Rhodesia

Oral Answers to Questions — Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th November 1966.

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Mr. Colin Jackson:

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to inform the people of Rhodesia of the exact nature of Her Majesty's Government's plans for the future of the territory, in view of the illegal régime's censorship restrictions.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

As the House will know, together with my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, I visited Rhodesia to ensure that our proposals concerning the future of Rhodesia were fully understood.

Mr. Jackson:

But my right hon. Friend will realise that this is not going over to the whole of the Rhodesian population. Can he give some assurance that, at any rate from Bechuanaland, the transmitters are being increased in strength? Secondly, could not my right hon. Friend try something a little more imaginative? This is British territory. Could not we try a little leaflet dropping?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

During the time that my right hon. and learned Friend and I were in Rhodesia, we saw about 100 people, a pretty good cross-section, all of whom took the view that as far as possible the people of Rhodesia should be acquainted with the views of the British Government and their proposals. Taking into consideration the tight censorship, and the fact that the radio and television are controlled by the Rhodesian illegal régime, this is not quite such an easy exercise, but we shall do our best.

Photo of Mr Evelyn King Mr Evelyn King , South Dorset

Is it not a fact that if anybody is censoring these proposals it is our Prime Minister? We are as anxious as anybody else to know what they are.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

The House will be made aware of the British Government's proposals and Mr. Smith's reply in due course. I hope that it will not be very long.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will define in detail the nature and extent of selective mandatory sanctions which Her Majesty's Government are considering imposing on the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr William Hamling Mr William Hamling , Woolwich West

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now make a statement on the imposition of mandatory sanctions on the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I have nothing to add at this stage to the final communiqué of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that we are in constant touch not only with our Commonwealth friends, but our friends out-with the Commonwealth, on the nature and the degree of the selectivity of the sanctions, with a view to their making quite sure that they will be effective in bringing this Fascist régime to an end?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

The Commonwealth countries will be well aware of the terms of the communiqué issued at the end of the Conference, and other consultations, when necessary, will take place with other interested countries.

Photo of Mr William Hamling Mr William Hamling , Woolwich West

Bearing in mind that the I.D.I. is nearly 12 months old, will my right hon. Friend consider that Smith is now in a stronger political situation than he was a year ago—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and that in order to bring down this régime stronger measures must be taken?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I notice the enthusiasm with which the Opposition greeted my hon. Friend's statement, which enthusiasm will not be shared in the country generally. As soon as it is possible to state clearly the British Government's proposals—after the proposals submitted to Mr. Smith have been returned to us and considered—we will of course make a further statement, but it cannot be immediately.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

In view of the remarks about bringing down the régime, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the purpose of his discussion was to reach agreement?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

The purpose of my discussion was to reach agreement within the six principles and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué.

Photo of Mr Ian Lloyd Mr Ian Lloyd , Portsmouth Langstone

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there has been any change in the attitude of the United States Government towards mandatory sanctions from that expressed so clearly and vigorously by Mr. Mennen Williams some months ago? Unless there has been such a change, any talk of mandatory sanctions is absolute nonsense.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I think that we had better deal with this question when we reach it at the appropriate place.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what information he has as to the amount of Rhodesian copper which has been exported to Great Britain or elsewhere by M.T.D. (Mangula) Limited and other companies during the past six months; and what steps he is taking to end this breach of the United Kingdom's sanctions.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

We have no evidence of any Rhodesian copper being exported to Great Britain by M.T.D. (Mangula) Limited, or by any other company, nor specifically by Rhodesian companies to other countries.

Copper has not yet been specified as a prohibited export under S.I.41.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what information he has as to the amount of oil at present reaching the Smith régime through Lourenço Marques; and what steps he is taking to end this breach of the United Kingdom's sanctions.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

With regard to the first part of the Question, I have nothing to add to the Answers given previously by the Prime Minister on this subject.

