I beg to move,
That the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965 (Continuation) Order, 1967, a draft of which was laid before this House on 31st October, be approved.
The House will know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, who is at present touring East and Southern Africa, has arrived in Rhodesia today. On recommendation of the Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, and under his aegis, my right hon. Friend has met Mr. Smith and will be meeting other Rhodesians. My right hon. Friend had a very long discussion with Mr. Smith today and will be meeting Mr. Smith again tomorrow morning. My right hon. Friend will, of course, be making a full report to the House shortly after his return. In the meantime, however, it is esssential for the 1965 Act to be renewed in order to give the Government the necessary powers to endeavour to bring about the restoration of constitutional government in Rhodesia.
In view of the conversations now taking place in Salisbury, and also in view of the conversations that have taken place in the independent black African countries, it would be unwise for us tonight to enter into a detailed discussion on Rhodesia. The House will want to be informed by my right hon. Friend of the result of his extensive discussions and will, I know, not want to add to his difficulties whilst he is in Africa. For these reasons, I hope that the House will agree to this Motion.
We should like to thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has said in moving this Order. Last November a similar Order was moved, I believe silently, by the then Secretary of State and there was a short debate. Hon. Members will remember that the Rhodesian situation at that time, November 1966, was clearly moving to a crisis. There were very general hopes when the meeting on the "Tiger" took place three weeks later, but, as we know, the talks on the "Tiger" did not resolve the matter and the full inquest of Parliament took place early in December.
As the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, at this time, when the Continuation Order, 1967, comes to Parliament for approval, it may be that we are again near a crisis in the Rhodesian dispute.
The Prime Minister, for some reason, chose to herald the visit of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State with a rather depressingly cold douche of pessimism last week. I doubt whether this kind of gloomy forecast is likely to assist the sort of settlement which I am convinced, and I think the hon. Gentleman would agree, is the earnest wish of the majority of people not only in Britain but also in Rhodesia. But I am certain, and again I think the hon. Gentleman would agree, that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, with his persistence and his transparent honesty, is the very last person to be deterred by it. Many of us feel a confidence in his right hon. Friend which unfortunately does not seem to be shared by the Prime Minister.
The consequences of failure, for the whole Rhodesian people, are so grave that we on this side of the House are passionately anxious neither to do nor to say anything which would jeopardise the chances of an agreement. Time, as we all realise, is getting short, and with every week that goes by, a solution to this problem becomes more urgent. The noble Lord, Lord Alport, reported that the prospects of success would not grow larger but would dwindle as time went on, and indeed, I think we are all conscious that soon we may be approaching the point of no return. Therefore, the consequences of failure in 1967 are greater than the consequences of failure aboard the "Tiger" last year, and our hopes that the right hon. Gentleman will be successful are, for similar reasons, even greater than they were a year ago.
But there is a further reason why we do not intend to pick a conflict with the Government on the proposal to continue Section 2 of the 1965 Act for another year. As the hon. Gentleman knows, in the past we have expressed our grave doubts about the likelihood of United Nations mandatory sanctions leading to the result that we would all like to see, a return to constitutional government in Rhodesia. We believed that it would much more likely lead to the union of all Rhodesian opinion than divide the moderates from the extremists.
In my view, there must be an incentive to draw Rhodesia to the new legality of which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition spoke on Tuesday. My right hon. Friend has recently defined, and the Conservative Party has overwhelmingly endorsed, the place of sanctions within a constructive policy framework, a framework in which the right hon. Gentleman's talks this week are the first essential part.
I am convinced that it should not be impossible to achieve agreement on a new constitution based on the "Tiger" proposals. The acceptability of such an agreement to the people in Rhodesia would be tested by a Royal Commission, and if that Royal Commission reported favourably, then Rhodesian independence could, and would, be secured on the basis of the new constitution by an Act of Parliament. Until the Report of the Royal Commission was received it would be understood that on one side Rhodesia would maintain its unilateral declaration of independence and on the other sanctions would remain unaltered. It is for this reason that we have no intention of voting against the Order.
We would like to wish the right hon. Gentleman well in his important talks, and we trust, if they are fruitful, that the Prime Minister will push forward with their consequences, without delay, and with courage and resolution.
Nobody has a greater regard than I have for my hon. Friend the Minister of State, but the issues involved here are so important that I do not think we can pass this Order on the nod, as he appeared to suggest.
The right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) addressed the House with great moderation. He did not explain, any more than his leader did a day or two ago, what was meant by the "new legality", and he did not echo the sort of speeches which are made in the country, and by his hon. Friends. But the suggestion which is constantly being made from the other side of the House, which was made at the Brighton conference, and which is made in certain sections of the Press, is that the present state of affairs is entirely the fault of Her Majesty's Government in this country, and that all that is needed is for somebody to be sufficiently diligent, or sufficiently adroit, to find a formula which will be acceptable both to the British Government and to the Smith régime.
The argument runs that there need be only one or two variations in the "Tiger" constitution—and this has just been echoed in the right hon. Gentleman's speech—and all will be well. It is suggested that if my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had only had a little more patience, if he and Mr. Smith had remained on H.M.S. "Tiger" a day or two longer, that would have been an end to the matter. Indeed, that suggestion was implicit in the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition at the Brighton conference. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman cannot be here this evening. I notified him that I intended to refer to his speech.
In his speech at Brighton he said:
This tragedy has been bedevilled over these last years by suspicion and mistrust which goes so deep. That would never have happened had they still been handled by Sir Alec or Mr. Maudling.
The suggestion is that if only the superior talents of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) or the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) had still been available the problem of Rhodesia would by now have been solved. They could not agree with Mr. Smith while they were in office, but it is suggested that if only they had remained either they would have developed some mysterious expertise or there would have been a change of heart on the part of the Smith régime.
This is not only nonsense; it is pernicious nonsense, because in so far as it is believed by anyone it obscures from the people of this country the real nature of the problem and the kind of régime which now exists in Salisbury. The suggestion is that the causes of suspicion and mistrust are the fault of Her Majesty's Government; in fact, they are entirely to be found in Rhodesia.
I do not want to go over too much history, but it is material to recall the record of the last seven years. In 1960—even before the days of the Smith régime—the Government of Southern Rhodesia
passed the Law and Order Maintenance Act. That led to the resignation of the Chief Justice, Sir Robert Tredgold, who said:
This Bill outrages almost every basic human right and is in addition an unwarranted invasion by the Executive of the sphere of the Judiciary.
He went on to describe the Bill—and I hope that hon. Members opposite agree—as "savage, mean and dirty."
Since then there have been various Amendments, making the Act even more repressive than it was in the first place. It is being used to prevent every form of political expression which is distasteful to the régime. Seven years ago in Southern Rhodesia there were great public meetings addressed by Mr. Joshua Nkomo and other African leaders. They were attended by large numbers of people—far larger than any number who would have gone to listen to Mr. Smith or his associates.
There are no such meetings today because the leaders who used to address them have, for the last four years, been in detention without trial and without charge. It is they who are really entitled to speak for the people of Rhodesia. When the Commonwealth Secretary—Mr. Bowden, as he then was—and my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General went to Salisbury last year, and when Lord Alport went this year, they were not even allowed to meet the African leaders in detention. I wonder what possible explanation there can be for that, except sheer bloody-mindedness on the part of the régime.
It is worth inquiring why they are detained. I want to quote from a very authoritative pamphlet entitled, "Rhodesia and Ourselves", issued recently by the Joint International Representatives of the British Council of Churches and the Conference of British Missionary Societies. It says:
"One of the tragedies of Rhodesia is that most Europeans do not know how African fellow citizens have been muzzled and controlled as a result of this Act"—
that is the Law and Order Maintenance Act—
This is why they react so passionately to any suggestion that Rhodesia is a police state. Yet the facts speak for themselves. In the last six years thousands of Africans have been kept for longer or shorter periods in detention
or restriction without trial, some for periods of five years. Some of these were guilty of physical intimidation of their fellows; but the great majority have been treated in this way because of their political views, because they were known to speak against minority white government and racial segregation, or had previously sought to organise political parties to express their opposition. (The African political parties were banned under the 'Unlawful Organisations Act' of 1962.) Cases are known of re-arrest and detention as many as three times. When arrests are made, it is a common experience for a whole family to be awakened in fright in the early hours of the morning while the police make the arrest, which may lead to a comparatively short period of detention—without even the pretence of questioning—before release. It is difficult not to conclude that this is being used as a method of intimidation of the African élite. All this was happening before U.D.I.
This was happening long before the General Election in this country of 1964, so it made no difference which political party was in power here. Whichever party has been in power here, in Southern Rhodesia one act of repression has followed another.
I will give the House one personal experience. The last time that I arrived in Salisbury was in the late summer of 1964, on the day that the régime was suppressing the African Daily News. No one had much doubt about why it was suppressed—it was because it was the only daily newspaper in the English language which expressed African opinion. I went to the Parliament House and heard the speech of the Minister Mr. Lardner Burke, a speech which would have been worthy of Dr. Goebbels.
Perhaps I may convey to the House Mr. Smith's idea of Parliamentary debate. Mr. Lardner Burke made a speech of a kind. There was then a series of speeches from the Opposition benches, with both European and African speakers attacking what had been done. No attempt was made to answer their arguments—
—and after an hour or two, someone pointed out that, apart from that of the Minister, not one speech had been made from the Government benches. Mr. Smith then rose and said, "There is no need for it. We arrived at a decision in our caucus meetings and, therefore, there is no reason for anyone other than the Minister to speak." [Laughter.] This is terribly amusing to hon. Members opposite. These are the people whom they are supporting.
Since then, we have seen the fantastic censorship described in yesterday's Times newspaper and complete Government control, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, of television and broadcasting. That is, of course, by no means the end of the story. Everyone who follows events in Southern Rhodesia knows that the situation is constantly deteriorating. There is the Municipal Amendment Bill which provides for still further segregation—having been in Southern Rhodesia, I find it difficult to understand how there could be much further segregation—of the races in places of public resort. There is the Property Owners Protection Bill, under which Asian and coloured people living in what is designated a European area will be evicted from their homes, which they have, in so many cases, occupied for many years, without even any reasonable compensation.
When the party opposite brought in the 1961 Constitution for Rhodesia and forced it through against the protests of the Labour and Liberal Parties in the House, they assured us that they were incorporating in the Constitution the Rhodesian Declaration of Rights and they set up the Constitutional Council, which could veto, provisionally at any rate, any measures which it thought infringed that declaration. However, of course, that council in its turn could be over-ruled by a two-thirds majority in the Legislature, and that is what has happened in the last day or two over those two Bills.
I do not think that it can happen, but if my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary were to reach an agreement with Mr. Smith in the next few days, and if we received certain guarantees and promises, they would be worth just as much as the Rhodesian Declaration of Rights in their Constitution. It would be worth just as much as the assurance which Mr. Smith gave to the Governor a day or two before U.D.I., when he asked him for a proclamation of emergency and assured him that it had nothing to do with U.D.I. It would be worth just as much as the assurance which Mr. Smith gave before he went to the "Tiger" talks in which he said that he was attending with plenipotentiary powers.
There was one point on which I did not wholly agree with the way in which the matter was put by my hon. Friend the Minister of State. He spoke of a return to constitutional rule. I do not think that this is a question of legality or illegality. The question which we have to put to ourselves in the House is how we discharge our responsibility for the people of Rhodesia—and I mean by that all the people of Rhodesia.
That brings me to the very vexed question of the possible use of force. Again I quote what was said by the Leader of the Opposition at Brighton. He said:
We reject the use of force to settle this problem absolutely and completely.
At this stage there was loud applause. He continued:
We reject the use of British Forces. There are those of the Liberal Party who are so anxious to stop bombing in Vietnam and eager to start bombing in Rhodesia. We reject the use of force through irregulars across the frontiers. We reject the use of force by the United Nations, which could only lead to the chaos of the Congo again.
I will deal with that in a moment, but I would interpose that the Conservative Party do not always reject the use of force. They did not reject it in 1956 at the time of the Suez adventure.
I do not want to go too wide. I only wanted to make the comment in passing that possibly the modern Conservative doctrine is that they do not reject the use of force provided that it is accompanied by fraud and deception.
