I beg to move,
That the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 (Continuation) Order 1973, a draft of which was laid before this House on 18th October, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.
The purpose of the order is to continue in force for a further year Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965, which gives Her Majesty in Council power to take whatever measures are necessary to deal with the situation in Southern Rhodesia brought about by the unilateral declaration of independence. Among the Orders in Council made under the section are, of course, those containing the various sanctions measures.
It is disappointing that, after so many years, it remains necessary to make a continuation order yet again. But I am convinced that, in the circumstances, it is right and necessary, and I shall explain briefly why I think that is so.
When the report of the Pearce Commission was published last year, I told the House that we ought to provide time for the people of Rhodesia to reflect on their future. I said that I hoped that there would be consultations between the races in an effort to reach agreement among themselves. While it is, naturally, frustrating to us here in Britain that progress in this direction has been so slow, nevertheless some progress has been made. The situation now is noticeably different from what it was a year ago, and this is certainly not the moment to give up hope.
It is important to keep clearly in mind what our objectives are and what is the goal we wish to reach. I doubt whether anyone would dispute my description of the goal which we wish to reach—the creation of the conditions in which an act of legislation would bring Rhodesia into a legal relationship with Britain again and once more into the community of nations. To that end we must be able to give Rhodesia independence in a form which will be broadly acceptable to the people of Rhodesia, black and white. A settlement which does not command that support will not last. I believe that this is increasingly being accepted inside Rhodesia, by Rhodesians, African and European.
For this reason, we have concluded that the best, and indeed the only practical, course at this stage is for Rhodesians themselves to try to work out their own solutions to their own problems. I do not, after all these years, underestimate the difficulty of the task which confronts them. This is a country in which there have not been political contacts between black and white on any substantial scale. Perhaps we should not be surprised. After all, we have a parallel in Northern Ireland on our own doorstep. But I believe that they are now making a real effort to tackle this problem. We remain ready to help as and when we can, but meanwhile the important point is that we should do nothing here in Britain which might make yet more difficult the task of creating a constitution by Rhodesians for Rhodesians.
I have seen it suggested in Rhodesia that Britain is no longer interested in achieving a settlement. I do not know why it should be thought that it could be to Britain's advantage to continue one day longer than is necessary the present unsatisfactory state of affairs. At any rate I should like to dismiss any such idea lest it linger on and gain currency. We are as determined as we ever were, in spite of the difficulties, to see a satisfactory settlement in Rhodesia achieved. Measures which get us only half way there will not do. But the British Government remain committed to achieving a settlement in Rhodesia in accordance with the five principles to which we have always adhered
Therefore, how do we help the Rhodesians to get a settlement? One question is how far the 1971 proposals should stay in the picture. That will be for discussion and decision between the those who are talking in Rhodesia. All I need to say is that they contained very valuable advances on the present Rhodesian constitution—for example, a justiciable Declaration of Right, a commission to investigate and recommend on the elimination of racial discrimination, improvements in the franchise system related to membership of the Parliament, and progress towards a common roll and towards majority rule. These advantages should not be lost. It must be for Rhodesians, European and African alike, to see what they wish to keep and how they want to add to those elements in those proposals which were to their advantage.
While these processes of discussion go forward in Rhodesia, our task in Britain at this stage is to hold the ring so that there is the least possible disturbance to them from outside—whether from Britain, the United Nations or other African countries and organisations. It is in this context that the discontinuance or maintenance of sanctions has to be decided. Their impact is indecisive in political terms, but there can be no doubt that if they were lifted there would be so strong an emotional reaction inside and outside Rhodesia that thoughts about a settlement in that country would come to an abrupt end.
I have often been asked by the Opposition whether sanctions can be made to bite any harder. Certainly there is room for improvement in the performance of a number of other countries. Some of the major trading nations have recently shown an interest in improving their domestic controls. It has been suggested—I think by the right hon. Member for Cardiff South-East (Mr. Callaghan)—that we should raise the subject of sanctions breaking in the EEC Council of Ministers. I have considered this, but breaches of sanctions are invariably action taken by individual companies in individual countries. Every member of the community has legislation under which sanctions are imposed. When we receive an indication that a breach of sanctions may have occured, as well as informing the committee of the United Nations which is set up to deal with these matters, we bring it to the notice of the Government of the country concerned. That is the only authority which can have influence on the firm which may be breaking sanctions. That is the right way to handle these matters, directly with the Governments who are responsible for the application in their own countries.
