§ 3.38 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what conclusions were reached at the conference with representatives of Basutoland regarding future co-operation with that territory following independence on 4th October. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I tabled this Question before the conclusions were reached at the Constitutional Conference on Basutoland last week. I thought it desirable that this House should receive a report about the decisions of that Conference, particularly in view of the critical position of Basutoland in the whole sphere of Southern Africa. Since I tabled this Question the conclusions of the Conference have been announced, and I think noble Lords on both sides of the House will now appreciate that these conclusions make a discussion more necessary. I shall be expressing myself moderately if I say that the announced decisions of this Conference have caused deep uneasiness.
My friend, Mr. Colin Legum, who is the Commonwealth correspondent of the Observer, one of the most responsible and well-informed writers on Commonwealth affairs in all our Press who does not use his words lightly, said this in last Sunday's edition of the Observer:
The decision to grant Basutoland its independence under a minority and unrepresentative Government on October 4 is the most dishonourable transaction in the recent history of the hand-over of British power in her Colonies.
This uneasiness is caused, not by the decision to give Basutoland its independence, but by the conditions under which that independence is to be granted. There has been the most extraordinary departure from the record, both of Conservative Governments and Labour Governments, in this regard.
§ I have been interested in colonial affairs over fifty years and I do not know a single instance in which independence has been granted to a minority Government in a Colony without a preceding election. The election in Basutoland last year resulted in the governmental Party, the Basutoland National Party, obtaining a majority of two votes in the Assembly, but that Party received the support of only 41.6 per cent of the electorate. The two 259 Opposition Parties, the Basutoland Congress Party and the Marematlou Freedom Party, obtained 56 per cent. of the votes.
§ I am aware that in Britain we sometimes have Governments which are elected by a minority of votes, but our Government have always taken the view in the past that independence is such a fundamental change, as indeed it is, that there should be no doubt that a majority of the people of the territory supports the Government which start the nation on its new, momentous course. Under neither Conservative nor Labour Governments has independence ever been given to a minority or unrepresentative Government. Never has the British Government taken the responsibility of handing over the destinies of a nation to a Government which has not the support of the majority of the people.
§ There are recent cases, as the Colonial Office will be well aware—the cases of Zanzibar, of Gambia, of Guyana, and the agreement which has been reached for the independence of Mauritius. In each of these cases elections have been required before independence to be quite sure that the Government have the support of the majority of the population. Unfortunately, in the case of Zanzibar the election resulted in the return of a minority Government, and this is a warning of which this House, both Houses of Parliament, should take notice. That minority Government was overthrown by a revolution within two months. I submit to this House that it is utterly irresponsible to initiate independence under a Government which is not endorsed by the majority of the people. Happily, in Basutoland if an election were held now a clear result would be obtained, because the Opposition Parties have agreed to an alliance in the election and there would be no doubt about the result.
§ The second point I want to put to my Front Bench is this—and I am glad that my noble friend Lord Beswick is now here; I have given him notice of the points I wish to raise. The second point I wish to raise is that there is a serious danger of national disunity in Basutoland before as well as after independence if no election takes place to secure the view of the majority of its people. The Opposition Parties in Basutoland combine a strange but formidable cross- 260 section of the population. One is the Basutoland Congress Party led by Ntsu Mokhehle, a radical Party which has wide backing among the mass of the people. The second is the Marematlou Freedom Party which has the support of the popular Paramount Chief King Moshoeshoe II. He is British educated, progressive, and is said to be a Fabian Socialist. He is regarded by the people as their national leader. There is no doubt whatsoever that these two Parties have the support of the great majority of the Basuto people and that they will constitute a powerful resistance to independence if it is given to a minority Government without elections allowing the people to decide.
In this situation there is always a danger of violence. There was violence in last year's election. The Opposition Parties will not invite it, but they plan to hold vast meetings throughout Basutoland. In a joint statement, issued on June 17, they say:
For our part we undertake to ensure that the public gatherings will be orderly and responsibly conducted. We sincerely trust that the minority Government of Chief Leabua Jonathan will do nothing to frustrate the expression of democratic opinion.
In this explosive situation the danger of violence cannot be excluded. The Basuto Government has only three hundred police. If violence occurred before independence, despite the discipline which the Opposition Parties desire to exert, the British Government would be expected to send in troops. I put it to my Front Bench that it would be a repudiation of all the principles of our Party if we used force to suppress a resistance backed by a majority of the people.
§ I want to sound one other warning, and I hope I may say this discreetly—and I hope the Minister will listen to these remarks. It has been announced that it is the intention to ask a Member of the Royal Family to be present at the inauguration of Independence on October 4. I hope very much that the Government will carefully consider whether that will be wise in view of the disunity that exists in Basutoland itself. We do not want to involve the Royal Family of this country in a dispute which may mean that a majority of the population will be demonstrating against the 261 independence which is granted under these conditions.
§ The third point which I have indicated to my noble friend that I wish to raise is perhaps more serious than the two to which I have already referred. It is the fact of the close co-operation between the South African Government and Chief Jonathan, who is the head of the minority Government in Basutoland. Basutoland is in a vulnerable position. It is a territory of fewer than 900,000 people, and it is entirely surrounded by South Africa. A majority of its adult male population earns its living in South Africa. It is natural geographically that Basutoland should be a part of South Africa. But none of us in this country, except the lunatic fringe of the British Empire Loyalists and their Fascist colleagues, can desire that while the Republic of South Africa is an apartheid nation Basutoland should be absorbed within it.
I want to be just to Chief Jonathan, who is the head of this minority Government. He says that he is opposed to apartheid, and I accept that immediately. But he has gravely compromised himself with South Africa and with the South African Government. It is not too much to say that he is now the chief Minister in the Basutoland Government because of South African support. First, his election was financed from South Africa and also from West Germany. He has admitted this. I quote from the Rand Daily Mail of April 3, 1965:
To date, says the Chief, he has received R.20,000 from South Africa and R.10,000 from West Germany"—
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS AND FOR THE COLONIES (LORD BESWICK)
My Lords, before my noble friend pursues this point much further, I wonder whether he can say if these sums are any greater, or less, than the sums of money received by the other Parties from Russia and China?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I intended to do that later. I have met representatives of the other Parties. They deny absolutely that they have received a single halfpenny, either from Russia or from China. They have been very frank about this. The Party which has been mostly concerned is the Basutoland Con- 262 gress Party. They say they have received money as pan-Africanists, from Ghana and from the Committee of Nine al Dar-es-Salaam, which is the Committee for the Organisation of African Unity; but they deny absolutely that they have received anything from Russia or from China. If this allegation is to be made, I hope that some evidence will be given of a charge, of which at present there is no evidence whatsoever.