I should like to return to the words which I have just read that the Conservatives reject the use of force. How do they suppose that Rhodesia is being governed at the present time except by the use of force? Certainly it is not governed by consent. Certainly there has been no consultation whatever with the vast majority—17 out of every 18 Rhodesians—in Rhodesia. Of course the régime is sustained only by force. It is maintained only by locking up its opponents, suppressing every form of criticism and relying on the security forces. What was meant by the right hon. Gentleman and by those who argue in support of him was that it is tolerable if force is used by the oppressors but on no account must it ever be resorted to by or on behalf of the oppressed.
I am fully aware that at the time of U.D.I. Her Majesty's Government disclaimed the use of military force unless there was a breakdown of law and order. But now we have a new situation, because it is evident that last August fighting took place upon a very considerable scale on Rhodesian territory. I remind the House of an article which appeared on Monday of last week in the Guardian by their Commonwealth correspondent, who had been reading information which had appeared in parts of the South African Press but which, of course, had not been allowed to appear in any newspaper in Southern Rhodesia. He wrote:
British correspondents visiting southern Africa have—rightly—been sceptical of earlier claims by the African nationalists about fighting in the Rhodesian bush. But there was a different tone to the reports that started appearing in the big Johannesburg papers in mid-August this year. Not being subject to Mr. Smith's censorship, which blotted out the whole story in Rhodesia for another week, they carried reports of pitched battles in which the invading African guerrillas appeared to have achieved local control in certain bush areas near the Wankie Game Reserve. The first clash on August 13 was at Inyantue and was followed by actions involving spotter planes and armoured Alouette helicopters.
A little later, quoting the numbers given by the Rhodesian régime, the report stated:
But South African observers spoke of 200 and some estimated that there might be as many as 2,000 trained men in reserve on the guerrilla side. The Johannesburg magazine 'Scope' assigned a team to the battle area and produced a seven-page report about 'the crackling of rifles and the chatter of machine gun fire' and went on:
'Skirmishes such as this take place almost every day in the Rhodesian bush. And amongst the death notices in the Rhodesian newspapers the words 'killed in action' tell the story of fighting which has not been known for 60 years since the Matabele Rebellion.'
It is fashionable to refer to all those who invade Rhodesian territory as terrorists. It is an emotive word but it does not alter the situation. I suppose that, whenever people engage in irregular warfare against an occupying or alien power, they are regarded, at least at the
outset, as terrorists. Garibaldi must have appeared as a terrorist, at least to the Governments of Naples and the Papal States. There is a very well known terrorist in Dublin, named Eamonn de Valera. I recall that during the war I first heard of Marshal Tito when he was described as a Croatian terrorist. One does not get round the facts simply by using expressions of this kind.
These people may be misguided. They may be ill advised. They may be certain of defeat in present circumstances. But let us recognise that those Africans who have come fighting into Rhodesia are governed by precisely the same motives as were the people of Warsaw in 1944 or the people of Budapest in 1956.
The point I want to make is that, since U.D.I., there is a new situation. There is what amounts to a condition of civil war. These will not be the last attacks of the kind and there is a situation which may well become comparable to what has been happening for several years in the Portuguese territories of Angola and Mozambique, where there has been civil war and where many thousands of Portuguese troops have had to be engaged.
This is a situation of which we cannot just wash our hands. I agree that it is a very serious matter and that everyone should speak with responsibility. I am not saying that we should send forces to occupy Rhodesia tomorrow. But I am saying to the Government that, as the situation has now developed, it would be entirely wrong completely to rule out any question of police action either by this country or by the United Nations.
We must look at this not merely as a local dispute between ourselves and a distant rebellious colony. This is not simply a little local difficulty in Central Africa. We have to view it against the background of world events, particularly in relation to South Africa.
The leaders of all our political parties, including the Conservative Party, have at one time or another spoken of the dangers of a race war. I would like to give one quotation from a statement prepared a year or two ago by the United Nations Group of Experts under the chairmanship of Mrs. Alva Myrdal, of Sweden. It said:
Violence and counter-violence in South Africa are only the local aspects of a much
wider danger. The coming collision must involve the whole of Africa and indeed the world beyond. No African nation can remain aloof. Moreover, a race conflict starting in South Africa must affect race relations elsewhere in the world, and also, in its international repercussions, create a world danger of first magnitude.
It is true that that was written of South Africa, but it obviously applies with no less force to Southern Rhodesia.
If Mr. Smith were allowed to win, can anyone doubt that the whole filthy apparatus of suppression would remain, and would remain indefinitely? The privileged position of a tiny European minority would be enhanced. If that were allowed to happen, the repercussions would be felt, not only in Africa, not only, as I believe, in the United States, but here in our own country. That is why this is a struggle we cannot afford to lose.
The speech to which we have just listened cannot have been designed to improve the chances of a settlement of the dispute between this country and Southern Rhodesia. I do not know whether we have just been listening to the resignation speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ipswich Sir Dingle Foot) but, if it be so, I wish that he had said so, because we should know whether or not that is the case.
I have never been what might be called "middle of the road" in this discussion. I have had strong views, which I have not concealed. Nevertheless, I very much regret that the debate should have taken this sort of turn this evening, because whichever view prevails about what is right and wrong in that country we must all surely want a settlement which is agreed upon by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the prevailing authorities in Rhodesia, and approved by this Parliament. All that the right hon. and learned Gentleman achieved this evening was to show how completely blinkered he is as soon as he delves in to the affairs of Africa. It is a matter of constant astonishment to me how one whose views on affairs in this country are so often liberal and humane should be so intensely selective as soon as he directs his attention to Africa and to Asia.
I could not recognise from his description the same countries to which I know he was referring. He was describing as a police State.—[Interruption.] Well, we do not necessarily always agree with the laws even in our own country, but what we always try to achieve is that there shall be what we call the rule of law. What we have in Rhodesia and those other countries in Southern Africa to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman opprobriously referred is the rule of law. He may or may not like the laws, but they are applied with evenness.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks were addressed to this Order, which continues in force Section 2 of the Act which is the basis of the sanctions, and I suppose that he was arguing that we should approve it more emphatically than we were asked to do by his hon. Friend the Minister of State.
Apart from the unhelpfulness of the right hon. and learned Member's speech, could its logic possibly stand? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that we were dealing with a country which was in a state of civil war. I do not know whether he was there in August. I managed to look in when I should have been somewhere else. I have never seen a country less like one at civil war than Rhodesia, or Angola or Mozambique. So far as I was able to gather evidence with my eyes, all the trouble in all three of those territories is injected from outside. It is not the citizens of those countries who are causing the trouble and the fighting. If the sending into another country of terrorists who are not citizens of that country constitutes creating civil war, the right hon. and learned Gentleman uses words in a quite different sense from what I do.
He asked what was the good of reaching an agreement with the present Administration in Rhodesia, while his right hon. Friend is there trying to do that very thing, and he said that any guarantees and promises would be worthless. Could one have a greater travesty of the truth? Why is this unhappy dispute existing between this country and Rhodesia? Why are we being asked tonight to renew for another year these unfortunate and regrettable powers?
We are being asked to do that simply because Mr. Smith and his colleagues would not do what the African Nationalist leaders did—go to Lancaster House or Marlborough House, sign on the dotted line and then go back home and tear it up—because they were too honest and would not do it. Mr. Smith could have got an agreement with the last Administration or with the present Government had he been willing not to bother too much about what it all meant and done it with a nod and a wink.
I shall not widen the debate, but if I were challenged on a suitable occasion I could list one after the other of Commonwealth African Nationalist States which have done just that, and give particulars of what I mean. The whole trouble that we are dealing with tonight arises precisely because the Rhodesians are not made that way. They are British, like us, and they jolly well mean to stand by their word when they give it [Interruption.]
The right hon. and learned Gentleman eulogises—virtually canonises —terrorists and then, by an extraordinary glide of argument, says that we cannot deal with the Smith Government, that it is a police State and is using force to keep its people in subjection. I rather gathered from him that with Garibaldi and people like that force was all right, but that it is quite wrong if it is not used in aid of the Left.
Any Government may be described as retaining its authority over a country by force supporting the established law of the country. The Government of this country does. Every Government does. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that it is quite different out there, however, because it is based on a minority electorate. It was not so long ago that the Government of this country ceased to be based on a minority electorate.
In Rhodesia the Constitution, which we do not recognise, is one which does not mention or in any way deal with colour or race. It simply propounds qualifications based upon education and property, in the same way as the qualification for the vote in this country used to do.
I do not quite know where that leads us. I suspect nowhere. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman argues, therefore, that that Government were not a legal Government.
The hon. and learned Gentleman is a lawyer. Is he saying that the unilateral declaration of independence in no way vitiated such authority as Mr. Smith had, because that seems to be the drift of his argument?
That is not the drift of my argument. The hon. Gentleman is not following. I was dealing with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, which was that we should not deal with a régime which depended upon force. I pointed out that all Governments depended upon force and moved on to point out that not all electorates represented a majority of the population.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman then spoke about the fantastic censorship in Rhodesia and the whole filthy apparatus of suppression. I wonder whether he and I are talking about the same country. I have attended a debate in the Rhodesian Parliament. It seemed to me that people were remarkably free in what they said about the Government, just as they are here. I was in no ignorance in the middle of August about the troubles which were occurring in Rhodesia because of people sent in from Zambia in the north. I do not know who was in ignorance of them. I met nobody who was. What is this censorship? One can read about almost everything in the newspapers, much more than one could read in this country during the war, when we had censorship.
That must be the last interjection that I allow, because the interjections have been so ill-informed. The leaders of the Opposition are not in detention in Rhodesia. It is the constant, extraordinary obsession of the Left in this country that any opposition who are constitutional and moderate consist of stooges and that the only people who can claim to speak for the people of the country are the extremists. If the hon. Gentleman ever went to Rhodesia—I do not know if he has ever been there—and talked to the ordinary Africans—
If the hon. Gentleman talked to ordinary Africans in Rhodesia, he would find that they are not followers of Mr. Sithole and Mr. Nkomo. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the hon. and learned Gentleman frightened of, then?"] I am not frightened of anybody. I would welcome an agreement between the two Governments and I would welcome it being put to the people of Rhodesia for their approval, which I am sure they would give. I do not regard this as being in any doubt.
I want to say a few words which I hope will help towards securing a settlement rather than putting sand in the works. What we have somehow to arrive at in Rhodesia is a settlement which will allow members of all communities to live together in harmony. That means essentially the Europeans and the indigenous Africans. I would say this to the right hon. Gentleman especially, but I say it to anyone who is really concerned for the welfare of Africa rather than with fishing there for trouble and controversy. I do not see how multiracialism can ever develop and flourish in a highly charged atmosphere. The great tragedy of Central and Southern Africa is that the temperature has been prematurely and excessively raised by political controversy outside. Multi-racialism did flourish in Rhodesia, and did so by the spontaneous will of the European people of that country for 40 years. They were never under Britain, and they did this themselves. They were the only country in the world, and they still are, seriously trying to build a multi-racial society. The difficulty which they now face is the high temperature, almost at flash point, of politics in Africa. Anyone who raises the temperature does a disservice to the cause of white and black living together in comity there. I should like to see the temperature lowered.
I do not know whether the Minister of State likes to hear this or not, but this really is the crucial point here. He and those advising him know, if they use the right judgment, that Rhodesia is moderate. The people live there in harmony. They are happy together and there is much mutual affection between the African and the white. What is causing the trouble now is the fact that there has been an illegal declaration of independence, and so an illegal régime exists. Ought this to be the terrible stumbling block that people say it is?
It has been pointed out before, and I repeat, that half the members of the United Nations are ruled by illegal régimes and that no fewer than 20 of those régimes are based on military revolutions which have taken place in the last four years. About 30 of the 100 members of the United Nations are ruled by plainly minority régimes. But we recognise them all, and at once. It has been said, certainly by the Prime Minister, that what distinguishes Rhodesia and makes it necessary to have this Act is the fact that this particular illegal régime is in rebellion against the British Crown Perhaps it is not terribly convincing to refer to 1688 and the American rebellion because that is buried in the pasté
I was merely saying that as an aside. I was saying that those are buried in the past. But at this very moment is the illogicality of this situation not becoming inescapable? I will not even refer to Sierra Leone except to say that it was technically a rebellion against the Crown. Would the Minister of State bear this in mind? What is going on now in Aden is a rebellion against the British Crown—
No, Mr. Speaker, and I would not seek to do that. I am trying to meet what I believe is really the only subsisting point against agreement between Rhodesia and Britain, because I do not believe that the illegal régime point in isolation would really move the British Government. We have always been pragmatic about that. What is said to be different is that this illegal régime is a rebellion against the British Crown. I am pointing out that we are now proposing to transfer power—
Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I hoped that I was doing that. One sometimes has to argue by analogy, and it was solely for the purpose of argument on the Southern Rhodesia Act that I was using the analogy.
