HL Deb 08 July 1977 vol 385 cc573-635

12.58 p.m.

Lord CHALFONT rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are in full agreement with the United States of America on policy towards Southern Africa. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper. My reasons for asking this Question today and initiating this short debate are not in any way polemical or contentious. This is an extremely important subject, and one upon which, from time to time, very extreme and intemperate views are expressed. There is a tendency to lecture people in Southern Africa, both black and white people, in very strident and sanctimonious terms about their duties, and it seems to me that in a matter of this importance it is the understanding of the situation that counts. I realise that this is perhaps an unsuitable time to raise an issue of this magnitude, at the end of a week in your Lordships' House; but it was the only occasion, I understand, on which it was possible to put this Question before the Recess, and I must say that, in that context, I appreciate how Members of your Lordships' House have put their names down to speak although the time must be, for many people, very unsuitable and very inconvenient.

My Lords, events are moving very fast in Southern Africa, and I feel it is essential that, in the context of my Question, we should be clear what the policy of the West is towards events in Southern Africa; and, of course, for that reason it is essential to know what the policy of the United States of America is, the United States being still the strongest, the most influential and the most important member of the Western Alliance, and then to decide whether we in this country wish to follow that line and, if not, what attitude we should take towards these important events in Southern Africa. In a short debate of this kind it is clearly not possible to cover the whole field, which is a vast and complicated one. Therefore, today I am not going to spend as much time as I should like on Rhodesia or South West Africa. There are a number of reasons why I prefer not to deal in detail with those areas today. One is because there are delicate negotiations going on at the moment in regard to both those areas and, in the case of Rhodesia, the attempts to find a solution have reached a crucial stage. I think that it might be irresponsible and unproductive to have too detailed a debate about them.

In any case, my Lords, in the case of Rhodesia and South West Africa, it seems to me that a number of principles are already clearly established. It is the mode of bringing about a solution which is still at issue. Majority rule, I think, is clearly now inevitable in the near future in Rhodesia and, perhaps, in the slightly more distant future, in South West Africa. The questions which remain to be settled are whether that majority rule will be established with or without bloodshed or with or without widespread violence, and, perhaps more importantly for us in the West, although, of course, not unimportant for those who live in these places, whether the Governments which take the place of the existing regimes will be simply black nationalist Governments or whether they are also to he Marxist Governments as well. These, I think, are the questions which still remain to be solved in those areas.

My Lords, I should like today to concentrate on the Republic of South Africa which is a problem of an entirely different kind. It is not a post-Colonial problem. The white people of South Africa have nowhere else to go. As they say in South Africa, there are no ships in the harbour waiting to take away the Afrikaners. This is where they live and where they will continue to live, whatever may be the political solution in their country. There are for the West two separate, interconnected but equally important problems in Southern Africa. The first, and the one which, perhaps, receives for various understandable reasons the most attention in the West, is the problem of human rights, the problem of civil rights, in the Republic of South Africa. The policy of the present Government of South Africa, the policy of what is sometimes called separate development, which involves the fundamental application of the principle of apartheid, is a policy which is, quite rightly and understandably, condemned in most of the rest of the civilised world if for no other reason than that it relies openly and professedly upon institutionalised racial discrimination.

The policy relies specifically upon four bodies of legislation which cover what they call the Immorality Act, the forbidding of sexual intercourse between people of different races; the Mixed Marriage Act, which speaks for itself; the legislation covering education, which forbids the integration in schools of people of different races; and, finally, the Group Areas Act which forbids white people, black people and coloured people from living together in the same part of the country of South Africa.

This policy, as I have said, is recognised in the West by most people as being indefensible and unacceptable. But the point I should like to make forcibly is that it is recognised as being unacceptable and indefensible by many people in South Africa as well—and I do not mean only the black people in South Africa. There is, I would guess from my own experience and from the studies that I have made of South Africa recently, a very broad spectrum of white South African opinion which recognises that political change is not only desirable, not only important, but urgent, and who are determined to see that change come as soon as they can.

I need only refer your Lordships to certain recent developments in the Republic of South Africa. There was a speech a few weeks ago by Dr. Koornhof, one of the Cabinet Ministers of the present Government, in which he put forward a new blueprint for political development in South Africa to take the place of the classic, conventional doctrines of the homeland, of separate development and apartheid. Dr. Mulder, another important and influential Member of the Cabinet of Mr. Vorster, put forward similar views. More recently Mr. Botha, the new Foreign Minister of the Republic of South Africa, has made an important statement on the Immorality Act. He has said that he does not believe that for the political future of South Africa it is necessary to retain this Act on the Statute Book. That remark was reflected by the Minister of Agriculture, also. Two quite influential Members of the existing Cabinet of the National Party have said that this Act is no longer necessary for the future development of South Africa.

I should like to put an important point to your Lordships which is fully appreciated in South Africa, but perhaps not so well appreciated here. If a Minister can say that about the Immorality Act, he is undermining the whole basis of the institutionalised racial discrimination of South Africa, because what he is saying is this: if you remove the Immorality Act from the Statute Book, then, of course, the Mixed Marriages Act becomes a nonsense; and if you are prepared to consider removing the Mixed Marriages Act from the Statute Book, then, clearly, the Group Areas Act and the Education Act are immediately undermined. Therefore, if you once start to dismantle this odious paraphernalia of racial discrimination, then the momentum will continue. This, I believe, is the view and desire of many enlightened people in the National Party and, certainly, in the white Opposition in South Africa. It is their desire and aim.

My impression, from recent visits to South Africa, is that there is a movement towards peaceful change across a very wide spectrum of the political establishment—not only among the black people, most of whom want peaceful change. There is a small extremist minority who want nothing but violence and black power, but this is inevitable and predictable. They exist, but, in my view, they are a small proportion of the spectrum of black opinion. Similarly, in the white political establishment there is a small body of intransigent, unregenerate Afrikaner nationalism which refuses to contemplate any political society change. They, too, are very small. Throughout the rest of the spectrum, including, in my view, a majority of the National Party in the South African Parliament, there is a desire for change.

My first point in these remarks is to say that I believe that one of the first aims of foreign policy in the West should be to encourage that desire for peaceful change; not to abort it by strident public lecturing, but to encourage it quietly and intelligently and to make it clear to the people of South Africa that it is peaceful change which we in the West are interested in as much as are they in South Africa.

This leads me to what is the second of the two problems. Clearly, the problem of human rights is urgent and one which occupies our minds; but there is a second problem which does not get as much publicity in this country. It is the immense importance of a stable, prosperous and friendly South Africa for the economy and security of the West. There was a time when this was a clear article of faith, certainly in the USA. In the time of President Kennedy, it was quite clearly accepted by him—and stated by him—that the USA regarded Southern Africa as one of the battle grounds in the continuous struggle that goes on between the Communist and the Free World.

I think that there was a very good reason why he should say this. In those days, the days of President Kennedy, the degree of Soviet strategic penetration in Southern Africa was not as great as it is today. But in those days there were still the minerals of South Africa upon which a good deal of prosperity of the West—and security of the West—depended. There is the fact that so far as this country and many other countries are concerned, South Africa, and Southern Africa as a whole, is one of our biggest and most important markets. There is the question of the ports of South Africa, the security of the routes around the Cape which bring our oil from the Middle East, oil upon which depend not only our economy but the very ability that we have to maintain Defence establishments for our security and the security of our allies.

I said that in the days of President Kennedy those factors obtained, but there was not then the degree of Soviet penetration which there is today. It is extremely important that we in this country should recognise the degree of that penetration; we should recognise that it is a clear priority of Soviet foreign policy to establish itself politically, economically and strategically in Africa—Southern Africa specifically—and to do it, if necessary and if possible, at the cost and expense of our interests in the West.

One has only to look at the events that went on during the civil war in Angola, the régime that has established itself there since, and at the situation in Mozambique. One has only to look at the rest of the continent of Africa, at the presence of Soviet advisers, Cuban troops and other elements of a Soviet or Soviet-influenced presence in a dozen or more countries in the continent of Africa. One has only to look at the extent to which the Soviet Union is now able to rely upon facilities for its rapidly growing navy that it did not have only a few short years ago.

I do not want to spend too much time on this subject—we do not have that much time—and, indeed, these arguments have been developed at great length in other places. I merely want to make a point which I think is important to the whole of the consideration of our policy towards South Africa, and it is this. If South Africa—and I am not saying that this is imminent—were to come under the influence of the Soviet Union, if the Republic of South Africa, as a result of future political developments, were to come under the domination or influence of the Soviet Union, the dangers for the security and prosperity—and possibly even the survival—of the West would be very great indeed.

This is why I say that there is need for quiet diplomacy in South Africa. We must try to encourage peaceful change, because if there is violent change in South Africa, this is the breeding ground of the kind of régime that will eventually prove to be hostile to every single interest that we have in the West. It is as much in our interests as in the interests of the people of South Africa to head off the violence which is daily becoming more likely in that area. One of the things we must not do in attempting to express our sympathy for the aspirations of the black people of South Africa, is to use language or policies which will drive the present Government of South Africa into positions of intransigence, to drive them into what they call—in their own language—the laager mentality; so to reduce their freedom of manoeuvre by our sermons, bullying and blackmail, that they will retreat into their laager and say: "If that is your attitude, we are on our own and we will defend ourselves". If they do, we are in for a long period of bloodshed in South Africa

The present Government of South Africa, make no mistake—whatever may be our views about its rights or wrongs—is powerful and strong enough to defend itself internally and externally for quite a long time. It will do so if we drive it to do so. If we drive it do so, the loss will be the loss of everyone in South Africa, not just a small proportion of white people who live there but the large proportion of black people who live there as well.

What then is the policy that is being adopted towards this problem, and what is the policy that should be adopted? Unless one is in government and in the corridors of power it is difficult to know what any given current policy is. So far as the United States are concerned, I suppose the most recent exposition of American policy was the speech made last week by the American Secretary of State on American policy towards Africa. It seemed to me from my study of it to do one important thing which represents a change from the policies of previous American administrations. That is, it seems to discount the importance of South Africa as a ground of strategic confrontation between Communism and the Free World. If any analysis is correct, then that is a disturbing change.

Whatever the United States may say about strategic confrontation in South Africa, I do not believe that the Soviet Union is in any doubt whatsoever about the strategic importance of South Africa, and it is in no doubt whatsoever about its own resolution to become the most important world Power in that area. In present American policy statements there are also some confusions about what is meant by the term "full political participation for all the people of South Africa" which they constantly use in their speeches and policy statements. It is said by thos who are paid to interpret American policy in their foreign service that this is all that they will say about it: full political participation. The details, they say, are for the South Africans to work out. There are no blueprints.

However, it is worth saying, and important to say, that when Mr. Vorster met Vice-President Mondale in Vienna, in response to a question from a reporter at a news conference, Vice-President Mondale said that full political participation means one man, one vote. If the United States really believes that one man, one vote is a feasible and practical policy for South Africa in the near future, then I fear for Western policies in that part of the world. Furthermore, there is talk of United Nations economic sanctions against South Africa, and talk that, if such a mandatory resolution should come before the United Nations, South Africa can no longer rely upon the United States' veto. That may or may not be so.

If the United Nations really believe that they can solve the problems of South Africa by applying economic sanctions for that area, they will make one of the biggest mistakes they have made in their existence. If they take that kind of action against South Africa, everybody in South Africa will suffer. It will not be just the white ruling establishment that will suffer; it will be the 20 million black and coloured people as well.

This brings me to my last remarks. I have overstepped my time already, but I think it is necessary to ask Her Majesty's Government, not for specific answers to questions, because I know that that would not be possible and practical here today, but simply whether they will consider a few general questions. This country has a vital role to play in South Africa. It is a role that cannot really be played by the United States of America. For all their power and influence, for all their newly found evangelical commitment to the cause of human rights, they cannot play the role that we can play. They are not historically, temperamentally or psychologically suited to it. We can play a big part. I should like Her Majesty's Government to consider the possibility that the cold war is not yet over. Certainly, even if there are people in the West who believe that it is, I have been unable to detect anyone in the Soviet Union who thinks that it is.