On the second part, representations have been made to the Portuguese Government to put a stop to this traffic.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

In view of the crucial nature of oil, and the fact that it is not an indigenous product of Rhodesia, will my right hon. Friend give us an assurance that stringent contingency planning is being made for mandatory sanctions for this industry, and also that pressure is being put on Portugal for trade retaliation if she does not obey these sanctions?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I can give an undertaking that in any future consideration of economic measures oil will play its part.

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Buckinghamshire South

Since United Nations sanctions are illegal, why has the representation been made to the Portuguese Government?

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's constitutional proposals for Rhodesia and his exchanges with Mr. Smith's Government.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the Rhodesian talks.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will state the result of the Rhodesian talks and the future Government of Rhodesia.

Photo of Sir Knox Cunningham Sir Knox Cunningham , South Antrim

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the present position with regard to Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what reply has been received from the illegal régime in Rhodesia to the terms offered by Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the progress of his talks with Mr. Smith in Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

As the House will be aware, Mr. Smith's reply to the communication which was made to him three weeks ago by Sir Morrice James was received over the weekend. This is under immediate consideration and the House will be informed of our conclusions as soon as it is possible to do so.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House some idea when that will be, and also say whether he expects to visit Salisbury again in the near future?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

On the first part of that supplementary question, I cannot promise a firm date but it will be as soon as possible. As for the second part, I have no immediate intention of returning to Salisbury.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

As it appears that the time set by the Commonwealth Conference has now expired without noticeable progress having been made, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that in the event of selective mandatory sanctions being sought against Rhodesia it is not intended that there should be an economic confrontation with South Africa which this country cannot afford?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

That is hypothetical. We have not yet reached that stage. Nevertheless, the point raised by the hon. Gentleman is well in mind.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

Can my right hon. Friend say whether one of the terms offered by the Government was that African opinion in Rhodesia should be tested by a commission whose composition would be acceptable to the illegal régime? Is he aware that that might be acceptable to Smith but not to a large number of hon. Members on this side of the House?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

At the appropriate moment the whole of the British proposals will be laid before the House, but I can confirm to my hon. Friend that, in accordance with the fifth principle, the test of Rhodesian opinion as a whole will be carried out, under our proposals, in a way that will be acceptable to majority opinion.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Kingston upon Hull West

Will my right hon. Friend accept that this sordid battle with Smith will be a long haul—not weeks or months but perhaps years? In this event will Her Majesty's Government give a guarantee that we shall never give independence to Smith on the terms that he is now advancing?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

It would be ill-advised of me to go beyond what I have already said. I would much prefer the House to await publication of the proposals and the reply.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm the undertaking given by the Leader of the House that as soon as the Government's proposals are made known this House will have the opportunity of discussing them?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

Yes—that is the intention.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what information he has as to the amount of tobacco being currently indirectly exported from Rhodesia to Great Britain.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

We have no information to show that any infringement of our ban on the import of Rhodesian tobacco into this country has taken place.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Does my hon. Friend agree that there are indications that, through indirect routes, tobacco is reaching this country and perhaps even the pipes and cigarettes of hon. Members? Does she agree that until we take over the control of the frontiers this traffic will not be be stopped?

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

I do not agree with my hon. Friend. We have no information to show that this is taking place. If he has any facts concerning a particular consignment I can assure him that the matter will be looked into very fully.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will initiate a study of the feasibility of bombing the transport facilities in Rhodesia carrying oil from South Africa.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Can my right hon. Friend say why it is not working? Would not we be within our legal rights so to bomb, in view of the fact that the régime in Rhodesia is a treacherous régime and that, to some of us at least, the operation could easily be carried out by the placing of aircraft carriers in the Mozambique Channel?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I can assure my hon. Friend that Her Majesty's Government are well informed of all the technical problems involved in this sort of exercise, but the Prime Minister stated on 26th April that Her Majesty's Government were opposed to the use of force to bring about a constitutional settlement.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

If the right hon. Gentleman changes his mind, will he arrange for the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) to take the chair at any necessary committee of inquiry?