I do not want to be unhelpful, and I should not have spoken even for as long as I have tonight if I had not been provoked by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who made a speech which I felt was not helpful. The only point I make—I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that it is absolutely focussed on what I believe to be the issue here—is that, if there is not this trouble in the case of another rebellion against the British Crown—never mind where—one is driven to the last question: what is it that so distinguishes Rhodesia? Are we not being pursued by shadows here? Have we not got into a vicious circle out of which we do not know how to break?
I realise that the Order had to be brought on tonight. The Act would have run out on the 15th, and the result of the conversations in Salisbury will not be known before that date. I understand, therefore, that the Order had to come before us now and could not wait until after the Salisbury conversations. In a way, this may be turned to advantage. The Secretary of State will come back from Salisbury, he will put pro- posals before the Government, and the decision will be taken here. If anything said in this debate can help, the time devoted to it will not have been wasted.
I beg the Minister to note this point and transmit it to his right hon. Friend. It is very difficult now to isolate a point which distinguishes the Rhodesian situation from others which we have successfully negotiated. If that be so, then for heaven's sake let us be governed by the fact that Rhodesia is the most moderate régime in Africa—[H0N. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—yes, the most moderate régime in Africa. Let anyone who disagrees name the régime which is more moderate, more democratic, and which gives greater freedom to its subjects. [HON. MEMBERS: "Kenya."] Since this is the truth, and everyone knows it to be, and since there is no further legalistic point which ought to stand in the way of a settlement, I hope that the Secretary of State will have good success in his negotiations, and, when he comes back, as I believe he may, with heads of agreement, he will find good will and understanding among his colleagues, so that this wretched dispute between two branches of the British people will be swiftly ended.
If ever the case was made out for legislation against racial discrimination in this country, it was made tonight by the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell). If he does not recognise racial discrimination in Rhodesia—and he obviously does not—it is unlikely that public education or anything that anyone says to him about it will change his mind.
Section 1 of the Southern Rhodesia Act, 1965 provides that,
Southern Rhodesia continues to be part of Her Majesty's dominions, and the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom have responsibility and jurisdiction as heretofore for and in respect of it.
It is that part of the Act which the Order continues which is of vital importance.
I, too, was interested in the statement in the Gracious Speech that the Government would continue their efforts to secure a return to legality in Rhodesia.
I was also interested in the speech by the Leader of the Opposition, to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) has already referred, in which he said that he hoped to return to a new legality. This devious reference to a new legality has made the whole situation of Southern Rhodesia very difficult. I was one of those concerned about the qualification of Nibmar by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. He has said, and he repeated it yesterday, that there would have to be considerable change within Southern Rhodesia before he would be prepared to discuss with the Commonwealth any change in Nibmar. Those changes have not yet been spelt out, and my right hon. Friend's Answer to my Question yesterday was that to do so would be hypothetical, and therefore we could not discuss the matter.
I do not believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs will return with terms of a settlement that we shall discuss, and I hope that I am right. I want to demonstrate tonight why I do not think that it is possible. First, there have already been considerable changes for the worse within Southern Rhodesia in the past two years. The maintenance of law and order there, or the attempt to maintain it, is net by the British Government but by the racialist forces from South Africa.
We have heard a great deal about our being unable to use force, and challenges have been thrown out to hon. Members on this side of the House asking if we would use force. But force is already being used in Southern Rhodesia, and this point is vitally important. Ian Smith holds his position at the moment by the use of force and the threatened continuation of its use, because he holds it against the wishes of the vast majority of his population who are not on the voting register.
I was trying to show why I believe that a settlement based on the principles to which we are committed is not possible. The first reason is the considerable changes which have already taken place in Southern Rhodesia. There is the introduction of what has been called the "Death Bill". The Rhodesian Government intend to go against a recommendation of the Constitutional Commission and pass a Bill providing the death penalty for people found in unauthorised possession of arms. When the democratic right of people within a territory to express their point of view is denied, when those who speak for them are in prison and the only avenue left open to them is force, and when the death penalty is then introduced, a situation is created which is maintained by force.
For evidence about this so-called multiracial, liberal society to which the hon. and learned Member for South Bucking. hamshire, South referred. I refer him to a statement recently issued by Mr. Herbert Thompson, deputy leader of the Rhodesian Action Association, and Mr. Govan, independent member of the Rhodesian Legislative Assembly. They pointed out that under the Property Owners (Residential Protection) Bill, which has just been passed—
Under that Bill the coloured and Asian communities, who number about 13,000 and 9,000, respectively, will lose their homes, their schools and their hospitals; the Municipal Amendment Act, which has been approved by Parliament, will rob the Asian and coloured communities of their civil liberties by segregation in parks and in all recreational activities; the Emergency Powers Act; the banning of strikes; the banning of people from gathering together in order to hold a public meeting—all this legislation has been directed against the Africans in Southern Rhodesia. It is that legislation those people came here to protest about and to draw to the attention of those of us who are concerned for them.
All this is not the action of a régime and of a Government concerned with establishing multi-racialism or establishing a situation in which, as the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South said, black and white can live harmoniously together.
I would say that the changes which have taken place in Southern Rhodesia since U.D.I. was declared make it absolutely impossible for the six principles which were drawn up to have any application now at all towards a settlement, because the six principles, which we discussed, can apply only to a situation where apartheid is ruled out. The cannot apply to a situation and to a country which is moving rapidly towards apartheid, and it is exactly that that is happening in Southern Rhodesia. It is moving rapidly towards apartheid, it is moving rapidly towards a police State, because the only way the Government there can maintain their hold is by doing this.
The hon. Lady has just said that Rhodesia is becoming a police State, and she talks about legislation which might be introduced. Is she aware that the police force which would have to enforce any such legislation is 80 per cent. African and that, therefore, if this legislation were not acceptable to the Africans as a whole, it would be hardly likely that they would enforce it?
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. What I should have said was that first, I refer the hon. Member to the fact that it was his leader who referred to Rhodesia as being a police State. Secondly, many of the police I am referring to in Southern Rhodesia hail from South Africa. Incidentally, the colour of the police force involved is not a matter of concern at the moment, and the point I am making is that if any régime is forced to use police forces, be they from South Africa or anywhere else, to uphold a Constitution, this to my mind means it is developing rapidly towards a police State. The hon. Member may or may not agree, but that is the point I am making, and I make it in reply to his intervention. If this is not a police State, I do not know what is.
Therefore, the situation we are dealing with is a very different one from the situation which existed two years ago when U.D.I. was declared. When the "Tiger" proposals were first drawn up—and, incidentally, they were not a solution I would have accepted as a settlement for Southern Rhodesia—even then we were not dealing with the situation such as it is today, and what is important to remember is that in those "Tiger" proposals we talked in terms of entrenchment clauses. Certain people who supported the "Tiger" proposals—and most hon. Members opposite said that they supported them—said that they should be upheld because they contained entrenchment clauses which would guarantee that the régime would have to adhere to them and carry them out. We had entrenchment clauses in South Africa in 1910 guaranteeing unimpeded progress towards majority rule. We had them in 1923 in Southern Rhodesia guaranteeing that there would be no racial discrimination. Under the 1961 Constitution,we have seen what has been done to political parties and their leaders in Rhodesia. Entrenchment clauses are not worth the paper on which they are printed when one hands over to a régime which is controlled by a minority. That is the lesson which must be learned.
I should have thought that it was obvious to anyone who had anything more than a passing interest in what is taking place that the pattern of South Africa is developing gradually in Rhodesia, and it is racialist South Africa which is helping and backing Rhodesia.
Ultimately, this House will have to face the fact that many people fear that we shall not reach a decent settlement, or even what many people would call a sellout, but that we shall be faced with a "fizzle-out" of the Rhodesian situation. The fear is that we shall not be able to reach a settlement and that it will go by default.
Although sanctions have been useful, they have not had the desired effect. They will have to be tightened considerably. It is exceedingly important that, in discussing this Order, we draw the attention of the Government to the fact that sanctions must be strengthened and that we must think much more along the lines of applying sanctions in terms of communications and passports, as well as strengthening the existing economic sanctions, If that does not take place, the sanctions will continue to fail to bring down the Smith régime.
We must re-examine the commitment not to use force and that we would not risk confrontation with South Africa. I doubt if South Africa would welcome a confrontation with Great Britain, any more than we should. It would be interesting to hear if any study has been made of the implications of taking South Africa to task a little more severely about her attitude to sanctions. A commitment not to use force puts the British Government in a difficult position, and exactly the same applies to the statement about avoiding a confrontation with South Africa.
I did not talk about an initial assault. Neither did I talk about using force against South Africa. I said that I doubted very much whether South Africa was any keener on a confrontation with Britain than we should be, and it would be interesting to know what studies have been made of this before we put ourselves in the position of removing one of the very important sanctions which exist.
One of the difficulties about the policy of sanctions has been that we have been limited by the Government's desire to avoid the use of force and to avoid a confrontation with South Africa. Because of that, the effectiveness of our policy has been limited. That is why the Government should look again at both these points, as well as at the possibility of strengthening sanctions and applying them far more effectively than we have so far.
Quite understandably, and I can accept this, there is very grave apprehension by everybody about the possibilities of war or of racialism and racial war breaking out as a result of this situation. I also accept that because of mistakes made in the beginning it is a very difficult situation. But, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich has pointed out, if, by trying to avoid the use of force, the use of a military presence will lead the way for a racialist war and racial antagonisms in the future, which is my fear, one has to face the situation now, because we have no right to pass this on to our children. Somebody at some stage must face racialism and face what is hapnening in Rhodesia and in South Africa.
It is in these terms that I suggest that the British Government should look again at the whole policy of sanctions to see if it cannot be strengthened and review some of the statements that they have already made on this situation. At the moment Southern Rhodesia is controlled by a person who is hell bent on developing an apartheid society. If that happens and Britain abdicates, or is seen to abdicate, her responsibilities to the black Africans, I can see a situation developing where many of us will regret that firmer measures were not taken at the beginning to avoid a racialist war breaking out.
The House listened with great respect to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) because, apart from being right hon. and learned, he has only just resigned from the Government. Therefore, he might be supposed to have been speaking with an unusual sense of responsibility. However, it is difficult to comment on his speech without deciding in what context it was made. I had supposed—indeed, I thought the whole Government had supposed; certainly the Prime Minister and the Minister of State —that the Prime Minister now was conducting, through his chosen Minister, a genuine and determined attempt to reach an agreed settlement with the Rhodesian Government. If, which I do not suppose, that attempt is in fact bogus and no real attempt is being made to reach agreement, then the speech made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, though I would not agree with it, would do no particular harm. On the other hand, if the attempt being made is genuine, that speech, which he delivered upon the very day his ex-colleague is at Salisbury spending four hours negotiating with Mr. Smith, is irresponsible and unpatriotic. If one accepts the word of the Prime Minister that genuine negotiations are taking place, there is no conceivable doubt that it was a very wrong speech to have made on this day.
Turning to the nature of the speech, the right hon. and learned Gentleman discussed African conditions, as I am afraid many people do, in the context of Europe. He, as many of us do, regretted such things as arbitrary arrest and detention without trial. I will not run through the whole list. Incidentally, he grossly exaggerated them. I will not deny the substance of what he said, that police powers exceed those in Great Britain and a man can be arrested and detained without trial; but he forgets that those things are true of every State in Africa from The Cape to Cairo and from Liberia to Somaliland. I defy him to mention a single State in which it is not possible to arrest a man without trial. It is pointless to imagine that in Rhodesia one can get a set of circumstances which exists nowhere else on the African Continent.
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that what distinguishes South African and Rhodesia from any other country on the African continent is that it is in these two countries that people are penalised and discriminated against purely and simply because of the colour of their skin?
I do not accept that, but perhaps I might be allowed to develop my argument and I shall deal with it in due course.
The speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich could have been made almost word for word, and I would have enjoyed making it, about any one of many many nations who are members of the United Nations. There is nothing constructive about mere abuse. I concede willingly and cheerfully that the Government of Rhodesia are weak or bad. I concede that 18 other governments, and one could increase the number to almost anything and if one likes include the British Government, are bad. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not follow through his own logic. Having arrived at that rather obvious conclusion, he never sought to tell us what we were to do about it, and this is the whole point of the debate which we ought to be having tonight.
I come now to what we ought to be discussing, this Order which seeks to enable Her Majesty to impose "prohibitions and restrictions" of various kinds. I dislike prohibitions and restrictions. I think that they are already too much a part of Government philosophy. I could not help observing a not widely dissimilar phrase in the Gracious Speech, which sought a "return" to constitutional rule, which sought a going backwards, which sought to put the clock back. A "return" is almost the classical definition of reaction. This is why I prefer the phraseology of my right hon. Friend, who is looking forward instead of looking backwards.
It is almost six weeks since I was in Beira, a port which is very relevant to this debate. I remember standing there and surveying the end of the pipeline which we all know has been closed under the measures we are debating. I can remember seeing that pipeline surrounded by a two inch thick chain with a padlock on the end. It seemed to be a symbol of what I call chain and padlock politics. Whatever view people may take, let no one forget that that chain and padlock was a symbol of the deprivation of a large part of Central Africa of the oil which alone can fertilise its economy, which alone can raise the standard of living of the African. Whatever view one takes, there is no doubt that the chain and padlock mentality is bringing about a lowering of educational standards in Africa, a lowering in feeding standards there, and doing harm to the African Rhodesians. Whatever view one may take, one must surely regret an act which is inevitably harsh, even though one may think that for other reasons it is justified.
I must, for a few moments, refer to the Prime Minister who, even for him, has an unusual record of change of mind in this matter. It is only a short time since he said that on the best advice he had received the sanctions would be effective in weeks rather than months. [Interruption.] I am not surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like that quotation. Presumably that advice was given to him by civil servants. It is not within the traditions of the House to inquire which civil servant or what has happened to him. But it is significant that since then almost all the civil servants at the Rhodesia desk have been changed. It is significant when I note that it is only six weeks since the Prime Minister himself—I was in Africa at the time and it was headline news in every African newspaper—on a "Panorama" programme said that sanctions have not been successful. It is a peculiar circumstance which brings the Government—
I am sure that the hon. Member will not want to mislead the House. He should know that what the Prime Minister said was that sanctions had not yet achieved the political aim to which they were directed. He did not say that they had failed; he said that they had not as yet succeeded.
What I said I mentally put in inverted commas, when I said that the Prime Minister had said that sanctions "had not been successful". I shall come to the political point shortly.
It seems a strange thing to ask the House to renew something which, on the confession of the Prime Minister, has not been an outstanding success. Perhaps the Minister will accept that phrase.
Against that background I return to Rhodesia itself. What has been the effect of the sanctions which the Government now seek to renew? I have done my best to find out factually. First, let us look at the ground level. Let us go to Salisbury and ask any ordinary housewife of what she has been deprived. I can assure the House—and I know that this is Government information—that the effect on the average European in Rhodesia has been all but nil. This is immensely important, because the effect of the sanctions is desired to be political.
I was coming to that very point. I took first the effect of the sanctions on the ordinary housewife, and pointed out that it was nil. I said to a housewife in Salisbury who was opposed to Mr. Smith, "Tell me honestly—in your daily shopping and daily life, can you think of anything which you are not now able to get that you used to be able to get?" The reply was, "Yes, I can. I cannot get smoked salmon any more."That was the only thing that she could quote.
Now I come to the City club, if I may so describe it, which the hon. Member probably has in mind—the more sophisticated level of society, which includes economists and bankers. I have asked their view and I can tell the House what it is. I do not think that the Government will quarrel with what I say. The effect has been that to a large extent the Rhodesian economy is surviving. It has suffered, in the sense that whereas but for sanctions the Rhodesian economy would probably have advanced by as much as 15 per cent., that advance has been held back. It has been held about static.
Rhodesia has other difficulties, especially with tobacco. We know that the crop is largely unsold. What we have done by sanctions is simply to hold Rhodesia's economy at about the point—we may argue about different commodities—at which it previously was.
We should bear in mind that the average income of the Rhodesian European is much higher than the average income of the Briton or of the South African. Take other tests. The Rhodesian £ is not in danger, but the British £ is. On balance of payments, Rhodesia has a surplus, but Britain has not. Those statistics should bring hon. Gentlemen opposite away from the emotional aspect which most have so far stressed. We are trying to do something which is not successful: that is the practical point—
On this point about the ineffectualness of sanctions, there is no dispute on either side, but is the hon. Gentleman's deduction that we should make them more effective and take further measures or that we should abdicate our principles?
I need hardly tell the hon. Gentleman that that is the point at which I will arrive, but I will make my argument in my own way.
I was also in Lisbon during the Recess —[Laughter.]—and I had one hour with the Portuguese Foreign Secretary. [Laughter.] The noise which I hear emphasises my belief that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want to hear this, but I am anxious that they should; and they will, because I am entitled to say it. I had one hour with the Portuguese Foreign Secretary and I do not think he will mind my telling the House some of what he said.
He said, as he was entitled to do, that he had expressed no public view of our Rhodesian difficulties, but added, "You, the British, have for long proclaimed the great issue of freedom of the seas but have put a cruiser opposite a Portuguese port and have stopped oil using a Portuguese railway. You have cost the Portuguese about £12 million a year". [Laughter.]—hon. Gentlemen should not laugh too soon, because they will not like what is coming.
He said: "I would not resent that particularly if it were a part of any moral crusade or a significant step towards depriving Rhodesia of the oil which Britain apparently wishes to deprive her of. But now see what has happened. Lourenco Marques, which is a thriving harbour, is full of the ships of the major trading nations of the world, with British bottoms wearing British flags and ships delivering British oil"— he spoke to me as representing, if not the Government, at least Britain—"which you well know reaches Rhodesia. This is not part of a moral crusade. What you are doing is taking away Portuguese trade and pinching it yourself". That is not wholly incorrect—
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the ship to which he referred is there with the authority of the United Nations? Perhaps he will tell us what attitude he adopted during these cosy conversations with this Portuguese gentleman. Did he support the decision taken by this House and by the United Nations, or was he there to assist the illegal régime, the enemies of Her Majesty's Government, in Rhodesia?
The figures of the shipping involved are likely to be revealed to the United Nations by Portugal. If the hon. Member wants me to go further, I will say that when I was in Beira and other ports I sought to check the figures with the consular authorities and my impression was that they were accurate.
The hon. Member is making a very serious statement. If I am fortunate enough, Mr. Speaker, to have your leave and that of the House, I shall later supply the hon. Member with figures which will throw the lie in the teeth of people who say that British ships are carrying the oil to which he is referring.
I am bewildered by that statement. If the hon. Member is seeking to show that British ships are not in Lourenco Marques, I would say that the evidence of my own eyes would show that any such statement would be inaccurate and incorrect. I shall look forward with interest to hear what he says.
May I go a little wider and consider the whole effect of what is going on in Central Africa. Portugal, Portuguese Africa, South Africa and Southern Africa, the whole of Africa south of the Zambesi, used to be one of the best markets for British exports. That market is decaying. If hon. Members, for example, go to Mocamedes they will see a £250 million plant being built by Krupps of Germany. If they go to Cabinda they will see one of the greatest oil strikes in Africa, which in two years may well be sufficient to supply the whole of Southern Africa—and the capital is wholly Americansupplied. We are losing out to an extraordinary degree. I was proud to see the Benguela Railway—I do not know how many hon. Members know it—which was founded by Sir Robert Williams, who gave his name to Sir Robert Williamstown. Many years ago he went out there, as many did in those days and by their efforts built the enterprises there. If hon. Members go there they will see his memorial in iron—and in the sheds they will see railway engines and machine tools still bearing the label "Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester, Leeds". I saw them there.
The Portuguese Minister also told me that Portugal is now reacting, as most of Southern Africa is reacting, in such a way that British exports will suffer to a degree which I find it hard to accept. These are wounds which are self-inflicted, and that is the practical point which it behoves the House to consider, whatever the theoretical aspects may be.
I turn, as the hon. Member asked me to do, to the political effects within Rhodesia itself. Rhodesia has a right-wing Government. Let us concede that at the beginning. I will go further and say that it has moved further to the right in the last 12 months. I fully bear out what was said by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor). Indeed I thought that much of her speech was quite correct, and I accept a lot of it. It is certainly true that there is a strong movement to the right in Rhodesia. I regret it as much as she does. The difference between us lies perhaps in our explanations of how it arose. When hon. Members opposite talk as if all Rhodesians were Fascists, will they bear in mind that it is not many years since Southern Rhodesia elected as its Prime Minister Mr. Garfield Todd? I do not think that hon. Members opposite regard him as other than holding views acceptable to them. Therefore, that concedes that there was at any rate a time when Rhodesians genuinely were seeking the multi-racial State many of us argued for and that there was a Rhodesia which was almost acceptable to Great Britain.
What has happened? The break-up of the Federation has complicated the issue. There have been successively Garfield Todd, Welensky, Winston Field and now Ian Smith. At every stage the country has moved further and further to the right. I concede that. It has moved further and further to the right in exact relation as the pressure from Whitehall has increased. The greater the degree of pressure from Whitehall the further to the right Rhodesia has moved. It may yet go even to the right of Mr. Smith.
This is the whole point of the argument, and I say to hon. Members opposite who feel about this deeply, as I do, that it is not so much a question of which Government we seek but that they themselves are driving Rhodesia into the arms of South Africa. Indeed, some of the horrors which, with some exaggeration, the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich sought to describe, are in my view largely the fault of British policy. This is not a strange thing. One does not need to be skilled in history or politics to see it. Looking back over the last century at almost any country so placed, one finds that external pressures will always solidify the régime one wants to overthrow. That is a lesson for us all.
Hon. Members opposite who hold some of the views which have been expressed, typically, by the hon. Lady and, to some extent, by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, have not grasped what has taken place. They still seem to think that Britain either does control or can control Africa. This is not so. We are withdrawing or have withdrawn from African soil every British base and every British soldier. We are on that continent now in a position of all but powerlessness. Can anyone really imagine that, in these circumstances, having no military forces available, faced with sanctions which have all but failed, Whitehall can still dictate events in Salisbury?
I leave the Minister of State to deal with that one. My mind now is on the negotiations. Just as Rhodesia has moved to the right, so something else has happened in the last two years of which hon. Members should take account. I remember saying a long time ago—and I have no pleasure in having been proved right—that time would not be on our side.
When the Prime Minister faced Mr. Smith in the admiral's day cabin of H.M.S. "Tiger", he had something with which to bargain. He was able to say to Mr. Smith, "Either you agree or else you have mandatory sanctions imposed by the United Nations cast upon you." That had a powerful influence on Mr. Smith. Our Prime Minister had then a bargaining weapon which carried force. Now he has shot his gun. There is no ammunition left in it. So has our bargaining position throughout the last three years been progressively weakened.
I wish the Commonwealth Secretary the best of luck in his negotiations, but I would not want to be him because he has nothing to negotiate with. Aneurin Bevan referred to going naked into the council chamber. That is the position into which the policy of the last two or three years has been rapidly forcing us, and I say particularly to the Minister of State, who has some responsibility here, that that position is making the task of the office he represents much more difficult.
Much has been said about censorship on television in Rhodesia. I went on Rhodesian television—it is even possible that the hon. Gentleman saw something of what I then said. I urged Mr. Ian Smith and all Rhodesians to do their uttermost to meet the points put forward by Her Majesty's Government. I told them on Rhodesian television that I thought their policy was unwise and that history would show them that. And let me add, in the light of what has been said about censorship, that what I said was broadcast without difficulty and that something similar was printed in the Rhodesian Herald. I must add that if a Rhodesian Member of Parliament or any other Rhodesian of authority were to seek to put the Rhodesian point of view on British television I do not think that he would succeed.
It is all too easy for the pot to call the kettle black. That is why in Rhodesia every bit of influence I had was used to try to make them see the folly of their ways and to concede to Britain as I hope that Britain will concede to them, because I am quite certain that if we do not reach agreement in the next few days—and I am not optimistic —there can be nothing but unhappiness for all concerned.