I should like Her Majesty's Government to consider the possibility that Southern Africa as a whole, and Southern Africa especially, is an area of vital strategic and economic importance to the West and that that importance is underlined by the degree of effort which the Soviet Union is putting into strategic, economic and political penetration in the area. I should like Her Majesty's Government to consider the possibility that the Westminster model, and especially the concept of one man, one vote, may not be the answer to the problems of Southern Africa.

Finally, I should like Her Majesty's Government to recognise that change is taking place inside South Africa. Anyone who has been to that country recently will recognise that under the surface—and at the moment it has to be under the surface—fundamental changes of approach and psychology are taking place. I should like Her Majesty's Government to make it clear that they are willing to encourage those changes, that they are willing to set their face against policies which, as I have said before, will drive white South Africans into positions of fearful intransigence and into positions which will cause there to be the most fearful and prolonged bloodshed in that part of the world.

Let there be no more strident public preaching, no more talk of economic sanctions, but let there be quiet, eloquent and effective diplomacy of the kind at which this country is adept and in which, I may say, it has already proved itself to have had some success in South Africa. If, at any rate, the attitude of South Africans, whether black or white, towards us is any guide, I may say that when I was in the South African Parliament a few weeks ago there was a debate when Mr. Vorster had just returned from Vienna. A number of Members of Parliament made very disobliging and critical remarks about the United States of America and its policy towards South Africa. These were greeted with approval by Members of the South African House of Commons, but any remark of a critical kind made about this country was received in a stony silence. There is a difference in the attitude of South Africans towards us and towards the Americans.

I end by saying that I believe that a stable, prosperous South Africa, friendly to the West, is crucial to our security. What happens there—which may to some extent depend upon the attitudes of Western Governments and even, in the long run, may depend on the attitude of Her Majesty's Government—is important not only to all South Africans, white, black and coloured, but to all of us in the Free World as well.

1.23 p.m.

Baroness ELLES

My Lords, I know that my noble friends and, I believe, every noble Lord in this House owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for having introduced a subject which is of vital international concern, and indeed of similar concern to the national interests of the United Kingdom and other Western industrialised nations. He emphasised the importance of the time factor in this part of the world. The noble Lord has drawn our attention to the inherent dangers in Southern Africa and the consequences, not only for that part of the world but also for Western Europe, if we do not propose and implement policies which will contribute to the defusing of these dangers and also to the establishing of stability and peace in that part of Africa. I should like to express our gratitude to the noble Lord for having so clearly outlined the dangers involved and for putting the problems to your Lordships in the way that he has done.

It is both in our own interests and in the interests of Africans that those objectives must be achieved, for the present delicate situation in South Africa combines unstable government, the threats of, and actual, revolt, and armed attack on account of a denial of the rights to self-respect of millions of Africans in the political, economic and social fields in the territories in which they live. No one denies the immense contribution made in the past by the British in the development of these countries in Southern Africa, but it is clearly time for not only the Government but individuals throughout the country to look at this problem in a new light.

The threat of Marxism will be all the more intense if we do not realise that the West must co-operate to recognise the right of a black majority to govern in their own territories. It is the failure to recognise that right which will create further opportunities for Marxist incursion, with all the consequences spelled out by the noble Lord for the West and for Africa itself, as well as for other parts of the globe. The Africans themselves know that Marxist economic theory is old-fashioned, and where it has been implemented it has proved to be a failure wherever it has been introduced. They know that the Marxist philosophy is totally alien to their historical and cultural traditions, and that their very existence is based on the individual or collective private ownership of land and not on some form of State collectivism. They know that the acceptance of a totalitarian régime leads to less liberty rather than to more, to economic disaster and not to economic wellbeing, and possibly even to bloodshed.

We in Western Europe demand recognition of our basic rights, and this insistence by Governments on recognition of these basic rights and freedoms is our strongest bulwark against a totalitarian or Marxist regime. It is the Western response to the Communist ideological struggle. But the principle also applies in Southern Africa. If we, in cooperation with the United States, want to ensure that Marxist domination does not succeed in Southern Africa, we must be prepared to recognise, to encourage and assist by peaceful negotiation the attainment of African majority rule in territories in which they live.

That response to the situation in Southern Africa—recognition of African nationalism, and encouragement for Africans to enable them to govern themselves without any external influence from any world force—is surely the policy we should follow in co-operation with the United States Administration. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has already drawn attention to the very important speech made by the Secretary of State, Mr. Cyrus Vance, on 1st July, and I should like to quote from page 3 of his statement, where he refers to the policies of the United States Administration towards Southern Africa. Among the five points that he makes, he says: Our policies should recognise and encourage African nationalism. Having won independence, African nations will defend it against challenges from any source. If we try to impose American solutions for Africa problems, we may sow division among the Africans and undermine their ability to oppose efforts at domination by others. We will not do so". I think that is a very important aspect of the American approach, and it may well be the answer to the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that Mr. Mondale's statement on "one man, one vote", is not to be taken quite so seriously as might have been originally implied.

Despite having residual responsibility for Rhodesia, the British are no longer a major Power, either through military or economic strength. Previous attempts at reaching some sort of settlement, for instance at Geneva, have failed. Cooperation with America, therefore, is to many of us both welcome and necessary. However, that is not to underestimate the respect that still remains for Britain and the contribution made by the British people to the economic, social and cultural development of South Africa. In addition there is an even more incalculable asset, which is sometimes overlooked—the value of the English language, which is the only language universally used in that part of the world as a means of communication between all the races of South Africa. That, I believe, plays an integral part in our contribution to the development of that part of the world.

The Africans themselves know full well that if they are not able to raise the living standards of their own people they will need financial assistance from international funds and contributions from the United States, as the Secretary of State declared; and above all they need trained, skilled, white professional people who are prepared to remain under a new régime and contribute to the development of an independent State and to their ownstability. If we were to encourage the departure of white Rhodesians, we should be opening the door to further disaster. It surely must be part of Government policy to guarantee, by all means—financial, political and otherwise—the safety of the lives and property of white Rhodesians who are prepared to remain in Rhodesia, and who are being encouraged to remain. If co-operation between the United States and British Governments can achieve a peaceful settlement on this basis, then there will be a better prospect for the development of a gradual movement in South Africa.

While the United States may wish to pursue a dynamic overall policy, the United States does not share with Western Europe, and particularly with the United Kingdom, the same immediate concern for its supplies of raw materials and for the retention and safety of the Cape shipping route. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has already emphasised this point. The Africans know that it is only if we in the West are strong economically that we can contribute to their economic development. It is as much in their interest as in ours, that provision of raw materials for the maintenance of Western industrial output is guaranteed.

As the noble Lord has very rightly pointed out, the internal situation in South Africa is a very different one from that in other Southern African areas and I do not believe that overt and oppressive interference in South Africa, with the strong characteristics and traditions of the Afrikaaner, will be productive. They have no attachment to another part of the world. In every sense, South Africa is their home and this must be recognised in the reaching of a peaceful solution. I am sure that all noble Lords will be grateful for the comments which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has made on this aspect of the situation in South Africa. This is so often misrepresented in the British Press, and I am sure it is welcome to all noble Lords to have had a personal opinion and the report of a personal visit from the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, as to the political position of many of the leaders in that country.

I am sure that we all believe in the necessity for peaceful change in that country. But if we want to prevent Marxist domination—the greatest threat to world peace and economic development that now exists—then we in the West, together with our American allies, must wake up to the fact that our role must be positive and constructive, and we must take measures to encourage and enable the Africans not only to develop their abilities with maximum scientific and technological assistance, but also to realise their political and civil aspirations. Ultimately, it is only by the recognition of the basic human rights and freedoms of individuals, be they black or white, that the ideological struggle against Marxism can ever be won, and we cannot deny to others what we in this country cling to for ourselves.

1.33 p.m.


My Lords, I should first like to associate myself and my colleagues with the thanks which the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, has expressed to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for enabling us to debate this immensely important subject before the Recess. Perhaps I may say, at the outset, that I am not today speaking necessarily on behalf of my colleagues on these Benches, still less representing any official Liberal point of view. Nor do I propose to examine the possible effect of our policy on our relationship with the United States as such. I wish simply to express some individual thoughts on our policy, as I see it—and perhaps I see it wrongly.

First, as regards Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. The position of the small white community in that country is obviously becoming more and more precarious. I believe that emigration is increasing, and I understand that at long last the effect of sanctions, to which the whole Commonwealth is now firmly devoted, will be in some way decisive, more especially if the United States comes in a big way and prohibits the export of chrome. Even if elections are now held in some way by Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa—I hope with the support of Mr. Sithole—I doubt whether that will solve the problem. After all, the Smith régime is obviously cracking up and it may well be that major developments, including the eventual return of Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe to Salisbury, with some enforced constitutional changes, cannot be ruled out. We must hope that that will not be so. We must trust that the present negotiations will be successful, but we cannot possibly be optimistic. I do not know whether the representative of the Government can say anything to calm my apprehensions, and enable us to be a little optimistic. I hope that he can. That is all I propose to say on that matter.

So we approach the much greater problem of our relations with the Republic of South Africa, and here the whole situation is totally different, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, rightly said. If I read the very long Communique of the last Commonwealth Conference correctly—and perhaps the noble Lord will say what he thinks about this—we are committed to assisting what is called, the cause of liberation throughout Southern Africa as a whole". After the "liberation" of Rhodesia, whatever form this may take, the next objective, we understand, is to liberate Namibia, the heroic struggle of whose inhabitants against South Africans is recognised and applauded. This operation will no doubt be just as successful as the eventual liberation of Zimbabwe, even if it takes a little longer to bring about.

So I come to the present Government of the Republic of South Africa, which, incidentally, is referred to in the Communique as, a racist minority regime whose survival depends on external military and economic support", which should, if I understand the Communique correctly, be terminated as soon as possible. It must be stopped, we read, in order to achieve, the speedy liberation of the oppressed peoples of Southern Africa". More specifically, we are on record as holding that the policies and the actions of the South African regime —not the Government—constitute— a grave threat to the security and stability of the whole area", and we, the United Kingdom, with our Commonwealth colleagues are urging what is called the international community—which can surely only be an indirect reference to the United Nations, because if it is not a reference to the United Nations, to what does it refer?— to take effective measures to "compel" South Africa to bring about majority rule. In other words, we are apparently committed, in default of some early acceptance of our terms, to do our best to overthrow the present Government, or the present regime, in South Africa by all means in our power, short, presumably, of the direct application of military force, if only for the reason that such force is not any more at our disposal. To this end, we also vigorously, and I have no doubt rightly, oppose the constitution of the so-called Bantustans which, as we see it, are merely designed to give the illusion of independence to a considerable number of black citizens of the South African Government.

Presumably, all these are serious and far-reaching statements of intent, and we ought to examine them, however unpleasant that may be, in the light of what we know to be the state of mind of the Afrikaaners, who have, I believe, been called the largest white tribe in that part of the world. I suppose that we ought, too, to consider how likely it is that these intentions of ours will eventually be agreeable to the United States Administration. In any case, we can hardly carry them out unless they are agreeable in some way to that Administration. If the phrases which I have quoted are to be taken seriously we must soon, presumably, support some initiative in the Security Council of the United Nations in order to determine, under Article 39 of the Charter, whether the policies of the Government of South Africa, notably their failure to enforce, presumably, the principle of one man, one vote, are a threat to the peace under that Article. If we say that this is a threat to international security, presumably that is what we mean. However, if we did so, I feel that the proposal is unlikely to get past the Security Council, if only for the prospective veto of France. It may well also be that the United States would veto it, although the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said that this was not necessarily so. However, it is quite possible that the United States would also veto such a proposal.

I am trying to be as objective as possible. Those who vetoed it would do so on the grounds that South Africa is not the only country in which majority rule is not accepted and in which minorities and, indeed, majorities are ruthlessly oppressed. In other words, I am sure that in one way or another the proposal would he vetoed. I imagine that we might then, under the resolution "Uniting for Peace", get the matter referred, or have it referred by somebody else, to the General Assembly and endeavour in that body to rally support for extensive economic sanctions and even eventually for all the measures of coercion listed in Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter, with the general object of compelling—and "compelling" is the operative word—the South African Government to hold elections based on universal adult suffrage, and thereafter to allow a Government to be formed in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the Members of the Parliament resulting from such elections. I imagine that that is our objective? If it is not our objective, then what is the exact meaning of the phrases employed in the long Communiqué of the Commonwealth Conference?

