much care who governs them, who hardly know who governs them, whose concern is their daily task of winning food and shelter and employment, as the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, in his splendid maiden speech said much better than I could. But to these people, although freedom from oppression to them is dear, the "freedom" for which politicians rant has little meaning. The noble Lord, Lord Sinclair of Cleeve, talked round this subject, for, as Kipling wrote in the foreword to one of his better-known poems:The toad beneath the harrow knowsExactly where each tooth-point goes;The butterfly upon the roadPreaches contentment to that toad.Are we sure that in Rhodesia a transfer of power may not in fact be only a transfer from one clique, call it what you will, to another clique? I am not so sure. I listened to the speech of the most reverend Primate with the greatest of interest, and to that made by the noble Lord, Lord Soper—though I appreciated his difficulty in being a pacifist and yet advancing the policy which he did. I shall quote, if I may, from a letter in to-day's Scotsman, written by a Scottish divine. This is an extract from it. He says:By all means let the more educated Africans share the responsibility of Government, but let it not be forgotten that education is not enough, and it is sadly true to our experience that the so-called educated African is the most ruthless and dictatorial towards his less-privileged fellow African, on whom he looks with unconcealed contempt.That may be overstating the case. Nevertheless, I understand that there is a measure of truth in it.
At this moment of time, how many Rhodesian Africans actually rejoice that certain leaders, so-called, some of them Peking-trained, are safely under lock and key? The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, 1373 spoke of detention centres. It is a fact that a number of the Peking-trained people are in Rhodesia and under lock and key and I am informed that a great many of the Rhodesian Africans are only too glad that they are. Incidentally, can nothing be done to take the B.B.C. to task for broadcasting such a loaded programme as they did in Panorama on Monday? The African in Rhodesia is no fool, and he has only to look North and West to see "exactly where each tooth-point goes".
The point I wish to emphasise is that we must not take the clamour of the African political leaders in Rhodesia as a just claim that they are competent to rule. Let us bear in mind our responsibilities to the poor and to the weak in our approach to this problem.
That the Prime Minister is stuck with his deadline is too bad. As the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said: is it right that there should be a deadline? In the light of what I believe to be our trust, are we not bound to urge the Prime Minister to try to spin it out? If only time could be kept on our side the problem would solve itself. Indeed, what the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, said about what was on the "ticker" may be an indication to this end. Given time, surely Mr. Smith—for whom I hold no brief—would be compelled to turn to his moderate supporters for that power which he may need to have to drive out his wild men. But if matters are brought to a crunch, who suffers most?—the under-privileged. More sanctions will only strengthen the hands of the white extremists. More sanctions will only risk a recourse to arms.
This brings me to my final point, which is this. I myself, and there are millions like me, could never be persuaded to open fire on my own kith and kin in Rhodesia—never. And which of us is prepared to go to the United Nations and ask someone else to do what we ourselves would not do? No, my Lords, force is out, if a widespread conflagration is to be avoided, and, as I see it, as an appeal to force must needs be the ultimate sanction of any mandatory sanctions. This is the reason why, though welcoming the Working Document, I utterly reject the recourse to the United Nations.
1374 Deeply impressed as I was with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Cones-ford, I was greatly entertained by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, with his accusations of splits here and splits there. Let us agree, perhaps, that neither Party is split. If the Labour Party is united, is it possible that it is united in being prepared to stumble forward into disaster? And if the Tory Party is united, then I suggest that we are united in desiring a peaceful outcome to this impasse, if only for the sake of the poor and under-privileged and even if it means some measure of withdrawal.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ LORD GIFFORD
My Lords, the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord who has just sat down have shocked me very deeply. He opposes this Motion because he considers that the continuance of the Smith régime is the best thing for the Rhodesian Africans. There was only one thing in his speech with which I agreed, and that was when he said that the Rhodesian African is no fool. Is this not what we are talking about? If he is no fool, has he not a right to share in the prosperity of his country? Has he not a right to be educated up to the level at which he can get on the "A" Roll? And has he not got a right to govern his own people? I am glad that the noble Lord said that the African is no fool, because a feature of some of the speeches which I have heard to-day and on other occasions and which I have found absolutely unbelievable is that there is some superiority in the European Government.
My Lords, I pass on from that to the contribution that I want to make this evening, which I hope I can make precisely and briefly. It is to think about the future. We are taking this situation to the United Nations, and to my mind the crucial question and the problem to which we can constructively turn our minds to-night is whether the sanctions which are going to be proposed are going to be effective. They are to be selective sanctions, and I presume they will be selected at any rate in such a way that, if successfully applied, they will have a sufficiently crippling effect on the Rhodesian economy to make life very difficult for the white Rhodesians.
I interpose here to answer what the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, said about the 1375 under-privileged and the Africans suffering from the sanctions. They are not going to suffer as much. Their life is pretty miserable as it is, and they are prepared to have the sanctions applied against their country in order that they may eventually have self-government. It is the white population, who have come to Rhodesia for an easy life, who are going to find things difficult. The noble Lord laughs, but it is they, who have come from South Africa and from England to have an easy life, with black servants and black cooks, who will find things difficult. It is they who, relatively speaking, are going to suffer much more. It is they who are going to find life more difficult, and it is they who, if they wish not to co-operate, will go elsewhere to retain that easy life in the sun.
Now whether the sanctions are selective or not, whether they include oil or not, if Rhodesia is in fact able to continue to trade more or less as before in commodities which are the subject of sanctions then we shall have failed, and the United Nations will have failed. There is only one way in which this situation can happen, and that is through the connivance of South Africa. I think we must face up to this fairly and squarely. I hope that the Government are facing it fairly and squarely. It is not a hypothetical situation, to my mind. I believe it to be a very real probability, for these reasons. First of all, South Africa has a vested interest in seeing that the sanctions against Rhodesia fail. She wishes to keen Rhodesia as a buffer State, as an ally between herself and the rest of Africa. She wishes to have it demonstrated that sanctions are an ineffective weapon against her kind of regime. What worries me, and has worried me over the last few days, is that we seem to be saying that we will not contemplate action to stop South Africa from conniving to defeat Rhodesian sanctions.
The position seems to be quite simple. If South Africa is the instrument whereby Rhodesia can escape from the effect of sanctions, then either the United Nations must place some kind of embargo—and remember, my Lords, it will be only a selective embargo—on South Africa, or must cut the supply lines between the two countries. To make your sanctions work 1376 you must either have a sanction against the sanction-breaker or physically stop him in his breaking activities. If the Government wish to retain control of the United Nations' operations than they must be ready to support one or other of these two measures. I hope the Government will not baulk these issues when they arise.
We have started voluntary sanctions now we continue to mandatory sanctions. We have acted throughout with determination to end white supremacy in Rhodesia. I hope that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor when he replies can assure the House that, if mandatory sanctions prove a failure owing to leaks through South Africa, we will not falter in our determination, we will not stand idly by.
I should have assumed that this assurance would have been easily given, were it not for some distressing reports circulating in the Press over the weekend. I quote from one of them. I do not like to do it and I apologise to my noble friends for doing so, but I quote it that it may be given the lie. I am quoting from the Sunday Times of last Sunday. Their reporter said:I told them we were not going to bankrupt ourselves for a lot of blacks.' That was the account given last week by a senior minister of his own contribution to the Cabinet debate.I hope that that is not an expression of Government policy. Of course, the economic consequences of sanctions have to be calculated and thought out very thoroughly. But it remains our duty to end white supremecy in Rhodesia. If the performance of that duty costs money then we must consider where we can economise. I should have thought that our commitment to the people of Rhodesia is far greater and takes priority over some of the territories and alliances which we support by our defence expenditure.
My Lords, I want to end by looking further into the future. I was very saddened by the attitude of nearly all the speakers of the Party opposite to United Nations' action. I got the impression that they thought that, by taking the Rhodesia situation to the United Nations, we were handing over the problem to a lot of irresponsible foreigners. That is not the approach which I as a young man have towards the United Nations.
1377 In the world to-day, where great Powers have for the first time the capacity to destroy the human race, the need for effective international action is paramount. Until now the United Nations have been paralysed and divided by the cold war; but now there is a situation where all the nations of the world but two—America, Asia, Africa, Europe, the nations of East and West, the developed and the underdeveloped countries—can unite together in a common aim to end a racialist minority in Rhodesia.
If they succeed in that there will at last be some meaning to international morality and some meaning to the United Nations as an effective instrument for the promotion of international morality. If they succeed there will be at last some hope for the oppressed peoples of South Africa, for that country will become even more a pariah among nations; she will have good reason to fear the force and effectiveness of international action. The short but admirably successful action against the tankers approaching Beira I saw as the first small step towards the realisation of an ideal. Now we are taking the second step. If we succeed, if the countries of the world can unite to defeat one of the greatest evil forces of the world, racialism, then they can unite to defeat other evil forces which threaten the life and freedom of human beings. For that reason, though I am sad that there is no alternative, I support wholeheartedly the action of the Government in taking this matter to the United Nations, because I think that it is not leading the way to dishonour, but that great good can come of it.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, in the early part of his speech the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, dismissed the Rhodesian people as a whole as a lot of idlers who had simply gone there to enjoy a luxurious and idle life. It is just that sort of approach, of course, which has bedeviled the situation and forced the Rhodesians to say to themselves, "We have got to stand up for our self-preservation against a Britain in which these views are so prevalent." The noble Lord said that he is a young man. I do not know whether he has ever been to Rhodesia—he shakes his head: he has not. I would suggest that he might think of going there and spending some 1378 months working on a ranch, a tobacco farm or somewhere; and perhaps he would then learn something of the hard life many Rhodesians have gone through in order to build, in seventy years, what was practically a desert into the wonderful country it is to-day.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD GIFFORD
My Lords, I appreciate that there are certain Rhodesians who, like their brothers in Kenya, have made such a success of inter-racialism. They have been there a long time and done great things. There are others who have come more recently and have done less.
§ LORD GRIMSTON OF WESTBURY
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, made the sort of speech which brands all Rhodesians as being alike, and it was only my intervention which made him qualify his remarks.
A number of my noble friends and myself have always taken the view that the whole psychological approach to the Rhodesians, of which the last speech was a telling example, has been utterly wrong. If we had approached them with the idea that the Rhodesians would react in the way in which we should react, we should never have threatened them with sanctions to "clobber" them into submission. We should have done far better to take the view, "We sympathise with your fears. We know what you have seen happen through the rest of Africa. If only you will let us we will help you to bring about majority rule by a really gradual process." if we had made them understand that our sympathy was with them, that our views were not those which have just been expressed, we should never have had the declaration of U.D.I. In fact, Mr. Smith said only the other day that if the proposals which came out of "Tiger" had been offered to him a year ago, he would never have declared U.D.I. And I believe that to be true.
At this hour I do not wish to make a long speech but, as I say, many of my noble friends and myself have taken the view that the mistake has been in the approach—not only by this Government but before them—to the Rhodesians. Of course the present Prime Minister went off wrong from the word "Go". He went on television and talked about the 1379 Rhodesians as a bunch of "frightened men". He went on to say that they would be brought to their knees, and that the Smith Government would be toppled "in a matter of weeks rather than months". We warned him that would not be so; and, my Lords, we have been proved right.
It has also been said that it is intolerable to think that a few white Rhodesians should stand in the way of the great march of African nationalism. I wonder whether much the same thought did not go through Hitler's mind when he had overrun the whole of Europe, and the only thing that stood against his complete domination was this wretched little Island which had the nerve to stand out against him. My Lords, that is how the Rhodesian people see themselves to-day. They have seen what has happened in the rest of Africa. I need not go into it—dictatorship; what has happened in Nigeria; public executions in the Congo; what has happened to Uganda—the loss of life which there has been over this last year. And what are we trying to do? We are telling them, "We want to force you into the same conditions as rapidly as possible". Well, my Lords, they are just not going to have it, any more than we were going to have it from Hitler. And, as I say, they have reacted exactly as we should react, and as we did react in 1940.
I want now to turn to the speech of the most reverend Primate. Like my noble friend Lord Conesford, I was shocked at his speech. It seemed to me that he was castigating the Smith régime, and I did not detect any generosity in his speech at all. In fact, I was sad that the head of my Church should adopt what I thought was an un-Christian attitude. He could have disagreed with them, but he need not have attacked them in the way he did. He rebuked us on the moral issue, that we cared not for the good of the Africans. I should like to read from a letter by a priest, who has worked for more than twenty years in Africa and in Rhodesia. I make no excuse for reading it, because I think it is important.