I wish that the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) had spoken consistently with the wisdom which he evidently believes he offered to the population of Rhodesia during his television interview there. As it is, his speech will be notable in retrospect for its inconsistencies and contradictions.
I am convinced that in historical perspective the greatest issue facing the Government today is the issue of Rhodesia. I know that there is a great deal of feeling in the House about other affairs at home and abroad—a great deal of passion is released over the vital international conflict in Vietnam—but the point that every hon. Member should remember and recognise is that the injustices and conflicts in Rhodesia are our direct responsibility.
Every time we hear more evidence of the police State, every time we hear of Europeans or of Africans being imprisoned without proper trial, every time we hear of the interference with free education as we understand it in Britain at the secondary or the university level, every time we hear of the censorship of the Press, it is the responsibility of Members of this House.
The Government's first responsibility is to stop presenting the issue as a sophisticated game of diplomatic chess between the Rhodesian Administration and the British Government, and to spell out to the British people what the Smith régime means in injustice, and exactly what we are responsible for.
If we can learn one lesson from history it is the inevitability, in any situation such as that in Rhodesia, that once a majority of the population in any country demands, albeit through articulate minority leadership, a full part in the political life of the community, it is only a matter of time before it achieves that right; and that, almost without exception, where resistance to change has been most obstinate, the form of change when it has finally come has been most violent. All of us who really care that the citizens of Rhodesia who happen to be European should have a certain stake in the future of that country must face up to the inevitability of our responsibility at this juncture to bring the Smith régime to task.
Looking at this in perspective, we have also to recognise that we are dealing not only with the internal political problems of Rhodesia, because Rhodesia represents the nerve centre of the whole racial conflict in the international community. If, when the chips are down, it is seen that we have failed the majority of that country simply because of their racial origins, the world community will have taken one more and, perhaps, a fatal step towards the final breach of confidence between the races which could lead us to an era in international affairs which would make any recent crisis seem fairly insignificant by comparison.
If I indict the Opposition for one thing, it is for their recently emphasised stupidity and naïvety in supposing that a just settlement is now possible on the basis of the six principles alone. Recent legislation in Rhodesia such as the Property Owners Residential Protection Bill or the Municipal Amendment Bill should have dispelled that belief for all time. None of us can have any confidence that any agreement made with the present régime could ensure majority rule at some future date. The only basis for a just and lasting settlement in Nibmar, and Nibmar itself could become a delaying tactic unless we are prepared to face our responsibility here for some form of direct rule on the road to majority rule.
A year ago Britain, which had always insisted that this was essentially a British problem, sought international backing through the United Nations for achieving what she had been unable to achieve alone. We would never be forgiven in history if it became evident that our real motivation for bringing in the international community to back us in our endeavour was that we had become convinced of our own impotence and were determined to share the blame for failure with the international community. That would be cynicism in its most extreme form.
To make the international action effective, we have to recognise our own key part in making the policies resulting from that international action effective. I believe that there are certain immediate steps which we can take. First, we must be prepared to police sanctions effectively. Sanctions without proper means of enforcement are an empty and fairly irrelevant gesture. That means that we must be prepared to extend the blockade, if necessary, to Lourenço Marques. We must be prepared to take any other—
I do not think that the hon. Member knows the maritime difficulties of Lourenço Marques and Beira. It is possible to police Beira because any ship seeking to use Beira has to come out into the open sea. It is impossible to police Lourenço Marques because a ship can creep out within territorial waters. Therefore, what the hon. Member suggests is impossible.
I was suggesting that together with the international community as a whole, we must be prepared to take naval action, if necessary to extend the blockade to all ports via which it is at present being evaded. We must also be prepared to take any other necessary action to block transport routes to and from Rhodesia. We must also look to the situation in our own country. The Government have repeatedly told us that they will not hesitate to prosecute those found contravening the sanctions regulations, but there is abundant evidence of all sorts of means by which British business men are evading the legislation. This leads us to the conclusion that if necessary, the law must be strengthened and amended to prevent such evasions.
We must also seriously consider the possibility of breaking postal and telegraphic communications and we must also look, because we have to bring the point home emphatically, at the possibility of confiscating passports issued by the illegal régime. If we play our part in strengthening international action in this way, we shall not only be convincing the international community that we mean business, thereby seeing more decisive action by the other powers involved, but we shall also be encouraging the liberal opposition to the Smith régime which exists amongst all races within Rhodesia itself—an opposition which feels impotent unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the outside world, led by us, means business.
Also if we are trying to strengthen an international sense of responsibility, we should be investigating means by which the supervision of sanctions could be internationalised, with effective international means of investigation to follow up any breach of sanctions as they stand.
My last point is this. During the recent debates on the Gracious Speech we heard quite a few references to the disillusionment of the British public with politics in Britain. I should like to remind the House of a very powerful, moving in some ways, broadcast made to the nation on 11th November, 1965, by the Prime Minister. In that broadcast he said:
At this anxious time I hope that no one in Rhodesia will feel that Britain has forgotten them or that we are prepared to yield up the trusteeship which is ours—trusteeship for the welfare of all the peoples of Rhodesia. Whatever the cost to us, we shall honour that
trusteeship, until we can bring the people of Rhodesia, under God, once again, back to their true allegiance, back to the rule of law, and forward to their true destiny in the family of nations.
Quite apart from the issues at stake in Rhodesia itself, if we are ever seen in history to have failed the majority of that country, political integrity in Britain will have suffered a blow which it will be impossible to repair.
The majority of the views which have been expressed from the back benches opposite are based sincerely on the view that the African majority in Rhodesia is strongly opposed to the present de facto Government of Rhodesia—so opposed that it is prepared to take all action, including force, to overthrow the Government. I hope that during my speech I shall be able to illustrate from personal knowledge extending over 10 years, and knowledge supported by others of my hon. Friends who have been to Rhodesia, that that is not a fact and that many Africans acquiesce in the Smith Government, and I shall be quoting HANSARD soon to prove this point.
I hope, however, that the Minister of State will realise that all the speeches that we have heard so far from his back benches seem to be deliberately designed to sabotage the efforts of his right hon. Friend in Salisbury today.
What alternative are we offered to a settlement? Many hon. Members opposite do not want a settlement. What alternative do they offer us? They offer us force, war. They have said so in the House tonight. They realise that it would not be war with Rhodesia but war with 4 million whites in Southern Africa and many million blacks who would support them. They realise very well that the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and France have made it quite clear that not only are they not going to be involved in a war but they are not going to be involved in a trade war. Hon. Members opposite know that they are asking for something that they are not going to get, and that perhaps explains the violence of their speeches.
I want to address myself to the Act. Under this Act we can do almost anything. We can alter the constitution of Rhodesia. We can make instruments. We can impose prohibitions. Incidentally, when my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) asked a little time back whether the Act would have remained in force if the interim Government proposed a year ago aboard H.M.S. "Tiger" had come into effect, he received the answer "Yes". Perhaps that is one explanation why the interim Government was not accepted by Mr. Smith's Government.
Broadly speaking, there are three schools of thought in regard to the Act and the Order which continues it for another year. The first school, to which I belong, holds that sanctions are immoral. I say that because sanctions affect the weaker and poorer sections of the community. I have been to Rhodesia fairly frequently. I came back only a few weeks ago, even after my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King). Many people told me of charities which had had their funds blocked by the British Government. There are many African farm schemes whose funds have been blocked and various other charities which are not allowed to send their money to Rhodesia, even though, in some cases, those charities exist purely to help the African people.
Moreover, the Africans are the people who are suffering from sanctions. I know what the average African view is. I took as broad a cross-section of African opinion as I could. [HON. MEMBERS: Oh."] Yes, I know more Africans personally than any hon. Member opposite who has spoken, with the possible exception of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and I have known them for many years. What the Africans, including African Members of Parliament, said to me was, "We want a settlement. We want it because there is growing unemployment among our people. It is not affecting the whites nearly so much; it is affecting our people. We want a settlement because the 8,000 secondary school leavers each year will not have jobs to go to, and they will create trouble. We want a settlement for all these reasons, and also because we believe that a continuation of the dispute will push our Government more and more towards a South African type of racial discrimination and racial legislation", and they cited one or two instances such as have been referred to in the House tonight.
I do not believe that they represent the vast majority of Africans. No one accepts that they do. They were never elected by the Africans. The hon. Gentleman calls the chiefs stooges, paid stooges of the Government. Presumably he even calls stooges the Africans who were elected by Africans to represent them in Parliament. Yet these are the people who represent their people far more than those who are detained in Rhodesia today.
If the hon. Gentleman knew anything about Rhodesia, he would know that these people are detained because they broke the law by creating violence and intimidation. This is one of the chief reasons why the African people today acquiesce in Mr. Smith's Government, because they have stopped this intimidation. Three years ago, I found it very difficult to visit the African townships because there was, virtually, a civil war between Z.A.N.U. and Z.A.P.U. Nowadays, one can walk in the African townships perfectly safely and happily, because, whatever else they have done, the Smith Government have restored law and order in the urban African townships.
All the interruptions are taking me away from the theme of my speech. I have said that there are three schools of thought about the Order. The first believes that it is wrong for the reasons I have given. I believe that it is wrong for another reason—I think that I have the support of many of my hon. Friends here—because it is based on wrong psychology. The people who are ruling Rhodesia today, rightly or wrongly—the minority, if one cares to put it like that—are of British or Afrikaner stock, two nationalities who will react immediately against threats and against pressure. All that the Orders have succeeded in doing so far is even further to unite the people —black and white behind their government.
The second school of thought believes that sanctions under the Order will condition the Rhodesian Government towards a compromise. I think that quite a number of my hon. Friends believe this and that that is why they supported sanctions at the beginning. I hope that this is true, and I believe that it is. I believe that the Rhodesian Government and the Rhodesian leaders want an agreement, but they are not prepared to give up their independence to get it.
The third school of thought consists of those who believed two years ago—and to judge from the speeches tonight they still believe it—that sanctions will cause so much unemployment that it will lead to unrest in the African areas, that rebellion will be provoked, assisted by the freedom fighters so beloved by the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot), that there will be civil war and that Mr. Smith will be brought down in bloodshed. That is what I believe some hon. Members opposite thought would happen two years ago. I think they now know that they are crying for the moon and that it will not happen. But judging by tonight's speeches some still want it to happen.
I am glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has returned, because I want to tell him that I was in Rhodesia when he made his broadcast after resigning from the Government. Nothing that has happened here in the past two years aroused more fury in Rhodesia than his broadcast equating the guerrilla fighters with the French Maquis in their fight against the Nazi Germans. It aroused fury not only among Europeans but among Africans. It did more than anything else to make impossible a settlement, which I want, though I do not think that he wants one. Perhaps that is why he said it.
The guerrilla fighters have been condemned by responsible African leaders. In the Rhodesian Parliament, on 30th August, Mr. Behane said:
It is very well known to this House, and indeed to the country at large that I have always stood firmly against terrorism and that I always do … I believe that what is being done by our Forces in that part of the country
is worth all the praise that this House can give … Apart from the security of the whole country these dedicated men"—
that is not the freedom fighters but the Rhodesian security forces—
are fighting to preserve peace among the people living in western Matabeleland,…
The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) keeps suggesting that somehow or other he has special interests in and knowledge of Southern Rhodesia that give him the right to say that the Africans there are behind Mr. Smith. I probably know Southern Rhodesia rather better than he does. How can he possibly sustain that argument when he goes out to Southern Rhodesia on conducted tours run by Mr. Smith's Government and only meets Africans whom Mr. Smith wants him to meet? I have met many more Africans who are totally opposed to Mr. Smith's Government. These are the men—
If he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the hon. Gentleman may be able to make his long and inaccurate speech. In the short time he has spoken so far he has made a number of inaccurate statements. I was not on a conducted tour. I paid my own fare to Rhodesia and back. I did not see a single African nominated by the Government for me to see; I saw people I know and have known for many years—businessmen and other African leaders.
Mr. Rubatika said on 30th August:
We expect Britain, since it says it has responsibility over us up to date, to act as the
Prime Minister stated, by exercising his influence on. Zambia to stop terrorism and at least to register a protest on behalf of the African people whom it is stating it is championing. We do not want any loss of blood.