I said earlier that the situation in Rhodesia had changed—
Before my right hon. Friend leaves that point, may I put something to him? I have supported these sanctions orders, rightly or wrongly, on every occasion when they have come before the House. What I question now is the toughness with which the British Government are dealing with questions of sanctions in the Council of Ministers. I do not believe that this subject has been inscribed on the agenda for the Council of Ministers meeting. It was not on the agenda of the last meeting. What I would like to have from the Government before I can agree to support them again is an assurance that they will place it on the agenda for the next meeting of the Council of Ministers and will be really tough about it. If these other countries do not take action against their own sanction breakers, in Germany, France, Italy and so on, I want the Government to say that they will place their own sanctions upon them in the EEC.
I must say that is an interesting suggestion coming from my hon. Friend. I hope that on some other matters he will support the unity of the Community and other unified action. If my hon. Friend is interested in getting the sanctions to apply, it is the Governments of each country which have to do this, if they have the necessary powers over their industry.
The Foreign Secretary has, naturally, spoken of commerce and trading sanctions and the loopholes in them. Would he not agree that perhaps the most important sanction and the least publicised is the denial to Rhodesia of the international money markets, and that we ought not to pass this renewal order tonight without stressing the important effect of that?
I think it is the one sanction that is biting. It certainly is the most important sanction in relation to Rhodesia, if one supports the sanctions policy.
I said earlier that the situation in Rhodesia had changed substantially over the past year. I also explained my conviction that the best, if not the only, hope for a peaceful future for Rhodesia lies in consultation and ultimately in agreement between Rhodesians themselves. A year ago there was almost no consultation in Southern Rhodesia. Now a great deal is going on. I must not exaggerate this but some is going on. Mr. Smith told his party conference in September that he was in touch with African leaders.
He and Bishop Muzorewa, the President of the African National Council, have held discussions together. They are, quite rightly, for the time being keeping the details to themselves. But if agreement is to come it is essential that those two must work the change. I understand that consultations between the authorities and the ANC are to continue. The national executive of the ANC unanimously endorsed the holding of such consultations at a meeting on 13th October, something which would have been inconceivable a year ago. In Rhodesian terms the fact that such consultations are being held at all is a considerable step in the right direction.
Consultations are also going ahead at other levels. The African National Council and the new Rhodesia Party have been meeting and have published 12 agreed principles for a multi-racial society. The recently elected leader of the Rhodesian Party, Mr. Savory, called on me in London last month and told me that his party hopes to continue the discussions and to reach further agreements with the ANC.
That again is new. Although we must never under-estimate the difficulties which lie ahead, and I would be the last person to do that, we should certainly not give up just as it seems that progress may be becoming possible. If we decided now not to continue the sanctions, we should be signalling to Rhodesians that we had indeed abandoned hope. We should be turning our backs on those who are striving for agreement between the races, an agreement which would give a chance for a peaceful and prosperous future for Rhodesia and all its people, and an agreement which would open the way to the very settlement which all of us have all along sought.
At this time the right thing to do is to pass this order again, disappointed as we may be. We should be ensuring, if we did not pass it, that the moderates would give up hope and that those who would be left to make the running would be the extremists on both sides, with all that that would entail in terms of increasing confrontation and violence in Rhodesia, which is bad enough now.
It is for these reasons that I ask the House to approve the order.
I want to say how much we on the Labour benches agree with the last part of what the right hon. Gentleman has said. Broadly speaking his approach is absolutely correct. It is that at this stage, given the developments that seem to be taking place within Rhodesia, it would be foolhardy in the extreme to alter the pressures that seem to have produced that movement. Doing the best I can with the views of hon. and right hon. Members on the Conservative benches who have opposed sanctions for many years, I must say that it seems illogical to say that sanctions will not work and will produce no political effect in Rhodesia at the very moment when there is evidence that some political effect is being produced there. It is the height of illogicality and irrationality now to say that we shall remove the sanctions which are the very pressures that are producing movement.
On behalf of the Opposition, I wish to associate myself with a great deal of what the Foreign Secretary said. The only point of real dispute between the two of us arises from what he said in answer to his hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). I would not go as far as the hon. Gentleman in imposing sanctions against the E.E.C. if it did not fall in with our policy of sanctions in respect of Rhodesia. I am not absolutely certain how far the hon. Gentleman was serious in putting that proposition forward. There is a strong feeling on this side of the House, which I share, that our Common Market partners are not playing the game with the Rhodesian policy.