The letter was written on July 2 of this year by the priest in charge of St. Peter's Mission, Mandea, in Rhodesia. He says this:The Bishop of Matabeleland claimed on June 22 that he knows virtually no Africans 1380 who have expressed support for the Government of Rhodesia—that is, the Smith Government. He is still new to Rhodesia. After nearly twenty years spent among Africans as a mission priest, eight of them in Rhodesia, I would hesitate to dogmatise about what the Africans think. My own observations suggest a great variety of opinions among young Rhodesian Africans and certainly nothing remotely like universal hostility to the Smith Government. Many young men tend to be 'agin the Government' in Rhodesia, as elsewhere, but on the whole I believe there is a widespread acceptance of Mr. Smith's Government as the immediately practical alternative to nationalist tyranny. The difficulty about ascertaining African opinion is twofold. A large part of the African population live in tribal conditions and are quite unfamiliar with the machinery of Westminster democracy, and the fear of nationalist terrorism is still present. I have myself received murderous anonymous threats after venturing the most moderate thoughts about nationalist aims and methods. It is widely believed that by hook or by crook Britain may yet get the nationalist leaders into power in Rhodesia as elsewhere, and then God help anyone who has openly disagreed with them! Whatever Africans may think in their hearts, only the most courageous dare voice support of the Smith Government.My Lords, I quote that letter because I resent the most reverend Primate's suggesting that unless we are prepared to stand for handing Africans over to their own extremists, and to the terrorism exercised by them, we are failing in our moral duty. I have other evidences of that, but I will not trouble your Lordships with them. I believe that I have made my point.
All these judgments in treating the population of Rhodesia has bedevilled the situation until we have arrived at the crisis we are in now. The country is now being led on a course the consequences of which are incalculable. A number of friends and myself warned of this a year ago, and we have been proved right; and I am glad to say that the whole Conservative Party warn us again. Not long ago the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that we in this House have duties as well as privileges, and that if we think the Government are doing something foolish, we have a duty to warn them. The Government think that they will make sanctions effective by calling in the United Nations, and that they can retain control and keep them selective. What folly! But I need not expand on that, because it has already been referred to. Unless those sanctions embrace both South Africa and Portugal they are a humbug. 1381 Everybody knows this; and the people who know it best are the Afro-Asian States, who are probably telling Mr. George Brown this now in New York. And if they do embrace South Africa and Portugal, it will be disastrous. It will mean war in Southern Africa and disaster in this country, and probably for a large part of Africa as well.
The constant reference to moral issues which we have had to-day from many speakers is, to my mind, simply a smokescreen to cover up the ghastly mishandling of this problem. All the responsibility is in the hands of the Government and the Prime Minister. I believe that they are set on taking this country to disaster. I see various people smile, but that is my view. All that the Opposition can do—those who think like us—is to warn, and I shall be happy to go into the Lobby to-night against the foolhardy process that is going on, and try to show the world that we do not all behave like the Gadarene swine.
§ 10.2 p.m.
My Lords, I have listened to every speaker in this debate up to now. I am very hungry, and I hope not to detain your Lordships for long or to say anything that has been said before. At the outset, I should like to congratulate two noble Lords who are not here at the moment. One is the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, for having done what I have seen done only once before, by the late Earl of Crawford thirty years ago, and that is, when she was speaking, to silence the chatter on the Front Bench. The second thing I should like to do is to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, for once having made a speech in your Lordships' House without once bringing in King Charles's head.
Having said that, I would say that, though many years ago I had very dear friends in Rhodesia, I am speaking tonight as an ordinary Briton who has to try to judge fairly of what has been going on. It seems to me that the position we are in to-day is that we have arrived at a point where agreement has failed because neither side trusts the other. If that is so—and I believe it is so; The Times said so the other day, and I think they hit the nail on the head—then I think we must discount all that the people in this country who have not pulled it off say about their 1382 opponents, and I do not think we need pay too much attention to what people in Rhodesia say about our people, because it is natural to blame the other man when a negotiation has broken down.
I began to take notice of this matter long before the present Government were formed. When the Prime Minister first took office, and I think before he had even formed his Government, he put out a proclamation in the Press to say what in his view was the duty of British subjects in the event of a U.D.I. The proclamation must have come from some very dusty pigeon-hole and been quite ancient, because it struck me as so strong and violent that I wrote from the North of Scotland to the paper in which it appeared—it was one of the leading London dailies—and protested against the terms of the proclamation saying that I thought they were much too strong. My letter never appeared. I have made inquiries since, and I rather gather that for every letter from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in the Press there are probably hundreds of other letters which are suppressed by newspapers. I think your Lordships ought to take notice of the fact that the Press in this country, being in a few hands, is able to suppress opinion of which it does not approve. It is a very dangerous situation, and that is the only reason why I am addressing your Lordships to-night.
The second event in this matter, I am sorry to say, occurred outside this House in the course of a speech made by the most reverend Primate in Aberdeen, when he told people that their Christian duty in the event of U.D.I. was to support Her Majesty's Government in the application of sanctions, even to the use of force if necessary. I hope I have not made any mistake in the words I have attributed to the most reverend Primate. Now anybody who talks about sanctions proceeding eventually to force means effective sanctions. I know something about effective sanctions, because I have seen them in operation. In my opinion, there are no effective sanctions that do not involve starvation and, therefore, the starvation of children. Anyone who has seen children starving, and seen the heartbreaking courage and self denial of children who were suffering from real hunger, has a memory which will never 1383 be extinguished. I cannot understand how anybody who founds his life upon the Gospels can advocate anything of that kind.
I know that the sanctions applied by Her Majesty's Government have not produced that effect. In my opinion they have produced little effect, but they have not been effective sanctions. But if you take effective sanctions, that is what they must entail. There is nobody better entitled than the most reverend Prelate to tell us where Christian duty lies, but if that is Christian duty, then, my Lords, I have ceased to be a Christian for very many years.
A few days after that speech U.D.I. was declared, and Her Majesty's Government then said that this was treason on the part of Mr. Smith and that it was flat rebellion. They came to your Lordships' House and asked for sanctions. In doing so, they produced a reading of history to the disparagement of Mr. Smith and in praise of George Washington that left me dumb with astonishment. I think we must give Mr. Smith credit for the fact that he has not killed any British yet and that he has treated our Governor with marked respect. But it seems to me that the Government had at their choice a large number of ways of dealing with this matter. They know a great deal about strikes. They might have called it a strike; they might have called it a mutiny; they might have called it insubordination. But they have called it treason and forced a breach with the Crown, and it seems to me that they did themselves a great deal of harm to the cost of this country.
To judge from the speeches which have been made, many supporters of Her Majesty's Government in this country have far less devotion to the Crown than most inhabitants of Rhodesia. By forcing that breach upon Rhodesia they strengthened Mr. Smith greatly. By taking it at a lower level, and taking a less violent line, they would have many more friends and supporters in Rhodesia who would exercise pressure on Mr. Smith. It always seems to me that controversy, and especially political controversy, is like arithmetic—your fractions are much easier to deal with if you reduce them to their lowest terms, 1384 and in this case it would have been much better not to make the breach so absolute. There have been a great many things in the course of the negotiations which have come out in the Press and which have led me to feel that the difficulty is that we have never really got to terms with Mr. Smith.
The whole business of the ceremony at the Cenotaph struck me as being so bad. Here is Mr. Smith who, all over Africa, is known for his war record. It is the one thing that I know about him because I keep hearing about it from the Cape. It did not seem to me that it would have been out of place to say to him, "Well, this matter of the Cenotaph lies far deeper than any dispute between us. Will you nominate somebody to represent you and to come along with us at the ceremony on November 11?". Instead of that, the Government said, "There being no legal Government now in Southern Rhodesia, the wreath will be laid by the Commonwealth Secretary". Is that the way to deal with a matter of that kind? I suggest the Government would have taken Mr. Smith at his weak point and he would certainly have made some response.
I could elaborate on that, but the time is getting on and I do not want to detain your Lordships, but I do want to know where we are going.
§ LORD MITCHISON
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord one question? This is King Charles's head. Does he prefer effective sanctions or war?
I do not prefer sanctions and I do not prefer war. I think war would be a crime which might take the linchpin out of civilisation. I think it would be the most terrible crime, As for sanctions, I have never approved of them and, as I have said, I have been where sanctions have been effective and they always involve starvation. In the case of Rhodesia, I do not think the United Nations' sanctions will succeed any more than the British sanctions have done. I do not think they have a chance of succeeding. You will never get our own race to give way merely to hardship and difficulties. I know that perfectly well, and I have seen too much of sanctions in operation to have any doubt of it for a moment.
1385 Sanctions will get us nowhere. It may even be that going to the United Nations for sanctions will be less oppressive to Rhodesia than the sanctions have been up to now. I am perfectly certain that sanctions will never be effective and that is why I am asking the Government—and I want to know as a British subject—where I am being driven and where I am being led. All the Government will do is to sow an enormous amount of quite unassuageable bitterness and make the world a much more difficult place for everybody to live in.
As for the economics of the situation, I will just say this. My own little part of the world has been growing seed potatoes for the past thirty years for South Africa. It is a trade which has been carefully worked up and the people have been educated to it. It takes a great deal of education to grow seed potatoes in the way the South Africans want them, and people tell me up there now that in that country district our trade with South Africa is worth a million pounds a year. I do not know if that is true but that is what the people say. If we lose that trade it will go to another part of the world; the skill will be developed in another part of the world and we shall never get the trade back. That is the kind of thing we are risking.
However that is the economic side of the problem. What I want to oppose is the misery which sanctions will bring to hundreds of thousands of people, being really, in the end, quite ineffective.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in a debate of this kind, where so many speakers are limited and inhibited by the lack of time, one need only at this stage give a brief outline of one's views and what decisions one has finally reached after listening to the arguments of other speakers. I do not propose to detain your Lordships for more than about five minutes. Having spent most of my life in endeavouring to help nascent nations to learn the art of self-government, I am naturally allergic to listening to speeches which indicate that one can work miracles by a few noble words and a stroke of the pen. It takes a great deal longer in practice than that.
I have given a good deal of time and attention to the problems of Africa, and not least to those that have occupied our 1386 attention to-day. May I at once say that the agreement on what is called the Independence Constitution seems to me a really great achievement, and I can only join with those who have expressed sorrow that so promising an advance should have been wrecked by the insistence on the terms of what is called "return to legality", which, in my opinion, never could have hoped for acceptance by Mr. Smith and his colleagues. They amount in effect, as has been said before, to a demand for absolute and unconditional surrender. I do not propose to go into that at any length because the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, in the course of his speech made many of the points very much better than I could. As I at one time was a loyal servant of Lord Swinton when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies, I realise the value of his long experience.
Mr. Smith has been asked in effect to go bound hand and foot into a four months' interlude, during which time the British Prime Minister would in effect become the dictator of Rhodesia. I take Lord Swinton's remarks just that one step further. He pointed out that this was indeed, and I agree, Crown Colony government. But what does that mean in these circumstances? It means that the Governor there has loyally to obey his instructions from Whitehall; and that means, as I said, that the Prime Minister here would for four months be the dictator of Rhodesia. That thought makes me shudder, and what feelings it inspires in Mr. Smith I can easily guess. Mr. Smith could not possibly have accepted such a position as was offered to him in these arrangements without a complete loss of dignity and self-respect and the trust of his supporters.
It seems to be overlooked that Rhodesia is in effect a small nation now, proud of its past and confident of its future. Surely it was worth while for our Prime Minister to continue the effort to find a compromise far short of the merciless terms we have recorded in the White Paper. The suggestion has been made, but I will not go into it again, of what could still be offered in a continuation of these talks or negotiations, and I personally would also plead that some further effort might be made on these lines to talk with Mr. Smith.
The effect of the reference to the United Nations has been adequately 1387 analysed to-day, and the appalling dangers of such an abdication of British responsibility have been put before your Lordships most eloquently by more than one speaker. For myself, I have always opposed sanctions as a policy. They are effective, as the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun has stressed, only in bringing hardship and distress to those for whom the Government profess to be intervening. The more virulent form of mandatory sanctions comes, almost inevitably following on the first when they fail, and these are nothing but a wicked exercise of power, with appalling dangers of escalation into war. I will therefore record in the Division Lobby my own disapproval of the Motion before the House.