May I now continue my quotation of the statement by Chief Jonathan, the head of the minority Government in Basutoland? I will begin it again, because I was interrupted while I was making the quotation. It is as follows:To date, says the Chief, he has received R.20,000 from South Africa and R.10.000 from West Germany. With money from Germany he has bought four vehicles for electioneering, and with South African money he has bought six. He has been promised funds to see him right through to the elections on April 29—and after, if he wins.His propaganda in the election was printed in South Africa and distributed by South African vehicles. No wonder that the South African Sunday Times claims that the Chief won the election by South African assistance!
Secondly, when a drought occurred in Basutoland, the South African Government sent to Chief Jonathan, even before he was Prime Minister and when he was still only the leader of his Party, 100,000 bags of maize for the relief of the consequences of the drought. Every Member of this House will welcome the fact that that aid was sent, but I want to point out that it was sent by the South African Government to the leader of a Party, and that that leader used this gift of maize mostly in the area of three by-elections which his Party were then contesting.
My Lords, would the noble Lord agree with me that at that time Chief Jonathan was a Paramount Chief, and that this gift was given to the Chief of Basutoland and not to a political leader?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I always understood that the Chief who is now Paramount Chief was then Paramount Chief. 263 Chief Jonathan was a sub-Chief. I do not think the noble Viscount is correct in saying that he was the Paramount Chief at that time.
My Lords, I would not argue with the noble Lord about his being Paramount Chief or not. But was he not sent this gift to relieve suffering, far in advance of anything that we in this country did to relieve suffering, as Chief and not as leader of a political Party?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
The noble Viscount has withdrawn the suggestion that he was Paramount Chief. If this contribution had been sent to the Paramount Chief I should not have had any complaint, but it was sent to Chief Jonathan, who was the leader of a particular Party which the South African Government has supported throughout; and that gift was used in areas where that Party was engaged at that moment in three by-elections, and it undoubtedly had an effect upon the votes of the electorate. Chief Jonathan is not the Paramount Chief; he is one of the secondary chiefs in Basutoland.
I apologise to the House, because I have been a little put off by that interruption. There have been other allegations of South African financial support for Chief Jonathan, but I want to leave the House with these. Much more important, in the broader consideration of this problem, is the South African plan for the three Protectorates, Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland. The South African plan, as indicated by Prime Minister Dr. Verwoerd, is that these should ultimately be incorporated in South Africa as Bantustan States, that the population should be segregated between Africans and the whites, and that the white population in those areas should be united with the whites in South Africa itself, involving territorial adjustments. This is very important in thinking of Basutoland when one recalls the recent speech in the South African Parliament of Mr. Bhotha, the Assistant Minister for Bantu Affairs. He indicated in that speech that proposals would be made for Basutoland involving an adjustment of its territories, for sale and for exchange. I have communications with me which indicate that Chief Jonathan, the minority Prime Minister in Basutoland, has 264 welcomed those proposals. The great fear of the Opposition Parties in Basutoland is that, if independence is granted to a minority Government which has these cordial relations with the South African Government, after independence steps will be taken leading ultimately to the absorption of Basutoland into the Republic of South Africa, an apartheid State.
I will conclude by saying two things. First of all, I would say to the Colonial Secretary, who has recently been appointed, that he knows my personal friendship towards him; I think my noble friend Lord Beswick knows that, too. My very great regret is that so early in their new period of office they should have been faced with a question of this kind, a question which has behind it such a background and which contains within it such great danger for the future, and a matter upon which, inevitably, they will be greatly influenced by the permanent officials of the Colonial Office. I beg of them, in view of the serious position in the whole of Southern Africa, to look at this position again. One may not expect them to withdraw from the agreement which has been reached with the minority Government at a conference from which the Opposition Parties representing the majority withdrew. But, knowing the situation in South Africa, knowing the dangers which are there to the people of Basutoland, I would beg this House to influence the Government to secure that elections are held before independence. I warn very seriously that if those elections are not held there may be an eruption in Basutoland which will be dangerous to its future.
My last point I would direct to the whole House. The first King, Moshoeshoe, in Victorian times appealed to this country to establish a protectorate over Basutoland in order to protect its people from domination by the Boer white settlers of South Africa. In the time of Queen Victoria the Government of this country took that responsibility. Ever since then they have been looking to this country for protection against the white settler—not merely against the white settler, but, I want to be fair, against generations of whites in South Africa. They have been looking to this country, and now the crisis has come. 265 I beg the Government and this House that, in this very critical situation, we should not allow a Government in Basutoland which represents a minority and which undoubtedly would be swept from office if elections were held; because this matter not only has the support of the Congress Party representing the masses, but has the support of a Party which is backed by the Paramount Chief, King Moshoeshoe. I beg this Government, before it is too late, to understand the seriousness of this position and to use their influence to secure an election before disaster occurs in Basutoland and in Southern Africa.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, it is indeed a strange turn of the wheel of fortune which leads to my supporting Her Majesty's Government and to my old friend, one time Member for Eton and Slough, the noble Lord opposite, opposing them so eloquently. I think that Her Majesty's Government have done the right thing in Basutoland, and I praise the Colonial Secretary, Her Majesty's Government, and Chief Jonathan, who is a very old friend of mine, as indeed are the leaders of all the Parties in Basutoland. I declare an interest in Basutoland and in South Africa, where my family has been resident and concerned in business for very nearly one hundred years.
The noble Lord has used fearful words, some of which I took down. He used the words "critical", "uneasiness", "deplorable". He is well-informed as to one side of the picture, but it is only right that the House should know the whole of the story if it is to be asked to judge. I propose to deal briefly with various aspects raised by the noble Lord and one or two other points. To clear one aspect out of the way, I would make one observation about British troops. It would indeed be a tragedy if British troops had to be sent into Basutoland to maintain law and order. But if they have to go there it will be largely because of the kind of incitement represented by the noble Lord's speech today. That is exactly the kind of speech that makes trouble in our Colonial and ex-Colonial Empire.