There is evidence that some European countries, if not acquiescing in the policy of sanction breaking by some firms are, perhaps, not being so vigorous in pursuing sanction breakers as we—as members of the Community and of the United Nations, and subject therefore to the resolutions of that body—are entitled to expect. I have some sympathy with what the hon. Member for Banbury said when he urged his right hon. Friend to raise this as specific item on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Ministers in Brussels. I cannot see what harm it would do, and it might produce some benefit.
We have this debate annually on the renewal of the sanctions order. We have renewed it for eight or nine years. Predictably, whichever party has the responsibility for asking the House for renewal indulges in a certain amount of stocktaking on the question whether sanctions are, to use the current phrase, biting on Rhodesia—I am not quite sure what that term means in that context—whether sanctions are having an economic or political effect on the Rhodesian situation. During the last three years there has usually been a plea from the right hon. Gentleman for his hon. and right hon. Friends on the back benches to trust him for yet another year to see whether he can produce the settlement in the next 12 months, although he has not been able to produce one in the past 36 months.
Our view about the sanctions policy is somewhat tougher and less pusillanimous than that of the right hon. Gentleman. I am bound to say to him that we should now move away from this idea of renewing the sanctions order annually. [Interruption.] I do not expect hon. Gentlemen opposite to agree with me, but at least they might do me the courtesy of listening.
Is it clear that both sides of the House are in broad agreement that the policy of sanctions in Rhodesia should continue until there is a political settlement in Rhodesia which is acceptable to the Rhodesian people, both black and white, and also to the House of Commons? If that is right, and if that is the principle which unites us all—and I believe that it does—why do we have to go through this farce, every November, of the right hon. Gentleman getting up and saying, "It has had some effect during the last 12 months, let us give it another 12 months to see what happens"?
We all know that if, at the end of November 1974, we are still in the same position as we are this evening, exactly the same policy will be put forward by whichever party occupies the Government Front Bench, and exactly the same policy will be supported by whichever party is in opposition. Would not it be more realistic, honest, sensible and effective, not to go through this spasm—which has an international effect, because each year the Rhodesia Front sits in Salisbury and says, "Well now, is there really going to be a major political row in the House of Commons this year so as to overturn the sanctions policy of the British Government?" This can only create a greater degree of uncertainty as to what our policy is, and as to what British intentions in Rhodesia actually are.
I therefore make a plea to the Government that between now and next time we have to go through this charade—
If I can just finish my abuse I shall be happy to give way to the hon. Gentleman. Before we go through this charade again next November, perhaps the Government should think about introducing legislation—if this is needed, and I think it probably is under the 1965 Act—so that we can enact a policy of sanctions towards Rhodesia once and for all and that policy can be pursued until the objectives that hon. Members on both sides of the House are agreed upon are brought to fruition.
I wonder whether the hon. and learned Gentleman would accept that one of the reasons why the opinion of the House of Commons is not fully understood outside is that this debate is always held at a late hour on a Thursday night, when most hon. Members have gone home, and that it is deliberately done, so that the real opinion of the House of Commons seldom emerges.
The hon. Gentleman has been in the House for a long time, and has sat on the Government and the Oppo- sition benches. From all the experience that he has garnered during his years in the House he surely does not think that Members of Parliament are so weak and cowardly as that. It is, after all, only 7.33 p.m. It is a Thursday evening, but I have no doubt that all the hon. Gentlemen present tonight, consistent in their views over the years, and firm in their conviction—or lack of it—will at the end of the day, whenever it comes, show a demonstration from the Government benches of the strength of opinion that they feel against the policy that has been so ably put forward this evening by their Front Bench.
If there is to be a rebellion, let us not excuse the smallness of the vote and the paucity of the number of the rebels by saying that it has been put on too late, and that our rebels are so firm and grave that if only it had been put on on a Wednesday evening, at 5.30 p.m., we would have had another 30 rebels, but because it was put on at 7.30 p.m. on a Thursday we can muster only 25 or 30. With great respect, I do not think the argument stands up to much examination.