One brief word before I sit down. Shorn of its complexities, what is all this about? The stand being made in Rhodesia is designed to establish that the Rhodesians themselves, and not the British Government, will decide the pace of African political advancement in that country. The 1961 Constitution has been called the blueprint for gradualism, the slow march to majority rule. Many of us believe that if left to continue managing their own affairs, which they had done successfully for 43 years, the European population of Rhodesia would, and will inevitably face and recognise realities. African economic progress, educational progress and training in civic responsibility will see to all that, without unnecessary intervention from people in this country, in Whitehall and Westminster, who mostly do not understand what they are thinking and talking about.
Half of the 4 million Africans in Rhodesia live and work in the tribal trust territories and have little idea of what all this fuss is about. Over 2 million of them have not the faintest notion of what we are talking about to-night. Their opinion is to be ascertained. How it is to be ascertained, unless it is done through their chiefs, which I understand is not a method popular in Whitehall, I do not know. The Rhodesian Government is, within its means, implementing an educational policy whose target is universal literacy for the African. I mention this subject of education because I think that a distorted view has been placed upon that position by certain speakers in this House 1388 to-day. Even now, African literacy is higher than in most other African countries, and the bulk of educational funds must be raised by taxation of the European minority. Were education—and these are official figures that I am just about to give—made compulsory for all Africans, and their teachers obliged to have the same qualifications as in European schools, the cost would be £140 million per year—about £44 million more than the total national Budget of Rhodesia. Instead, £6½ million was allocated in the last Budget. This, nevertheless, constituted the largest single item in that Budget. Short of massive loans from Britain, it is impossible to see how the position can be appreciably improved.
Even what is called a crash educational programme must be severely limited by the time factor in regard to such problems as the training of teachers and other matters. One of your Lordships said that these people have a right to freedom and to have the best education. Freedom does not bring the best education. It has to be paid for. It took years to profit by it. Look at the rest of Africa to-day. It is ridden with the downfall of all that we call law and order, and the chance of education, except in the art of eliminating your fellow man, is almost non-existent in many of the countries there. In short, this superficial survey covers complex problems which can only be aggravated by calling in the United Nations and by threats of economic strangulation ending in war. Personally, I refuse to subscribe to chaos, and therefore I oppose this Motion.
In conclusion, may I say that a little generosity from our own Prime Minister, and a recognition that complete victory for his views is not worth the tragic price that seems likely to be exacted, might yet save the situation? One remembers, in this connection, the old saying that learnt at school, which was thatThe gods will sell you anything, at a priceeven our Prime Minister—but the price is theirs not yours.And the price in this case, my Lords, is far too heavy. But if we proceed with this and if, as seems almost inevitable, from the United Nations we pass to war, then I would take leave to conclude with a 1389 slightly amended quotation of some well-known verses:But when the last great trumpet callA-down the mountain throbs,And the last grim jest is enteredIn the big, black book of jobs;When Salisbury's grave-yards give againTheir victims to the airI wouldn't like to be the manThat sent our Forces there.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, may I first apologise to your Lordships for not being in the Chamber for a short period from 6.15 p.m. onwards, and also to noble Lords whose speeches in consequence I missed? I had a commitment outside the House which I could not avoid. I rise to support without reservation the Motion moved by my noble Leader. Almost all that could be said about the grave problem of Rhodesia has already been said, and at this stage there is little new, I think, that anyone can add to the debate.
Some of your Lordships, however, have criticised—unreasonably as I think—the proposals for a settlement which the Prime Minister attempted to negotiate. It is just a year ago to-day that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington (I am sorry he is not in his seat), described the speech I had made the previous day, in a debate on Rhodesia, as "very unfortunate"—a speech which I considered then, and still do, as being appropriate to that occasion. I think it is very unfortunate, and regrettable that the noble Lord should find it necessary to advise his friends to vote against the Motion now before your Lordships, in view of the stand which he took in the matter a year ago, of which he has been reminded by my noble Leader. While referring to the speech that I made just about a year ago, I should like to say to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, how much I appreciated his generous remarks in the subsequent debate when he found it necessary to refer to my speech.
If there can be any criticism of the Prime Minister's handling of the situation, it cannot be, in my view, that he did not go far enough, but that he may have been far too generous. It is evident that he was making a sincere and sustained attempt to find an acceptable and working solution to this problem. Yet he has been given very little praise by the noble Lords of the Party oppo- 1390 site for his endeavours. Rhodesia has rejected the proposals, and, as one daily national newspaper—and it was not a Socialist paper—put it last Tuesday:Mr. Ian Smith's Cabinet has chosen the path of political madness.All that remains for us, for Great Britain, now is to face the facts. Whatever lip-service may have been paid by Rhodesia to ultimate majority rule, the fact remains—and we cannot get away from it—that U.D.I. was a rejection of racial equality, even racial equality at a far distant date. We have to face the fact that white supremacy and racial equality cannot be reconciled, at least not for Members on this side of your Lordships' House.
There are, I am sure, many in this Chamber, on both sides and in all Parties, who believe that all men are equal in the sight of God; that the same warm, red blood courses through the veins of Africans as through the veins of noble Lords opposite; that coloured people experience the same emotions as whites. The only difference is that we have had greater opportunities, opportunities which have been denied to them over the years, because (I am bound to say this because I believe it) they have been regarded in no other light than as merely a form of cheap labour. The rejection of the proposals by Rhodesia is, in my view, a restatement that racial equality is unacceptable to the Smith Cabinet, and the responsibility for this is not with the Prime Minister of Great Britain but with Rhodesia. If anything, the Prime Minister has almost fallen over backwards in trying to get a settlement, and it is to his credit, his lasting credit, that he endeavoured to do so.
That we have some responsibility for what happens in Rhodesia is not, I imagine, in question. If this is so, then we have to take the speediest possible action to end racial dictatorship by all the means in our power. We must prevent—although I fear that we are already too late—the Rhodesian Cabinet from turning Rhodesia into another South Africa, where the treatment of the coloured population is a disgrace by any civilised or Christian standard.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
I have abundant evidence. I would advise the noble Earl to read a speech made on the previous occasion by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who gave us facts.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, rightly implied that Christian belief is not the prerogative of one political Party. But can noble Lords opposite, knowing the philosophy and behaviour of the Rhodesian Government towards Africans, square that knowledge with their Christian consciences? The most reverend Primate of All England does not live in an ivory tower, as has been suggested. He just faces facts, and weighs them in the balance of what I believe to be Christian belief and action.
We all know that this problem is a grave matter for millions of Africans; a reflection on us that they are compelled to live in a police State, with its control of the Press, its restriction on liberty and its concentration camps. Does the Party opposite want us to shirk our responsibilities in this matter? Does the Party opposite want us to dishonour the pledge to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers? And they are not all Africans. Does the Party opposite want history to record that we placed the interests of a comparatively few white Rhodesians before the interests of Africans, whose country it is, after all? The Party opposite is no longer, if ever it was, on the side of the angels. To-day, Press reports show that the Archbishops of Canterbury. York and Wales, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland and the Presidents of the Congregational and the Methodist Churches have made it quite clear that Britain cannot acquiesce without dishonour in the continuance of the present Rhodesian régime. They go on to say that if sterner measures are needed our readiness to apply them will be felt by the world to be a test of our sincerety.
It is, I acknowledge, a sad decision which we in this country must make. It is a decision that none of us really likes. It is a decision which every one of us would wish to avoid if it were humanly possible. It possibly has, I fully realise, serious financial implications. But this, the cost, must not be the yardstick by which we measure our future action. I believe, perhaps wrongly, that the future peace of the world is 1392 more bound up with African progress than with what is happening in the Far East. Furthermore, I believe we have a moral obligation—and here I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Grimston of Westbury, that this is not a smokescreen. This moral obligation is something which many of us in your Lordships' House feel very acutely. We believe we have a moral obligation to see that Africans in Rhodesia have majority rule in a reasonable time, that they have personal equality and the power to bring it about. For these reasons I support the Motion, and hope we shall not fail to impose whatever sanctions are needed to change the present situation in Rhodesia.
§ 10.38 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, at this time sentences must be compressed and explanations forgone. I shall also have to forgo the temptation to tangle with the noble Lord who has just sat down, who so enticingly trailed his coat for any succeeding speaker. But I can assure him that there is much that he said with which I should welcome an opportunity to deal.
§ LORD BARNBY
I feel strongly about this whole matter, but all one can do is to repeat what has already been said, and emphasise it. The points I should wish to make have all been embellished, and I would confine myself to saying only this. The subject of the Motion is reference to the United Nations. After centuries of proud independence, I hate to think that we in this country have become so craven that we cannot manage our own business and have to hand it over to an alien body; and also that this is done before submission to this House, which is still a part of Parliament—I repeat "still a part of Parliament".
The irresponsibility of sanctions could make a desert of Central Africa, and it is the Africans who will suffer most. Is that the intention, the imposition of sanctions that will destroy Rhodesia? The United Kingdom representative to the United Nations is an unfortunate appointment, ideologically and emotionally too slanted. Can we not forget all these legalistic intricacies and the complicated vapourisings of the White Paper about 1393 this Rhodesian fiasco which has been so deplorably handled from the start and somehow, as one would in any deal when realism demands give-and-take, continue negotiations?
In the United Nations, action is unpredictable, in spite of what may be said regarding containing its intentions. The real hazard in this problem is our trade; our trade, in the main, with the South African Republic. My noble friend Lord Sinclair of Cleeve has already emphasised the size of our investment there; it is 900 million dollars. Let us take cognisance of what employment is represented by nearly £300 million of exports from this country to the Republic of South Africa. That is at stake.
That investment is to be set against trusting white people like ourselves with the future of what is, after all, less than one-nine thousandth of the population of the world.
Let us think realistically. In spite of all the denunciations of moral principles, we live by trade. How are we going to feed our people without keeping them employed? It is ridiculous to expect Rhodesia to accept unconditional surrender and to submit to rule from Whitehall. Our export trade is the most important thing; not this constitutional bickering in ignorance of Rhodesia and in ignorance of economics. Many speakers from the opposite side of the House have reasoned in honest belief but in abysmal ignorance of economics. As one who, with my noble friend Lord Sinclair of Cleeve, was one of the two past Presidents of the Confederation of British Industry who have taken part in this debate, I make no apology for "rooting" for our trade—our trade which keeps our people employed. I do not now speak for the Confederation of British Industry.
Much of my earlier life was spent in the U.S.A. What confusion there, to be waging a costly war in Vietnam against Socialism and, at the same time, conspiring to destroy anti-Communism in Africa! By the record in the assessment of the United States, its expression of collective wisdom is not such as to give great encouragement. I have never had much admiration for it, in that tall building on the East River; that Tower of Babel; that reflection of what was once described in this House not long ago by 1394 our late colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, as "a convention of nigger minstrels"—
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Shame!
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he will not withdraw that disgraceful expression?
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, however much the noble Lord may dislike the observation, I must point out that if the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, does not give way, the noble Lord, Lord Byers, cannot intervene. He cannot do so while the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, is on his feet.
§ LORD BARNBY
Reading from my notes, my Lords, I say, as was once described in this House by our former colleague, Lord Brabazon of Tara—and I repeat—
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Do not do So !
§ LORD BARNBY
—what was said. With due respect to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, if he had listened he would have heard me say that I was repeating what had been said.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Shame!
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, there is talk of rebellion and the use of force. Well might the Rhodesians fear another Congo! And they think of an earlier resistance. A few weeks ago I stood on the banks of the River Concord at Massachusetts, where the fighting for American independence began. On the monument there the inscription reads:Here was made the first forcible resistance to British oppression. Here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world. In gratitude to God and in love of freedom.I will certainly vote against the Motion.
§ 10.48 p.m.
My Lords, I have been asked to be brief and I shall not take more than two or three minutes. As one who is half Rhodesian—I returned from that country only about a month ago—I thought I might make a few useful comments. Noble Lords will realise that it is even more important to me than to most of your Lordships that a just, amicable settlement should be arranged. I should like to take up the question of the "Police State" which noble Lords opposite so like to get their tongues around. Up until the time the Rhodesian Front came to power there was mass intimidation and thuggery in all the native towns. I got this information from my native employees and by talking to other natives. You were unable to show lights in the huts, and if you did somebody from ZANU or ZAPU would come in, and it you were wearing the wrong tag you were beaten up. When the Rhodesian Front came in they brought about stern measures, and now all is peaceful. People can have their lights on and the natives there say, "Thank God for this Police State!"—if that is what you call it.