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the difference between the use of force to impose a constitutional settlement and the use of force to make sanctions effective?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I recognise that there is a difference but, as I have said, Her Majesty's Government have already stated their position on the use of force and are not likely to move from that unless circumstances considerably change.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs on what grounds Major Sutton-Pryce, a British subject, was refused the renewal of his British passport.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

Major Sutton-Pryce's application to the British High Commission Residual Staff in Salisbury for a passport was dealt with in accordance with the policy described by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) in the House on 25th January. [Vol. 723, c. 1–4.]

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Can the hon. Lady say who made this decision? In view of the fact that Major Sutton-Pryce was employed by the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation as an interviewer, is he considered more or less biased than his opposite numbers employed by the B.B.C.?

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

The hon. Member must genuinely fail to understand that when there is an extremely ardent and active propagandist not only for the Rhodesian régime but against Britain it is necessary that the decision which was taken and announced in this House in January should be implemented.

Photo of Mr Evelyn King Mr Evelyn King , South Dorset

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will estimate the number of murders, burnings and cattle maimings attempted or committed in Rhodesia within the last 12 months by Chinese-trained terrorists infiltrating from Zambia; and, in view of his legal responsibility for Rhodesia, what protests have been made by him to the Government of Zambia.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

There are no definite figures or evidence available to me on this matter. The British Government's abhorrence of violence is well known.

Photo of Mr Evelyn King Mr Evelyn King , South Dorset

Is it not a fact that it has taken place? Will the right hon. Gentleman distinguish between the follies of Government—and all Governments are guilty of follies—and the murder or assault of individuals, and agree that where that takes place any country which connives at it deserves reproach?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I have already said that the British Government abhor violence from any quarter, and both the Zambian and British Governments have condemned violence.

Photo of Mr William Hamling Mr William Hamling , Woolwich West

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will now undertake military action against the illegal régime in Southern Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr William Hamling Mr William Hamling , Woolwich West

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the failure of Her Majesty's Government so far to bring down the Smith régime has completely discredited the policy of sanctions, and that the only way to deal satisfactorily with this rebel régime is to go back on Her Majesty's Government's previous declaration not to use force?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

Her Majesty's Government stand on the statement, which I have already quoted this afternoon, against the use of force to settle a constitutional problem.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

In view of all these sabre-rattling questions from hon. Gentlemen opposite, would the right hon. Gentleman go so far as to confirm the view which his hon. Friends have so frequently expressed this afternoon, that sanctions so far have been a ghastly flop?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

Would my right hon. Friend agree that there is really no distinction to be drawn between using the Royal Navy at Beira and the use of other elements of the Armed Forces, and that military action does not necessarily involve the use of force?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

There is a considerable difference between the two exercises which my hon. Friend mentioned.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The Secretary of State will recall that, in answer to an earlier supplementary question, he said that he would not lightly change his policy on the matter of the use of force. Will he make it quite clear that in no circumstances—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—will the Government change the policy announced earlier by the Prime Minister, which is a very important point, that the use of force to solve this constitutional problem would not be contemplated?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

The right hon. Gentleman will recall on reflection that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made it absolutely clear that force would be used at the request of the Governor to maintain law and order.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the very fact that Her Majesty's Government have made it clear throughout that we would not use force has led us into the present very difficult situation?

An Hon. Member:

Where are the pacifists now?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

The right hon. Gentleman said that it is not the intention of the Government to use force. Would he tell his Ministerial colleagues to stop talking about the possibility of using force in private conversations all over the place?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I am not aware of what happens in private conversations.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs when he proposes to begin discussions with other Commonwealth countries about the implementation of the Commonwealth communiqué on Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

Since the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting, the action we have taken on Rhodesia has throughout been in fulfilment of our purposes and intentions as indicated in the communiqué. We have kept in touch with our Commonwealth colleagues and will continue to do so as events may develop in the light of our consideration of Mr. Smith's reply, to which I have already referred.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Does he not agree that, by supplying Rhodesia with oil, the South African Government have been largely responsible for enabling the illegal régime to continue and that, unless action is taken very soon, it will be enough for Rhodesia to build up sufficient supplies of oil to make sanctions ineffective?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

The position on sanctions was clearly stated in the communiqué issued at the end of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting.