This evening, together with other hon. Members, I shall look forward with great interest to see exactly how many hon. Members on the Government side follow the hon. Gentleman and his friends into the Lobby this evening against a policy of renewing sanctions. I do not think that there will be many on this side of the House. With as much sincerity as I can muster at this late hour on a Thursday evening, I merely state that if the Government find themselves in need of support in the Lobby this evening in order to do down the massive rebellion that is apparently likely to take place from the benches below the Gangway—all 25 paper warriors who sit there this evening—they can rely upon the support of myself and my hon. and right hon. Friends. We shall be happy, contented—indeed, enthusiastic—to vote in favour of a policy renewing sanctions for another 12 months.
I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will bear in mind that one form of opposition to the proposal before the House among some hon. Members on the Government benches will be abstention, whereas the absence of hon. Members opposite from the Lobby will just be plain absence.
Abstention is the last refuge of the weak. On an occasion when the Whips are not imposed on one side of the House it would be wrong of the hon. and learned Member to claim that all those who did not vote tonight abstained on his side of the argument rather than on the other side of the argument. Inertia is frequently a much more potent parliamentary weapon than is the conviction of not wishing to vote for the Government on Rhodesia sanctions.
I turn to two practical arguments which may appeal to some of the practical gentlemen sitting below the Gangway. There is now no economic case which would benefit Great Britain by lifting sanctions. There is no economic case which stands examination for the removal of sanctions against Rhodesia. I am talking not of the economic effect that sanctions have in Rhodesia but of the economic effect on Great Britain's trading and investment position in the world, and in Africa in particular, if sanctions were to be raised other than as part of a general agreement acceptable to the majority of Africans in Rhodesia. If we were to lift sanctions we should be taking an economic risk which would be unjustifiable and might prove extremely damaging.
If one looks at United Kingdom direct investment in sub-Saharan Africa—and we should not confine our sights wholly to Rhodesia—one gets this pattern: there is about £98 million worth of British investment in Rhodesia and there is £141 million worth in Nigeria, excluding the oil investment. Oil from Nigeria now accounts for about 10 per cent. of British imports of that commodity. In view of the oil situation in the Middle East, it is not unpertinent to consider what the effects on our oil position might be if we were to pursue a policy in relation to Rhodesia which proved unacceptable to the majority of Africans in the rest of Africa.
In other Commonwealth countries in Africa, British investment amounts to £201 million. British investment in other African countries amounts to £101 million. There is £647 million worth of British investment in South Africa, £98 million worth in Rhodesia and £450 million worth in the rest of black Africa.
The economic background of sanctions was recently examined in a very perceptive article in The World Today, of September this year, by Mr. Michael Williams and Mr. Michael Parsonage. Their conclusion was expressed as follows:
It must be emphasised that Rhodesia is only one of a number of under-developed countries in the area and, with few exceptions, British companies would be willing to lose their interests there to safeguard the lusher pastures to the north. For it is in black Africa that the future must lie. Reserves of labour and resources have hardly been touched, and the larger population concentrations provide ample opportunity for local market expansion on the basis of the surplus from the mineral and agricultural sectors. In addition, the strategic importance of many of Africa's commodities and the likelihood of large new mineral deposits make it essential to maintain British interests in the area. The growing Nigerian oil industry, which now provides 10 per cent. of the United Kingdom's consumption (together with the possibility of large reserves elsewhere) adds a sense of urgency to this conclusion. This argument now seems to be widely accepted by British industry, at least for the long run.
…there is no economic case for the removal of sanctions in advance of a settlement that is acceptable to African opinion. At first sight the maintenance of sanctions appears to be an unattractive option, but to lift them would produce few gains. British companies would regain contact with their subsidiaries, but this is unlikely to affect overall profitability, and the trade links lost to the sanctions-breakers will be hard to re-establish.
Their final words were:
The political wisdom and moral propriety of the argument against sanctions has always been in doubt. In the present article we have tried to strengthen the new realisation that there is also no economic case for their removal. Indeed, it is being argued in some circles that sanctions should be reimposed indefinitely. This would go a long way towards establishing Britain's commitment to black Africa and to avoiding the embarrassing international consequences of the annual policy debate. Pressures for a settlement can now only come from within Rhodesia, and there is some evidence to suggest that continuing economic and psychological isolation will bring a political change. In the long run, Rhodesia will be recognised for the small country that she is.
The House is probably very impressed by the figures that the hon. and learned Gentleman has given of hundreds of millions of pounds, no doubt representing the book value of British investments in those countries. The hon. and learned Gentleman has read a most impressive passage, but what is his personal view about the true market value of those investments? Whether there are sanctions or not, does he not think that there is a serious possibility of their being confiscated in large quantities, anyway?