In other parts of Rhodesia—in my district, for example—there is an unarmed white policeman to 15,000 people. This is supposed to be a bad area, on the edge of Zambesi, but the security is excellent, chiefly because the loyal Africans there are 90 per cent. behind Mr. Smith and will at once give away terrorists who go out and come back.
I am afraid they do not know what the word is. These terrorists are trained in Peking to murder white and black. The last man they murdered was a black lorry driver. They are taught to maim cattle, which is an unpleasant thing to do, and to destroy crops. To cope with them, armed police go out and so far they have captured them to a very satisfactory extent. Again, on the question of the Police State, there is censorship of newspapers, I admit, but that is because there are only two newspapers in Rhodesia, both violently anti-Government and run from outside the country.
I should like to support what the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, said about children. 1396 Sanctions, as he rightly said, will hit the poorest inhabitant—in other words, the African. Your Lordships may know that out of 4 million Africans, 2 million are children under 17 years. The population rises so rapidly due to the care with which they have been looked after. As is usual in these countries, I am afraid that the man gets the first cut of the cake. He was the warrior and is now the workman. His wife or wives get the second two cuts, and the eight or nine children have to share the third. If sanctions bring about economic catastrophe, I can see many little black children suffering from malnutrition or even dying. And I would say that the noble Lords opposite, or even more their colleagues in another place, are the murderers.
To come back from Rhodesia to Britain, I believe that the British people as a whole are now moving solidly behind Mr. Smith. Recently a count was taken along a big train of workers. I am talking about Britons—they have the vote. We went up to every man and asked his view and 80 per cent. plumped for Mr. Smith. So if, as I hope, it turns down the Motion, this House will once more be expressing the true wishes of the British people.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ LORD RUSSELL OF LIVERPOOL
My Lords, some of the things which have been said by members of Her Majesty's Government and other politicians on television, in another place and in this House during this debate, remind me of something that I said in your Lordships' House just over a year ago when we had a debate on November 15, 1965, the first debate on the situation in Rhodesia. I then said that I hoped the words "treason" and "traitor" would not any more be used to describe the action which had then been taken by Mr. Smith in the declaration of U.D.I., and I hoped and suggested that such words should be kept for more suitable occasions. Even through U.D.I. was unconstitutional, I felt sure that to call the Rhodesians traitors would only make eventual reconciliation—and I imagined then that eventual reconciliation was what any Government would want—more difficult to achieve.
Needless to say, my appeal had no effect on the Government. But it did have an effect on the Rhodesians, and that was to recall the famous words of Sir Winston 1397 Churchill during the early days of the last war:What sort of people do they think we are?Furthermore, when punitive sanctions were imposed, it merely had the immediate effect of bringing still further support behind the Rhodesian Government. Many people who voted against Mr. Smith in May, 1964, then became solidly behind him. In the same debate, the noble Earl the Leader of the House said this:If we are imposing sanctions on a country, then they will hurt that country as a whole, but we hope that there will be a change of heart quickly, and the sooner then we shall he able to make friends again."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 270, col. 413.]That, my Lords, seems to me a strange way of making friends; and, of course, it has had the opposite effect. Another thing the noble Earl said in the same debate was this:We have all to recognise our ultimate and undying responsibility for the whole 4½ million people which is the total if the African and white population of Rhodesia are added together."—[Col. 413.]No one would disagree with that, I should have thought. But what so many people do not seem to recognise—and it is most unfortunate that they do not—is that we cannot conscientiously discharge that responsibility merely by giving all Africans the vote, and at the same time giving them their independence, without first being certain that they are mature enough to make proper use of them.
However much we may deplore U.D.I., I am sure that no one who during the last few years has visited those countries that have obtained their independence in Central Africa, can fail to understand why the Rhodesians have been discouraged, dismayed and apprehensive at what has happened in those countries since they obtained independence. Furthermore, anyone who visited the Congo when the United Nations force was there, and who has done so again since they left—and I have done both—must fervently hope that, whatever other steps Her Majesty's Government may decide to take, there will be no direct intervention by the United Nations in Rhodesia; and I hope that in his reply the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will give a categorical assurance that, should such a resolution be put forward in the Security Council asking 1398 for force to be used, then it will be vetoed by our representative on the Council.
If one wants to see in Central Africa a monument to African democracy, one has only to look around, and what one sees is tragic and frightening. The Congo, until the Belgians suddenly gave it independence before the Africans were ready for it, was noted for its peace, good order and economic advancement. Immediately independence was declared it dissolved into widespread tribal conflict. Within a couple of weeks the mass exodus of Europeans had begun, and within a short time the economy was wrecked, law and order gave way to anarchy, and bands of terrorists roamed the countryside looting, murdering, raping and committing other terrible atrocities, even including cannibalism. Many of the victims, the most reverend Primate might like to know—or perhaps he already knows—were missionaries. Nor should it be supposed that it was only the white population who were the victims. Far the greater proportion of the victims, those who were massacred, were Africans.
After a short period, during which Tshombe managed to quell most of the terrorists with the help of the mercenaries—about whom some of your Lordships have had such unpleasant things to say—and was just beginning to restore the country's economy, he was dismissed by General Mobotu, who now rules the Congo as a military dictator. Anyone who has recently visited the Congo can be under no illusion that independence has brought with it any benefits to the ordinary African—and it is the ordinary African that no one ever seems to think about.
Nor has there been any improvement in the African's living conditions in Tanzania, which includes Zanzibar. Some of your Lordships may remember that when Tanzania was given its independence it was heralded asGoing forward under sane, balanced leadership to become a valuable influence on the African Continent.Look also at Ghana and Nigeria. The former, soon after independence, became a sink of bribery and corruption, and a revolution eventually took place there. The latter is now in the throes of tribal warfare, and its moderate African leader was murdered. It is always unwise to 1399 predict anything, but I predict that after Jomo Kenyatta goes it will not be long before exactly the same thing takes place in Kenya. There is little wonder, therefore, that the Rhodesians fear what might happen in their country should there be majority rule before there has been an adequate advance to maturity.
One of the accusations repeatedly made against Mr. Smith—and there are many—is that he has stated publicly that there will not be an African Government in Rhodesia during his lifetime. The true facts are as follows. He was asked whether he subscribed to the statement attributed to his predecessor that there would be an African Government in Southern Rhodesia, as it was then, during his lifetime. He said that he did not believe this would be the case, but went on to explain—and this, of course, is what his denigrators always leave out, if there is anything in the man to denigrate—that it was generally accepted that by an African Government one meant an African Nationalist Government, and that if this came about his Government would have failed in its policy of advancement on merit, irrespective of race or colour. He expanded on this in a broadcast on May 10, 1964. I mention the date merely because I happened to be there myself and heard it. He made clear his meaning that an African Government meant a Government by Africans in the interests of Africans alone. And on June 4 in a speech in Bulawayo he put his meaning beyond all doubt when lie said:Our mission is to create civilised conditions here on a non-racial basis, so the time may come when we will not have to think of our Government as a European or African one but as a Rhodesian one, provided it is based on merit.Despite all that, I understand (and I shall be corrected if I am wrong) that Mr. Smith has given Her Majesty's Government a guarantee that there will be majority rule within a reasonable time. In any case, adequate safeguards are contained in the Independence Constitution set out in the White Paper which would have been ratified by the Rhodesian Cabinet had it not been for the terms imposed by our Prime Minister for an immediate return to legality. Most of your Lordships doubtless saw the Prime 1400 Minister's appearance on television two nights ago. I do not propose to say anything about it, save this: that to me and, I should have thought, to many others—in fact to most others who were able to distinguish "Stork" from butter—who witnessed it, its sole object was to place the blame for the failure of the negotiations fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Smith.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Why not?
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: It was the truth.
§ LORD RUSSELL OF LIVERPOOL
We shall know one day whether it is the truth or not. Anyhow, Mr. Smith gets the blame for everything. Unfortunately it has become the habit in Government circles to blame Mr. Smith for almost everything, and it is generally thought that the oil air-lift to Zambia, which cost the British taxpayer so much money, became necessary because Mr. Smith refused to allow oil to reach Zambia via Rhodesia. That happens to be quite untrue, because as early as last January Mr. Smith made an offer to supply Zambia with the oil she needed, and he stated that there were no strings attached to the offer. He offered unconditionally, subject only to acceptable administrative and payment arrangements, to refine and rail to Zambia its normal requirements o motor spirits, the crude oil earmarked for this purpose to be delivered on Zambia's account through the port of Beira. This offer, he said, if accepted, would help Zambia to restore her economy and relieve the British taxpayer of the substantial and wasteful cost of the oil air-lift.
For the Prime Minister to place the entire blame for the failure of the negotiations on Mr. Smith is, in my submission, most unfair and is not substantiated by the facts. The real reason for the present breakdown is, in my opinion, that neither Mr. Wilson nor Mr. Smith found it possible to trust each other, and it is for that reason that I regret—although naturally I regret it for other reasons as 1401 well—that the narrow defeat of the Conservatives in the Election of October, 1964, resulted in these negotiations being conducted between these two men; for had Britain been represented by Sir Alec Douglas-Home I firmly believe that we should not be in the—
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh!
§ LORD RUSSELL of LIVERPOOL
I wish noble Lords would go somewhere else where that kind of thing is allowed. I firmly believe that we should not be in the tragic and dangerous situation in which we find ourselves to-day. Noble Lords on the Government Benches may say "Ho, ho!"; "Ha, ha!"; "Hee, hee!", or anything else, but there are other noble Lords here who, I am sure, agree with it, even though I say it.
The electors of this country, however, apparently wanted a change of Government. We got it, and the Rhodesians have now to put up with the consequences.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh!
§ LORD RUSSELL OF LIVERPOOL
That is the right expression for it.
The worst outcome of this, however, has been that the Prime Minister of this country, having virtually reached an agreement with Mr. Smith over the six cardinal points, then decided to lay down unacceptable terms for interim government. I am not surprised, and a great number of other people are not surprised, that having been given an ultimatum of a mere twenty-four hours Mr. Smith's answer was "No". What Her Majesty's Government now propose to do is, in my opinion, fraught with danger. Mandatory sanctions will not only hit Rhodesia and other countries: they will hit us, too, and hit us hard. They are almost bound to lead to a blockade and may well develop into war. Should that happen, I cannot believe that history will put the whole blame on Mr. Smith.
There is one question that I want to ask the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack and who I believe is to wind up for the Government this evening It concerns what the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, mentioned about the cable, which I heard this afternoon had arrived from Salisbury, in answer to the three questions put by the three Members 1402 of another place. I need not repeat it. I think the noble and learned Lord probably knows now, if he did not before, what the questions are, and he knows what the answers are. I should like him to say quite categorically, quite definitely and without any doubt, whether the answers that have been received make any difference. Is the door irrevocably slammed in the face of a possible settlement, or is it left ajar to that extent? I am afraid the answer is that Her Majesty's Government have slammed it; in fact I should think that at this very moment the Foreign Secretary is probably in the United Nations lighting the fuse that is going to blow it up.
§ 11.12 p.m.
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
My Lords, many of my points have already been made by previous speakers, but I consider that in such a vitally important debate they must be stated again and again. I regret that I find it necessary, as an Independent Peer, to be critical of Her Majesty's Government, and I. too, am not an apologist for Mr. Smith. We have in the past been urged not to debate the Rhodesian situation, or in any way embarrass the Government, as this could prejudice a possible settlement. In turn, we have been assured that no irrevocable action would be taken until after we had a chance to discuss the whole question. The Government have despatched the Foreign Secretary to New York to take an irrevocable action. I wonder, like so many previous speakers, why the rush? Surely a further few days delay would not have materially affected the position. I can only assume that this was either pique or dramatisation by the Prime Minister.
This House has shown that it does not condone illegal action, but this does not mean that we can be lulled into non-participation indefinitely. This country has now been driven into a position which is both impossible and tragically dangerous, a position some of us anticipated twelve months ago. We now find ourselves in this situation which should never have come about and which is a direct result of lack of confidence. The situation has been gravely mishandled from the beginning, owing either to the acceptance of bad advice or to the wanton refusal to accept good advice.
1403 To deal first with the lack of confidence, which is one of the major contributing factors, unfortunately Mr. Smith does not trust Mr. Wilson. This dates back to the exchange of letters between them from November 25, 1964, to January 12, 1965. The first letter from the Rhodesian Prime Minister quotes Mr. Wilson's letter of October 2, 1964: As Party Leader of the Labour Party he stated thatThe Labour Party is totally opposed to granting independence to Southern Rhodesia as long as the Government of that country remains under the control of a white minority".Mr. Smith goes on to say:The statement implies that Rhodesia will not be granted independence by a British Labour Government until the Government of that country is under African control".Subsequent letters plead with Mr. Wilson to retract or modify this statement. This point has never been answered; so naturally, Mr. Smith distrusts Mr. Wilson's motives.