In view of the tragic development of South African policies since the Boer War, and, more particularly, of the more recent development of the disastrous doctrine of apartheid, it is scarcely imaginable that a Parliament such as the one I have been describing, resulting from a majority vote on the basis of universal suffrage in the near future, would agree to have any white representation in the new Government. It would be much more likely to result in a black republic, or republics, or, rather, that such a black republic, or republics, would emerge from an armed struggle for power. In the circumstances this would be almost inevitable.

Indeed, the Commonwealth Communiqué admits that the white South Africans may possess and be prepared, if necessary, to employ nuclear weapons. If we came to this extremity, it seems that any freedom which the majority population of South Africa might enjoy would be hardly worth having, the situation being clearly much worse after such a struggle than it was before. Nor can it reasonably be denied that if things went from bad to worse, with some black régime, or régimes, installed in Cape Town or Pretoria, they might he just as regardless of human rights as the present South African Government, if not more so. If possible, we should not wish the black population of South Africa to be transferred, as it were, from the frying pan into the fire.

Therefore, even at the risk of some Commonwealth disunity, I believe that we should be well advised not to associate ourselves with any proposal for sanctions—here I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont—but, rather, be prepared to do everything in our power to persuade the South African Government to abandon, or at least to relax, its apartheid philosophy and to put members of the black community into positions of responsibility in both the economy and the Civil Service.

Already I believe that, happily, there are signs—again, I was very interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said on the subject—of a certain willingness to go in that direction. If, however, at the behest of our Commonwealth colleagues we give the impression—I only say "give the impression"—that we are building up a force sufficient to "compel" them to enfranchise all their citizens at an early date and, so to speak, at one fell swoop, and, if they do not, some black leader, probably armed by the Soviet Union, will occupy the country and put all the whites into concentration camps, we shall surely be promoting a despairing and almost hysterical reaction that will do no good to anybody.

In saying all this, I trust that I have not given the impression that in some way I am trying to ensure the maintenance of white dominance in the Republic. I am not. Still less am I trying to excuse or justify the doctrine of apartheid, which, even if it is not necessarily so devilish as certain other régimes in this wicked world, is not one that can be persisted in without calamitous results. All I am suggesting is that it would probably be unwise for us to give the impression—again I say "give the impression"—that we are prepared to lead, not only a crusade but an armed crusade to stamp out by force a régime to which we have a fundamental objection. After all, we are not proposing to lead an armed crusade against President Amin or even against the Government of Czechoslovakia, though both, in varying degrees, are obviously governing their countries against the will of the great bulk of the inhabitants.

Nor, I am afraid, are crusades usually successful in accomplishing what they set out to do. In the 11th century, the First Crusaders had a very successful bloodbath in Palestine, but eventually the hosts of Midian triumphed. Oliver Cromwell led a crusade against the Irish, which was also successful for a time, although its effects, unhappily, are still with us. I confess that I am against all talk of bloodbaths and crusades. On the contrary, I firmly believe that, given time, some transformation of South African society is inevitable. In 10 years (shall we say?) if it is not violently uprooted it will, quite likely, be unrecognisable. More and more, if only to get the economy going, the authorities will be obliged to allow elected blacks to occupy positions of authority in both industry and the Administration. With luck, in a reasonable time the new mixed society could be a model for the whole of Africa. If, despite everything, we are visionaries, that surely is the kind of vision which we ought to see.

1.45 p.m.


My Lords, may I begin as have other noble Lords by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for giving us the opportunity, both by his original Question and by instituting this debate today, to speak in deeply serious and, so far as I am concerned, in moving terms about a great problem that is affecting an area of the world with which Britain has long been associated, both to the advance of Britain and to the advance of that part of Africa.

I thought that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was temperate, informed and challenging. Certainly it was received in that way by all sides of the House, although I doubt whether it will be received in that way in all parts of African opinion. It will be heard with great joy by those liberal white politicians in South Africa whom he rightly claimed to be working for a détente of that local situation, who are desperately struggling to create the time in which they can move forward to a more ordered realignment of their society which they know to be unjust, which they know to be founded on principles which cannot long endure in the second half of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, because there are men who are in the jungles at this moment.

We might think with Lincoln that the world, will little care nor long remember what we say here in this House at two o'clock on a Friday afternoon. But our voice is heard on both sides of the battle lines; so I welcome more than anything the temperate nature and the lifting emphases which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, gave to the introduction of this debate. I have no stature from which to answer the questions which he put specifically, but like him I have been reading, like him I have been talking and like him I have been gathering information from people who know far better than I how desperately difficult the situation is, how challenging it is and yet how it has within it cause for optimism that must not be put down.

I found the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, pessimistic; I found that he was making what sounded to me to be a dated comment, that it was redolent of pessimism and I wanted to answer that charge specifically at the beginning. On the other hand the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, asked a series of questions. What was America's position in this changing world? There was a major reappraisal of America's position and my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts referred from the Front Bench to it, and I know that other noble Members of this House will have read it in preparation for this debate. At the Notre Dame University on 22nd May 1977 the new President of the United States, Mr. Jimmy Carter, whose own initiative we all welcome, said that our challenge in the next five years is to demonstrate against the dark faith of the times. It seems to me that pessimism is as dark a faith as any and can be as dangerous as any in a situation where we need to encourage all those working to create light in a dark situation. We have to demonstrate", said President Carter, that our Government can be both competent and humane". The noble Marquess who is to speak after me may be surprised if I quote from a Lord Salisbury who said, If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome; if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe". We are in fact in a situation where, if we are not very careful, soldiers regular and soldiers irregular, soldiers resurgent and soldiers insurgent will be taking over the debating. They are already on the march, they are already killing one another and they are already killing innocent bystanders while we—Americans, Britons, Canadians—are attempting to show that our democratic way of life is not only relevant but is humane and actually works.

I take the point that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, made very carefully about the ability of America to participate in Africa and our own competence the better to do so. The Americans think they have as a fundamental tenet of their foreign policy a belief in human freedom such as we have. They believe—and here again I can quote from President Carter— In ancestry, religion, colour, place of origin and cultural background we Americans are as diverse a nation as the world has ever known. No common mystique of blood or soil unites us". So in regard to Britain's particular role, I think all that the Americans would say at this time is let us help from the basis of what we understand from our own difficult and tangled past, from our own civil war, from our own loss of freedom immediately after winning it, from the economic difficulties we went through, from our new stature, from our new position. And did you not notice, my Lords, that the Americans withdrew from the joint chairmanship of the Committee precisely in order to make it seem to Africans that the Britons with whom they had been working were in charge of the second conference on this particular vexed issue.

America's foreign policy, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, knows very well—and he only asked the question in order that it might be aired in this Chamber—is based on five main principles. They believe in the cause of human rights, and who will say that the new President has not gone a very long way in establishing this as one of his major preoccupations to such a point as to give offence to some of those areas of the world that people have feared most in the time of cold war.

Secondly, they believe in co-operation with industrial democracies. I want to come in a moment to the value of the industrial basis, in exactly the same way as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, did. They believe in preserving—and I thought this was worrying the initiator of this debate in his original Question; it was replied to strongly by the noble Lord leading from this side of the House—a strong defence capability while they also seek to improve relations with the Soviet Union and China. They believe in co-operation with the developing nations. They want to alleviate suffering and to reduce the chasm between the world's rich and poor; total and common identity with all noble Lords in this House who share that kind of preoccupation and faith. They believe in an international effort to rise above narrow national interests, addressing itself to the threat of nuclear war, to racial hatred, which is at the core of these great difficulties in South Africa; to the arms race, to environmental damage and to hunger and disease.

So I have picked out from the statement of new American foreign policy some emphasis of my own. The Americans say, "We are committed to a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Southern Africa. The time has come for the principle of majority rule to be the basis for political order, recognising that in a democratic system the rights of the minority must also be protected". How can you question that, my Lords? Twice in one week in this House I have heard the principle of "one man, one vote" challenged. I even heard in a frivolous comment last week the principle of voting at all being challenged. All elections apparently are bad.

I know that it would be trivialising this debate to go into that area, but I would remind the House that it was only in 1945 that it was considered that everyone in Britain was capable of casting a vote. It was only between 1945 and 1950 that we established the principle of "one man, one vote" in this country. Although others who take a different view from mine might say that that argued for a gradual introduction of the "one man, one vote" principle in Africa, surely we must be careful to underline the point that basic to all democracy, imported or exported, is the right of a man to say how he wishes to be governed and the right to be taught how to use that very valuable privilege, which too many, incidentally, in our own country do not choose to use at all because they are disillusioned with some of the temporising that we do on massive issues of this kind while preoccupying ourselves with trivialities instead.

To be peaceful, change must come promptly. The United States of America is determined to work with us; we are determined to work with the United States, if I understand the conferences which I have attended in a professional role. We are determined to work together, with our European allies and the concerned African States, to shape a congenial international framework for the rapid and progressive transformation of Southern African society, which is exactly what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was asking for. So it is the matter of time upon which the emphasis falls, and to help protect it from unwarranted outside interference, which again is something which the noble Lord was seeking to establish. To me the principle of majority rule is a sacred principle of democracy, whether one seeks to apply it in Africa or in my own home town and its community council. The Carter speech at Notre Dame on 22nd May, although I have elaborated it, was only a part of a five Power initiative.

The new stage of that five Power initiative began on the 7th April when a demarche to the South African Government expressed the increasing concern of the five Western members of the Security Council—the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France, Germany and Canada—about finding an acceptable solution to the problem of' Namibia. On 27th and 28th April representatives of the five Powers—I make this response in detail because of the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn—held talks with the South African Government in Cape Town. They laid their emphasis on and approached the talks on the basis of Security Council Resolution 385. Therefore, that is a specific reply to why the resolutions of the United Nations were not, in fact, being brought to bear upon the situation. They asked for territory-wide free elections supervised and controlled by the United Nations; that all political Parties should participate and SWAPO was particularly mentioned; that the political prisoners be released and that South African troops should be withdrawn. That was a major initiative taken by our Government in association with their allies to help to resolve some of the problems of this continent.

From 8th to 10th June there was a second round of talks. As a result, the South African Government—and I emphasise the South African Government—announced the abandonment of their own plans for Namibian independence. That was a direct reply to the question that was raised as regards whether the South Africans were prepared to cooperate. They did that through the Turnhalle Constitutional Conference. They also passed enabling legislation committing the State President to govern Namibia by decree through an administrator general. One of the administrator general's tasks would be to arrange for the elections that apparently are wanted and at the same time feared, on the basis of one man, one vote, and for them to be held for a constituent assembly. The constituent assembly would draw up a constitution for an independent State.

It is already publicly known that the South African Government have agreed that these elections should be held with a measure of UN involvement. Therefore, we are not in a vacuum. It is likely that this will take the form of a special representative or commissioner of the Secretary General. It is understood that the Secretary General's representative would be present to ensure the fairness and impartiality of the political process. Even the elections on the day, and the day-to-day administration of Namibia, will in fact be overseen and overlooked by the representative of the UN. The five Powers have informed the other parties mainly concerned in Namibia—the UN Secretary General, the front line States, Nigeria, SWAPO and the other Namibian political groups—of the progress of their talks with South Africa.

The next steps are not clear. It may be that it is to those next steps that the House will wish to address itself. There will probably be further talks. We have had the Downing Street Conference of the Heads of State. Every aspect of the conference and of the report given in both Houses emphasised not only the agreement and co-operation of the United Kingdom and the United States Government on Southern Africa, but the helpfulness of the other Heads of State involved in this particular problem.

As regards trade, I should like to insert that on 25th May our Foreign Secretary, Dr. Owen, whose initiative has been so much welcomed on both sides of both Houses, spoke about the real and important issue of trade and said: Our trade with black Africa last year was worth almost £2½ billion. Nigeria has now supplanted South Africa as our single largest trading partner on the continent and is the fastest growing British export market anywhere in the world. For Britain, as a great trading nation, black Africa is an area of rapidly growing importance". That supports and lies beside the information and points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, because black Africa, too, is important not just to the economy of Africa but to the economy of the world in a perilous time.