Of course there is a possibility that individual nations will pursue policies which are inimical to British economic or political interests. But that is so anywhere else, and, in any event, Rhodesia is doing precisely that.
What is interesting about Rhodesia's economic history over the past eight years is that she has transferred her markets away from the United Kingdom and elsewhere. All the evidence now is that if sanctions were lifted the people who would benefit would be the sanction breakers. They are the people who have cashed in, evading United Nations resolutions over the last eight years, and who would benefit from the removal of economic sanctions. I cannot see the morality, the propriety or the common sense of that.
I accept that there are dangers in investment in under-developed parts of the world. That danger exists everywhere. We are talking not about the possibility of investment in the future but about the £457 million of investment which has already taken place in black Africa. Is it worth risking £457 million in order to safeguard a doubtful £98 million? That seems to be an argument of practicality which should appeal to some hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. In the last five or six years we have heard a great deal of nonsense about the effect of economic sanctions on this country, but there are some hard figures which show that the economic case is not made out.
Indeed, all the economic arguments go in the opposite direction. The main economic arguments go in favour of maintaining sanctions—I am talking about the United Kingdom, and not economic arguments for Rhodesia and, if possible, intensifying sanctions, even if it needs to be done by deliberately moving British investment away from what was in Rhodesia and what might be in Rhodesia in the future and putting it into what the article calls "the lusher pastures" of the rest of Africa.
I see that the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) is about to rise. I am sure that other hon. Members will rise, too. Before they do, let me say that I accept that there are arguments contrary to mine. If the hon. and gallant Member is going to say that there are arguments on the other side which may carry conviction, I accept that. None the less the balance of the economic advantage to the United Kingdom is now overwhelmingly in favour of retaining sanctions rather than removing them. I defy any hon. Gentleman—and I put it as high as that—who is in favour of removing sanctions now by denying the Government the order to disprove that argument.
What is it in the hon. and learned Gentleman's ideology that makes him prepared to trade only with black or white Africa? Is that not a policy of despair? Is not the true path of statesmanship to attempt to trade with both?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says "Ah!" in his profound way; if only he would listen for a minute through his lowing. I am not inclined to trade with Rhodesia. It is a country which has deliberately torn up constitutional arangements entered into with the United Kingdom Government and has turned its back on constitutional development in favour of unconstitutional development. My second asnwer when the hon. and gallant Gentleman accuses me of wishing to trade only with black Africa is that I have said nothing about British investment in South Africa. The only figure I gave was the figure of £647 million for current investment.
If one takes British investment in South Africa into the argument, one can still claim an overwhelming preponderance of economic advantage from concentrating our economic priorities in areas where we have the greater economic interest.
No, all hon. Gentlemen opposite are familiar faces in these debates and I have no doubt that they have an opportunity to make speeches of depth, significance and interest. If they will forgive me, I shall not give way again, because I fear that I have been on my feet too long already.
The second limb of the economic argument is to question the economic effect of sanctions on Rhodesia. It is interesting to look at what is being said in Rhodesian journals. The Financial Mail which deals with the position of Rhodesian industries, states that
Hampered by the foreign exchange shortage Rhodesian industry ended the first half of 1973 on a sour note.
There is a table showing that the industries in Rhodesia are doing worse this year than last. That is not something I rejoice in, but it is idle for hon. Gentlemen opposite, especially those below the Gangway, to argue that sanctions should not be maintained, on the basis that they are not having any effect in Rhodesia, when one can see from the figures that Rhodesian industries are not as prosperous as they were.
One specific industry shows that it is because of the imposition of sanctions that extreme economic pressure has been produced in that industry. An article headed:
Not Cottoned On" states that
It's happened again. Rhodesians keep finding that economic oportunities are just beyond their reach because they cannot get foreign currency to import machinery. This time it's the cotton industry. For the want of R$30m. the cost of increasing Rhodesia's present spinning and weaving capacity to five times its present level, the country is missing out on the cotton boom.
One could go through the list of industries in Rhodesia—the metal industry and the metal manufacturing industries—and see that the effect of sanctions over a long period of time is having not a political but an economic effect. I wish hon. Members would face that. They may have good political arguments about sanctions, but to argue that they are not having an economic
effect in Rhodesia is absolute and utter nonsense. They ought to accept that fact.