Now, coming to bad advice, who has been advising Mr. Wilson? Who advised him that sanctions would work in a matter of weeks? Having studied the reports on the inconclusive talks between Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith from October 4 to October 6, 1965, there did not appear to me insurmountable differences on the then Five Principles. I am sure, if properly handled, these differences could then have been resolved. A year has passed, and all that has been achieved has been damage to the Rhodesian economy and very serious cost and damage to this country. How much more could have been achieved by twelve months' good solid negotiations, with a little more conciliation and a little less ultimatum!
We have heard a great deal about the legal aspects. Great Britain has never governed Southern Rhodesia, nor contributed directly to her development; nor has Rhodesia ever been administered by the British Colonial Service. As your Lordships know, that country was won and controlled by the British South African Company, which was granted a Royal Charter which was operative until 1923. Subsequently, Southern Rhodesian relations have been handled through the Dominions Office, and later the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Department of Her Majesty's Government which 1404 acts as British spokesman for the independent countries of the Commonwealth.
Apart from their undying loyalty to the Crown, Rhodesian formal ties to the United Kingdom have been only very minor ones; and although the act of U.D.I. was technically illegal, the breakaway was only to a quite small degree. I should like to quote Thomas Jefferson on this point:A strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are a higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose law itself with life, liberty, prosperity and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus assuredly sacrificing the end to the means.It is so easy, sitting in London. working out ideal conditions for a country 6,000 miles away, a country and conditions basically not understood by the majority of people in this country.
We now appear to be embarking upon an even more dangerous step, one that could easily slip into war with the whole of Southern Africa. By handing this problem over to the United Nations, we have taken the easy way out. We lose control of what should be a domestic problem and, once control is lost, almost anything could happen. To many of us it is unthinkable that Her Majesty's Government should now publicly admit their own incapacity to handle this problem and to seek the assistance of an organisation where the men who fail to pay the piper call the tune. The only possible outcome will be the ultimate destruction of Rhodesia, with or without the use of force, because those of us who know the Rhodesians know that they will not collapse when the times get tough.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, does the noble Lord refer to a quarter of a million people, or to four million Rhodesians?
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
Our fight at present appears to be with the quarter of a million white Rhodesians.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
Is the noble Lord saying that it is nothing to do with the four million Rhodesians?
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
Yes, of course. 1405 Everybody in this House is concerned with everybody in Rhodesia. I certainly am.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Order, order!
§ LORD MACPHERSON OF DRUMOCHTER
My Lords, I have sat here to-day patiently listening to other speakers and I think that the least the noble Lord can do is to listen to the few words I have to say, and possibly the Lord Chancellor or one of the other speakers for the Government will reply. How long are the people of this country going to allow valuable resources, which the taxpayer has to find, to be drained away by what is virtually a domestic matter in Rhodesia? I should have thought there were far more important matters to which this Government should devote their time.
I suggested in my maiden speech on November 15, 1965, that a non-Party delegation should go to Rhodesia to try to solve this unhappy state of affairs. I suggested such respected and capable men as Lord Shaw cross and Sir Alec Douglas-Home. I still think that men of this calibre who would have the trust of all the people of Rhodesia could achieve a mutual settlement. This may he best done, as suggested by Mr. Maudlingin another place, in the form of a Royal Commission. To-night, as the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has advised us, Mr. Smith has cabled various Members of Parliament that he is prepared to accept a Royal Commission now, to remove censorship, and to release those detained for political reasons, except those responsible for violence. This, I consider, is another important step forward to settlement. So why do the Government not act on the suggestions put forward in good face by the Opposition? I consider it is never too late to settle a disagreement by discussion.
§ 11.25 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LINDSEY AND ABINGDON
My Lords, we have had a long debate and it is late, so I shall try to restrain my speech to as short a time as possible. It is now a year since I had the honour of addressing your Lordships' House for the first time on 1406 this subject. If I get the same sympathetic treatment as I did then, I shall be very pleased. I said then, followed by a short interruption, that sanctions would not work and that the Rhodesian Government and people as a whole, would resolutely go on fighting their economic consequences to the bitter end. I still believe this and, therefore, cannot support the Government to-night in their action of taking this matter to the United Nations and asking for mandatory sanctions. I know this only means extending to other member countries what we have unsuccessfully been trying to do for the last year. If I have to go into the Division Lobby to-night, it will not be against the efforts of the Government to try to reach a negotiated settlement. but against their decision to apply mandatory sanctions through the United Nations.
I am afraid that I cannot believe the Government's statement that they are determined not to let this affair get out of their control and extend to the rest of Southern Africa. I have crossed both the Limpopo and the Zambesi, and they are, or they were, easy rivers to cross. Once this question gets out of our absolute control, pressure will be brought upon us to include South Africa and Portugal. If this happens the economic consequences will he extremely grave for us. Surely, regardless of extreme Afro-Asian and Commonwealth pressures, it would be to our benefit to extend the time limit to find a way round the legal procedure required for the Smith régime to return to constitutional rule. I do not believe that they are all diehards. Liberalism and common sense must prevail in the long run. After all, it took eight months of hard talking to reach a basic agreement on the Six Principles, and that after a year of turmoil in the rest of Africa.
Finally, I should like to leave your Lordships with this thought. It is easy to stand up in your Lordships' House and talk about the rights and wrongs of a country 6,000 miles away. But I know that if I were in Salisbury or a remote farm hundreds of miles away from it, I too, would have rejected the Proposals for a Settlement 1966.
§ 11.29 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, speaks, I should like 1407 to make a suggestion. We all know that the art of politics is to be practical, and I think I should be right in saying, though we cannot tell till we have a Division, that the majority of Members in this House realise that to take this matter to the United Nations will be quite impractical. The situation, as we have heard, will be extremely fraught with danger. We have also heard that the draft Constitution has been agreed on, and the only problem is the transitional period and what we call the technical return to legality.
I quite understand the Prime Minister's dilemma, in that, so far as I can see, he went into the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference rather like a computer and came out with just enough to satisfy the African Commonwealth. He gave certain undertakings, and now that this constitutional proposal has been rejected by Mr. Smith, it appears, according to what the Prime Minister told the Commonwealth Conference, that there can be no more—it is "unconditional surrender". But, surely, as the situation is so terribly serious, can the Prime Minister not contact the representatives of the African Commonwealth in London, and can he not ask, in view of the danger to the world—it can escalate into anything—to be released from those undertakings so that we may keep the matter in our own hands and really come to a settlement over this transitional period? I cannot imagine that it is as difficult as all that.
My Lords, when U.D.I. was first declared I made a speech in which I likened the Prime Minister to Robespierre. I considered that, to a great extent, he had created this problem, and I said that, like Robespierre. it would probably destroy him. I am sure that if he takes this matter to the United Nations, as he appears to be doing, it will destroy him, and it will probably destroy the United Nations, too, because, bearing in mind Chapter VII, it amazes me how the consciences of the members of the United Nations can be so elastic. To brand Rhodesia as an aggressor is really pathetic. It is disgraceful. Before I sit down, may I agree with my noble friend Lord Coleraine in what he said about the twentieth century? It will go down in 1408 history as a century of humbug, cant and hypocrisy.
§ 11.33 p.m.
§ LORD HARLECH
My Lords, I rise to speak at the end of this most solemn and desperately important debate with a deeply-felt sense of humility. I have not taken part in any of the previous discussions on this subject which have taken place in your Lordships' House; I have at no time been involved in negotiations about the future of Rhodesia; and I have never had a chance to visit that country. In all these respects I imagine that I am typical of millions of people in this country who are trying, honestly and sincerely, to decide what course of action Her Majesty's Government should take at this critical moment in our history.
Before I get on to the major part of my speech, it is, of course, my first duty—and it is a pleasant duty—to congratulate two maiden speakers. We heard a speech from the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, which was calm and constructive, and in it he drew upon a wealth of experience in Africa. We heard another maiden speech from Lord Effingham, which, as my noble friend Lord Swinton said, was both brief and to the point—and the point that it contained was with reference to certain sections of the United Nations Charter which I shall come back to later on in my own speech. I am sure we are all grateful for the counsel that they have both brought to our debate, and we look forward to benefiting from that counsel in the future.
My Lords, before I come to discuss what the Government have done and what we now feel they ought and ought not to do, I think it would be right for me, as I have not spoken on this topic before, to indicate quite briefly my general attitude to the course of events in Rhodesia which have taken place since the break-up of the Federation. Here was a country which for forty years, as my noble friend Lord Swinton has said, had been self-governing. Its Prime Minister had attended, and had been welcomed at, a whole series of Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conferences as though he represented an independent State, although I appreciate that, strictly, this was not the case constitutionally. If any British territory in Africa seemed ripe for independence, it was Southern Rhodesia.
1409 However, from the most worthy motives it was decided in the early 1950s not to move directly towards independence but to try the experiment of a Central African Federation. That experiment utterly failed. The two other territories that had formed the Federation soon obtained their independence, as have innumerable other African territories during the same period. It is therefore wholly understandable that all who had anything to do with the government of Southern Rhodesia should feel that they had an overwhelming right to independence at an early date and to a severance of the last slender threads that tied them to London—threads which for more than a generation had not been made use of by Britain to exercise any sort of control.
I find myself in great sympathy with this kind of attitude, and looking back, with hindsight, I feel it was profoundly unfortunate that independence was not negotiated when Sir Edgar Whitehead was Prime Minister in Salisbury He believed in the goal of a multi-racial society; he was prepared to repeal the bad features of the Land Apportionment Act, and we could have trusted him and his colleagues to guide his country down a path which would have benefited all its citizens.
Perhaps they would not have proceeded on exactly the same course, or at exactly the same speed as some people in this country would have wished. But I believe that nothing has been so inimical to good relations with Rhodesia, or, what is even more important, to good relations between different races in Rhodesia, than the retention of the tattered remnants of British responsibility over Rhodesian affairs. It has meant that, instead of the different races speaking directly to each other, and being conscious of the fact that if Rhodesia is to be a happy and prosperous country in which they and their children's children can live amicably together, they have too often been addressing an external audience. And both sides have sought to promote their case here in Britain, with persons in this country giving freely of their advice to the parties in Rhodesia; and in so doing they have often made agreement, or even understanding, extremely difficult.
I will not spend further time on the more distant past, except to say that perhaps we in all Parties, as my noble friend Lord Hastings has already said 1410 to-day, share some of the blame for not granting independence to a legal regime which would have accepted long ago a Constitution based on the Six Principles. The Conservative Government can be blamed for not making the attempt; the Labour Opposition of the day can be blamed for making it clear that they would oppose such an attempt on the ground that it did not provide speedy enough progress towards African majority rule. The fact remains, my Lords, that independence was not negotiated at that time, and since the fall of Sir Edgar Whitehead's Government we have had to deal with representatives of the Rhodesian Front whose general philosophy with regard to the political advancement of the African population proved for so long unacceptable to both Conservative and Labour Governments.
The Rhodesian Front also seemed to hold views quite inconsistent with British responsibilities towards the indigenous populations of our overseas territories. Your Lordships will recall that these responsibilities were defined as long ago as 1924 by the then Duke of Devonshire, on behalf of a Conservative Government. The noble Duke then laid down the principle that on any question where the interests of the settlers and the native inhabitants were in conflict, those of the latter must be regarded as paramount.
Here, my Lords, I think I must make some reference to the speech of the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. It was, of course, a speech made with great sincerity, and, with respect, I would say that, in its way, it was a most effective speech. During the course of it the most reverend Primate said that he wished that someone from these Benches would express their moral abhorrence at some of the things that are happening in Rhodesia. I gladly do so, and I do so most sincerely, for things which he and the noble Lord, Lord Soper, described to us are repugnant to me and I think they are repugnant to people sitting in all quarters of your Lordships' House. But things of this kind are equally abhorrent when they happen in other parts of Africa or in other parts of the world, and I must say that I could not follow the most reverend Primate in his argument when he said that, as we are now faced with a great moral issue—I do not dispute the phrase—we had no alternative but to agree with the 1411 Government in their determination to ask the United Nations to impose mandatory sanctions. I beg him to believe that it is possible to hold strong views about the actions and the attitudes of certain members of the Rhodesian Front and yet still fail to see how mandatory sanctions will bring the slightest hope to Africans in Rhodesia or the smallest improvement in race relations there.