I come to the end of my intervention in the debate. Only last week the Prime Minister, the right honourable James Callaghan, made a speech in Wales. Prior to that speech he made a Statement to the House on the Commonwealth Conference and he said: We discussed serious and difficult issues without acrimony and with a growing understanding of each other's positions, and on many issues we reached a complete identity of view. A distinctive feature of the meeting was a concentration on basic human values and rights. One area where human beings are deprived of these basic rights is Southern Africa. All the Commonwealth leaders welcomed our current initiative to achieve an independent Zimbabwe enjoying majority rule in 1978, and all of them would prefer to reach that objective through a negotiated settlement, but a number were deeply sceptical about the chances of success. The exchanges reinforced my view that if the minority régime in Rhodesia fails to negotiate constructively, the fighting and the bloodshed will continue and the destruction will go on".—[Official Report, Commons, 16/6/77; col. 561.] My Lords, I think that I need quote no more and carry the debate, so far as I am concerned, no further than to say that I sense that we, too, are able to debate this problem without rancour and bitterness, realising what a desperately important matter it is. We have talked about the difficulties, and had I more time I would have spoken about the dangers of poverty and of children who do not have enough to eat, or the revolt of the children of Soweto. All I wish to say, in conclusion, is that we in this House have a responsibility, too, to show that when we talk about this problem we talk not simply about the problems of the white minority, for whom we have and treasure great respect and whom we hope to see through this difficult situation, but about the aspirations of those other human beings, the black Africans, who at this moment are bemused, frightened by the future, and very capable of being misled.

2.7 p.m.

The Marquess of SALISBURY

My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Parry, referred to my great-grandfather perhaps I might remind him that the problems we are discussing now result from the colonial policy of which he was the principal architect. However, if his ideas of gradual evolution had been pursued throughout, probably we should not be facing the problems, that we face today. Although I agree with the noble Lord entirely about the need to develop democracy in the emerging nations, I cannot agree with him that the time has yet come when they should receive the one man, one vote form of democracy, for reasons which I hope will become apparent in the course of my speech. I listened carefully to what the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, had to say. Something of the line she adopted I thought that I heard many years ago, in the time of the leadership of Mr. Chamberlain. I merely point out to the noble Baroness that the Conservative Party survived that period and I hope that it will survive the line taken by the Front Bench today.

I should like to say something about the United States because clearly the attitude of this dominant Power will be paramount as regards what happens on the continent of Africa. There are three considerations to which I should like to draw your Lordships' attention. First, we must consider whether, in view of their record, the United States are capable of giving a lead to the West in any form whatsoever. I remind your Lordships that in the course of the last war an American general was reported as saying that his troops were like a bunch of bananas—some green, some yellow and some just rotten. Their record in Vietnam amply bears out that statement. Perhaps this accounts for the fact that they are unwilling to make any positive commitment on the Continent of Africa. So far as I am aware, a year ago last February, they offered to intervene in Angola and asked the South African Government to cooperate. The South Africans honoured their commitment, but the Americans failed to turn up.

A senior American official told me that the reason was that the State Department knows perfectly well that whatever policy it would like to adopt it will receive no backing either from Congress or the American people which might commit them to any form of action. This American general might have added to his "bunch of bananas" that some are black; and this may well be the key consideration affecting the policy of the United States, because it seems clear that President Carter is aiming to consolidate his position and that of his Party by attracting the permanent support of the black element in the country. In other words, he is quite prepared to put internal considerations in his own country in front of the overall requirements of the West. On the international front, perhaps one significant feature is the effort being made now by the United States to achieve an agreement with Cuba, and this would, of course, account for their unwillingness to object to the Cuban intervention in Africa. For "Cubans" we should, of course, read "Russians". It was simply a convenient way of avoiding international complications that the role was given to the Cubans and not undertaken by the Russians.

This is a policy of appeasement, and it gives rise to a number of strategic considerations, some of which have already been dealt with. But I should like to mention one other, which is the problem of raw materials, for many of the raw materials that are essential to the industrial West are almost entirely only available from Africa. Should domination over Africa pass to the Eastern bloc, these supplies could cease to be available, or available only at a prohibitive price. We have recently had some experience of this over oil and we know the effect it has had on the Western economies.

It may be that the Americans hope that with their resources they can maintain control, but I fear that they have failed to understand the attitude of the Russians. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has dealt very extensively with the Russian drive, and I would merely say that I entirely agree with his remarks on this point. The position, surely, is that the withdrawal of the colonial Powers has left a vacuum in Africa and that the indigenous populations are unable to fill it on their own. So, with Russia intent on doing so, they will surely achieve it if the Americans do nothing, and then the position of the West will be immeasurably weakened.

So far as this country is concerned, I had thought that the main object of our African policy since the days of Mr. Macmillan was to get shot of our commitments in Africa, and I believe this still to be so. But under the present Government there appears to be another objective—and here, if I may, I should like specifically to exclude the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, from what I am going to say. It has been evident since the establishment at one time of a Marxist régime in Cuba that there is considerable support from members of the Party opposite for Marxist régimes in the world. The Allende régime was much applauded. When it collapsed and was replaced there were cries of horror, despite the awful record it had produced. The same applies to Mozambique, or perhaps Maputo one should now call it; and the same pattern occurs in Angola. More recently, we had the case of the Seychelles, where Her Majesty's Government recognised the new regime with almost indecent haste, at a time when the head of the Government was here at their own invitation to represent the country. Again, possibly the reason was that the new regime was Marxist orientated.

I should like to say something now about the Geneva Conference, because we are leading up to another round of talks on Rhodesia; and here I should like to declare an interest. It seemed to me that the Rhodesian Government delegation received most unreasonable treatment at that conference, and it was made clear to them that they were there not to negotiate but to have terms dictated. So far as I understand the position, Her Majesty's Government gave general support to the Mugabe proposals, and his avowed objective was to establish a Marxist State in Rhodesia. After the breakdown of the talks there were further British proposals, and these are reputed to have been almost identical to the Mugabe proposals at the conference.

May I now say a word about the Commonwealth Conference, because this may give us some indication of the Government's attitude to Africa in the near future. It seems to me that much of the document that was published afterwards was based on two assumptions, both, in my view, demonstrably false: first, that Great Britain owes the emergent nations aid and grants of money because it has bled them over the past and never helped their development. The reverse, surely, is true. They are far better off now, with higher standards than before we went there, and now that we have gone there are signs in some of these countries that the standards are slipping.

The second one is, that with economic help the emergent countries are capable of developing and raising their living standards. I can see no indication that this is true either. Many cannot even feed themselves now, although they could do so under our rule; and we are obliged to support them with money, much of which, I fear, will be wasted because they have neither the experience nor the competence to make proper use of it. We gave them democracy. In most cases this has been translated into single Party government or straightforward dictatorship.

A great deal of the communiqué is devoted to high moral thought, notably a condemnation of Amin. While I hold no brief for him, I cannot help wondering why the conference picked on him. The records of many other African countries are just as bleak, but they have not received the same publicity, and perhaps it is only because Ugandan affairs have received publicity that it was thought necessary to condemn them. In Nigeria, if I may remind your Lordships, there were accusations not so long ago of a deliberate attempt at genocide against a number of the tribes there, and, if the Press is to be believed, millions were slaughtered at a level far above what was required for putting down a rebellion. In Tanzania thousands were murdered in Zanzibar. In Zambia the elimination of the Lumpa sect was an unpleasant occasion; they were rounded up, put in the village, and the village was fired and they were burned alive. This, surely, makes nonsense of Articles 21 and 35 of the communiqué.

I should like to refer also to Articles 9 and 14, where mention is made of the need to achieve a negotiated settlement in Rhodesia. In view of the past record of negotiations which I have already touched on, this seems to be a euphemism and should read, "to achieve a dictated peace to a defeated country", and the result should be the establishment of Marxist rule. Article 14 also says that they: … noted that the armed struggle had become complementary to other efforts"; that is, to achieve independence in Zimbabwe, or Rhodesia as I believe it is still legally known, and which term should, surely, be used in an official communiqué.

I suppose that the frequent regrets which the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, has expressed to this House on the use of force still hold, but I find it hard to believe that Article 14 does not mean that Her Majesty's Government are now giving full support to the use of force. That is an intolerable situation and raises the question whether, despite the noble Lord's previous assurances, we are not passing arms either to the terrorists or to the Government of Maputo. In fact, there are rumours that that is happening.

I should also like to refer to the current situation in Rhodesia, because I understand that talks have been renewed and that representatives of Her Majesty's Government and the American Government are currently in that country. Here may I say how grateful I was to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for kindly offering a debate on Rhodesia alone. However, it seemed unnecessary as we would merely cover many of the old arguments, and I thought that in a comparatively short time I could cover the matter in the course of the debate this afternoon. But this initiative could result in developments—I hope satisfactory ones. But as Parliament is rising shortly and does not meet for some time, we could be faced with developments of which some of us would disapprove. Therefore, I should like to raise two points in particular.

The first is, that if agreement is reached, there should be adequate safeguards for the maintenance of law and order. I should have thought that in principle there was no difference of opinion on that. My own view is that nothing less than the safeguards set out in the Kissinger deal for the transitional period would be acceptable if they are to work. I would regard maintenance of law and order as an essential ingredient of any settlement if the transitional period is to go smoothly and the new State is to have any prospect of success.

To achieve those objectives the two portfolios should continue to be under the control of the transitional Government and, at least initially, should remain in the hands of Europeans, as envisaged in the Kissinger deal. Furthermore, if additional forces were thought necessary to maintain order—obviously they would have to come from abroad—they should he placed under the control of the Governments there and should be of a calibre that can perform the task satisfactorily. They must not be simply a whitewashing operation devised to give outward respectability to the proposed settlement.

The other point which I wish to raise has recently been canvassed and is the alternative method of maintaining order, by disbanding the Rhodesian Army and Police Force and replacing it by a peacekeeping force provided entirely from outside. I cannot see that being effective. For instance, who will take part? We have no troops; the Canadians have said that they will not. It seems to me that other African States are neither impartial nor competent, and their past record in peace-keeping forces is not inspiring. I also believe that they are likely to be ineffective against terrorist activity, which may still continue, or ineffective in the case of a civil war, which is not impossible, between the various tribal components, because their standard of training is inadequate, their lack of discipline would lead to more atrocities than they would prevent, and their lack of knowledge of the terrain and conditions would make their task impossible. I would therefore ask that these two considerations should be taken into account in the course of current negotiations.

2.25 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for bringing forward this important Question and for the explicit terms in which he expressed it. His speech held no surprises for me, and in saying that I mean no disrespect to him. I took heart from the splendid speech made by my noble friend Lord Parry. Before the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, condemns me or says that I am a Communist or a Marxist, I would point out that I have never been a Communist and have never been able to read Marx. I really must forestall his judgment because he may attribute both those things to me before I have completed my remarks.

We should all like a negotiated settlement in Southern Africa, but let there be no doubt that Britain cannot hope to achieve that alone because, quite simply, of our historical, economic and political associations in Southern Africa. Therefore, we can all welcome the help and intervention of the United States for I believe the first time in the politics of Southern Africa. Whether we agree with every move that is made by President Carter and Mr. Young, we can still welcome that intervention and help. As for the noble Marquess saying that the United States is not in a position to interfere, to make any headway or to help in Southern Africa, I would point out that every country has events in its political life of which it may be ashamed, but the great quality about the United States is that it can change its mind. This is a situation in which many countries have to change their attitudes to Southern Africa.

In recent years there has been an explosion of anxiety about human rights throughout the world. It would be wonderful if we could make progress in human rights and peacefully, step by step—by instalments so to speak—eliminate racialism. But, alas! that is not what happens in this wicked world. Human rights are rarely achieved on the "never-never". Our reactions to those suffering from hideous inequalities are too often hampered by phobias and fears—and I maintain that there is a difference between a phobia and a fear. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has a phobia about the Soviet Union. In saying that I mean no disrespect to him. I am not saying that the menace of Communism and the threat of Communism does not exist in the world or in South Africa; nor am I underrating the efforts that the Soviet Union has made in trying to establish bases all round the coast of Africa.