May I remind noble Lords that two or three countries in Southern Africa and South-East Africa asked, after independence 266 for British troops to be sent in to maintain the régime. The troops were sent. They no sooner arrived, walked around and played a tune or two on their bagpipes, than there was peace and law and order again. So it is not so unusual for an independent country to ask for British help; nor must too much importance be attached to this. The situation will not arise if a common-sense view of the matter is taken. It is in order to engender a common-sense view based on the facts that I am venturing to speak on this matter.
The noble Lord throughout his speech spoke scornfully of "this minority Government" of Chief Jonathan. Over and over again he spoke, not of "the Government", but only of "this minority Government". Will your Lordships listen to the facts? In the election Chief Jonathan polled 41 per cent. of the votes, the Congress Party polled 39 per cent., and the third party polled 16 per cent. The Congress Party and the third Party—the Marematlou Freedom Party—were all fighting Jonathan, just as Jonathan was fighting all of them. It was a free-for-all, but Jonathan obtained more votes than anybody else and more seats in the House. Now will noble Lords listen to this, which I think will surprise them?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, may I just interrupt before the noble Lord proceeds? Was it not the case that Chief Jonathan's Party obtained 41.6 per cent. and the other two Parties over 46 per cent., and the other two Parties formed an alliance so that if there were an election there would be a clear-cut view?
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, it is true that they formed an alliance, but I will give all the reasons why they formed an alliance if I am allowed to proceed. It seemed to upset the noble Lord very much when anyone asked him a question. Let me tell him that I will be happy if he asks me as many questions as he likes.
But I think that this will surprise many noble Lords. There was a recent General Election in Britain, and the Right Honourable Mr. Wilson and his Party are said to have won that Election. I believe they have a majority of over ninety or perhaps a hundred in the House of Commons. But if the Liberal Party were to make a pact with the Conservative Party 267 to-day, and if you were then to add up the votes polled for the Liberal and Conservative Parties, and those polled for Mr. Wilson's Party at the last Election, the so-called Opposition would have 700,000 more votes than Mr. Wilson. So Mr. Wilson's Government is "that minority Government", according to the style of the noble Lord. All through our history, and all through the history of Parliaments similar to those based upon the British tradition, it has been the case that if you added up all the Parties' votes after an election you could find Governments with a minority of votes in the country.
So now may we examine why the Marematlou minority Party has joined up with the Congress minority Party in order to make a so-called majority Party for a potential election, and why they demand an election? It is as plain as a pikestaff. The whole history of African Colonies and ex-Colonies—and this applies to the Belgian Colonies as well—is that they obtained their freedom by persuading the Europeans that it was just and right and only proper in this day and age to have one vote for one man, but as soon as they got "one man, one vote" they took jolly good care to see that it was "one man, one vote" once. So it is not very good for Oppositions to have independence occur while they are in Opposition—at least, not judging by African precedents.
The Marematlou Party, by the way, put up a candidate for almost every seat and ended up with only four in the lower House out there. It is only by adding up the votes now, afterwards, that one can make up this fictitious majority which the noble Lord talks about. It is just as fictitious as the majority which I cited here in Britain, if the Liberals and the Tories now joined together and added up all their votes. It is not the way our Parliament has worked, or the way any Parliament based upon the British tradition has worked. In other words, it is not merely nonsense but, for the purpose of this argument, it is new nonsense.
I fully understand the fears of the Opposition Parties in Basutoland, that the precedents set throughout the rest of Africa may be followed and that Chief Jonathan and his ruling Party, in spite 268 of sanctions and in spite of all that is written into the Constitution, may take it into their heads to see that it is "one man, one vote" once, and that the Opposition will not have another turn. Hence the plea of the Opposition Parties, hence the plea of the noble Lord, to let them have another election now in the hope that the other side will win and that independence may be granted to them.
Will the noble Lord listen to just this bit of history? All the Basuto Parties joined together in 1963 and 1964 to study the question of independence, and they came over here to Britain in 1964 and met Her Majesty's Government. A White Paper was issued in 1964, which laid down the rules agreed by all Basutoland Parties and by Her Majesty's Government and these were not questioned by the Labour Opposition at that time in either House. All concerned agreed the pattern that was to be followed, and that was that they should go back to Basutoland and hold a general election. That they did, and Jonathan won it according to the rules. A year should then elapse—a year for thinking and for study—and if after a year they voted in both Houses of the Basutoland Parliament to request independence, then. Britain said, "Provided that all goes well, and provided that those resolutions are passed and you come over here, we will discuss the details of independence. But, virtually, we will grant it to you. "That is why they came over last week. It was not to ask for something novel and new and strange and wrong—even wicked, as the noble Lord seems to suggest—but to ask for the implementation of an agreement entered into by all Parties in 1964 and not disagreed to by anybody. So the Colonial Secretary, in my judgment perfectly rightly, has granted them prospectively the independence which they assumed was going to be theirs, and has named a date.
Should the Queen be represented there? Of course she should, my Lords. The Queen and her Family, God bless them, have never shirked a duty anywhere in the world or in the Commonwealth, and why should they shirk this duty? It is the gravest possible reflection upon the Basuto people as a whole, to suggest that anyone would touch a hair of Her Royal Highness's head. They will 269 welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Marina as a distinguished and honourable visitor, as they have done in the past, and as they always will. They are a most amiable, friendly and charming people—almost as charming as the noble Lord himself.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, the noble Lord is aware that I did not suggest that a hair of her head would be touched.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I think it undesirable that, in a condition of great national disunity, our Royal Family should be implicated in this kind of way.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
But there is not great disunity. I do not suppose that 99 per cent. of the Basutoland people are aware of the issues which we are discussing here. It is only a small element in the towns who take an active part in politics. There is not this great disunity—if there is it has all arisen in the last few weeks. The Congress Party and the Marematlou Party were the ones who agitated most strongly for independence. They were the ones who clamoured for it, even more loudly than the others. But all the Basuto Parties asked for it. It is only the Opposition which is dragging its feet now, because it does not want to be in Opposition when independence is granted.