We are well aware of the extreme views of some members of the Rhodesian Front, and in these circumstances it was not surprising that from the time that they gained power the gap between Britain and Rhodesia seemed well-nigh unbridgeable. It is therefore all the more remarkable that last week-end this particular gap was in practice bridged, and it would be churlish on my part to withhold our congratulations from either side on achieving this. It is a fact of profound importance and I will return to it later. My Lords, both before and after U.D.I. there has been broad national agreement in this country on the principles which ought to be enshrined in any Constitution which would come into force on the granting of independence, and I think it is only fair to say that after the promulgation of U.D.I. by Mr. Smith there were reasonable grounds for doubting whether he and his colleagues were genuinely prepared to accept the Six Principles in practice; and here I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Burton. I think it is most important that we should he assured not just of the acceptance of the Six Principles in theory, but that we should be assured that there was a Constitution which guaranteed that they were implemented in practice.
It is, of course, possible to criticise certain actions and words of Her Majesty's Ministers after the illegal declaration of independence, and I am well aware that some of my noble friends had, from the first, grave doubts about the imposition of sanctions of any kind. Nevertheless, it would be true to say that the Prime Minister did obtain widespread national support for his actions in this affair, up to the end of this summer. But here, I am afraid, we come to a much more controversial period, in which the Prime Minister gave the most extraordinary hostages to fortune, and these 1412 have now landed us in a situation of the utmost peril. I refer, of course, to the alleged ultimatum contained in the Communiqué of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. And I think that we are entitled to comment on that Communiqué to-day, because this is the first opportunity we have had in this House to make such comments.
We were not, quite rightly, parties to that Communiqué. We had no discussions with the Government at that time. The Government, in their own wisdom, decided to make this declaration which was a declaration on behalf of Her Majesty's Government alone, and was not subscribed to by any other members of the Commonwealth. I recognise the strong and widespread pressure that the Prime Minister was under during the meetings of the Conference, and it would be quite wrong to underrate them, but the commitments the Government then entered into have very significantly diminished our room to manœuvre—a phrase used by my noble and gallant friend Lord Mongomery of Alamein earlier this afternoon.
The result has been that although, during the talks on the "Tiger" the Prime Minister was able to obtain the agreement of Mr. Smith to a Constitution for an independent Rhodesia which conformed with the Six Principles—and no one should minimise this achievement—the negotiations have broken down over the procedure to be adopted between the acceptance of this agreed Constitution and its coming into operation. It is also apparent that one of the reasons for the breakdown was the attempt by the Prime Minister to carry out the proposals so rashly set out in the Commonwealth Communiqué. I refer particularly to paragraph 8(a). The Communiqué there speaks boldly about a legal Government being appointed by the Governor and about the Armed Forces and police being responsible to the Governor.
I quite appreciate that in the Working Document these phrases were expanded, and it was made clear, or reasonably clear, that the Government would in fact invite Mr. Smith to head the interim Government. which would include five individuals from outside the Rhodesian Front whom Mr. Smith himself would be prepared to accept in such a Government. It was also made clear that the 1413 Governor, in carrying out his responsibilities for law and order, would do so on the advice of a Defence and Security Council composed entirely, with one exception, of Rhodesians. I therefore cannot accept—and here I find myself in disagreement with some of my noble friends—the wildly exaggerated interpretations which have been put upon these provisions by spokesmen of the regime in Salisbury. There is not a shred of evidence that Sir Humphrey Gibbs would have been ordered to appoint a Quisling Government, which would have called in British troops who would then have been used to impose old-fashioned colonial rule until such time as there was one man, one vote in Rhodesia. This is a travesty of what was proposed, and I totally reject this interpretation of our Government's proposals.
None the less, however reasonable these interim arrangements may have seemed to the Prime Minister, and may, indeed, seem to many in this country, partly because they appear to echo the much harsher phrases of the Commonwealth Communiqué they have proved unacceptable to Mr. Smith and his colleagues; and, what is perhaps more important, unacceptable to a much wider section of Rhodesian opinion. We may well regret this fact, but we certainly cannot deny it. In any case, it seems to me highly debatable whether it was necessary to affirm so categorically that this was the only method by which we could move from the present position to the implementation of the agreed Independence Constitution and a return to legality.
I quite accept that before a Royal Commission could ascertain whether the new Constitution had the support of the people of Rhodesia as a whole, certain conditions with regard to normal political activities—the abolition of censorship and the release of certain detainees—would have to be achieved. These are all set out in paragraph 15 of Appendix 3 of the White Paper. Yesterday I thought my right honourable friend Mr. Maudling in another place made it perfectly clear that these provisions would have to be carried out before the Royal Commission could do its work. But I do not think it follows that these conditions could be achieved only under the procedures insisted upon 1414 by the Prime Minister and by no other means. The Royal Commission could always judge whether it had been possible to ascertain the true feeling of the people of Rhodesia; and if, meanwhile, there had been no return to legality, there would obviously be no lifting of sanctions either. This is one alternative procedure that we believe is still worth examining.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but I was waiting to see whether he would come to the point about which he will remember I asked him, on the question of the Royal Commission. It will be within his recollection that at column 1385 of Hansard of yesterday's debate in another place the Commonwealth Secretary, Mr. Bowden, said that on "Tiger" he had asked Mr. Smith what his reaction would be if the findings of the Royal Commission went against him, and Mr. Smith said that he would have to declare a U.D.I. for the second time, because he would have no alternative. As the Opposition oppose U.D.I., how do they still propose that this could be done?
§ LORD HARLECH
I read part of Mr. Bowden's speech. I have also read on the tape to-night that Mr. Smith would accept the findings of a Royal Commission. I agree that this must be explored much more deeply. But even if the noble Lady is right, and even if the Royal Commission came to the conclusion that it did not like the Constitution which our Prime Minister has proposed, at that stage we should revert, and I accept that we should be in exactly the same position as we are in now; that is to say, there would be an illegal regimé in Salisbury and there would be a continuation of sanctions against that regimé and a continuation of efforts to try to bridge the gap that still remained between us. I do not see that we should be any worse off.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I have no wish to be rude, and it sounds rude if I say that the noble Lord—well, I will say that the Opposition are not being honest about this, and not the noble Lord. This really is not good enough. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the Leader of the Opposition in another place and Mr. Maudling 1415 in another place condemned U.D.I. Mr. Smith has said categorically—and this was said, and it is in the report, by the Commonwealth Secretary—that if the findings of the Royal Commission went against him he would, for a second time, declare U.D.I. I am saying to the Opposition that it is not good enough to continue with this and then to say that if he did do this we should be where we were.
§ LORD HARLECH
The noble Lady says it is not good enough. But the situation we are now in is not good enough. We are all trying to find a way so that there is not a major confrontation which will do great damage to us all. The noble Lady has given her version of what might happen, but much the more likely version—and it is the one that is accepted by noble Lords on that side of the House—is that the majority of the people in Rhodesia would accept this Constitution. So the actual situation would not arise. But even if it did arise, as I say, I think at the very worst we should be no worse off than we are now.
§ LORD HARLECH
I am going on statements made by the Prime Minister of this country, that he believed this was a Constitution which was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, and he would not have put his signature to the document on the "Tiger" unless he believed it.
I am saying that I do not think it follows that these conditions which I describe, and which are described in paragraph 15, are only to be achieved under procedures insisted upon by the Prime Minister and by nobody else. There are these alternative proposals. Others were stated by the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, during the course of what I thought was a wise and moderate speech. I do not see why we should not study very carefully—it may have many loopholes in it; I do not know; I have not see it yet—the latest message received from Mr. Smith on the subject of a Royal Commission. However, instead 1416 of exploring such possibilities the Government have decided to set out on a far more perilous course, and one which does not seem to contain the prospect of any peaceful solution to the Rhodesian issue.
Now may I turn to examine the Government's present intentions? They are apparently committed to carrying out the two threats contained in the Commonwealth Communiqué. The first, which is repeated in paragraph 10(a) of the White Paper, is that we will withdraw all previous proposals and refuse to consider independence before majority rule. I do not know whether the Government now regard this threat as having become operative. If so, then they have embarked on a course which ensures that there can be no peaceful solution of the Rhodesian problem, and one that is guaranteed to bring all shades of European opinion in that country into total opposition. None of them is prepared to accept "one man, one vote" under existing conditions, and the Prime Minister himself has made it absolutely clear that he regards such a proposal as undesirable and completely impractical.
This being the case, what on earth is the point of such a threat? The Government are saying: "If you will not agree with every detail of our present proposals, then we will insist upon other proposals which we ourselves regard as unworkable and impossible." It is like a child saying: "If I do not get my own way I will smash up all my own toys. "It is a childish and a dangerous threat which has done nothing but harm. Perhaps we can disregard it, as yesterday the Commonwealth Secretary in another place indicated that if Mr. Smith would make certain gestures and take certain actions in Rhodesia, the Government would treat the matter seriously. In other words, that he, certainly, speaking on his own behalf, would be prepared to review the situation. This certainly looks as though Mr. Bowden at least does not think that the time has run out, and we on these Benches agree with him. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, when he comes to reply, would confirm this interpretation of the Commonwealth Secretary's statement in another place yesterday.
But I fear there can be no such doubts about the Government's intention to carry 1417 out the second threat. They intend to demand the imposition of mandatory sanctions under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter which deals with threats to peace. I will therefore try, as briefly as possible, to show why we think that such a course is foolish and dangerous. First, we do not accept that there is a threat to peace in the sense that those words were intended to carry when the Charter was written. Here I find myself, I am glad to say, in agreement with my noble friend Lord Salisbury. Rhodesia is not threatening any neighbour. It is other countries that are prepared to threaten her. It is a question of people saying:" We do not like you, therefore we intend to destroy you, and therefore there is a threat to peace."
We believe this to be a complete distortion of the Charter and its purposes, and once the Government have fallen in with this doctrine and have themselves declared in the resolution that they believe a threat to peace exists, then they must not be surprised if others take over the responsibility of bringing that threat to peace to an end.
Secondly, we are by no means convinced that mandatory sanctions can make any significant difference to the economic situation of Rhodesia over and above the effect which is already being felt by existing sanctions. I suppose that the main loopholes in the present sanctions relate to South Africa, Portugal and West Germany. The first two have clearly indicated that they will pay no attention to a United Nations resolution and the third is not a member of the United Nations. As for the other loopholes, I can see no reason why they cannot be effectively dealt with by representations in the capitals of the countries concerned. The Government themselves are in two minds about including oil on the sanctions list, and no one, least of all the African countries, believes for one moment that sanctions directed at Rhodesia alone can be decisive.
During the course of this debate several noble Lords seemed to think that Britain will get credit from African countries by proposing a resolution which includes mandatory sanctions, but the truth of the matter is that I know of no African country which is any longer the least bit interested in sanctions. They do not believe that sanctions will work. They 1418 said so a year ago; they say so now, and they are all in favour of the use of force: so we shall not get credit out of this particular resolution. Thirdly, we have the gravest doubts about the British Government being able to control the situation once they have initiated action in the Security Council. Indeed, I would go further and say we know they cannot.
Let us just examine in some detail what is likely to happen at the United Nations. The resolution will declare that" a threat to peace" exists, and it means that under the Charter the mandatory use of force can be invoked—and here I quite agree with the point made in his notable speech by the noble Earl, Lord Effingham. But let us suppose that under the most favourable conditions the Government's resolution is, in the first instance, passed by the Security Council unamended. No immediate effect will be apparent on the economy of Rhodesia, nor for many weeks or months to come, and the noncompliance of South Africa and Portugal will become perfectly obvious.
At this stage, without a shadow of doubt, a new resolution will be introduced into the Security Council by some other country, demanding the extension of sanctions to those two countries, and if not at that stage then at the next stage there will be demands for the use of force. What is the attitude of Her Majesty's Government going to be in those circumstances? I think we are entitled to some absolutely categorical assurances from the Government on these matters. Let me warn them straight away that they cannot rely on sufficient abstentions to render such resolutions inoperative. I have been looking up the voting patterns in the Assembly when Rhodesia was discussed in that body last month. On the resolution calling on Britain to take all measures,including in particular the use of forceand calling on all Statesto render material support to the people of Zimbabwe",as they refer to Rhodesia,in their struggle to overthrow the illegal racist regimeno fewer than ten countries who are also members of the Security Council voted for the resolution. My Lords, only nine 1419 votes in favour are needed to bring a Security Council resolution into force.