My Lords, is not the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, a little disturbed—as I think we all are—by the terrifying build-up of arms on the part of the Soviet Union? What is it for?


My Lords, I am really disturbed about the terrifying build-up of arms all over the world, and perhaps especially in South Africa. I heard the other day that the South Africans had three years of arms laid in. I do not know what the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, feels about that kind of thing. I heard that from somebody very reputable in this House. The concern about the Soviet Union and what many noble Lords in this House feel, is the menace of Communism. We are in a competitive world and I do not think that the Communists with their ideology will win. They cannot win because they have to produce freedom, whereas we have to produce equality. That is what South Africa has to produce in order to survive.

I must say that I regard apartheid as far more dangerous than Communism. It has allowed the Communists, the Soviets, in the United Nations to steal the whole of the propaganda from us. They have worked on this. They have associated themselves with the idea of apartheid being such a menace and they have won through in their propaganda.


Czechoslovakia is worse.


Yes, my Lords, I know. There are two men at present, Prime Minister Vorster of South Africa and Mr. Ian Smith of Rhodesia, who could be heroes in our time and make history if they had the vision. Each of these men could, if they changed their ideas, go down in history as the greatest men of their time. But it does not look like that. In South Africa and in Rhodesia neither Government want to share the power with the majority of their people; their black people. They simply do not want to share power.

The involvement of the United States, with a President like Jimmy Carter, who has been more plain spoken on human rights than many a national leader for years, holds out some hope for a troubled but peaceful outcome of the tangled, irrational attitudes of the white people of Southern Africa. The Anglo-American attempt to establish the framework for a Rhodesian constitutional conference—no easy task—makes the statements of Joshua Nkomo, which embody a refusal by him to share power with any interim Rhodesian Government, lead many of us to the conclusion that both sides are intoxicated with the idea of war. I take a very critical attitude to Nkomo on this. He, too, would be a greater man if he agreed to an interim Government which did not go the whole way.

As someone who has worked in the United Nations, I have often felt sad that, despite the speed of our decolonisation over the last 30 years, we have not earned as much good will as we deserved. Worse than that, the Russians have, by fair means and foul, won the propaganda battle there. All the same, I must repeat that apartheid has proved far more dangerous than Communism there. The oppressed people living under apartheid are not concerned with the hypocritical attitude of the Soviets on human rights. They accept the arms which are given as aid to help them in their struggle. After Soweto we should consider the change that has happened there among the young people. The young people do not want to go along with their parents. They are going to fight against apartheid, not put up with it. They reckon that their lives could not be worse under Communism than they are under apartheid, and I myself would not dispute that.

President Carter has taken on a gigantic task in order to give help to us. It is only the beginning, and we have yet to see what happens. The American Administration, having tackled the white-black struggle in their own country seriously and put it on a progressive basis, is in a unique and strong position to attempt to help us settle some of the problems in South Africa—and I say, "attempt"—and to rationalise the power game in South Africa.

2.36 p.m.


My Lords, I am among the many who will read Lord Chalfont's speech and who will be grateful to him for his decision to put this timely Question at this moment. It is regrettable that our procedure makes it not possible to follow the Minister and ask any question on the reply which he is going to give. The speech that we heard was of a character which was particularly timely. The Question which the noble Lord put was presented in so logical and informed a manner that all reading it will be curious to see what answer will be given as Government policy, particularly on the question of the degree of concurrence with the American Government. I was gratified to hear the forceful speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, substantially concurring with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, put forward.

How one approaches this depends on whether one does, or does not, believe that the overall intention of the Soviet Government is gradually to impose its will and philosophy on the world, but more particularly at this time on the Southern part of the Continent of Africa. After what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has said, one might say that there is no point in putting additional questions to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for when he replies. But as the opportunity presents, and being among those who are convinced that such is the policy of the Soviet Government, then it must be understood that any views put forward by a speaker are governed by that conviction. Therefore, on anything connected with Southern Africa the over-riding consideration of agreement or disagreement, concurrence or opposition, should be subordinated to the over-riding demand to oppose in every way, and at every point, the intentions of the Soviet Government.

We have some concern about the present policy of Her Majesty's Government. I remind noble Lords again that in the late 'thirties the policy recommended by the Foreign Office was wrong. Many speakers then said there was a danger in the rise of Hitler, but the Government ridiculed it. In the case of sanctions against Rhodesia, the advice given by the Foreign Office to Prime Minister Mr. Wilson was equally wrong, and we find ourselves with the situation we have today. In the United States one often hears the proverb that people should either fish or cut bait. Up to now the Government have been cutting bait and it is about time they started to fish and do something.

Lord Chalfont divided his remarks into two parts, Rhodesia and the Republic, and I will follow his lead. First, as regards Rhodesia, what I just said particularly applies there. In the many debates we have had in the last decade I have never heard this quotation from Cecil Rhodes' Will referred to. I ask the indulgence of the House to quote it and so put it in Hansard: No student shall be qualified or disqualified for election to a scholarship on account of his race or religious beliefs … my desire being that the students who shall be elected to the scholarships shall not be merely bookworms … I direct that in the election of a student to a scholarship regard shall be had to his literary and scholastic attainments; his fondness of and success in manly outdoor sports … his qualities of manhood, truth, courage, devotion to duty …". There is abroad, as reflected in the Press, a belief that Britain should adopt an apologetic attitude—that we should feel the need for retribution for past activities—but I urge we put aside that absurd attitude. There was no exploitation. Was it not Britain and the early pioneers of Rhodesia who carried civilisation into what was previously savagery? Why, in the lengthy report of the Commonwealth Conference, should there be reference to Zimbabwe and not Rhodesia? Let us call it Rhodesia so long as it is Rhodesia—British and not a Marxist State!

An internal settlement is essential in Rhodesia. Why cannot we dissociate ourselves from all the external disruptive Communist-leaning bully-boys we are playing around with now? Fancy giving aid to a Marxist country which is assisting incursions into what we claim is British territory. Why not take a bold course and help the Rhodesian Government to select acceptable internal African leaders? Information has recently come to me from South Africa of the integration of two branches of the African trade union movement there; the two branches of the African National Trades Union Movement of Bulawayo and Salisbury, hitherto disassociated, have come together and, I understand, have presented a memorandum to Mr. Graham indicating that they are both in favour of an internal settlement. We know that the chiefs and ZUPO support an internal settlement.

Assuming that everything must be directed towards opposing Communist aggression in Africa, as we claim that Rhodesia is British territory, is it not logical to assist Rhodesian economy against external incursion? Perhaps it is time to discard the outworn nomenclature of a rebel Government. What good are sanctions doing, now, for black Africans? The ball is in the Government's court to find a peaceful settlement.

I turn to South West Africa. I am among those who believe that the Turnhalle Conference gave a helpful indication of what might prove an example to the problems in Southern Africa. I cannot understand why the British Government lent their support in the United Nations to repudiating it. Why do the Government still attach so much importance—I say this in view of an Answer given by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, to a Question I asked him the other day—to SWAPO, a Communist organisation?

What is South West Africa? Under 1 million people. Why is so much attention paid to that one small area. It is simply to harass the Republic of South Africa, as Lord Chalfont indicated. I should like to see a different attitude adopted by the representative of the British Government in the United Nations on this quite minor area so far as the welfare of human beings is concerned.

I turn to the Republic. Lord Chalfont emphasised the strong feeling there is in South Africa among even the white people that there should be an early change. We all want to see some relaxation in petty apartheid. Give those who support and value South Africa the ammunition to oppose ignorance displayed by so many who are harassing South Africa. Time is needed. They forget that the problems there are great. But, in any event, why the continual interference with the internal affairs of South Africa? Goodness knows! there are enough places in the world that could more justly attract the attention of the United States in trying to save some loss of life. Consider Lebanon, Ethiopia, Cambodia and other parts of the world, compared with the continual niggling at the Republic.

People forget the language problems, not only of English and Afrikaans, but of the six leading African nations, all speaking different languages. In the African locations outside the big cities the sections of the Zulus and other tribes all have to be kept separate from each other; they would all be fighting if they were allowed to get together. Think of it—nearly a thousand witch doctors still in Soweto location itself!

There is the attempt to oppose further investment in South Africa, the propaganda of the World Council of Churches and other organisations who do not know what they really are urging. The one thing that would destroy the welfare and employment of the Africans would be the cessation of foreign investment in South Africa. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, emphasised the qualities of the Africans. They are able, hard working, and tough, and indigenous, and they have nowhere else to go. They have pride in their country and in their achievements, as we have in our achievements.

My Lords, I was brought up in the Victorian era, with early impressions indelibly fixed on my memory. I think of the qualities of that era. For instance, patriotism (today almost a dirty word) was, together with duty, a dominant note. It was not only my country right or wrong, but my country's interests always first. I have apprehensions about United States behaviour towards South Africa, the inexperience of the State Department. In the six years before World War I I lived in the United States; I travelled all over it as a salesman. I learnt a lot.

I remember the fervour for enlistment for the Boer War, to defend Britain's interests. Alas! I missed it by only a year. I remember watching the crowds at the great Paris Exhibition, the crowds around the Boer Transvaal Pavilion, crying frantically, "Down with the British!"—"A bas les Anglais!"Our nation then was not deflected by its detractors. The world should remember that we, in two world wars, stood alone for freedom until the United States joined us, and may the United States negotiators bear that prominently in mind, as we are grateful to the former "rebel" country of nearly 200 years later.

I urge the Government now to encase toughness in their diplomacy. We have great interests in Southern Africa; we have not only investments but continuing great trade with the Republic. That is why I urge the Government to press upon the United States our historical experience, and yet put our interests first.

2.56 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, is not an easy man to follow. He brings alive memories of a greatness that was. I am devoting myself to a much more prosaic and a smaller canvas, to look for a moment at, and to draw your Lordships' attention to, the position in international law of the disputes that have arisen in Rhodesia. I do so largely because so much nonsense has been talked on this subject. The first point I would make is that Rhodesia and her neighbours must be regarded as subjects of international law. In law, a State does not depend on the legality of it régime, or on diplomatic recognition. A State depends on certain facts being present in existence. There must be a people, and by "a people" is meant a community that lives together and is subject to a common authority. There must be a country; that is, a geographical area with defined frontiers. And there must be a Government who are in their actions effectively independent from superior authority.

Of course all those facts are present in Rhodesia; they have been for over a decade, and we recognise them to be so. When our last Prime Minister met Mr. Smith on the "Fearless" and on the "Tiger" he was recognising that he was negotiating with a Government—and a Government with whom one could make an agreement. When our Foreign Minister went to Salisbury he went there accepting the protection, and the law, and the effect of a working Government. When the neighbours of Rhodesia take their complaints to the United Nations they lay those complaints against somebody whose power to rectify them they recognise; there would not be much point in doing otherwise. If one treats Rhodesia as being a State which owes responsibilities in international law, one cannot deny it as a State that has certain rights in international law. International law is about reciprocity.

What are these duties and rights of the subjects of international law? I turn first to duties, the most elementary of which is not to disturb the peace of your neighbour. That is the duty which a State owes within the community of nations. The second is not to allow your territory to be used for purposes hostile to your neighbour. We got into trouble for that once. The "Alabama" was built at Birkenhead in circumstances from which we ought to have recognised that she was intended for hostile purposes. Her arms were assembled at Portsmouth and sent to join her at sea, and she did much damage to America. We submitted to arbitration, and, for being negligent in allowing this hostile action to have taken place within our shores, we were mulcted for, I think, about 13 million dollars. Of course, this does not apply immediately here. Rhodesia is not in a position w go to arbitration because her neighbours, unfortunately, are not sufficiently civilised to submit to arbitration but if they were so, she could take that course.