I should like to say to your Lordships, that I have met Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan this very weekend, since his meetings with the British Government. I asked him the plain question, "What is your attitude towards one man, one vote, once?". He said, "I can assure you that my Government and I do not approach the matter from that point of view. Notwithstanding all the precedents throughout Africa, we will respect the rights of minorities and the rights of the Opposition. We have already had five years of Parliament". My Lords, I have been in their Parliament many times and have seen them at work. I understand what he is saying when he says, "We have had a Parliament for five years". It is true it was not a Parliament with power, but it had all the exercise there, all the practice. It happened to have an extremely good Speaker—a European, 270 who has devoted himself to their service and has been asked to stay on for five years; and nobody has suggested replacing him. No, my Lords; I think that Her Majesty's Government and the Colonial Secretary are quite right.
I now come to other aspects of this question, some of which were mentioned by the noble Lord. First, the King of Basutoland—or he who is to be the King as from October 4, now called the Paramount Chief. He is a descendant of Moshoeshoe. He is a fine young man, as the noble Lord said, educated here in England, but with his country's needs, ambitions and desires in his heart. He is married, and has two sons. He has a worthy dynasty of a hundred years be-behind him, and I have ventured to say to him (because he and I are friends), "Your dynasty, if it survives, can do a great deal for your country in the next hundred years, as it has done in the last, but it will survive only if you cooperate with your Prime Minister, whoever he is. It is no good your saying that you will not co-operate with Prime Minister 'A', but only with Prime Minister 'B' or Prime Minister 'C'. That way, there is no room for a king in Africa—or, indeed, in any other country. "I hope very much that His Highness, soon 40 become King, will take that advice, and that all of us will join together in giving it to him. You cannot at the same time have a King in the old-fashioned sense of Cetewayo or Chaka and a Parliamentary Government in which there are a majority and a minority and in which the Prime Minister is supported in the House by the majority. You cannot have both those things at the same time.
Now South Africa. Great are the noble Lord's fears about what will happen, about what this is leading to, about what will happen in South Africa. Let me tell him and your Lordships that whoever is Prime Minister in Basutoland cannot alter its geography, its history or its lack of ability to maintain itself. They cannot be altered under any Prime Minister or any ruler, whatsoever and whosoever he may be. It is a country which must depend upon grants in aid from some country in the world or from some countries in the world; upon the employment of 271 large numbers of its people in South Africa; and upon the export of its wool, of its mohair and, when there is a surplus (which is seldom), of some of its crops—its maize, its peas or its beans. There is not often a surplus: it is very often the other way round. But it depends for the sale of any meat it has to spare—and it very seldom has much—on South Africa, because that is the only market. Furthermore, not only is South Africa its only market, but it is the only way to the outside world. As the noble Lord has pointed out, Basutoland is an enclave; so, whatever Government you have, there must be friendly trade relations with South Africa.
Now I am one of those who believe that good friendly trade relations are the best way to make friends, and that it is far better to pursue trade and commerce and mutual interests, because they lead on to friendliness, than to stick your head in the sand, such as the Americans do about China, for example, or such as we might do about Russia but do not. We do not agree with the Russian methods of government, with the internal management of their affairs or with the way they treat Mr. Brooke, but that does not stop us from trading with them in the hope that civilisation will follow the trade, that culture will follow the trade, that understanding will follow the trade. So it is with Basutoland. Basutoland and South Africa must trade together for the benefit of both, but specially for the very livelihood of Basutoland; and Chief Leabua Jonathan, the present Prime Minister, has done nothing wrong in indicating that a friendly relationship must continue to exist with South Africa, which is geographically and historically the host country of his country, and with Britain, which has been its protector. He has said so; any Prime Minister must say so, and it is good common sense. Again, I venture to ask my colleagues in this House, or those anywhere else who have any influence in these quarters, not to try to persuade the Basuto people otherwise, because the truth is that they cannot live without South Africa.
I, for my part, do not take part in politics in South Africa and I do not take part in politics in Basutoland, but, for the wellbeing of Basutoland, in which my family have had a stake for almost 272 as long as the King's family—for nearly a hundred years—I cannot see a travesty of the position put before this honourable House without venturing to try to correct it in some respects. I foreshadow that if we guide and help Lesotho (which is to be the new name of Basutoland), as we can, with our great influence; if we do not allow Party attitudes to be struck over here, and if we help them financially and otherwise with our wisdom and our understanding, Lesotho may yet be one of the examples of an indigenous, local, native, African people showing that they can work a Westminster system of government, and can work it well to the advantage of all the people who live among them.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ LORD WADE
My Lords, I think we should be wise not to express any partisan views in favour of one or other particular Party in Basutoland, but there are nevertheless some points which I think require answering and which I hope will be answered by the noble Lord. As to the electoral system, there are many faults in our own electoral system, many imperfections, which I could well point out. Where our own system has been applied to other countries, it has often led to unfortunate results. I do not think that many people realise that Dr. Malan got into power in South Africa in the first place only as the result of an electoral system similar to our own, and not as a result of a majority of votes.
But the serious point that has been raised—and it is one which I think must be answered seriously—is this: has there been a conflict in principle in the transfer of power to a minority Government? That, I think, does require some explanation. The Basutoland National Party represented just over 41 per cent. of the voters, and the other Parties objected. Now what has happened since the previous Constitutional Conference? As I understand it, at the previous Constitutional Conference all Parties were agreed on independence. The only difference of view was as to how quickly it could be brought about. It would be helpful to know exactly what has happened since then to bring about this very unfortunate situation in which power appears to be handed over to a Government which represents a minority.
273 The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, referred to Zanzibar. It so happens that I was in Zanzibar at the time of the independence celebrations, and though, technically, the Government then had a majority of Members in the House of Representatives, it did not represent a majority of the electorate. I remember somebody saying to me (I do not quote him as any great authority) that after independence those who are in power will see to it that they remain in power. The speaker was not an official; he was not speaking in any official capacity, and was giving only his personal point of view. But he believed that they would make quite sure, whatever the majority view of the electorate, that, once in, they were going to stay in. As noble Lords know, within a matter of weeks they were overthrown by force.
That seems to me to be the trouble: the belief that the Government in power after independence will see to it that they are never overthrown by the ballot box. If only we could have faith that the will of the people would be expressed through the ballot box, I think that the danger of the overthrow of the Government by force would be largely diminished, if not completely absent. My Lords, I have the uneasy feeling that there is, at any rate, an uncertainty as to what will happen after independence takes place, with a minority Government in power without the good will of the other Parties.