That is, I believe, the true view of the African people, whose view is not that expressed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite.
I went to have as close a look as possible at those operations. I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will at least know they were started by a band of 80 men who had been trained in Algeria; they were well trained, equipped and led. When they crossed the frontier a communiqué was issued in Lusaka by Mr. J. R. D. Chikerema of Z.A.P.U. and Mr. O. R. Tambo of the African National Congress. I have a copy of it in my hands. This communiqué starts off:
Furious fighing has been and is taking place in various parts of Southern Rhodesia.
It goes on:
Both the Rhodesian and the South African regimes have admitted that South African Freedom Fighters belonging to the African National Congress have been involved in these courageous battles, fighting their way to strike at the Boers themselves in South Africa.
That was the official communiqué issued by the leaders of those parties, and it said this was a military operation designed to strike at the South Africans in northern Transvaal.
This seems to me the whole justification of South Africans wanting to take their share in this operation, to see that those "freedom fighters" do not come within their own frontier. I may say that the Rhodesian security forces have been successful in so doing, because all except six of those 80 have been picked up and put in the bag. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman will know, they had to retire to the Wankie Game Reserve to get away from the villages because every African who saw them immediately reported them to the security forces. All but six have been accounted for, and some have surrendered to the Botswana police and have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment for bearing arms in their country. These terrorist incursions have been condemned by African leaders in Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Malawi. But all of these people, of course, are stooges in the eyes of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
Sanctions have been affecting Rhodesia. I quite agree that they have. In industry they have pretty well stopped the car assembly trade. So when I went to the agricultural show in Bulawayo the only cars I saw there on show were Japanese cars. There were plenty of them. Unfortunately, they proved cheaper than and almost as good as British cars, and our car trade may lose this market by the time this dispute has been settled.
The Rhodesians have had to start up indigenous industries and now manufacture many goods that they used to import from us. Owing to the exchange control there is now a good deal of liquid money which has caused a boom in house building and wages are somewhat higher than they are in South Africa, and that is one of the reasons so few Europeans move to South Africa.
On agriculture, sanctions have had some effect. The farmers have not sold all their tobacco crop, and what they have sold has not gone at maximum prices, but it is not the growers who are taking the knock but the Government, because the Government have paid them a fixed price which gives them just a margin of profit. So the growers themselves have not had too bad a knock so far as the Government have had to absorb the difference.
Of course, what has happened is that the tobacco growers have diversified. I can tell the House of the experience of a friend of mine who had a tobacco farm somewhere near Norton. He told me that instead of being 100 per cent. in tobacco he was now 50 per cent. in beef. His financial reward is a little less, but there is not all that difference. If the present talks fail, he will go 100 per cent. beef. He told me that it would probably mean a little less profit, but his labour force would be cut from 60 to six. One can see who will be affected by the sanctions. They will affect the Africans, much less the Europeans. I accept what the Minister of State has said so often. Sanctions are having some effect, I agree. From his point of view, they are having a slight plus effect, taking into account purely industry and agriculture. But has he considered the other effects of sanctions on the morale of the people?
I am sorry to have to say so, but I found a great difference when I visited Rhodesia in September of this year, compared with my visit in June of last year. A lot of the business community who opposed the Rhodesia Front and U.D.I. are now beginning to favour the Smith Government. The man in the street, particularly the artisan and younger man, is convinced that Rhodesia has won the battle of sanctions and has beaten Britain. They are wrong, of course, but the people think that. As a result, the whole country has swung to the right, and the psychology of sanctions has created the completely opposite impression to that which Her Majesty's Government wanted. The people believe that they have won and that sanctions cannot beat the Smith Government. They can make life unpleasant, and, above all, they can damage permanently British relations with the whole of Southern Africa, which is an area that is of vital importance to Britain today.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite made a great fuss yesterday about the economic situation of this country. They know—and, if they do not, the Government do—that South Africa today is Britain's second best customer and is in a position to put a great deal of pressure on Mr. Smith and on our own Prime Minister. Since the closing of the Suez Canal, over a thousand British ships have been bunkered in South African ports. If that came to an end, the unemployment which already we are likely to face this winter could be doubled.
I agree it is two-way, and even if the hon. Gentleman himself became Prime Minister tomorrow I do not believe that he could reverse the facts of life. Britain and South Africa are linked together by trade, whether hon. Gentlemen opposite like it or not and this link would take years to break.
We on this side of the House, and certainly the Government Front Bench, devoutly want a settlement. As one who knows most of the politicians of all parties in Rhodesia pretty well, I believe that, though the man in the street there thinks that they have won the battle, the leaders in Rhodesia almost unanimously want a settlement. They realise that this is the last chance, but they are determined on a settlement on what they as well as we would regard as honourable terms.
Time is getting short. Once the Rhodesia Constitutional Commission has reported, not even Mr. Smith will be able to reverse Rhodesia's progress in the direction charted by the Commission. Hon. Gentlemen must not think that the Constitutional Commission will result in an anti-African constitution. After all, it is composed of three white men and two black men—
No. I believe that the Rhodesians are considerably stronger than they were last year, and I was frightened that they might have put up their price for a settlement. Having been there my fear is at rest as I believe that they genuinely want a settlement, and I very much hope that the British Government do, too.
I believe that a settlement can be reached on the lines outlined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood). First, let us agree, broadly speaking, on the "Tiger" Constitution. Then let us send out a Royal Commission. I think that it will result in a large majority of "Yeses", and that the Rhodesians will accept the "Tiger" Constitution as the only one on which they can come to agreement with Britain. After that, a formula for a return to legality becomes an easy exercise, a general election is held, and the independence of Rhodesia is recognised by the world.
What is the alternative to settlement on the lines that I have suggested, a settlement that I believe Her Majesty's Government want? The alternative is not Utopia. It is not the future that hon. Gentlemen opposite want when races will walk hand in hand and everything in the garden will be lovely. We would all like that, but as practical politicians we know that it is not possible.
The alternative to a "Tiger" settlement, which is the only possible settlement open to us at the moment, is a continuation of sanctions for another three years, gradually being eroded, with British trade being lost, with pressure building up in the United Nations, and with more and more pressure from the left wing on the other side of the house for the use of force and more and more backing from the extreme nations of the United Nations. This is the alternative to a settlement based on the "Tiger" Constitution—
Mr. Deputy Speaker, if the hon. Gentleman will contain himself, I will tell him why I believe that the "Tiger" Constitution is the only one which has a chance of being accepted by the British and Rhodesian Governments as a reasonable compromise, and I support that constitution.
I do not, and did not and will not support the Prime Minister's formula for a return to legality. It was rejected by the Rhodesian Government, and voted against by hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, because it had too many loop holes. It meant Rhodesia and Rhodesians trusting our Prime Minister—[Interruption.]—They were not prepared to do it, and I do not believe they are prepared to trust any British politicians.
The alternative to "Tiger" is a continuation of this quarrel for another three years, gradually eroding sanctions. The only possible thing that the Government can do to strengthen sanctions—and this was referred to by one hon. Gentleman opposite—is to blockade Lourenço Marques. The South Africans have already told the Government what would happen if we did that. Another suggestion is to increase the number of goods on the prohibited list. The present prohibited list has not been all that effective. I do not know that putting other goods on that list will make it any more effective.
Lastly, it was suggested that we should cut off all communications. I wonder what the people of this country would feel if they could not write to or telephone their relations in Rhodesia. Of course all they would do would be to have a poste-restante address in South Africa and have their mail forwarded, which would result in a delay of two days. But I believe that a wave of anger against right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite taken together with all the other disputes that there are at the moment would, I believe, sweep them from office.
I believe that commonsense demands a settlement. I know that both black and white in Southern Africa—not only in Rhodesia—want a settlement. At the last poll 72 per cent. of the British people said that they wanted a settlement. I believe that this is the Government's last chance, and I hope to heaven that they will take it.
I have no authority to close any debate. The Chair decides that.
This subject of Rhodesia is an emotional one. It is for me. I much appreciated the quiet tone in which the right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) responded to what I said earlier, though I thought that he did far less than justice to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
The debate has taken a course on which I am bound to say a few words. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) is absolutely right when he reminds us that what is at stake is the well-being of the people of Rhodesia, regardless of their colour. I cannot sit here without thinking of the people who are not able to speak for themselves but whose hope and faith is in this House.
My right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary has not gone to Rhodesia to sell our principles down the river. Be it known that at the Tory Party conference at Brighton the Leader of the Opposition insisted that we should stick at least to five of the principles which have been enunciated. The speeches from the other side of the House tonight were representative of the Rhodesian Front.
This House cannot, with honour, shuffle out of its responsibilities for ensuring human rights in Rhodesia.
If the House wants an answer to what has been said, I must be given a chance to give it.
What I want everyone to realise at once is that we are not going to shuffle out of our responsibilities for ensuring that there will be unimpeded progress towards majority rule in Rhodesia. The hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) had the impertinence to suggest that the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich was not patriotic. The hon. Gentleman is no authority on patriotism. His speech about this country's policy with regard to sanctions has been the best contribution that has been made recently to raising the morale of Mr. Smith's followers. His speech recently attacking sanctions was welcomed in Rhodesia as a morale raiser for those who are seeking to persuade the Rhodesians there that they have won and that—
The question is whether the hon. Gentleman is not making some very foolish observations. I was in Rhodesia and I can assure him that nothing did more damage to the cause which I think he has at heart than not what I said but what the Prime Minister said—that sanctions had not been successful.
Let me try once again to make it quite clear that those who suggest that the Prime Minister said that sanctions have failed, as though we ought to call this exercise off, are misleading and distorting the truth. What the Prime Minister said was that, although we clearly have not yet had the political result which we desire, we must go on and we will go on until we get that political result—
I want to make it quite clear—I hope that the Minister will put this letter on the Table—that I never said that I did not like him. I do like him, very much. I said that I thought that his speeches recently as a Minister of the Crown while I was in Rhodesia were not conducive to a settlement, which is what his Government are supposed to be seeking.
I was referring to views, that when the hon. Gentleman thinks of my views on Rhodesia he is unable to sleep at night.
It is an affront to our conscience, and to anyone with a Christian conscience and to every decent instinct, that 4 million Africans in Rhodesia should be denied the right to share in the Government of their land and should have their civic rights dependent upon the colour of their skin. This is not a party point. Neither the hon. Member for Haltemprice nor the hon. Member for Dorset, South are speaking for the Conservative Party. Let me quote from the Leader of the Opposition speaking in the House. The first quotation may be familiar. In November 1965, he said:
We recognise that it is an illegal Government and that the Government of this country can have no dealings with it. We do not in any way condone its actions and neither must the Governor."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 539.]
Answering the question which the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) asked about the fact that there are other illegal Governments which we recognize—answering it in anticipation, as it were—the Leader of the Opposition said:
It may seem strange to some outside that whereas there are illegal or unconstitutional Governments in other parts of the world which we recognise, perhaps overnight—although very often we disapprove of them—in this particular case we take the view that it is an illegal Government and cannot be recognised or condoned and that there cannot be dealings with it. It is important that the House should recognise the source from which this arises. It is the relationship to the Crown and the responsibility which we have to all the peoples in Rhodesia."—[OFFICIAI, REPORT, 12th November, 1965; Vol. 720, c. 539.]
I do not believe that the Conservative Party in the country or the right hon. Member for Bridlington, or the Leader of the Opposition, would want to go back on our obligations to the Africans as well as to the White people in Rhodesia.
I understand the argument which the hon. Member has just read out and I referred to it in my speech. But would he deal with the point which I made, which is that even if that were accepted as valid up to now, how can it be reconciled with the Government's attitude in Aden where there is a rebellion against the British Crown and where we have responsibilities to all the people?
These lawyers will bring in issues splitting hairs. In Rhodesia this House carries a responsibility for ensuring that the civic rights of people shall not depend on the colour of their skins. Those who have spoken for Mr. Smith tonight, who say that sanctions have failed and who ask us to take sanctions off, are taking their stand on a racialism which is unworthy of the House.