Nor will this pattern change when the composition of the Council changes in the New Year. Jordan, Uganda and Uruguay who voted for the Assembly resolution I have just quoted will be replaced by India, Ethiopia and Brazil, but these three also voted in favour of the resolution. I fear that either Britain will have to comply with these resolutions or we shall have to use the veto, and I assure your Lordsips I am in no way exaggerating the situation.
Whichever course we take we shall be heading either for disaster in Southern Africa or for the contempt of the world. The Government are saying to us that because they have become frustrated by the attitude of Mr. Smith and his colleagues (and I, for one, do not blame them for this) they propose to set Britain on a course calculated to drive us straight on to the rocks. I say this as one who has given consistent and heartfelt support to the United Nations, but I do not believe that this is an issue on which the United Nations can help, and there is nothing worse for the future of that organisation than to dump in its lap every problem which those who have the prime responsibility for solving it find intractable.
What is the alternative to the course of action now proposed by Her Majesty's Government? Surely it must be to try to build upon what they have already achieved, which is of the highest importance: agreement on an Independence Constitution. I should never, for one moment, suggest that we should capitulate to the Smith régime, as it is put by some noble Lords opposite. Indeed, I should think it right to explore—and here I might part company with some of my noble friends—means of making the existing sanctions more effective. And, incidentally. it seems to be rather foolish for some Government spokesmen, having at one time claimed this would bring down the illegal régime in a matter of weeks, now to suggest that present sanctions are insufficient. I do not think that was the line taken by the noble Earl the Leader of the House in his opening speech, because he indicated that he thought existing sanctions were having a 1420 very profound effect on the economy of Rhodesia. I think he stated that exports from Rhodesia are likely to have fallen from £143 millions a year to no more than £80 million a year, a very considerable drop indeed.
While we continue to exert what I still believe is formidable leverage on the regime, I cannot see anything in the least shameful in examining other ways of bridging the remaining gap over procedures for a return to legality and for carrying out the Fifth Principle. At the same time, it is obviously of the greatest importance that we should seek by every possible means to make clear to the people of Rhodesia as a whole that the terms under which they can achieve legal independence are by no means unreasonable. If we thus hold out to them the prospect of a reasonable compromise on the one hand, while on the other there can be nothing for them but industrial stagnation and economic decline, together with a spurious independence not recognised by one single country in the world, I do not despair of wiser counsels prevailing in Salisbury.
We still ought not to abandon the hope that more moderate opinion can gradually make itself felt again in Rhodesian politics. We ought not to forget all those who in the past worked for a multiracial society and gained wide support for their cause. We ought not to forget the attitude of many Christian communities still in Rhodesia, about which the most reverend Primate spoke, nor those who championed the Capricorn Society and many other societies. All of them could yet have a part to play in a settlement.
Perhaps it will be said that this is no more than an outside chance. It certainly requires exceptional patience and forbearance. But surely this course would be far better than the one now proposed by Her Majesty's Government. Down their road we can be certain that all Europeans in Rhodesia will feel compelled to rally to the support of the Smith régime, while United Nations imposed sanctions will make no significant difference to the economic prospects of Rhodesia. Above all, it will place Britain in a position where she will be required to carry out a self-inflicted wound or refuse to do so and earn the contempt of world opinion.
1421 I do not wish to belittle the immense problems the Government have had to face. We on these Benches recognise that we were unable to find a solution when we had the responsibility of government. We recognise the Commonwealth pressures, we recognise the difficulties into which Zambia has been plunged, and the domestic political pressures on the Prime Minister. But it is because we are convinced that the action the Government are asking us to approve to-night is unwise, fraught with danger, and not calculated to bring about a peaceful settlement, that, with a heavy heart, I must ask my noble friends to vote against the Motion before us.
§ 12.10 a.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD GARDINER)
My Lords, it is most unusual for your Lordships' House to have a continuous debate which lasts more than ten hours, and I am sure that none of the many Members of your Lordships' House who have spoken will think me discourteous if I do not try to answer each individual speech, but deal merely with the problems before us as a whole. In the course of the debate we have been glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, and the noble Earl, Lord Effingham, on the first occasion on which we have had the pleasure of hearing them. We hope very much that we shall hear from both of them again.
I feel rather sad to-night. I had hoped very much, and so I think had many others, that we might at last have found the answer to this difficult problem. The basic difficulty, of course, has always been that we have responsibility without power. As the noble Lord, Lord Macpherson of Drumochter, quite rightly said, in other Colonies we have our own Army, our own police, and our own Civil Service. Again, as he rightly said, we never conquered Rhodesia; we have never had a soldier, a policeman or a civil servant there. The mistake we made was that when we were asked one day whether we would like it annexed to the Crown, we most stupidly said to the white settlers: "Yes, so long as you look after the place". The result was that from then we had responsibility, a responsibility not only for the white settlers but for 4 million Africans, without the power to carry it 1422 out, the power belonging to the white settlers. This is a position in which we should never have put ourselves.
About Rhodesia, I think I understand everybody's point of view. I have, after all, discussed it at length with every Prime Minister since and including Lord Malvern; and with people of all kinds in Rhodesia—farmers, businessmen, Members of Parliament and so on. There is a failure of communication. I am not blaming them in any way at all, but it is difficult to get our African Commonwealth colleagues to realise what our own difficulties are. They keep on and on saying what is true: "If you had a revolution anywhere else—in Aden or Guyana, or anywhere—you would have put it down by force; and it is only because these people are white people that you do not put this down by force". My noble friend Lord Brockway, I think, said something of the same kind.
My Lords, I think that is doing us less than justice, when one bears in mind that in these other places we have had our own forces. Here we have no one; and I suppose that Rhodesia is about as far away as Nepal, and not the easiest of places to get at.
I am afraid there is a similar failure of communication so far as the European Rhodesians are concerned. It is almost impossible to talk to them. It is as if they were people living in a different world. When the Commonwealth Secretary and I were out there before the illegal declaration of independence, the one thing we tried to tell them and to get into everybody's head—because it was true—was that nobody was threatening them with anything; nobody was trying to impose majority rule on them. The convention which operated between their Government and ours was that, whatever they did, we had no right to interfere; the Queen would act on the advice of their Ministers, and not of our Ministers. So long as they did not do anything illegal or unconstitutional, they had all the powers in their hands, so what was the point of taking independence illegally? Nobody was threatening them with anything—certainly not with African majority rule to-morrow. We ourselves did not consider that the Africans were fit for rule then, or would be for years.
1423 But all this, I am told, had absolutely no effect at all. It did not matter how many people one said it to. They were convinced that there was some plot on under which Britain was trying to engineer majority rule to-morrow. Now, for more than a year, they have heard nothing from outside. Their newspapers are censored; their television is Government-controlled. Our broadcasts, so far as we have tried them, apparently do not get through because they are "jammed". Their wireless is also Government-controlled. In these circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising if they are out of contact with the outside world.
I have had a good many letters from people in Rhodesia (some of them I have met, and some I have not), and they never mention anybody in the world except themselves and us. Usually it is "Britain and Rhodesia"; more often, it is in Smith-Wilson terms. If they refer to the Zambian airlift, it is always the "British airlift". The fact that it was an American-British-Canadian operation has not penetrated at all. I do not know whether they know it. Perhaps they have not been told that the Americans were taking part. This difficulty of communication, my Lords, is very great, and it is a matter that we must bear in mind when considering the future and any test of their opinion.
One or more noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, said, in effect, that they were not really rebelling against the Crown. I do not want to take up time, but I would draw his attention to what the Prime Minister said about that in the blue Command paper, at page 29—not the present Prime Minister, but Sir Alec Douglas-Home. He pointed out very strongly that it was no good their saying, in a fatuous way, that they were loyal to the Queen: if they declared illegal independence, they were obviously in rebellion against the Crown.
This all goes back a long way. It is nearly three years—February, 1964—since Mr. Sandys rightly pointed out to the Rhodesian Prime Minister that if they insisted on an illegal independence not only would no country recognise them—which is true, because no Government in the world has recognised the illegal 1424 régime—but it was bound to lead to various troubles which he mentioned, including trade boycotts. And, after all that time, here we are. I am not blaming the Conservatives for not having solved this problem. It was Sir Alec Douglas-Home and his colleagues who laid down the Five Principles, which we have faithfully followed ever since, and told Mr. Smith that he could not have independence unless the conditions were such as to meet with the approval of the large majority of the people of the country.
The position up to the date of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, so far as conditions in Rhodesia are concerned, is that the large majority of people in Rhodesia, certainly in Salisbury, to-day are convinced of two things. First, that if they had to give up independence, this would mean immediate African majority rule—which, of course, even to-day, is quite untrue; and, secondly, that Harold Wilson is a Communist. They believe this, I think, very sincerely.
It is very easy for anybody who was not at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference to criticise the Prime Minister, but he had about a week of practically nothing but abuse from the Commonwealth. He had a choice, and I do not think that at the time anybody thought he was wrong in doing what he did—namely, to say that if they would support a range of limited selective sanctions at the United Nations, and if they would give us a further opportunity of sexing whether, before the end of the year, we could make a settlement with Smith, he would agree that if that failed he would, by the end of the year, take it to the United Nations and would not thereafter agree to independence short of majority rule.
That would not mean—and it is important that it should be realised that it does not mean—that if the illegal regime comes to an end we shall proceed to try to effect African majority rule to-morrow. Our position has always been that the time for that has not come. The solution which has been needed throughout has been such a simple one. All one has wanted is a Government which, realising that there is going to be African majority rule, will do rather better about African education, and particularly secondary education, and not 1425 say, as Mr. Smith did—because it is in the same Blue Book—that he was not in favour of more education because that would bring majority rule nearer, and he wanted to delay it. But if there had been a reasonable white Government which saw what was coming, if they had gradually admitted Africans to the Government to give them administrative training, we should then have proceeded without bloodshed, and in due course and when the time came, to effect our last major decolonisation.
It may be said, of course, that having said what we have now said, everybody in Rhodesia will be the more determined to resist and to hold on till the last moment. I rather doubt that. The reason I doubt it is twofold; first, I think that up to now they, and certainly the businessmen, have always thought, "Well, we need not take any action now because Smithy is going to settle it and this is the first time they will realise that it is not going to be settled; and, secondly, because nothing could have been worse than the horrors which used to exist in Kenya. Africans to-day have not had the advantages of education and history and democracy that we have had, and the situation is going to be explosive from time to time, no doubt. But Sir Geoffrey de Freitas was saying in another place last night that in this last year there have been more white settlers coming in than leaving, and your Lordships may remember the letter which leading Kenya settlers wrote to Rhodesians as to what life was like in a really multiracial society.
How did that enormous change in Kenya come about? It came about from the day on which the Conservative Government said, "There is going to be majority rule in Kenya", and when they said that, and only then, the white settlers began to think, "Well, if it is going to happen we had better get ready for it. We had better talk to these Africans, and we had better get used to dealing together with one another." It was not until they were told that it was going to cone that that change took place.
Now here no move of any kind was made by Mr. Smith until the Commonwealth Conference. Some talks had taken place between officials. He always said that he accepted the Five and later the Six principles, but whenever he was asked to implement any of them he just said, 1426 "No; immediate African advancement must presumably mean some increase in African representation in Parliament. We just do not agree". I had suggested to him originally that if he increased 15 to 26 and had done with it, they would then have a blocking third and the Europeans could also have a blocking third. He would not agree to any of that, and, really, no progress of any kind at all was made.
Meanwhile, there were existing sanctions. It is quite wrong, I think, to say that existing sanctions have had no effect. This is a question of degree. This is a one-crop country. There is no doubt that they have not sold more than about one-third of their tobacco. It is much too facile to say that, as long as South Africa backs them, sanctions are wholly ineffective. South Africa does not do something unless it suits South Africa. Here is all this tobacco littering the warehouses in Salisbury and around. They are trying to get another warehouse from Fords because they do not know where to put it. South Africa has not bought it; and, come next Tune, if they cannot sell their second crop, I do not know what they are going to do. Of course, whereas they used to be sugar importers they were now sugar exporters. but they have not been able to sell any of their sugar, except a very limited quantity to Portugal. What they have been able to sell are minerals—and that may be one of the objects in going to the United Nations.