I am doubtful whether another election between now and independence will help very much. I think it is more a question of the future. What kind of elections are going to take place after independence? Are we satisfied with the safeguards? Have we done all we can do to ensure a peaceful future? Of course, Basutoland is in a very difficult position, surrounded as it is by South Africa. All we can do is to ensure, so far as possible, that in granting independence Britain has acted in the best interests of Basutoland, and not on grounds of expediency. All too often we claim that we are pragmatic: we are rather proud of the fact that Britain's policy is pragmatic. But sometimes pragmatism means expediency. I should like to be satisfied that the British Government have not been acting solely on the grounds of expediency.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ LORD ALPORT
My Lords, I hesitate to intervene in this debate, particularly as I have not had the opportunity during the last years of keeping in close touch with the situation in Basutoland. I do so only in case any evidence that I give to your Lordships may be of value in assessing the right proportions of this particular problem. I think that the present Constitution was the one negotiated in 1958. If that is the case, it was one which I took part in negotiating, and most of the personalities mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, were on the political stage in Basutoland at that time. I find it very strange that somebody like the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, who has such a long experience of colonial politics, should assume that there is any possibility of the proposed Coalition, or the existing Coalition, between Mr. Ntsu Mokhehle's Congress Party and the Paramount Chiefs' Marematlou Freedom Party continuing.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, would my noble friend allow me to intervene? It is not the 1958 Constitution that is now being discussed; it is the 1964 one. This present Constitution is a slight amendment of the 1964 Constitution.
§ LORD ALPORT
I merely say that I have some experience of this subject. At that particular time the personalities and the politics were not very dissimilar to the present ones.
§ LORD ALPORT
I do not think for one moment, whatever may be the political expediency, that, so far as the two minority Parties are concerned at the present time, there is the slightest chance of their being able to form a single stable Government subsequent to independence if independence came after an election in which they, in Coalition, won a majority.
The truth is—and my noble friend, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale and Lord Wade pointed this out—that Basutoland is in a hopeless position. Its position is hopeless because of geography. It is easy for the Opposition Parties, let me put it bluntly, to smear the present Prime Minister of Basutoland by pointing him 275 out as being pro-South African because he has faced, as any Prime Minister in Basutoland must face, the facts of the economics of Basutoland itself. Let us be frank: Basutoland can never be independent because, whatever may be the constitutional forms, whatever may be the outward trappings, the country is, and must continue to be, completely dependent on South Africa.
I remember (and I do not think my recollection is playing me false) that when I visited Basutoland some years ago, and had discussions with members of the Basutoland Parliament about the future of their country, the present leader of the Congress Party, I think it was, showed what seemed to me to be a very realistic appreciation of the facts of Basutoland's situation in relation to South Africa. I realised then that the leader of all the Parties in Basutoland, whoever might be chosen by the people of Basutoland constitutionally to take over the leadership and the Prime Ministership of that country, must, in fact, make agreements with South Africa in order that the country should be able to live.
It really is not right, if I may so put it to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, to denigrate Chief Leabua Jonathan by holding him up as being pro-South African, when he is doing exactly what Mr. Mokhehle, if he became Prime Minister, would have to do himself. If he has been misled, as I think he has, and his sympathies and sincerities traded on by the Opposition in this matter in bringing before him the idea that, because a Prime Minister has been doing his duty and getting grain for starving people in his country by whatever means possible, he is therefore playing some rather devious political game, then I think the noble Lord is doing a grave injustice to somebody who, as all who know Leabua Jonathan will agree, is an honourable man.
LORD BROCK WAY
My Lords, since the noble Lord made a direct reference to me, perhaps he will excuse my interrupting. I accept at once that none of the Parties in Basutoland, including the Opposition Parties, think they can proceed without close economic arrangements with the Republic of South Africa. All of 276 them accept that. The complaint I tried to voice in my speech, and which is a fear in the minds of the Opposition Parties, is that that necessity for economic co-operation may lead to an acceptance of the infamous apartheid policies of South Africa and towards its realisation of a Bantustan State.
§ LORD ALPORT
My Lords, I do not think there is much danger of this. My noble friend, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, knows Basutoland better than I do. There has never been any European or white settlement within Basutoland. There has never been in the past, and I see no reason for there being in the future, any facilities for Europeans to obtain freehold tenure in that country. It is going to be what it has been for many years past and is now: a purely African country.
The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said that Chief Leabua Jonathan was wrong because he had received election aid from (I think he said) South African sources—I do not know whether it was alleged to have been from Government sources—and also from West Germany. But as an argument which is worth considering, I would point out that the Congress Party received aid from Ghana—not Ghana under the present régime, I assume, but from Ghana under the régime of ex-President Nkrumah. I believe that nothing is going to be of more prospective danger to an enclosed, tiny, poverty-stricken country like Basutoland than to place itself in a position of appearing to its powerful neigbours to be a possible focus of subversion, dependent upon funds pumped into it from regimes like that of ex-President Nkrumah. This is well understood by Basuto leaders, the responsible Basuto leaders; and, I would say, by the leaders of any Party. I am surprised that it does not, apparently, include the Congress Party. They know very well that they cannot allow their country to be used politically by other African countries against the Republic of South Africa, whatever justification there may appear to be in their own minds that such policies of the other African countries should be followed.
Therefore, my Lords, I am quite certain that Her Majesty's Government, in the decision that they are making (again, I do not pretend to be absolutely up to date with this), to follow through to independence on the basis of the Agreement 277 of 1964 are acting in the present circumstances in the only practicable way. But I do not pretend to myself, and I hope that none of the friends of Basutoland will pretend to the Basuto, that this independence is more than merely a withdrawal of British control, help and protection, leaving them to do the best they can in the circumstances which lie ahead as an enclave in the Republic of South Africa. If I were asked what the policy should be, I should say that I regret very much that the logic of independence is being applied to this small country, because there can be only one consequence (which I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, would like), whoever is in power in Basutoland. That is, that it will become one of the Bantustans of South Africa.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I must first apologise to my noble friend and to the House for the fact that I was not in my place when he opened his speech this afternoon. I think, if I may say so, it is a little unusual to find noble Lords of this House taking up rather less time than was originally estimated, but I re2ret that I was not here. I must also ask for tolerance from the House since it is the fact that I have only since lunch time been trying to assemble all the latest information about a conference which, after all, ended only on Friday last. But I hope to give some reply to the points which have been made.