Let us look at sanctions for a moment. I do not believe for a moment that anyone has a right to say, "Sanctions are not working. Take them off". The Prime Minister has never said that. There is abundant evidence, some of it provided at first hand by Mr. Smith and his colleagues, that sanctions are having a considerable effect on the Rhodesian economy. Only the other day, in the context of my right hon. Friend's proposed visit to Salisbury, Mr. Smith is reported to have made it clear that the first prize for Rhodesia still remains an acceptable settlement, since this would mean the end of sanctions which are, to use his words, "hampering the Rhodesian economy". "Hampering" is a strange word to use to describe a situation in which the country's resources are largely being tied up in unsaleable stockpiles of tobacco and other commodities.
It would be very difficult for Mr. Smith to use any other word than "hampering" because, if he did, he would be making nonsense of the claims of some of his spokesmen for the régime in recent days.
My right hon. Friend is in a difficult position in Salisbury. It has been made more difficult by the speeches opposite that have been directed to stiffening Mr. Smith. My right hon. Friend has been rightly praised by the right hon. Member for Bridlington as a man of integrity. We have a right to expect—and I believe that this is usually borne out—that people on both sides of the House, serving in public life, should have integrity. My right hon. Friend provides it in abundance.
My right hon. Friend has gone to Salisbury as a man of honour, carrying in his custody the honour of this country. He carries in his custody the five principles that the Leader of the Opposition told him should not be abandoned and, on the basis of this, he will discuss with Mr. Smith the future and its prospects. The House will realise how careful I have to be not to make anything worse, but I do not want the country to be misled by statements made by hon. Members opposite tonight, who have spoken as though a settlement was easy to reach, as though all we have to do is to be reasonable. What we have to do, apparently, is to throw over our moral scruples.
It has been my privilege to serve in this House a long time, and I value and cherish the right to be a Member of it. I value it as one of the greatest things in my life. This House has heard the voices of Gladstone and many others—[Laughter.]—they are not laughing stocks to me—who have stood up here for human rights and liberties down through the ages and, in doing so, have spoken for the British people. If this House were to go back on the moral principle that a man's rights must not depend upon the colour of his skin, I would be ashamed to belong to it.
I am going to. [Laughter.] Just for the sake of the record, let me say I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Roebuck) was not speaking to me.
I have every faith, and the Government have every faith, that an honourable settlement is possible, and we want an honourable settlement. Everyone wants it. But it must be one in which honour is something real and in which the rights of man belong to black as well as white.
I want my intervention to be brief—[Interruption.] I do not know whether it is the Rhodesian section of Rentacrowd that has arrived in the Public Gallery, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or whether it is still the Greek lot, but it was my aim to be brief, though it is sometimes difficult when one is constantly interrupted. [Interruption.] I have no objection to developing my speech at greater length, but, out of deference to the House, I did not want to take too much time.
The Minister of State chose to intervene rather early in our proceedings, and he accused my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) of some discourtesy. I have never looked for discourtesy from the Minister of State, but he told us that he wanted to speak then in order to answer the points made in the debate. Other hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to contribute to the debate—[An HON. MEMBER: "How do you know?"] I know from the fact that an hon. Member opposite protested when the Minister rose because he feared that the debate was being brought to an end. Does the Minister mean that the points that may now be raised by his hon. Friends and mine will not be worthy of answer, or does he intend to seek to intervene again?
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) was perfectly right in saying that everyone should speak in this debate with responsibility, and I want to do that. We are all in a difficulty. The House is in a difficulty, and the Government are in a particular difficulty because, for constitutional reasons, this debate has had to take place tonight.
My views on Rhodesia are well known. My views have not changed from the beginning of the trouble, since U.D.I. and even before it, but I do not wish even to suggest that the House should divide—although considering some of the things that hon. Members opposite have said and some of the epithets that have been hurled from that side across the Chamber, one would have thought that it was a debate in which a Division was almost bound to take place. I have no wish to stir up controversy, but I want to contribute to this debate as other right hon. and hon. Members have done.
I have been against sanctions from the start. I know that this has been a minority view in the House, but I am not sure that it has been a minority view in the country. I do not mind whether we accept the verdict of the hon. Gentleman that the sanctions, which it is the purpose of the Order to continue, have not been successful, or whether we take my verdict, which is that they have been a failure. I do not mind which description we use, but my belief is that they have so far been a ruinous futility. If we want evidence of that we can get it from people who are certainly not on my side in the controversy.
If I were to put down a Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs he might—or he might not—reveal to the House exactly what are the views of some African States in the Commonwealth on sanctions—and of other African States also—because there is today a new mood in Africa. There is a desire to try to face some of the harsh facts of life there, and to work for better relationships between African States, whether they be white governed or black governed. There is a new mood, and that is why I so very much hope that a settlement can be achieved.
No, I am not arguing that there is a change of attitude to South African policy or necessarily even Rhodesian policy. There is, however, an increasing desire among African States, with the possible exception of three of them, to have peaceful coexistence in Africa and to have businesslike relations and trade, irrespective of the nature of the régime or the ideology of the Government. That is a new situation in Africa and that is why, perhaps, the Minister of State was quite right when he concluded on a somewhat more hopeful note than the note upon which he began.
At this moment, with Suez stopped, British ships are queueing outside South African ports. Let us remember that, as often as not, those British ships are victualled with good Rhodesian beef. Let us view with the greatest reserve what the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich said about South Africa, because the burden of his message to us was that we must now carry forward the quarrel between Her Majesty's Government and Rhodesia into a crusade in Southern Africa. That was the message which he gave to the House tonight. It was the right hon. and learned Gentleman who said that everyone should speak responsibly. I am sure that he spoke sincerely, but whether he spoke responsibly will be a matter of opinion.
Of course, the right hon. and learned Member and other hon. Members who have spoken from the Government benches are right. The sanctions must be either ended or extended. That is the logic of the situation. They are not succeeding in their object. It will not weaken the Minister's bargaining hand in Salisbury if he or any other hon. Member of this House says that the sanctions have not succeeded, and will not succeed without being extended. The whole of Southern Africa knows that. We know it. Even the Commonwealth Office knows it. There is, therefore, no harm in saying it. It happens to be the truth.
From his point of view, the hon. and learned Gentleman is perfectly right to say that he is on the side of those forces which have been invading Rhodesia. As my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice said, they were invading Rhodesia with their objective in South Africa. It has nothing to do with U.D.I., as right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench have sometimes suggested. Those terrorists, freedom fighters, heroes or guerrillas, call them what one will, were invading Rhodesia and their objective was South Africa.
My hon. Friend was right when he said that those invaders have no support whatever among the African population, and that is why they have no success in Rhodesia. If the situation in Rhodesia was as it is presented from the benches opposite, those well-armed and well-indoctrinated guerrilla troops would have been able by now to have established in Rhodesia a situation resembling that of Vietnam or Malaya in the days of the emergency, but they cannot get a hold there because the African people are against them. That is the truth of the matter.
We have heard the Nibmar incantation again tonight. When one considers the result of Nibmar north of the Zambesi and what it has done in Africa, and when one considers Nibmar in the light of the chaos and carnage which is the Government's legacy in Aden for all the people there, for whom they are responsible, Nibmar becomes nothing but a hideous hypocrisy.
The hon. and learned Member for Ipswich gave us quite a catalogue of the atrocities which are committed upon the Rhodesian people by the Rhodesian Government, but most of what he said had nothing to do with the Order. It had nothing to do with what has happened since U.D.I. He was speaking of things which happened long before U.D.I.
Yes, but there is a difference between the situation before and after. This is what should be considered when easy allegations about a police State are made. I do not know exactly how to define a police State. Every State in Africa is a police State. But when these allegations are made, let those who make them reflect on one simple fact, that there are far fewer Africans detained or kept in restriction in Rhodesia now than there were under Sir Edgar Whitehead in the constitutional days before U.D.I. That is a fact.
Some hon. Members opposite are not really interested in an orderly progress. They say "Nibmar, Nibmar". That will reduce Rhodesia to the state of affairs to which other African territories further north have been subjected. Nibmar is a miserable irrelevance, and it is a terrible pity that Her Majesty's Government, under the pressure from their back benches, have to get themselves into that very difficult impasse.
I agree so much with what has been said, I think on both sides of the House; it is not going to be easy to get a settlement and the time is running out. I am as disturbed as hon. Members opposite by some of the legislation now proposed in Rhodesia, but, to the credit of Mr. Smith, it may be said that he conducted with moderation and statesmanship the Rhodesian Front Congress. Every extremist motion, every Republican motion, at that congress was rejected. Some tribute might be paid to the statesmanlike manner in which that conference was conducted. Incidentally, it finished with the British national anthem, which is more than can be said for the party conference of hon. Members opposite.
This proposed legislation only indicates first that the effect of sanctions has been to encourage extremism, and secondly that time is short for the honourable settlement which the Minister of State rightly says we all want to see.
The tragedy of this Rhodesian situation is that we have not only lost our trade—and it is not much use being scornful about that with the present balance of payments situation in this country—but, worse than that, we are losing our influence. It is the ideological influence of South Africa, and not of Great Britain, that is progressively becoming more dominant in Rhodesia for every day that these sanctions are continued and a settlement is not reached.
No, I am about to sit down. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will catch the eye of the Chair then.
The last word I want to utter is one of good wishes for all that may now be done in Salisbury, on both sides, to reach that honourable settlement which the Minister of State has told us is the aim of Her Majesty's Government.
I wish to make a brief point, and it is this. For a long time it has been the contention of many hon. Members opposite that whatever the defects of Mr. Smith's régime or of Mr. Smith himself—and I am glad that hon. Members now admit that they have some defects—it is at least the effective Government, the de facto Government, of Rhodesia, that it is the authority. This is an argument which can no longer be sustained and it is very important for the policy of Her Majesty's Government that this should be recognised.
Mr. Smith has called into Rhodesia, which is British territory, foreign troops and foreign police to uphold his authority. This being so, it can no longer be argued that he is the governing force in Rhodesia. He has surrendered his powers, such as they were, to a foreign Government.
Troops from a foreign State have been operating on British territory. I am dismayed that a more forthright stand against this has not been taken by the British Government. There was forthright condemnation when it was alleged that troops or forces—call them what one will—had crossed from Zambia into Rhodesia. This was denounced sharply by the Government and by others. But there has been no such forthright denunciation of the known and proclaimed fact that South African forces were operating in Rhodesia and that they had been called in by Mr. Smith.
A new and dangerous situation has been created, and we must take full cognisance of it. A long time ago, the Prime Minister said that the Government could not contemplate the use of force to settle the Rhodesia problem unless—this was an explicit exception—there was a breakdown of law and order in Rhodesia itself. What other proof of breakdown of law and order need be offered when a régime calls in foreign troops and police to put down military action on its own territory?
This is an extremely serious situation which, to my mind, alters the complexion of affairs in Rhodesia. At the very minimum, it calls for an immense intensification of all the pressures which we bring to bear on the Rhodesian Government. Moreover, it calls for a further reference of the matter to the Security Council. We have already called in aid the authority of the Security Council to take certain action in regard to the enforcement of sanctions. One of the important aspects of this dispute is that we have, as it were, committed the credit of the United Nations to the settlement of the dispute. If we now default, we shall not only for ever blemish our own record in Africa but we shall bring into serious discredit the authority and the machinery of the United Nations.
Now that foreign troops from another State have been operating on British territory, either we must take direct action ourselves in these circumstances, or, as an alternative or in addition, we must bring into play the international machinery for dealing with such a situation, which is the Security Council. The very minimum now required is an intensification of the sanctions against Rhodesia, and we should at the same time consider what action we may be forced into taking in regard to South Africa herself.
I hope that the conversations which took place recently in Pretoria will have induced a more intelligent attitude on the part of the South African Government, but, if not, they should be clearly warned by Her Majesty's Government of the perils of the course on which they have embarked in invading British territory with their troops.
The fundamental question is whether this House exercises its lawful, uncontested and proper authority for the welfare and well being of all the people of Rhodesia. If we abdicate from that responsibility we shall have committed an unforgivable error and shall be condemned not only by Africa and the world but by our successors.
I apologise for arriving late and missing the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) and the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot). I shall accordingly make my remarks as brief as possible.
I do not think that the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) has added much to the argument. Like a number of his hon. Friends, he wants to intensify sanctions, but fails to explain how, after two years' experience of sanctions, this can be done. The burden of our case is that it is impracticable and cannot be done.
I am sorry that the Minister of State has left the Chamber—
I entirely accept that. What I have to say is a general remark, and perhaps the Minister will forgive me if I continue with it despite his having been called away.