What is the political effect that we are trying to achieve? It is a settlement which is acceptable to all races in Rhodesia and is capable of being accepted by this House within the principles that both sides of the House have emphasised and re-emphasised. Is there any possibility of this happening at the moment? In the last 12 months there have been signs that were not present before.
To a certain extent, I share the Foreign Secretary's optimism about what is beginning to happen in Rhodesia. The Rhodesian Party and the African National Council's 12 principles agreement is a remarkable document, not only because it is an agreement between black and white groupings but because the African Council has clearly abandoned any immediate claim to majority rule. I do not think that many hon. Gentlemen can have read the 12 principles. They mention "A joint co-operative effort in development"; "Law and order with justice'"; "Constitutional protection against racialism and racial domination"; "'Total' power to be excluded"; "A constitutional council and a council of State for protecting essential constitutional rights'"; "Multi-party parliamentary elections"; "A non-racial common roll' qualified franchise"; "'Natural' expansion of the electorate in line with the country's economic growth"; "Protection of minority race groups in a non-racial' parliament"; "Preservation of the free enterprise' system"—which will appeal to a few hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite; "Elimination of racial discrimination in public life"; "Freedom of cultural association".
It is significant that when the negotiations took place between the Rhodesia Party and the Africa National Council, one of the Rhodesia Party's negotiators, Dr. Charles Morris, said that he
found himself 'absolutely shattered by the complete reasonableness' of the ANC".
The developments that are beginning to take place in Rhodesia may prove to be of great significance.
Let me give two other examples. I do not know how significant they are, or whether they are large straws in the wind. Mr. Harper—a gentleman not
exactly noted in Rhodesia for his progressive views—has recently said:
There is no sense in being blind to the fact that Africans…
…are…today a political factor.
Lord Graham, who will be known to many hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, has urged that
a completely new constitution be drawn up in consultation with all African opinion.
On the face of that evidence it cannot be sensibly argued that economic sanctions are not worth keeping on for the United Kingdom, when they are clearly proving an economic pressure on Rhodesia. The result of that economic pressure and Rhodesia's international isolation seems to be that political movements are taking place in Rhodesia. In our opinion it would be the height of folly not to give the Government this order tonight.
The hon. and learned Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) said that it would be an economic advantage to this country to keep in with black Africa and to continue sanctions against Rhodesia. In economic terms, of course, he is right. What interests me is that he and his colleagues were standing that argument on its head the other day when they accused the Government of being blackmailed by the Arabs to take action against Israel on the threat of an oil boycott and said that this was immoral. So we have an exactly opposite argument being produced on successive days.
Figures can be made to prove anything, but, as we have had certain figures quoted, let me briefly quote some others. They are somewhat similar to the hon. and learned Gentleman's, but lead me to reach a different conclusion. British investment in southern Africa is some £740 million. In the whole of black Africa, excluding the Arab countries, it is £352 million plus some £150 million for Nigeria's oil. Therefore, the advantage of investment is in favour of southern Africa.
The flaw in the hon. Gentleman's argument is that £640 million of that investment is in South Africa and not in Rhodesia. That investment has remained in South Africa despite the fact that, if the hon. Gentleman is right, we have in the last eight years pursued policies in southern Africa grossly inimical to the interests of the South African Government. The investment is already there and has to be ignored in the equation.
I have already conceded to the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument that we have a greater investment and economic interest in black Africa than we have in that little country called Rhodesia. That is obvious to anybody. The hon. and learned Gentleman drew the conclusion that if we have to choose between southern Africa—which he called white Africa—and black Africa, it is to our economic advantage to choose black Africa. That is totally wrong, because in terms of investment we have almost twice as much interest in the south though the trade figures slightly favour black Africa if one includes oil. But if one allows for the fact that black Africa tends to take over our industries or businesses with little or no compensation and one adds a figure for security or the safety factor of our investments in the south, one will find that our economic advantage is bound up with the south rather than the north.
I must be honest and admit that if I were in my right hon. Friend's shoes as Foreign Secretary, I should probably be reintroducing the order. I have not much faith in the argument that it is a lever to push the Europeans to make concessions to the Africans. But I have a great deal of faith in the argument, which my right hon. Friend touched upon in his opening speech, that as long as we claim the right to control Rhodesia, whether that right is apparent or imaginary, we act as a buffer in the United Nations and so prevent a government in exile from being formed.