Again, what are the rights in international law? Here I would quote Oppenheim's International Law. There is, again, the elementary right of self-preservation. I quote from Oppenheim's International Law, Volume 1, at page 297: From the earliest time of the existence of the Law of Nations self-preservation was considered sufficient justification for many acts of a State which violate other States. Although, as a rule, all States are under a mutual duty to respect one another's personality, and are therefore bound not to violate one another, as an exception certain violations of another State committed by a State for the purpose of self-preservation are not prohibited by the Law of Nations". The particular instance quoted on the next page is: When, to give an example, a State is informed that a body of armed men is being organised on neighbouring territory for the purpose of a raid into its territory, and when the danger can be removed through an appeal to the authorities of the neighbouring country, no case of necessity has arisen. But if such an appeal is fruitless or not possible, or if there is danger in delay, a case of necessity arises, and the threatened State is justified in invading the neighbouring country and disarming the intending raiders". That, I think, is a simple, straightforward and common sense statement. We have relied upon it on two very famous and dramatic occasions: when we destroyed the Danish Fleet at Copenhagen and the French Fleet at Oran, because they were forces which clearly threatened us. An interesting case of this sort arose with the Americans, and again we took action. There was in 1817 a rebellion in Canada. The rebels had chartered a ship called "Caroline". It was in an American port on the other side of the river, over the Falls. We sent a force across to take the "Caroline". It did; we drove her over the Niagara Falls and two Americans were killed. The Americans protested, and we said it was a necessity, "You had not got the force there in time to deal with it". The Americans looked into the matter and said, "Yes, we recognise it; you were entitled by the necessity to intervene". Again, on a number of occasions when the State of Mexico was anarchic from 1916 to 1919 and in its civil war, I think there were no less than 14 interventions by American troops into Mexico. As to Israel, again, Israel has perfectly legally taken steps to protect herself from guerrillas entertained in neighbouring countries, and has every legal right to do so.

My Lords, that being the legal position, what is the rule with regard to intervention for self-preservation? First, either that the neighbour cannot prevent the international delinquency which is proposed, or that it will not prevent it. If we look at the neighbours, what is the position here? First, there is Botswana. Botswana has a territory which I believe is considerably larger than that of the United Kingdom. She has a population almost equal to that of the City of Nottingham, and a literate population smaller than that of Market Harborough. She has no army. How can Botswana perform her international duty to prevent that great desert area being used for hostile purposes against Rhodesia? And, since Botswana cannot do it, cannot take effective action when Rhodesian schoolchildren are kidnapped in order to be recruited for the guerrilla movement hostile to Rhodesia, Rhodesia is fully entitled to do so.

Then one turns to Zambia. As to Zambia, it is not so much a case of cannot do it but of will not. She is entertaining, encouraging, supplying the guerrilla movement of Mr. Nkomo; that is, the Matabele. True, they have not been offering very much threat to Rhodesia, because at the present time the white régime in Rhodesia is not their target. Their target is Mr. Mugabe's followers, the Makonde, for the civil war which is to happen when the Patriotic Front moves in; because neither the Makonde nor the Matabele have any doubt that they are going to war if the country is handed over to the Patriotic Front. For those reasons, because on the whole the Zambian guerrillas are waiting for another objective, they do not pose much of a threat. The threat has been coming from the active invaders of Rhodesia who are, basically, the Makonde in Mozambique.

So far as Mozambique is concerned, I think that it is probably true to say that she neither can nor will. She is expressing every support of the guerrillas. In fact, the guerrillas who are, in the main, in the Northern part of Mozambique are not under the control of the Mozambique Government; they are under the control of the Russian Government. Mr. Mugabe has no following in Rhodesia; he is not a Makonde and he is certainly not a guerrilla. He is, in fact, a lawyer; he is simply the Russian's man and he speaks for nobody except the Russians.

My Lords, this is the situation we are up against here. I would ask the Government just one question, and I think it is an important one. Is self-government for the inhabitants of Rhodesia still the policy of Her Majesty's Government? It certainly is not the policy of the Patriotic Front; and it certainly is not the policy of the five front line Presidents. Their policy is for the Government of Rhodesia to be handed over to the Patriotic Front. Nobody for a moment suggests that the Patriotic Front represents anybody much in Rhodesia except the Matabele, who were the warlike tribe who for a generation really used the Mashona as game, and against whom there is intense tribal hostility. The Makonde who are supplying most of these guerrillas are a Mozambique tribe, very few of whom are in Rhodesia at all. It is not the policy of the OAU, because they have again said that it is the Patriotic Front that they are supporting.

The person who represents the majority of the Africans is Bishop Muzorewa and the Mashona. They are to be sacrificed here. Unless we have changed our policy, unless we have ceased to believe in self-government for the inhabitants of Rhodesia—and for all the inhabitants of Rhodesia, according to the votes of the inhabitants of Rhodesia—we must he very careful where we stand here; because freedom for Rhodesia, self-government for Rhodesia, cannot possibly occur until the Makonde guerrillas across the frontier, armed, organised and, in effect, commanded by the Russians, have been defeated.

You cannot defeat them if you give them a safety base out of Torn Tiddler's Ground. It would be fatal for us to recognise the limitations, for if we believe in this policy it will become our obligation to find and defeat the people who are entertained for the purpose and maintained for the purpose of invading Rohdesia. This is the simple legal point which I make, and I hope that the Government will apply their mind to it.

3.12 p.m.

The Earl of CORK and ORRERY

My Lords, the noble Lord. Lord Paget of Northampton, is also if I may say so a difficult man to follow. I wish I had the learning and the depth of perception to comment and to continue in some ways what he has said. As I have not, I think I had better confine my own attention for the moment to picking up the remark and advice given by the noble Lord, Lord Parry. He said that his own and original advice came from President Lincoln: "The world will little note nor long remember what I say here this afternoon …"—therefore I will little speak; but I will join the noble Lord, Lord Parry, in applauding his enthusiastic reception of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in opening the debate. Not only has this debate been of the greatest value, but I believe that Lord Chalfont's opening speech is itself the most valuable speech so far, in its moderation and in its plea for moderation and wisdom in dealing with the problems of Southern Africa.

I do not propose to speak about Southern Africa but only on one or two points in connection with Rhodesia. Here there is a link between what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has said and the point that I want to make. He expressed concern at the possibility that the USA should seriously be considering—if they are considering—the application of full economic sanctions against South Africa. He will probably approve that I think I am following his line in saying: "For heaven's sake! are we really to go through all this again? "We are now at the end of the line in our dealings with Rhodesia. It might be well to recall that as long ago as 1967 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution, which we subsequently debated in this House, in which it said: Affirms its conviction … that sanctions, in order to achieve their objective, will have to be comprehensive and mandatory and backed by force". That is from General Assembly Resolution No. 2262 of 8th November 1967.

We have come to the point now at which the end product of the process of sanctions against Rhodesia is in view. If I may quote a passage from that debate, in which we discussed the General Assembly resolution and the question of economic sanctions, I will say this: British colonial policy in Africa will have ended by turning her most successful Colony into a second Congo".—[Official Report, 17/6/68; col. 497]. The arguments that led up to that statement were simply that if you cannot provide a force yourself, you cannot win a battle of sanctions; therefore, somebody else will produce the force—in this case, the black African countries—and the black African Congo situation will arise. I only quote that remark, nine years later, because I made it myself and I prefer not to be thought to be speaking purely from hindsight or off the top of my head.

My noble friend Lord Salisbury drew attention to the probability—if I do not take him wrong—that it is almost certain that Her Majesty's Government are now committed to the idea that force is the only possibility that remains in bringing about a settlement in Rhodesia. I do not personally go so far as that. I hope it is not the case. There are some dangerous symptoms, including those that my noble friend quoted from the Communique of the recent Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

I should like to know the answer to this question (although I do not suppose I shall receive it): who invented the deadly phrse "front line Presidents"? The phrase "front line is not a military term. It is a civilian term left over from the First World War. We know what it means; it must mean the line beyond which there is nothing in the way of people but the enemy. Those who stand in the front line are divided from the enemy by nothing but the no-man's land. When there was a confrontation—as indeed there still is—between the Smith regime on the one hand and black Rhodesia on the other, it was possible, if one chose to use these dangerous terms, to say that there was a front line between the two. You could not have drawn it, my Lords, but it would have done well enough.

But when you talk about the front line Presidents, my Lords, where is the front line now? Is it between the countries of those Presidents and Rhodesia? The enemy—if that is not too strong a word—of these neighbouring countries is not Rhodesia; presumably it is what we refer to as the Smith regime. What about all the people in between? By using this phrase and constantly repeating it, Her Majesty's Government have brought about a climate in which these people, who have no responsibility and should have no interest in what goes on inside Rhodesia, except in so far as it affects themselves politically, economically or militarily, should not be interested in their internal affairs. They are an enemy of Rhodesia, not of the Smith regime any more. It is Rhodesia as a whole that is going to suffer if invasion comes from those countries, if the guerrilla situation blows up into what will be a full-scale invasion.

I want to ask a series of questions and I do not expect answers because I know that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, cannot give them, and probably would not give them if he could do so. All I want to do is to put these questions into the air so that it can be realised by the Government, or by anybody who reads them, that these questions are in the air and that they will have to be answered sooner or later. First, if the worse comes to the worst, negotiations break down and a state of armed hostilities comes into being—in other words, war—in Rhodesia: the Government, unless I misjudge the situation, see that there are only two alternatives, of which that is one and the other is negotiation; and if the first has failed, the second alternative conies into being, which is the use of force. That alternative, by implication, is presumably the one which the Government wish to succeed—to that extent I go along with my noble friend Lord Salisbury. What, then, will be the position of the Government if that happens?—because this is the last possibility of bringing about what is desired in Rhodesia; namely, majority rule. What the majority will be, of course is another matter altogether.

Will the Government support the invading countries—the so-called front line countries neighbouring Rhodesia— or not? Will that be the outcome of the responsibility of Great Britain for the last of their Colonies, or will the Government sit hack and do nothing, maintaining a kind of non-committal neutrality? Is that going to be the situation in which we find ourselves—approving of what is going on and letting other people do the work for us? Is it conceivably possible that we should actually support this military operation against Rhodesia, and if so, by what means? Will it he by military means, by economic support or by the provision of intelligence informaton support? Is that what we are prepared to do against Rhodesia? Your Lordships will note that I am referring to "Rhodesia" and not to the Smith regime", because they will all catch it, the blacks as well as the whites.

I think that not only in Rhodesia, but in Southern Africa as a whole, we are walking on eggs and this kind of ovae pedestrianism requires great patience and wisdom of a kind which we as a nation have been able to provide in the past on occasion and which, if I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has so ably advocated this afternoon.

3.23 p.m.


My Lords, it may be well to start by seeking some areas in which we can agree. I would certainly say, having listened to this debate, that we can all agree on the immense importance of the subject, and I have no doubt that we would also agree, although we do not perhaps sufficiently understand it, on the urgency of the situation. Thirdly, I would not dispute with any Member of this noble House that we in the United Kingdom have a specific responsibility in southern Africa, as we have, for instance, in the Middle East, from which we cannot possibly escape.

Having said those things, I would go on to seek to impress, if I can, upon the House the extent of the immediate danger with which we are faced. A number of speeches made this afternoon seem to indicate to me that people do not realise what is likely to happen. In other words, throughout Africa, with all the differences and disputes that exist, as we well know, there is one issue on which all are absolutely agreed. From Maputo to Lagos and from Cairo to Dar-es-Salaam, every Africans who came—and all the African are wedded to the cause of liberation of southern Africa for the African peoples. Among those who are committed to this cause is the great country of Nigeria, where I believe they feel most intensely of all. As your Lordships know, a month or so ago there was a World Conference in Maputo which was attended by 100 nations from the West, and from every category of nation in the world. Of the Africans who came—and all the African nations were represented—not one wished to be dissociated from the determination to work together for the aim in which they all believe.

The great storm of Africa, collecting now for the onslaught on the South, is not a development that we can disregard. Here we have, maybe, the biggest danger in the world. It is such a danger, because it will lead to bloodshed and devastation in southern Africa on a scale of which we have not dreamed But, a good deal more than that, I believe that it will have repercussions throughout the world, certainly in this country and the United States, when the whole question of racial feeling will be raised. There are many evidences, even in what has been said this afternoon, that when the struggle grows hottest there will be a very great cleavage, a fierce difference of opinion in this country, as people see one defence after another of the white minorities in southern Africa going down in bloodshed. Concern will be felt in this country and in the United States.