At the end of his speech he said in an unqualified fashion that he wished success to the negotiations. All of us on this side of the House heartily echo that. But before that passage in his speech he seemed to me to cast aspersions on the views and even the integrity of a number of my hon. Friends who spoke in the debate. I should have thought that every hon. Member present tonight, whatever his or her views, would accept that this question is extraordinarily complex. The Minister would certainly accept that. A number of us on this side of the House have done our best over the years, entirely in good faith, to understand it. If we have come to different conclusions from hon. Members opposite that is quite understandable. I should have thought that our speeches on this important matter might have been accorded the importance which they well merited tonight by the Minister.
We have a similar debate regularly at the beginning of each Session. It is symptomatic of the confusion created and fostered by the Government in so many aspects of foreign policy. We are asked at the beginning of each Session to renew these Orders, and it is explained that they are necessary. But whatever the precise terms may have been the Minister admitted, what the Prime Minister seemed to us to have admitted already, that the policy for which they are necessary has failed. We on this side of the House repeat each time not only that we consider that the policy has failed but that from the word "go" it was bound to fail. Then we all proceed to approve the Orders!
Looking back on this phase of British political history, our grandchildren will reckon that we were crazy. They will ask themselves how it was that, with the world in its present unstable condition and our country in its present position, we succeeded in making bitter enemies of the Rhodesians, while at the same time a British Foreign Secretary was more or less prostrating himself in front of a perfidious Egyptian dictator who had spent years trying to murder our men and damage our interests. Our descendants will ask how such a position could have come about. We may have strong, sincere and differing views on both sides of the House, but that is how the situation will appear looked at 50 years from now.
I beseech hon. Gentlemen opposite—I mean this with entire sincerity—to try to rid themselves of what, perhaps, on this side we would call their prejudices and what they would call their principles and to try to consider—I speak as a Rhodesian—the part which Rhodesia can play in a developing independent Africa. Looked at this way I believe that it could develop into a great entrepôt of trade; a sort of fulcrum between the north, predominantly black, and the south, predominantly under white control. I believe the lesson of the world is that as trade increases so understanding grows as well. Aid will increasingly tend to reach the north through Rhodesia, or could, if she were left alone, and settled in a state of independence. I genuinely believe that this aspect is worth while at least considering.
I very much echo what my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) said, because this is not something I have dreamed up, or the view of those who share my opinions on Rhodesia. This is really the view increasingly of independent Commonwealth African countries. It is my belief that at the recent meeting of the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee a number—five—of the African countries, in varying degree, suggested, on their own initiative, that the whole of this policy of sanctions had failed and that the time had, therefore, come to start talks to get some sense into the position.
Do I understand from the hon. Gentleman's speech, and from the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), that the sentiment on the other side of the House is that because we have been unsuccessful in putting down injustice we ought to concur in that injustice by dropping sanctions entirely for the sake of a little trade?
No. That is not what I said. I would not accept for a moment the hon. Member's proposition that the Government have engaged in putting down injustice. I do not think the hon. Member understands Rhodesia or very much about Central or Southern Africa. What I am saying is that, increasingly now, independent African countries are coming to the conclusion that this is the best way, to make an arrangement—a deal, if hon. Members like—a reasonable deal—
A sell out? I am not talking of my own view at the moment. I am talking of the views of African independent Commonwealth Territories. Surely this is something which at least ought to be borne in mind? I may be wrong, but it is my belief this is the position.
Furthermore, it is my belief that the proposition came originally not from Commonwealth countries south of the Zambesi or the Limpopo but from the north.
I am absolutely persuaded that my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell is quite right, and that this is the view taken by an increasing number—and I would say certainly five—of the independent African countries as to what should be done now. This if I am right, was the position before the secretary of State went out there, and I certainly hope it will—
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, for the sake of the record. Also, I apologise for being out of the Chamber for a short while. I attended, and that Committee unanimously set up a working party to consider ways and means of making sanctions more effective
Yes. I know this, but I would suggest—he Minister of State will correct me if I am wrong—that the movement in that particular direction did not come from African countries but, perhaps, from Canada, perhaps from India. At the end it may well have been unanimous, but that in no way detracts from the proposition which I am advancing. I may be wrong, and the hon. Gentleman can contradict me, but he has not seen fit to do so.
There are only two African Commonwealth Territories which are wildly on the other side, both of them contiguous. I refer to Tanzania and Zambia. No one would seek to represent their views or those of the Governments who control them in any other way. But they are the two which are principally influenced by Peking and Moscow. No one who has been there would seek to deny that. They are the two who have recruited, trained, misled, housed and furthered the launching of terrorists across the Zambesi. I do not think that one can consider them unbiased. So there are five reasonable States against two subverted ones, and which of the two groups are really our friends?
It is difficult to return to a sense of reality at this stage, after all that has been
said. A great deal has been said, and a great deal of it has been most intemperate. I notice that one of this morning's newspapers describes the Prime Minister as having
fastened himself inside a straitjacket securely fastened with sanctions, principles and solemn declarations and called on almost the entire world to witness that he does not extricate himself…
I fear that that is about what he has done, and it will not be easy for the Government, with the best will in the world, to negotiate in the frame of mind which I should have hoped that they could. But I am among those who wish the Secretary of State the best of good fortune, and I hope that he can achieve something.
If it comes, agreement will involve a heavy swallowing of pride, perhaps on both sides. I beg hon. Members opposite to ask themselves which is the most important—the implementation of a series of what I consider to be unapplicable principles and the imposition of what appears to be democracy, falsely founded and full of the seeds of its own collapse; or the evolution of a way of life and a harmony between the races based upon compromise, experience, trial and error over the years, in stability, and with a good hope of peace. That is the difference between the views of those who call themselves "progressive" in this country and those of us who know something about Africa.
I pray sincerely that the negotiations succeed. I have been connected with the country practically since I was born. If they fail, a new situation will have been created, and I say to my right hon. and hon. Friends as much as to hon. Gentlemen opposite that, if they fail and this policy is continued, Her Majesty's Government will be seen deliberately to pursue a policy which is not only harmful to this country but which is devoid of objective and of hope. I hope that those circumstances will not obtain. But, if we should reach that pass, this would be unacceptable, and I, for one, would have had enough.
Neither I nor any of my hon. Friends on this bench intended to intervene in this debate. It is a subject on which we hoped that the whole House would be unanimous.
I can recall the time when it seemed to be so. Before I came to the House, during the General Election campaign of March, 1966, I well recall that my opponent, Mr. William Shepherd, the former Member for my constituency, disagreed with me about almost everything. But on one matter we were in total accord, and that was Rhodesia.
It is greatly to be regretted that in some curious way the House is drifting apart in various different directions.
I do not wish to quarrel with the speeches made from this side of the House which are genuinely groping for some kind of solution, accepting the need for uninterrupted progress towards majority rule, but perhaps looking for other ways of getting it. That is a constructive kind of approach which I can accept; but I feel very disturbed when I hear the kind of speeches which are intended to obscure the issue, blur the edges, and generally lead people to believe that we are no longer bent upon the same course.
I believe that the Minister of State was right to remind us of the work which was done in securing freedoms in this country many years ago. It may seem an irrelevance, but it seems to me that people outside this House need to be reminded from time to time that the rights and privileges which we enjoy in this country did not just fall from the sky. They were not always here. They had to be worked and fought for against fierce and bitter opposition from the kind of interests and the kind of attitudes which are sometimes unhappily expressed from some parts of this side of the House and occasionally, I regret to say, from some parts of the other side. We must remember that they are the same kind of freedoms that we are considering. When there was first talk about spreading the vote in this country to people other than property owners, it was said that it was opeing the flood gates of said that it was opening the flood gates of revolution.
I am rapidly coming to it, but there is an important analogy in relation to this Order which the House should be considering. At that time people said that these kind of freedoms, which we are working for in Rhodesia, would, if given in this country at that early time, open the flood gates of revolution. It may be that some hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House think that that has happened when they look opposite. Nevertheless, these are the kind of things which we have worked for, and we ought to recognise that if we value these things in this country we must also value them to the same extent in any other country, in any other part of the world. I believe that any attacks on freedom, wherever they occur throughout the whole world, are in the end attacks on freedom here. It is that kind of moral issue which we are discussing.
I believe that the stories now coming from Rhodesia are similar to the kind of stories which I member hearing coming from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. We paid a terrible price for not listening to those stories in the 1930s, and I believe that we would pay the same price all over again if we failed to listen to them here on the issue of Rhodesia.
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) spoke about the verdict of our descendants: what would they think about us having quarrelled with our kith and kin in Rhodesia? Surely they are much more likely to judge us by our own ability to get on not with those with whom we are ethnologically connected, but how we have managed to get on with different people in different places and what kind of relationship we have achieved with them.
I think that this is the last time on which this House should be casting any doubt about our intentions. Certainly I see nothing wrong with hon. Gentlemen ventilating other possibilities and suggesting other ways of getting the same thing: saying that sanctions might not be the right way and it may be that we will have to have another approach. It is true to say—and I hope that I will not be misunderstood—that I do not take as inflexible and rigid a view as some of my hon. Friends on this bench or some hon. Members opposite. I would be prepared to see certain changes in our approach, but I would be prepared to accept them only if a I felt that I had in some way got unequivocal and acceptable guarantees of unimpeded progress towards majority rule. We do not have to be totally rigid. Some hon. Members have put forward points of view which I respect, but I do not think that we can tolerate any blurring of the edges in this matter or any kind of expressions of opinion which would suggest, at a critical time in Rhodesia, that we are weakening in our intent.
In view of what has been said, I felt it right to assure the Government that, whilst we often have difficulty in finding things to support in their policies, and we look in vain for things to support in their economic policies, and, indeed, we sometimes find it difficult to support their foreign policy, in this matter they have our unqualified support.
The hour is late, and I shall not detain the House for long, but I have listened to all the speeches, and I want to try to bring the House back to what I regard as the central issue in this matter, namely, whether Mr. Smith's regime did, or did not, seize power illegally, and whether they are, or are not, rebels. I do not think that this issue has been seriously argued by hon. Gentlemen opposite tonight.
My second major point concerns the responsibility which those who are privileged to belong to this House have for all the black Africans. I do not think that any consideration or short-term economic benefits which might ensue from the dropping of sanctions can be allowed to deter us from our duty in that regard.
Some of the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite have been quite disgraceful, and I refer in particular to the speech of the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King), who is out of the Chamber at the moment. The hon. Gentleman is known to us on this side of the House. I understand that he once sat with us, but wandered away afterwards. I think that the way in he walked off then is as nothing compared with the tours which he has been making among certain Portuguese people and during which, apparently, he has been decrying the efforts which the Government have been making to bring the rebels to book. I thought that this was a disgraceful episode.
When this trouble arose I was not one of those who felt that we should tackle it by military force. I felt that it was wrong to do so, for two reasons. First, because I did not think that we could sustain the operation logistically, and, secondly, because I feared that any spark struck on the African continent might light a fire that we would not be able to put out and it would cause great harm to the world. My view at that time was that we ought to have sanctions, and very effective ones indeed. We have had the sanctions, and it is unfortunate that they have not been as effective as one might have hoped. Part of the blame for this resides with not all, but a tiny group of hon. Gentlemen opposite who have constantly given aid and encouragement to the rebels in Rhodesia.
I should like the Government not only to continue the sanctions which we have put into effect, but to take more effective action in the international community to see that other countries also observe the rules. I refer particularly to Japan. I understand that the Japanese are importing large quantities of chrome from Rhodesia. I should also like the Government to make strong representations to the President of France. I understand that recently there has been some trade with France in low-grade tobacco.
The burden of the argument of one hon. Gentleman opposite was that we should abandon our policy of sanctions because it was affecting our trade and affecting us financially. Some time ago, during a debate in this House, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred to the attitudes of the Lancashire cotton workers in support of the oppressed people in the United States when they were struggling against white supremacy. My right hon. Friend told us how they suffered, but they did not weaken in their resolve to fight for what they thought was right and honourable. They were prepared to suffer financially. As a child I remember being shown a statue of Abraham Lincoln erected by the cotton workers of Lancashire. That impressed me that there were other things in life worth fighting for than simple affluence. It is unfortunate that, in this discussion, as in others, hon. Gentlemen opposite have failed to recognise that lesson.