There was recently much nonsense talked about Portuguese Guinea when the United Nations General Assembly recognised a small group of rebels which controlled a minute fraction of the country as the government of that country. As long as we have the policy which is maintained by the order, we can act as a buffer in the case of nonsense of that kind being applied to Rhodesia.
I am glad to see that the British Government voted against the suggestion that the rebels in Portuguese Guinea should be recognised. We always have the veto in the Security Council, if it comes to a final showdown.
I intend to vote against the order because I do not believe in sanctions in principle. They do not work; they never have worked in history, as far as I know. They certainly cannot work effectively in Rhodesia because of the support of South Africa and the Portuguese provinces. It took the British House of Commons, or the Government of the day, seven years to recognise the rebellious American colonies. Now the Government have beaten Lord North's unenviable record. This is a sad position to be in, and one which should never have arisen.
I intend to vote against the order because I believe that on three occasions Conservative leaders have had the opportunity to settle Anglo-Rhodesian differences. The first was at the Victoria Falls conference. I believe that now it is recognised that the 1961 constitution would have been infinitely better for the Africans than the 1969 constitution. Had we not put pressure upon Mr. Winston Field and Sir Roy Welensky, the world would have accepted the independence of two African States, Malawi and Zambia, at the same time as we conceded independence to Southern Rhodesia. The Rhodesians thought that they would get independence, but they did not.
The second opportunity arose when we were in opposition. We could have got off the hook of the five principles. These five principles can mean everything or nothing. One cannot define them. They mean exactly what any individual wants them to mean. Therefore, they have been a stumbling block in all negotiations between this country and Rhodesia.
I remind the House that, though the principles were originally discussed by my hon. Friends, they were codified by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) and by the then Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition, at a time when he was talking about "frightened little men" and "weeks rather than months". They are responsible for the five principles, and we have allowed ourselves to be impaled on that hook. The principles are imprecise; that is why they are so dangerous.
May I ask the hon. Gentleman how he visualises society in middle Africa, in this case Rhodesia, in 10 or 20 years' time? Does he visualise a multi-racial society, or does he visualise a white-dominated political assembly? Does he visualise it moving as Kenya and other countries in the vicinity have done?
I certainly do not visualise it moving as Kenya has done. I do not think the Asians are very pleased by what is happening in Kenya, nor do I think a lot of the white people left on the farms are very happy.
My view is that the whole of southern Africa will be a kaleidoscope of States joined together in a common market, or possibly a federation. Some of these States will be black-ruled, some white-ruled, and some will be multi-racial. That is the only acceptable future for the strategically important territory of southern Africa as a whole and I believe the Portuguese territories, South Africa, the ex-High Commission territories, Zambia and Rhodesia, will be included in that broad common market or federation.
I return to the theme I was discussing. The third occasion on which we could have settled our differences was at the time of the Pearce Commission. I was told on very good authority when I visited Rhodesia that the Government gave an understanding—not an undertaking—that the Pearce Commission would complete its work by December. Instead of that, it did not go out to Rhodesia until January.
All the evidence I have seen in Rhodesia, from both black and white people, leads me to believe that had the commission gone out when the settlement terms were announced in the House in November and had its work been completed by December, it would have reached very different conclusions. Why did this happen? Was the Foreign Office dragging its feet at the time? This is a fundamental issue, and we could have saved ourselves a great deal of trouble if that commission had been sent out when the settlement terms were announced in the House. I still cannot understand why that was not done.
Both sides of the House agree that they want a settlement. We now agree that the settlement must be reached in Rhodesia. In the past, Opposition Members have insisted that we must hold the power here. From what I have heard from the Opposition Front Bench, they now agree that a settlement must be reached in Rhodesia and must be reached by all sections of African opinion.
We must remember that there are many sections. There are elected Members of Parliament who are Africans, there are businessmen, trade union leaders, and chiefs, all representing a certain section of African opinion, and there is the African National Council under Bishop Muzorewa. The ANC's importance is due to the fact that he is the only Rhodesian-African whose name is well known in Europe. He is an honest man, and he wants a settlement. He has an executive of 55, amongst whom are many ex-detainees and many present members of ZANU and ZAPU. As soon as he decides to take a step forward, pressure is put upon him to take a step backwards. Now the OAU is coming into the act, and further pressure is being exerted. As soon as one sees hopeful signs, pressure is put on and the wretched man is forced to retreat. We must realise how difficult his position is.