I do not like to prophesy how anyone will react to that terrible situation when it comes, but we know the reaction in the United States to the Vietnam war. We know how a country can be divided by an issue on which there is intense feeling. I do not believe that there can be any more intense feeling about anything than about a race war in Africa, which has already started, and if we do not take urgent action it will envelop the whole continent and involve the whole world. Therefore, it is on that basis that we must be thinking about the problems which we now face. What chance do we have to escape?


My Lords, will the noble Lord give way? Is it to be understood that his belief is that the white population in South Africa would be completely overcome by the black population?


Yes, my Lords. If the race war develops in Southern Africa, as I anticipate it may, and if we fail to take now the action which is open to us, then I believe that the white people of Southern Africa will go down in blood and devastation. It is as well to look at that and to recognise it, because we wish to save all the people of South Africa, and we will not save them by the kind of speeches that we have heard this afternoon.


My Lords, will the noble Lord give way again? He says that South Africa will go down. Does he mean that the whites will be eliminated, and the blacks will obtain complete domination?


My Lords, no one can say exactly what will happen. No one can foresee exactly what will occur. But what I suggest we can be sure about is that, if this race war takes place in Africa, there can be only one final result and in that the white minority Governments of Southern Africa will go down. What happens to the white people is another matter, which will need very careful estimation in the light of subsequent developments. But the horror of the prospect, and the amount of bloodshed and devastation which is now imminent, and which will certainly take place unless action is taken in time, is something which in this House, and this country, we should increasingly recognise.


My Lords, may I ask what kind of action the noble Lord has in mind?


Yes, my Lords. I do not intend to speak for longer than should be the time allotted in a debate of this kind. But I am an administrator, and it would not be possible for me to make a statement of that seriousness without making some suggestion on what can be done about it. But let us pause for a moment and look at the position of South Africa. I do not know whether it is generally known—I dare say my legal friend knows—that there is only one commitment which you make when you enter the United Nations. You solemnly undertake to carry out every mandatory decision of the Security Council. This undertaking is not often abused. But when, on a British resolution, unanimously carried, sanctions were imposed against Rhodesia—because many of us believed that it was best to deal with the situation without bloodshed and military intervention—which could have been immediately effective, they were immediately made ineffective by the decision of South Africa and, indeed, Portugal to destroy their commitment, fail to honour the oath which they took upon entering the United Nations and disregard the unanimous decision of the world.

Baroness ELLES

My Lords, if the noble Lord intends to single out particular countries, does he also intend to single out a great many other Eastern European countries, including the Soviet Union?


No, my Lords, not in this respect. So far as I know, the Soviet Union have carried out the obligations of the mandatory call by the Security Council. The Soviet Union voted for the mandatory call. There have been evasions by many countries, but those countries which have openly and directly refused to carry out the solemn obligation which they undertook when they entered the United Nations are South Africa, Portugal and, in one respect, the United States, although this was subsequently rectified. Those are the facts.

Baroness ELLES

My Lords, I do not believe it is any use arguing with the noble Lord on the facts, but from information which I have I believe that he is not correct regarding the Soviet Union.


My Lords, I will merely restate the position as I know it to be: that the Soviet Union accepted the mandatory call and has throughout carried out its obligation. Certain evasions may have taken place, as they did even in this country where, as the noble Baroness knows, legal action was taken. Apart from evasions, there were only two countries which deliberately and openly decided that they would not carry out their commitment, and this has led to the situation with which we are dealing today. We have no reason to be grateful to South Africa and Portugal for creating the danger of race war in South Africa. Had they carried out their commitment, the Rhodesian issue would have been disposed of years ago.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will give way once again. While so many members of the United Nations are persistently interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, have not the South African Government said repeatedly that their policy is not to interfere in the internal affairs of any other country?


My Lords, I am sure that the Charter of the United Nations is well known to the noble Lord. The Charter requires that where there is danger to international peace and security it is not only the right but the obligation of the international community to step in. I will send a copy of the United Nations' Charter to the noble Lord if he wishes to have it. There can be no doubt about this.

The Earl of CORK and ORRERY

My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Lord is having a rotten time and I apologise for adding to it. However, may I repeat a quotation that I gave in my speech from United Nations' Resolution 2262: The United Nations General Assembly affirmed its conviction that sanctions, in order to achieve their objective, will have to be comprehensive and mandatory and backed by force".


I do not, my Lords, dispute the wording; I have no doubt that that is the wording of the resolution of the General Assembly. I am saying that where there is a mandatory call by the Security Council—and in this case it was unanimous—then it is the obligation of South Africa to carry it out. However, South Africa deliberately decided not to do so and consequently created the situation in Southern Africa which threatens the whole world. We have no reason to be grateful to South Africa. I am speaking about an indisputable fact. What has been our position during this decade in which South Africa has imperilled the future of Africa and the world? We in this country have continued to supply massive financial support to South Africa. We have been the leading country regarding the granting of financial assistance and investment in South Africa. The French have supplied arms and the British and the Americans have, when necessary, supplied vetoes. We have given our support to the existing regime.

Now what can be done? Is there time? Not much; indeed in some respects when I look at Rhodesia I think the time has gone. It is not for me to reminisce at this hour on a Friday, but it was my view 14 or 15 years ago in the United Nations that the Africans in Rhodesia should be brought into consultation. Consultation—no more than that. I was an Ambassador at the United Nations and I came home to argue with my Government. The deliberate decision was taken at that time that the Africans should not be brought into consultation. Mr. Nkomo was one of them. That was 14 years ago, and what a different situation we should have if it had been decided then to bring the Africans into consultation!

Now of course we are dealing with Africans who have been in exile and who have been in prison. I was in Maputo the other day where I met a young man and I was talking to him about his imprisonment in Rhodesia. He was 25 when he was imprisoned without charge and he was not released until he was 35. Ten years of his life gone in a Rhodesian prison without charge, and at the end of the conversation he said to me: "Mr. Mugabe was with me in prison for the 10 years, too". If we talk about the extremism of Mr. Mugabe, I think perhaps if noble Lords had been in prison for 10 years they might be rather extreme themselves. When I heard Mr Mugabe speaking in Maputo I realised that he is a man of the fiercest convictions, but the two things he was insistent upon were that he would never allow racism against the whites to be practised and that, while he would not deal with Mr. Ian Smith, he was ready to negotiate with the British Government. I heard him make those positive statements in the great Assembly there. I am not defending him; I am only saying that he is a man who has been subjected to such injustice that it is not surprising he should take this strong view.

What can we do about these leaders now? It may be too late now. If we had brought them in 14 or 15 years ago, what a difference it would have made! Mr. Nkomo was with me in New York asking that they should be consulted and that plans should be drawn up for the long distance future, but the opportunity was thrown away. Now we have another opportunity. Rhodesia will be changed and we can judge (can we not?) from Namibia that things can be changed. We can insist, and when the five Western members of the Security Council went to the South African Government and insisted the whole thing changed. We have a right to insist, first that next year in Zimbabwe there should be independence with full participation of all the people of Zimbabwe; secondly that in Namibia they should clear the way for independence and elections under United Nations supervision to provide for an undivided and independent Namibia; thirdly that there must be urgently an initiative in South Africa to bring everyone into consultation—no more. It is not for us to provide exactly the system that shall be set down, but to invite them to come to talk. Participation—we threw it away in Rhodesia and look at the result. I wonder now whether we are going to throw it away again in South Africa.

Fourteen years ago I was appointed a member of the United Nations Commission under the chairmanship of one of the finest internationalists of our time, Alva Myrdal, of Sweden. We had two Africans and two Europeans on our Commission and we were asked to set out proposals for dealing with the future of South Africa itself and we wrote a unanimous report. We were not allowed to enter South Africa. Our report was rejected by South Africa, but the other day I looked back to see what we had recommended, 14 years ago. What a different state of affairs it would have been if there had been some shift, some change! All we were asking then was that the Africans of South Africa should be invited to come into a national convention where a new course could be set for the future, without imposing specific requirements of one kind or another. If it had been done then, a different situation would exist now.

How would it be if it were done now? I shall not weary noble Lords with quotations, but I ask you to give me the privilege of reading what was unanimously recommended 14 years ago by our two African and two European members: The future of South Africa should be settled by the people of South Africa—all the people of South Africa—in free discussion. There can be no settlement and no peace while the great majority of the people are denied the fundamental freedom to participate in decisions on the future of their country. We are convinced that a continuation of the present position including a denial of just representation must lead to violent conflict and tragedy for all the people of South Africa. We wish, therefore, to emphasise the first and basic principle that all the people of South Africa should be brought into consultation and should thus be enabled to decide the future of their country at the national level. In order to give effect to this essential principle, we consider that all efforts should be directed to the establishment of a National Convention fully representative of the whole population. Such a representative National Convention would consider the views and proposals of all those participating and set a new course for the future". We also set out all of our other recommendations.

My Lords, I beg you to let me read one other extract at the end of our report. I wish to do so because I do not approach the question of what should be done in any spriit of taking sides in the racial issues of Southern Africa—certainly not; we wish to save them all while there is still time. We said: The struggle in South Africa is not a struggle between two races for domination; it is a struggle between the protagonists of racial domination and the advocates of racial equality. We believe that if a new course is set now it is still possible to envisage all South Africans enjoying political justice and freedom under a constitution guaranteeing human rights and providing for a democratic system of Government. Removal of the restrictions on employment and residence and movement will open up possibilities for far greater industrial and agricultural prosperity. The economy of South Africa can surge forward if the barrier of discrimination is removed. Reduction of expenditure on military and repressive measures will free large sums for development and welfare. And if equal opportunities for education are granted a great new reservoir of human capacity and skill will be created to contribute to fruitful and peaceful progress. When the burdens of oppression and discrimination and isolation are lifted all South Africans will benefit". That is what we recommended 14 years ago and what we recommend today. It could be effective now.

Finally, I say with respect to my noble friend Lord Chalfont that I believe a great disservice can be done to all the people of South Africa if we minimise the danger, or if we refuse to face up to the radical action which is now required. It is not just a question of things getting steadily and quietly better. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, ever reads the middle page of The Times, and whether he did so yesterday. If he did not, I ask him to read the account of what has been done on the latest of the Bantustans in South Africa. What is being attempted, as you very well know—and it is not stopping; it is being stepped up—is to try to force 70 per cent. of the whole population of South Africa into Bantustans comprising no more than 13 per cent. of the total area of the country?


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, has asked me a question I should like to say that I do read the middle page of The Times—in fact, I usually write it. Also, I read this particular article. I am not in favour of the Bantustans or of the policy of homelands or apartheid. I believe, as he does, that the situation is urgent and dangerous. I am in favour of taking urgent action. My action would be moderate action to promote peaceful change. Does the noble Lord have a different view?


Yes, indeed, my Lords, I have a different view. I believe in peaceful change, but I believe peaceful change will only be secured if there is urgent and radical action instead of the quiet diplomacy which the noble Lord had advocated today. I think there is an essential difference between us. We have often agreed on matters; we have often worked together. But on this I believe there is an essential difference. If we believe the situation is so dangerous to the whole of Africa and to the world, then I believe we can insist on certain things, as we did in the case of Namibia. It is not a question of seeking to denigrate; it is not a question of seeking to damage or destroy the whites; on the contrary, we claim that we wish to save them. In this valuable debate the noble Lord has indicated how much we agree, and that is admirable. Where we disagree is in this; I do not believe that he would go along with me in the necessity for urgent radical action, and that is what I recommend.

3.46 p.m.


My Lords, the House will indeed be grateful to my noble and right honourable friend Lord Chalfont, not only for raising this matter, which is of truly immense importance, but also for the combination of expertise and eloquence with which he introduced this valuable debate. He refers to the cooperation between this country and the United States in this as in other matters, and indeed President Carter spoke of the special relationship—his phrase—in very warm terms during the Prime Minister's visit to Washington with our Foreign Secretary in March, and warmly we in this country reciprocated. We have indeed developed over the years a habit of consulting each other on a wide range of subjects, with the aim, wherever possible, of agreeing our policy, and nowhere has this been more evident or more necessary than in the evolution of policy towards Southern Africa.