I find myself in a somewhat unusual position in so far as I am in much closer sympathy with some of the noble Lords opposite who have spoken than with my noble friend Lord Brockway. But it is unusual, my Lords—is it not?—and a little ironical, to find my noble friend, who has campaigned for the better part of fifty years for the freedom and independence of British colonial territories, now making, as I see it, a case for caution and for withholding independence from a territory which has been promised independence. For twenty years now, my noble friend and I have seen the policy for which he has campaigned unfolding through the years, with one country after another being granted independence. And now we come to difficult ones, certainly, and one now which does present some special difficulties, particularly the geo- 278 graphical difficulty to which reference has been made.
However, I must say that I find it a little unhappy that the noble Lord should have made the charges which he has made to-day. As I understand it, the criticism which he is making is that the proposed arrangements for freedom to be conferred upon Basutoland are being concluded while that country is being administered by a Government of which the noble Lord disapproves. That seems to be the basic criticism which he is making: that it is a minority Government, that it is an unrepresentative Government, and that it is a Government with whose objectives he does not agree. I should like to look at these charges in a little greater detail.
The facts are that the Conference which was concluded last week could not have been more carefully prepared or more soundly or properly based. It was in 1962 that a Constitutional Commission, representative of the main political Parties—all of them—and of the Chiefs, was appointed by the Paramount Chief to formulate proposals for constitutional advance. That Commission reported in 1963. In February, 1964, its Report was adopted, with a slight amendment, by the Basutoland National Council as a basis for negotiations with the British Government. This Report contained recommendations relating to a new pre-Independence Constitution for Basutoland which, with a minimum of change and with the maximum ease, could become the Constitution for the proposed independent country. It was after this preparatory work, carried out, I repeat, by representatives of the three main political Parties and of the Chiefs, that the Constitutional Conference was held in London in April and May, 1964, and agreement was reached on a pre-independence Constitution on the lines recommended by the Constitutional Commission.
At that 1964 Constitutional Conference the undertaking was given by the then Secretary of State to the effect thatIf at any time not earlier than one year after the new elections the people of Basutoland, by resolutions of both Houses of the Basutoland Parliament, or, in the event of disagreement between them, by a majority of those voting on a referendum, should ask for independence, the British Government would seek to give effect to their wishes as soon as possible.279 It was following that undertaking that new elections were held. Great play has been made about the need for elections, but, as I say, they were held in April, 1965. There is, therefore, really no complaint which can be made under this head. Elections were held, and at those elections each of the three main Parties advocated independence. There was no difference at all between the three main Parties about the desirability of independence. Nor indeed was there any difference between them as to the form of the Constitution which would be accepted on proceeding to independence. And I might add that in the Constitution which was agreed between them there was a provision about the position of the Paramount Chief as Head of State, and I propose to refer to this later, since this was the point on which ostensibly, as I understand it, the Conference of last week saw, eventually, the withdrawal of two Opposition Parties.
May I repeat that it was strictly in accordance with the pledge categorically given by the British Government that the next step was taken to convene the Independence Conference which was held at Lancaster House? The great complaint which the noble Lord now makes is that these elections, although they were held in 1965, produced the wrong result. That is the complaint of the noble Lord, as I understand it. They produced a result with which he does not agree. They produced a minority Government or, at any rate, a Government supported by a minority vote in the country. It is true that the election was a victory for the Basutoland National Party. No doubt the victory was not entirely expected. The majority of people expected that the Basutoland Congress Party would be the successful Party. Nevertheless, the Basutoland National Party received a majority of two in the House.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? Quite honestly, I am not trying to look at this from a partisan point of view; I am trying to look at it from the objective situation in Basutoland now. Just as in the case of Ghana, where I negotiated for elections before independence, although the Government had a large majority in the elections eighteen months 280 before, in order to prevent disunity in that country, so I am now pleading, from my knowledge of Basutoland and the situation there, that the Government shall think again before giving independence to a minority Government, because about this the majority of the people of Basutoland are deeply concerned.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I am trying to answer the points which the noble Lord made, and one point he made was that there should be new elections. I am saying to the noble Lord that elections were held in the light of approaching independence and they produced a majority of two for the National Party. Moreover, it is quite wrong to say that there is any evidence at all that since the elections there has been any change of opinion in the country away from the National Party. There have been three by-elections and they have all been won by the National Party, and one Member elected for one of the Opposition Parties has since crossed the floor of the House and joined the National Party. So if there has been any movement of opinion, it has been towards the Government Party, and not against it.
The noble Lord said that outside money had been used by one Party to secure election results. I would only say that I do not think there is any profitable purpose in pursuing this allegation. Charges are made on both sides and it would seem that money received from outside was used on both sides. Informed observers attribute the victory of the National Party to the fact that one of the Opposition Parties, now, temporarily at any rate, in alignment with the second Opposition Party, used violence in a particularly distasteful way, and the reaction to the type of violence as used by the Opposition Parties resulted in greater support for the National Party.
So far as the elections are concerned, I repeat that they were held at a time when independence was an issue and resulted in a majority Government in the House, even though it can be said that its support in the country is a minority of the whole votes cast. It is fair to say, as has already been said by at least two noble Lords opposite, that that position was not unusual. It can be found in this country. As the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, said, the Government of 281 which I am a member has a minority of votes in the country at the present time.
The noble Lord then made the point that the position of the Paramount Chief is a doubtful one. He has not signed the Report. And it is adduced as an argument for new elections that even the Paramount Chief is joining with the two Opposition Parties in the demand for a further reference to the people. But what my noble friend did not say was why the Paramount Chief had found himself at variance with the proposed new Constitution. I agree that the Paramount Chief is a charming person, with a background of Liberal views, at any rate whilst he was in this country; but the fact is that he has been arguing for additional powers for himself. I find it extremely surprising that my noble friend Lord Brockway—none else—should be aligning himself with a hereditary Chief whose demand is that he should be given additional, undemocratic powers.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to ask him one question which might be important to go on record? He said, almost with regret, that the Paramount Chief had not signed the Report. I should not like it to go on record that, as he had not signed the Report, he was in any way to blame. Surely, he was not a member of the delegation, but only a distinguished visitor, and therefore no blame attaches to him if he has not signed the Report.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the noble Lord may well be right. Whether or not his signature was legally required is really a different matter. The point I wish to make is that he has not given his support to the Report. There is also the fact that the two Opposition Parties now find themselves making demands together with the Paramount Chief.