The next point I ought to make is that at this time we were trying everything, although no progress was being made. I think at one time the Rhodesian Front thought that the Conservatives would win the Election, and they played a little part against the present Government during the General Election. But then that did not come off. Then we suggested that a Commission of the Australian Prime Minister and other Commonwealth Prime Ministers—who, after all, had great experience of Commonwealth life—should go to Rhodesia and start again, and think out some new way. But, no, Mr. Smith would not hear of that. Then we suggested a Commission of Commonwealth experts in Constitutions—because, after all, the Commonwealth, between them, have tried out nearly every kind of Independence Constitution, and know how they work. No, he would not hear of that. Then we suggested a new kind 1427 of Constitution altogether. There had beets discussion, your Lordships may remember, in Salisbury on what was called the Holderness Constitution. No, Mr. Smith would not hear of that. Then we even went so far as to suggest a union of the United Kingdom and Rhodesia. But, no, he would not hear of that.
Then, there seems to be an impression, which I have not understood, that we were going to hand the whole thing over to the United Nations. In point of fact, of course, you cannot do that. There is no way in which a country can be handed over to the United Nations. From the way so many people talk, you would think that we in some way control the United Nations What is quite clear is this. Unless the Prime Minister had said what he did at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, the matter would have gone to the United Nations much sooner than it did. We have no way of stopping countries from going to the United Nations. With the mood that the Commonwealth countries are in, it is perfectly clear that one or more African Commonwealth countries would have taken this issue to the United Nations long ago, and that we should have been powerless to stop them. It is quite true that in the Security Council we should have had a veto, but, then, under the Uniting for Peace Resolution we have no veto in the Assembly.
I suppose that, without asking all sorts of offices, I ought not to commit the Government, but my own opinion is that if the Rhodesian problem had been taken to the United Nations at that time every single country in the world would have been against us, except Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Portugal. I do not believe that any other country, including Canada, would have been with us. It would have been a Suez-type situation. Obviously, if we can, by agreement with the Commonwealth, get a resolution of a much more limited character than would have been presented had it been left to the African Commonwealth countries, we shall have done well in doing so. I do not want to keep your Lordships much longer. The "Tiger" Document, I should have thought, was the most favourable to the regime that could have been put forward. It complied with the Six Principles—just. I can imagine many people taking the 1428 view that, as you look at each of the Principles, it was a little borderline-is. Immediate advancement of the Africans? Two seats? Yes, it is!
On the question of return to legality, I cannot really understand what the objections are. We were not saying: "You have to sign a document withdrawing your unilateral declaration of independence." We were not saying: "You have to go to the Governor and apologise and eat humble pie." We were not telling them to go to the Governor at all. We were saying:" There must be a broad-based national Government. The Governor will send for you and ask you to be Prime Minister." Incidentally, the broad-based Government is very much what Mr. Maudling suggested at the Conservative Party Conference. He said that there ought to be a national, broad-based Government.
So far from saying that none of the members of the Government could be members of the Rhodesian Front, the Document allowed for there being a majority of the existing Rhodesian Front. indeed, there might have been some more, because Mr. Smith's Government was twelve. It was made plain to him that he would be expected to have five members from outside. When asked how many he wanted his Government to be, instead of saying eighteen (he did not even say thirteen), he said, "Twelve". This shows exactly how many of his colleagues he could dispense with; because with the six, that meant that, with himself, there were seven Rhodesian Front members and only five independents. The names were discussed and no objection was taken to them. I am not going to mention them; but no one of the five could possibly be regarded as an extremist, and Mr. Smith made no objection.
On the question of Parliament being dissolved, I do not understand what the problem is; nor, for that matter, the difficulty as to the Governor. For this is really all dealt with in Articles 43 and 45 of the 1961 Constitution, under which the Governor has absolute power in his discretion to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and to appoint a Prime Minister. In other matters he has to act on the advice of the Council or other people there set out. Mr. Smith was asked whether or not he wanted Parliament to be dissolved. He took a little 1429 time about it. This paragraph of the Document was put in square brackets. We all know what they meant. It is left to him to decide, in that situation, whether he would do better without Parliament or with it. He decided that he would like it dissolved. That was up to him. He had already said there were 30 members of his own Party he would like to get rid of in his Parliament; and a General Election would give him the opportunity.
Then I cannot see why the terms of the Document are objected to. Mr. Smith appeared to agree with them; but since his return to Salisbury his colleagues do not. There was the very extraordinary document which came out of Salisbury to which my right honourable friend the Commonwealth Secretary referred. It was not apparently anything to do with the Document on the "Tiger", but I think the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, referred to it. This seems to have been against everything that was decided on the "Tiger". It was a Press statement from the Government. It said that the regime could not accept that there should be any limitation on the Rhodesian Parliament to determine the number of constituencies. So apparently that has gone. On this we are back again where we started. The Press statement says the régime sees no reason whatever for increasing the number of "B"-Roll seats, so they are apparently against that now, whereas last week-end Mr. Smith agreed to an increase from 15 to 17. The Press statement says that the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council would be inconsistent with sovereignty. So far as I can make out, the whole thing is now in a complete state of being back where we started.
So far as the Governor himself is concerned, it is a little difficult to catch up with all the propaganda that is coming from Salisbury, but may I just say this: there have been suggestions that the British Government contemplated replacing Sir Humphrey Gibbs as Governor during the period of the interim Administration leading up to independence. This I can deny categorically. We have always envisaged that Sir Humphrey would remain in office during this period, as he has so steadfastly since U.D.I. In the event of his absence from Rhodesia, or if he were for any other reason unable to 1430 perform the functions of his office, there is a dormant Commission under which another Rhodesian, Sir Hugh Beadle, the Chief Justice, would assume and perform these functions. In the unlikely event of the appointment of a new Governor during the interim period such an appointment would have been made only after consultation with the Prime Minister of Rhodesia.
Finally, my Lords, may I deal with the suggestion which has been made by Mr. Maudling in another place? This, as I understand it, is that there should be a Royal Commission now, while the illegal Government remains an illegal Government and while sanctions are still going on, to ascertain whether the proposals, whatever exactly they are, meet with the approval of the people of Rhodesia as a whole. I do not follow how that could be done in a Police State. I apologise. Some noble Lord objected to the phrase "a Police State." It is Mr. Heath's phrase and it is Mr. Grimond's phrase. It is, after all, a country in which the Government is illegal, in which there is a knock on the door in the middle of the night and an African goes, his family do not know where, and they do not know when they are going to see him again; where the newspapers are censored; where the television and wireless both belong to the Government.
I cannot help thinking to-night of Mr. Baron, whom I know, an English solicitor. He has been in prison now for over a year. Knowing him, I do not believe for a moment that he has done anything against the law. But there he is, locked up without trial, not for anything he has done during the emergency period, because they arrested him within a quarter of an hour of the announcement that the emergency period was in force. There are hundreds of Africans in detention without trial. Some of them have been there—well, Mr. Nkomo, the leader of ZAPU, whom I saw, has been there maybe for a couple of years by now, and I should think Mr. Sihole, too. It is a country in which Africans are arrested at night and where the police can arrest anyone without trial or without any complaint being made against them.
And it is fair, I think, to bear in mind that this is the Government which has 1431 announced that it is going to introduce legislation for the purpose, first, of making these powers of detention without trial a permanent part of Rhodesian law, whether there is any emergency period or not, and, secondly, to alter the tribal trust lands provisions and to give the Chiefs, who have never had the power to try criminal cases before, powers of absolute life and death over every African in the tribal trust lands. Is this an illegal Government under which anybody can sensibly ascertain what is Rhodesian opinion as a whole? I am not suggesting that they would be killed, but we cannot provide for the safety of any Royal Commission sent out there. And there is something slightly ludicrous, to my mind, about a Royal Commission going to a country where the existing Government is an illegal Government in rebellion against the Crown.
What I have not followed, as the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, could not follow, is: what is the alternative? I understand that it is proposed that this is to be done by the illegal Government while sanctions are going on. Look at the choice offered. What we are offering is a legal Government and independence on these conditions, if you like them. If not, then we go on as we were with the 1961 Constitution. But Mr. Maudling's proposal is one under which the choice being offered is lawful independence under Mr. Smith or illegal independence under Mr. Smith—but not any other. It is agreed that if the Rhodesians said "No", what they would then get is Mr. Smith again as an illegal Government, with sanctions. What sort of alternative is that to put before the people?
I regret very much that, partly because they want to save a division in their ranks, the Party opposite should oppose this Motion. After all, there is no real alternative except to realise that this is going to take time. We cannot in honour hand the loot to the Rhodesian Front, because the loot is 4 million Africans. We must go on doing what we can do to end the illegal régime.
§ I regret that the House should vote against this Motion, because it deplores the fact that Mr. Smith did not accept the Working Document. I am sure that it will be understood outside as being a vote by your Lordships' House for Mr. Smith and against the black Africans. I am certain that that is the vote tonight. If any noble Lord went to the United Nations, where representatives of other countries of the world are, and asked them how they would regard a vote against the Motion tonight, they would say that it is obviously a vote for Smith against the Africans. I would regret that very much, and I hope that the House will vote in favour of the Motion.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Lord this question? It is something which is worrying all of us on this side of the House. I understand that a Minister in another place has announced this evening that the Government do not intend to vote against any amendment which includes oil sanctions in the selective sanctions which are going to be introduced in the resolution to the Security Council. If that is so, and as the Prime Minister has said he is going to keep the matter under control and sanctions are not to be applied to South Africa, how does the Prime Minister intend to keep the matter under control, and will the veto be used?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord had better ask the Prime Minister, who seems to have later information than I have.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I should hope that the British Government would not decide whether to use the veto or not until the time came. Is there any other point on which I can assist the noble Lord?
§ 12.45 a.m.
§ On Question: Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 84; Not-Contents, 100.1433
|Addison, V.||Amulree, L.||Arwyn, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Annan, L.||Asquith of Yarnbury, Bs.|
|Amherst, E.||Archibald, L||Barrington, V.|
|Beswick, L.||Holford, L.||Reay, L.|
|Bowden, L.||Hughes, L.||Rhodes, L.|
|Bowles, L. [Teller.]||Huntingdon, E.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Hurcomb, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Brown, L.||Inman, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Burton of Coventry, Bs.||Kennet, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Byers, L.||Kilbracken, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Latham, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Canterbury, Abp.||Leatherland, L.||Snow, L.|
|Chalfont, L.||Lindgren, L.||Soper, L.|
|Champion, L.||Listowel, E.||Sorensen, L. [Teller.]|
|Chichester, Bp.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Southwark, Bp.|
|Collison, L.||London, Bp.||Stocks, B.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Longford, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Strabolgi, L.|
|Crook, L.||Maelor, L.||Summerskill, Bs.|
|Darwen, L.||Mitchison, L.||Swanborough, Bs.|
|Faringdon, L.||Morris of Kenwood, L.||Taylor, L.|
|Francis-Williams, L.||Moynihan, L.||Wade, L.|
|Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Pargiter, L.||Wakefield, Bp.|
|Gifford, L.||Peddie, L.||Walston, L.|
|Goodman, L.||Phillips, Bs.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Granville-West, L.||Plummer, Bs.||Williamson, L.|
|Henley, L.||Popplewell, L.||Willis, L.|
|Hertford, M.||Raglan, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Hilton of Upton, L.||Rathcreedan, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Mowbray & Stourton, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Falmouth, V.||Moyne, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Ferrers, E.||Napier, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Foley, L.||Netherthorpe, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Forester, L.||Newall, L.|
|Atholl, D.||Fortescue, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Pender, L.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Redmayne, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Grantchester, L.||Rothes, E.|
|Bessborough, E.||Greenway, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Bolton, L.||Gridley, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Boston, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||St. Helens, L.|
|Bourne, L.||Harlech, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Hastings, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Bradford, E.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Salter, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Hylton-Foster, Bs.||Saltoun, L.|
|Brocket, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||Sandford, L.|
|Buckton, L.||Ilford, L.||Savile, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Killearn, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Carrington, L.||Kinnoull, E.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Stamp, L.|
|Cole, L.||Lloyd, L.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.|
|Coleraine, L.||Luke, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||MacAndrew, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Conesford, L.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Mancroft, L.||Verulam, E.|
|Daventry, V.||Manton, L.||Vivian, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Denham, L.||Milne, L.||Watkinson, V.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Milverton, L.||Wedgwood, L.|
|Dudley, L.||Monk Bretton, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Monson, L.||Wolverton, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.