As my noble friend Lady Gaitskell said, we must surely welcome the interest of the United States of America in Southern Africa. It has long been clear to most of us that time is rapidly running out for a peaceful solution to the problems of Southern Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Caradon, stressed this urgency on the basis of an unrivalled experience in these matters and very great authority. I do not agree with him that the urgency as stressed by my noble friend Lord Chalfont was any the less, and I thought he made this absolutely clear in the interjection he properly made. We all agree that the situation is truly urgent, and I do not think anybody has indulged in hyperbole today in describing the real possibility of breakdown, bloodshed and chaos that faces us if we do not grasp what may possibly be the last opportunity of securing by peaceful negotiation a change in Southern Africa, which otherwise may be enforced by bloodshed.

The difficulty has been for many years to convince those in power in Rhodesia and South Africa of the need to make rapid and substantive progress towards genuine independence, or, as my noble friend Lord Paget put it, self-government for Rhodesia and Namibia, and a just society in South Africa. With the full weight of the American Administration behind attempts to achieve this, there is, I believe, still a chance that the problems can be resolved without recourse to violence. But there is a long way to go. At least we are headed in the right direction. The purposefulness of a new American Administration, dedicated above all to the implementation of human rights, is in response to the dynamism of a new British Foreign Secretary who has worked day and night since he assumed office, together with our Prime Minister, to endeavour to secure a solution on a peaceful basis in this area before it is too late.

On Rhodesia we have, indeed, kept very closely in touch with successive United States Administrations—not only the present one. Dr. Kissinger's involvement with the problem of Rhodesia is well recorded and our debt to him primarily is that he, perhaps more than anyone else, extracted at last from Mr. Smith the first acknowledgment of the need to set an early date for majority rule. From the beginning the Carter Administration, in keeping with its deep-felt concern for human rights, has not merely continued the close process of co-operation but has actively involved itself in our efforts to find a negotiated solution to Rhodesia's constitutional problem. From the President down we have enjoyed the maximum support and encouragement in the difficult task that we have set ourselves, which is to bring independence to Rhodesia—that is, Zimbabwe—based on majority rule in 1978.

Even as I speak the Anglo-United States Consultative Group is in Africa where it is holding further discussions with all the parties to the present conflict. We welcome direct United States collaboration in these negotiations.

Having said that, let me add at once that both we and the Americans acknowledge that the United States has, of course, no standing in any formal constitutional negotiations. However, without the full weight of its moral, political and economic influence behind us, the prospects for a negotiated settlement in Rhodesia would indeed be slight. At this point perhaps I might address myself to what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, had to say. He raised the question of law and order in Rhodesia during the crucial transitional period. I can only agree with him that it is a matter of vital importance and will he a crucial element in the negotiated settlement. We are discussing that point now in Africa.

As to the nature of the forces to maintain law and order during the vital period of transition, that again is a matter for discussion. I shall only say at this point that the most effective means of maintaining law and order during that period will be the one on which there is general agreement by the parties concerned, Anything else will surely fail. Therefore, the key to this is not to insist that Mr. Smith, or somebody else, exclusively manages the transition and commands the forces behind it. That is not the key. The key is securing agreement among all the parties concerned as to the way in which law and order shall be maintained. That is what we are working on now.

He referred also in connection with that point to the question of peace-keeping forces. There are, I agree at once, great practical difficulties about any kind of peace-keeping force. I am, like my noble friend Lord Caradon, a great believer, wherever practical, in the introduction of neutral objective forces for the maintenance of order in a difficult area. But there are great difficulties in the way of this in Rhodesia. I freely agree that there can in any case be no question of troops going in from outside in a combat role. Any outside presence should be used only in support of a political agreement; that is, agreement once more between the parties directly concerned.

The third point that the noble Marquess and others raised was that arising from their interpretation of paragraph 14 of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting communique. I have a copy with me. It is quite remarkable what interpretations can be given to Holy Writ, let alone Governmental communiques. I have read it again during this debate. I have even consulted other people about it. It does not bear the interpretation given by the noble Marquess and others. There is no question of this country supporting armed conflict. We have said repeatedly—I have said so many times from this Box over the past few months, and repeat it again—that we understand the reasons why, over a period, armed conflict has emerged out of this situation. It was not there eighteen months or two years ago. We understand the desperations that, unfortunately, have produced the spirit that only force can solve this question. But we do not agree with it, and certainly we do not condone it. I say once more that, while we are bound to understand, we continue to deplore, and indeed we shall never condone.

Moreover, the noble Marquess said that there were rumours about our supplying arms to promote this armed conflict. I can only give him a flat denial on that point. I do not know how often it is necessary to say these things from this Box. If the noble Marquess has any evidence to the contrary I shall be the first to study it and, if he proves his point, I shall be the first to apologise to him.


My Lords, may I intervene to ask the noble Lord whether it is a fact that we are committed under the text of the communique of the Commonwealth Conference, with our Commonwealth colleagues, to compel the South African Government to do certain things which at the moment they are not prepared to do? Presumably that means that we must take some action to compel them; even if not physical action we must take economic action. Therefore, I imagine that, so far as we can organise them, we are committed to take economic sanctions at the moment against South Africa.


My Lords, I have the communique here. If the noble Lord would point to the particular sections where the interpretation he gives is borne out, I should be interested to discuss it with him. The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting does not come to definitive and substantive decisions; it discusses and pronounces in a generalised way, although it takes action, as at the Kingston Conference, on the question of the North-South dialogue, ad hoc arising from certain discussions. They do not bind one another to any course of action. Indeed, they strive to clarify a general attitude. There is nothing binding on anybody in this document and if the noble Lord can show otherwise and if his interpretation of the nature of the Commonwealth can be shown to be otherwise, I shall be most interested.


That is my reading of it, my Lords.


My Lords, the noble Lord is inserting his own interpretation as if it were the actual text. I have the text with me and it does not bear out what he says. I come to the question of Namibia, and here too we have been working in the closest unity with the Americans and with the three other Western members of the Security Council, France, Canada and West Germany. I suggest to the House that it is essential to bear in mind that however close our relations are with the Americans—and that is something excellent to have—they are also very close with countries of the Commonwealth and with members of the European Community. We are not operating on our own or even only in concert with the Americans; we are acting on a much broader base even than that.

In Namibia, in particular, the initiative to achieve a settlement is one which we can fairly say is on the point of meeting international requirements. Our common concern has been, first, to ensure that South Africa did not bring Namibia to some kind of independence through a process—the Turnhalle Constitutional Conference—that was not truly representative and, secondly, to achieve through diplomatic means a settlement that would accord with the Security Council Resolution 385, to which we and the Americans and our other friends are parties; we continue to work closely together to this end. Of course there remain difficulties. Of course there will be variations of emphasis, of pace, sometimes of view; but I can tell the House that whenever those variations of interpretation or opinion arise, we immediately sit down with our friends and allies and iron out the difficulties.

The nature of the problem in South Africa itself is, I agree, different from that of either Rhodesia or Namibia. In South Africa neither we nor the Americans consider that the South African Government have made anything like a sufficiently significant change in their internal policies. I very much take the point of my noble friend Lord Caradon about the tragedy that the application of sanctions—which is, after all, the substitute for war—was (I can use no other word) sabotaged, in particular by two countries. If they had not been, I agree with him that we might have achieved a solution of this problem years ago.

I think we now have another change. We hope that the South African Government will begin to appreciate the consequences of failing to meet the needs of the circumstances and the times. I do not dissent from my noble friend Lord Chalfont when he says there has been evidence—some would say too little and too late, but nevertheless there has been evidence—of a change of course internally in South Africa. One is interested to see suggestions within that country for new political alignments crossing the racial line, as well as the Party line. It is not for us unduly to interfere with Party politics in another country. One is rather relieved that there should be Party politics in other countries, as well as in ours. It is a sign of health.

Certain developments may give us cautious encouragement in South Africa. I go along with him, therefore, in saying that certainly the utmost encouragement should be given to those forces in South Africa to maintain and increase the momentum of change But we must mean this—and this is where I join with my noble friend Lord Caradon; it really must have cogency behind it. My noble friend Lord Chalfont quite rightly denounced those who are forever lecturing other people about what they should do. I read his article of 27th June with considerable agreement and total enjoyment. I agree with him on this. Every extreme evokes an equal and positive reaction; that is perfectly true.

But we must mean what we say. There must be strength behind the encouragement and the persuasion, because if change does not take place soon, the likelihood of chaos and bloodshed would be too horrible to contemplate, with incalculable damage to the communities of the region—white, black and coloured, European, African and Asian—with damage to Western interests, including those that he described so clearly, and to the worldwide search for political detente and racial harmony.

The outbreak of racial war in Africa itself, as my noble friend Lord Caradon has reminded us, would be a catastrophe of the first magnitude. But it might not stop there, as he also reminded us. It could not be contained even in a continent. The magnitude of the risks that the world is running in Southern Africa cannot be minimised. So it is in the interests not only of this country, of the United States, of the European Community, of the Commonwealth, but of everybody, including the European, the white, communities of Southern Africa, that we grasp what opportunity there is to solve by negotiation, to concede to reason what otherwise may have to be surrendered to violence.

As my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has said in another place, we try to take our stand on human rights in every corner of the globe, to apply the same standards and judgments to Communist countries as we do to Chile, Uganda, or South Africa. It is on that basis that we condemn the racial policies of the South African Government. It is part of this and other countries' denunciation of the infringement of basic human rights anywhere. We say that in South Africa these practices are not only morally unjust; they are unworkable in practice, and they are catastrophic in potential.

My Lords, no one can deny that a threat to Southern Africa exists. It has been described as a Communist threat, though some of us would describe it as a new imperialist threat—a substitution for the imperium of the West by one possibly from the East; but it is a threat. The threat is to the inhabitants of the region at least as much as to Western interests, and very many leaders of Black African opinion and Government understand this. I think the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, put this very well in the debate on Wednesday. There is a new maturity, a new understanding, among many leaders of Black Africa about the realities facing their countries and their Continent. We must go along with this. If we want to prevent Africa becoming "red", we must remember that is is black.

The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, put it very well when she said that the threat to Africa and to Western interests springs more from the intransigent policies of racial discrimination as pursued by minority white Governments in the region than from external forces, because it is these policies and the sense of desperation that, over the years, they create that provide the fertile ground of discontent and hatred on which extremism thrives. There could be no Soviet in South Africa without a Soweto. The source of the feeling in Africa, and the determination, as we see it, to engage in armed conflict in order to attain certain liberties, lies in Africa itself, and not outside. It may be that from outside certain forces will take advantage, and gladly take advantage, of the situation created for them by selfish interests in Africa.

The approach of the American Administration has been criticised by some, for pushing South Africa too hard, for driving them back into the laager; but it is vitally important, as I said, to convince the South African Government that they have taken the wrong road—a road which can lead only to disaster. We in the West shall not be led astray by arguments about the strategic importance of South Africa or the threat of Communism. The threat to our strategic and economic interests in South Africa springs from the policies of the South African Government itself. That is the key to it. The root cause of the threat to our interests is apartheid. We cannot expect that South Africa will change overnight, but we have a moral and practical duty to all the inhabitants of South Africa, and to our own people, to press for change so that a new society can be created by all South Africans working together in the cause of peace, justice and equality—and we must mean this. Our role as a country is to co-operate with like-minded countries and organisations to achieve this change peacefully.

My Lords, we are not alone. We have a special responsibility as the paramount Power; but we are not alone in the task that we face. This country has a way of linking itself with powerful allies, which is the way we have survived and have been enabled to make the magnificent contribution that we have made in the past and will continue to make. We are linked very closely with North America, with the United States; we are members of the European Community where political co-operation, in particular, is progressing very fast and most encouragingly. We are also members of the Commonwealth on the basis of coming together to discuss and not to dictate to each other what to do. These are three very powerful links which I hope will enable the United Kingdom to take the lead to make a decisive contribution to the solution of the problems of Southern Africa.