I may add, on this question of the proposed constitutional position of the Head of State, the draft Constitution agreed vests in him powers no more and no less than those which were previously agreed by all three political Parties. In the past, there was considerable argument about this. Mr. Mokhehle, in a letter to the Prime Minister of the day, had emphasised that it would be inconsistent with the expressed wishes of the majority unless the constitutional Head of State had only restricted powers. On June 11, 282 17 of the 22 Principal and Ward Chiefs sent a mesage to the Secretary of State, in which they said:The truth is that we wish to be ruled under a Constitution in which both the Paramount Chief and the Prime Minister have their proper places. The Paramount Chief is the Head of State and ought to be the Constitutional Ruler, the symbol of national unity.That is the position in the Constitution now agreed upon at the recently concluded conference.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt again, but is it not the case that the Paramount Chief was asking, as Head of State, for the right to call a referendum on issues of this kind, if necessity arose? Does the noble Lord regard that as undemocratic?
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the Paramount Chief was asking for powers additional to those which had been agreed upon previously by all three political Parties in the State and by the Senate, powers which go beyond those normally vested in the Constitutional Head of State as we know it.
Something has been said about precedents.in other countries. There is no specific principle that there should not be a minority Government in a country. This would need definition. We should have to say what we meant by a "minority" Government. What has been made clear in previous cases is that if the Government of the day had a worn-out mandate, if its time was running short, then there should be elections. They are held, as I have it here, if they are due under the Constitution; that is to say, if the term of the present Parliament is about to end. This may well be the case in Barbados, where under the present Constitution elections must be held in December of this year. In that case, it could be argued as unreasonable to vest independence in a Government whose term of office was about to expire. In the case of British Guiana, new elections were held, certainly, in December, 1964, but this was because there had been a change in the electoral system. If there is a proposed change in the electoral system, then the principle has been established that there should be previous elections based on the new electoral roll.
In the case of Gambia, a new Constitution for Gambia was agreed upon at the Constitutional Conference in July, 1961, 283 and the elections were held under the new Constitution in May, 1962. Then an Independence Conference opened in London in July, 1964. At that Conference the Opposition Parties pressed for fresh elections, but the Secretary of State refused the request on the same grounds, broadly speaking, as those which would apply in this particular case.
Some play was made by my noble friend about the possibility of the territory of Basutoland being endangered if the State passed into independence under the Prime Ministership of the present Prime Minister; and he spoke about some statement made in South Africa about purchasing Basutoland territory. The fact is that Basutoland claims that they should rightly own some territory which is at present in the South African Republic, and they hope that, after independence, South Africa will agree to return some of this territory to the new State of Lesotho. But it is quite wrong—and my noble friend has no evidence that I can see for saying this—to say that the Prime Minister of Basutoland has any intention of giving up the present territory of Basutoland. Indeed he could not give it up; nor would it be possible to transfer any territory unless the Constitution, which it is proposed to adopt, is broken. There are very rigid safeguards in the new Constitution. There are deeply entrenched clauses which will make it quite impossible for the Prime Minister to transfer any territory in the manner suggested by my noble friend.
Some point has been made about the possibility of disturbances. Of course, no one having seen recent history in Africa could rule out the possibility of disturbances in the future. All that can be said is that the Constitution that it is proposed shall be adopted by the newly independent country of Lesotho has been devised honestly. It has been agreed to at one time or another by all the three political Parties. It will create democratic machinery which the present Opposition Parties will be fully able to use; and there is no reason why, using that democratic machinery, they should not in the future bring about a change of Government, if they can persuade the people of Lesotho that they could more responsibly handle the affairs of that 284 country. I doubt very much whether by the sort of language which my noble friend has used he has diminished the possibility of disturbances, but certainly they ought not to arise as a result of adopting the Constitution drawn up last week. My advice to my noble friend is to give these people a chance. Let us see how they proceed. Let us not encourage the sort of instability and fear which he has stirred up this afternoon.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, before we adjourn, I should like to address a few observations to your Lordships. It is not the case that, the Minister having replied to the question, this brings the procedings to a close. I have listened with great attention to the Minister's speech in answer to my noble friend, and I must say that it leaves me very uncomfortable. I should like him, and indeed the Government, to realise that there are many old members of the Labour Party who have been in the Colonial Freedom Movement for a very long time and who have been made most unhappy as a result of some of the decisions of the Government. Basutoland is obviously a difficult problem. It may well be that the Chiefs and other politically important people in Basutoland have made a serious mistake in pressing on for independence at the present time. I have myself felt that, while the present Government is in power in South Africa, with its apartheid policy, Basutoland is much safer, so far as it can be made safe, in its colonial state than in a state of freedom. But it shows how enormously—
THE EARL or BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, the noble Lord will forgive me for intervening, but on an Unstarred Question is it possible to have another speech after the member of the Government has given a reply?
§ LORD CHORLEY
I have been a Member of this House for something like twenty years, and I have been involved in a number of these debates. When I was in the position of the Minister and had made my reply there was quite a long debate afterwards, in which I should think no fewer than half a dozen Members of your Lordships' House took place. 285 When I tried to reply at the end of this discussion it was pointed out; quite firmly, I think by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, that in this type of proceeding there is no right of reply on behalf of a Minister who has already addressed the House. That is perhaps an unfortunate situation. Surely, ray Lords, until you have heard what the Minister has had to say—and, after all, he is making the official reply for the Government—it is not right to make up your mind. Obviously a Member of the House is entitled, and indeed ought, if he feels he has observations to make which seem to him to be useful, if not important, to make them. Therefore, with your Lordships' permission, which I am sure I shall have, I should like to address the House for a few minutes on this important problem. It is an important problem, and I share the feeling of the noble Lord who brought this up.
It shows how enormously independence and freedom are valued by these people in Africa—because their defenceless position as regards the South African Government must be perfectly clear to them—that they should have insisted on going on with this policy of self-government and independence in their present situation. I can quite appreciate that one might say, particularly in relation to the present Prime Minister, Chief Jonathan, that he has deliberately decided to go for a ride on this tiger. Whether he will eventually find not only himself but the unfortunate people of Basutoland in the same position as the young lady of Niger, who embarked upon this perilous road so many years ago, I do not know. I am afraid that he will. It is perfectly intelligible, and indeed it would have been difficult for the Government to have gone back on these decisions which were made at an earlier stage under the last Administration.