Photo of Mr Jack Ashley Mr Jack Ashley , Stoke-on-Trent South

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs how many coloured British citizens awaiting execution in Rhodesia have been sentenced to death under the rebel régime's emergency regulations; and what action he proposes to take against those responsible when the executions are carried out.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

No one has been sentenced to death under emergency regulations but a number of persons have been sentenced to death under the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act. There have been no executions and I am sure that the personal responsibility which would rest upon anyone concerned with an illegal execution is fully understood in Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Jack Ashley Mr Jack Ashley , Stoke-on-Trent South

Would my right hon. Friend go a little further than that and give the House a categorical assurance that, if any of these executions are carried out, those responsible will be charged with murder?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I think that the House will appreciate that this is really a question for the Attorney-General rather than for me. I think, however, that I should add that any person, anywhere, who signs a death warrant and has not the authority to do so would involve himself in a most serious offence.

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Reading

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what measures are being taken to train a cadre of civil servants to administer Rhodesia in the period immediately following the overthrow of the illegal Smith régime; if he will consider employing former members of the Overseas Civil Service; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

We have made it clear that after the return to constitutional rule the British Government would be ready to give assistance, in the field of administration and in any other ways that might be necessary.

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Reading

Would my right hon. Friend go a little further than this? Is it not likely that the Civil Service serving the illegal Smith régime will be tainted with the racialism of its masters and that it will be necessary to find a more reliable Civil Service to take its place when the illegal régime has been overthrown?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

My hon. Friend may have forgotten that 12 months ago, when I.D.I. was declared, on 11th November, the Queen's Governor indicated at once that he thought that the Civil Service should stand by and serve Rhodesia, which many of them have done. It is not right to assume that those civil servants who are working there are all in support of the illegal régime.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Is it not a fact that Rhodesia has been administered by Rhodesian civil servants since 1923 and that that practice is likely to continue?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the transcripts of all Broadcasts by the Rhodesian Radio which have been monitored on his instructions.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

Copies of the B.B.C.'s daily "Summary of World Broadcasts" are already available in the Library. Part 4 of this summary includes a selection of items broadcast by the Rhodesian radio.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

Would my right hon. Friend agree that it would be useful for hon. Members to read some of the broadcasts? Would he not agree that it is a disgraceful position for a British Member of Parliament to go on the Rhodesia radio and criticise a Rhodesian newspaper for being——

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to reflect on an individual Member of Parliament, he must do it by Motion and not at Question Time.

Hon. Members:

Withdraw.

Photo of Mr James Dickens Mr James Dickens , Lewisham West

Can my right hon. Friend, none the less, take steps to provide for the House, in the Library, copies of the transcripts of those speeches made by Members of the Opposition in Salisbury in recent months, as a matter of information?

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

I am not sure that I have in mind or have read all of the broadcasts to which my hon. Friend refers, but, if he will take the trouble to look at Part 4 of the "Summary of World Broadcasts" in the Library, he will see part of them contained there.

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Reading

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will institute proceedings for misprision of treason against any citizen of Great Britain who participates in unofficial visits to Rhodesia and has any dealings with the illegal Smith régime.

Photo of Mr Herbert Bowden Mr Herbert Bowden , Leicester South West

Any question of prosecution would be a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions, who would no doubt consult my right hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney-General; and I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by him to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) on 16th February.—[Vol. 724, c. 1317.]

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Reading

Is it not a fact that the visits of various people, in an unofficial capacity, including distinguished hon. Members of this House, does amount to a misprision of treason and——

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. If the hon. Member wishes to reflect critically on hon. Members he must do so by way of a Motion and not by way of a supplementary question.