I have felt that one of the reasons why so many of us are uncomfortable over the Government's present colonial policy is that they have adopted much too readily the decisions taken by the last Administration. When I heard the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, in support of them, I could not help feeling that one should "fear the Greeks when they are bringing their gifts. "It is perfectly understandable that the Government should wish to go as far as they can in that direction, and there is, 286 of course, built up in the Colonial Office as a result of long years of administration, a policy construction, to which the noble Lord referred, to which incoming Ministers are very susceptible. This was very clearly so in the case of Bechuanaland, a neighbouring country in which many of us felt that serious mistakes were made in the earlier Administration when Chief Tshekedi Khama was treated in a way which seems to many of us quite disgraceful and thoroughly out of line with the normal liberal policy of the Labour Government, no doubt as a result of decisions which had been taken at an earlier stage.
My Lords, may I interrupt for a moment? In my experience, the noble Lord is absolutely right to make a speech about Basutoland, but may I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether it is in order for a general debate on the whole of British colonial policy over the last dozen years to ensue from that Question?
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, I should have thought it a matter of courtesy to the House that the speeches should be addressed to the point of the Question, but exactly what relevance any other matter might have to this particular point is, of course, for the noble Lord himself to decide.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I should have thought that three or four sentences by way of introducing an analogy, something that happened in a not dissimilar situation in another case, was a common method of argument; and if analogies of this kind are to be ruled out, a great deal that is of value will be lost to our debates.
Another analogy which one might well bring in, and which has been mentioned more than once this afternoon, is that of Guyana, where the situation was, so to speak, twisted in the other way. The Conservative Administration deliberately changed the Constitution in order to engineer into office a combination of minority Parties: in effect, overthrowing from London the Government established by the majority Party in that country—and doing it very skilfully—and then finding that the Labour Party, which had been opposed to this sort of manœuvring, was prepared to accept that policy; and, indeed, it has been carried through in such 287 a way as to rule out the Party which is undoubtedly numerically the largest Party in that country. While it may be that for a short time the result of that is a more peaceful situation than has recently prevailed, I am afraid that it will not last indefinitely.
This is exactly why I am so much afraid of what is going on now in Basutoland. It seems to me that everything is working up to a situation in which it will not be London that despatches the troops to Basutoland, but Pretoria. It will not be our Colonial or Commonwealth Secretary but Dr. Verwoerd and his henchmen; and in that situation we are completely helpless. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, would not be upset by this, but to see this little country of Basutoland swallowed up in this way—and it is towards that that this situation is moving—would be disastrous to all of us, and particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. I understand perfectly well the emotion which he felt when addressing your Lordships this afternoon. It would be disastrous to all of us who have been in this colonial freedom movement all these years, and it is for that reason we feel so upset about it.
Here we are, in fact, putting into power a Prime Minister who I will not say is hand in glove with the apartheid Government in South Africa, which is a Government that I personally loathe. There is no Government in the world which I loathe more than the Government of South Africa at the present time; and I say that quite deliberately. When the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, talks about Chief Jonathan winning his election according to the rules, it makes me feel very hot under the collar. The noble Lord was a Member of Parliament for quite a number of years, and if he had won his seat by bribing his constituents with gifts of food when they were starving, there is no question that he would have been removed from his seat. That is not winning an election according to the rules.
I deny emphatically that these by-elections were won according to the rules, and if it is in that way that the present Prime Minister of Basutoland proposes to govern that country, the inevitable con- 288 sequence will be that foreseen by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway: that there will indeed be violence, and that will bring in Dr. Verwoerd, and those policemen and those soldiers whose conduct has been called into question over the last years and has been anathema to every liberal-minded person I know. That has been the danger, and that is why we old fighters in the freedom movement feel so uncomfortable at the Government's attitude.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, with great respect, according to the ruling which was given on the previous occasion it must be some other Minister who has not spoken. It was said at that time that under the rules of the House Ministers who had already replied could not speak again, even with the leave of the House, because we tried to do that. I think it was the noble Earl, Lord Swinton who said that that could not be done.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, I do not think that is so. I think any Member can speak again and can speak many times, provided his request for leave to speak is not refused by the House.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I merely make the observation that if, after nine hundred years, we cannot agree unanimously whether I have the right to speak or not, I feel we are being overcritical about some of these people in Basutoland who are endeavouring to forge a new Constitution.
I rise merely to make one comment about this point. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, has again mentioned the possibilities of the future of Basutoland being tied up with the Union of South Africa. I do not believe there is anybody in this House who would look forward with pleasure to that prospect. We should not want it to happen, but nevertheless the facts are as they are. This is a territory surrounded by the Union of South Africa, and it was in the light of that knowledge that successive Administrations agreed that after elections there should be an Independence Conference. This 289 undertaking given by previous Administrations was repeated twice by representatives of Labour Administrations. I feel that it is a little late in the day to complain about the geography of the State when, as I say, the elections happen to go differently from the way in which some of my noble friends would have liked them to go.
I make one further point about the opinion or the attitude of Chief Jonathan to the South African Republic. It is suggested, so far as I follow what has been said, that he is predisposed to go into a closer relationship with the Union of South Africa. But, as a matter of fact, the Prime Minister has on several occasions categorically refuted this accusation that his Government was "soft" in its attitude to the Republic of South Africa; and certainly when I discussed this matter with him one evening last week, thanks to the hospitality of my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, I do not believe that anyone could have been more hostile and bitter in his opposition to apartheid than was Chief Jonathan. He has stated, however, that his Government stands for co-existence with the Union of South Africa. That, I think, is a fact of life which would 290 have to be accepted by any Government of Basutoland which hoped to maintain any kind of economic condition to support the people of the country. It is inevitable that they have this coexistence with the Union of South Africa. I do not think we should criticise Chief Jonathan because of that. The other Opposition Parties would similarly have to accept this fact.
So, again, I make an appeal to my noble friends: having voiced their apprehensions, and knowing what it is they have in mind, I would suggest to them that we should now allow this constitutional machinery we have devised to be established, and for these people of Lesotho to have an opportunity of showing that they can, indeed, fashion a democratic way of life in the difficult circumstances that we know them to be facing.