The reason African opinion is changing in Rhodesia is not the pressure of sanctions. If sanctions are hurting anybody, they are hurting the Africans. Opinion is changing because of the work of the Rhodesian Settlement Forum and the Rhodesian Settlement Convention. They are changing because many Africans, including the bishop, believed that if Pearce was turned down there would be a new constitutional conference at which he would sit alongside my right hon. Friend and the Rhodesian Prime Minister. He believed that that would happen. Now he has realised that it is not going to happen.
Many Africans now realise that the only alternative to the settlement terms is union with South Africa, which must inevitably come if this charade goes on for much longer. I certainly do not want to see that happen. I do not imagine that many hon. Members want to see that happen, and I am certain that very few Rhodesians, white or black, want to see it. But I suggest to the House that it is inevitable.
This is the question Rhodesian politicians always ask anyone who visits Rhodesia. They certainly ask me. They ask "What will Her Majesty's Government accept as an implementation of the five principles?" My right hon. Friend has indicated Pearce plus; but can he define more clearly what that plus would mean? It is clear to me that African and UN opinion will accept nothing short of NIBMAR. I doubt very much, if the chips were down, whether Opposition Members would accept much short of NIBMAR. Both groups, I am sure, would vote against anything else.
What are the Government asking for? What is their concept? It is not NIBMAR—they have disowned it. How far are they prepared to go, and how can the Rhodesians negotiate among themselves without having some idea of what is in Her Majesty's Government's mind?
The hon. Gentleman seeks to read my mind for the public about what I should accept. I am prepared to accept whatever the African National Council, representing the majority of African opinion, would also accept. That is why the hon. Gentleman was wrong in saying that Bishop Muzorewa was misleading himself in thinking that there would be a constitutional conference. There will be a constitutional conference before this is finished, because in the end he has to be consulted along with Mr. Smith and the British Government. However the matter evolves, in the end that is the only way this issue will be settled.
I am sorry for Bishop Muzorewa's present political position. He is not a politician. He is an honest man who truly wants the best settlement for his country. It is extremely difficult for him, or for anyone else who has an executive committee of 55, most of whom are extremists. As soon as the bishop moves forward, he is pushed back. That is the point I was trying to make.
I do not want to detain the House, but I have been interrupted on a number of occasions.
I turn to my final argument; namely, that speed of economic expansion in Rhodesia has been at least twice or three times that of this country, and I concede to the hon. and learned Gentleman that without sanctions that expansion would have been ten times as much, largely because Rhodesia would have attracted European immigration. That is what Rhodesia needs more than anything else—to generate capital and a better standard of living for the Africans.
We must face the fact that Europeans are doing well out of sanctions. It is the Africans who are suffering, and particularly school leavers who have no jobs to go to. That situation will build up a dangerous security problem in future years if it continues for much longer.
The Rhodesian forces have now got on top of terrorism. I believe that the Rhodesian Army is the best small operations army in the world. Who are these men labelled "freedom fighters"? They are men who hit at "soft" targets, by which I mean their own people who are unarmed. More Africans than Europeans have been killed in Rhodesia by terrorists in the past year. These "freedom fighters" are men who kidnap schoolchildren, who rape and torture. In August they killed a schoolmaster in front of his family and his schoolchildren. Since the Labour Party conference in Blackpool, it appears that these are the men whom the Opposition now officially support. Do the Opposition deny that? Do they support violence and terrorism in Rhodesia today, because it is apparent from their stated policy that they do?
It is because I wish to pay tribute to the courage of Rhodesians, both black and white, that I shall vote against the order, and I hope that those of my hon. Friends who told me last year that that was the last time they would support sanctions will follow me into the Lobby.
I find the attitude of my side of the House the more respectable of the two today. It is not that I agree with the attitude of my side of the House but that I find it sincere, even though deluded. I find it difficult to respect the attitude of the Government, for I can find no sincerity in it at all.
The Foreign Secretary said that we must not give up the hope of bringing Rhodesia into the community of nations. Did he mean the United Nations? If he meant that, it would give the impression that he had never been there—that he was unaware of the passionate racialism of the United Nations majority, which involves not only black but brown. It is a passionate racialism which involves even the unfortunate Israelis, who have done a great service to Africa, because their complexion is too light.
Does the right hon. Gentleman imagine that any conceivable settlement on Rhodesia which did not involve the total subjection of the white to the black would be acceptable to the United Nations or to the majority there? Of course it would not. If Bishop Muzorewa, who is a sincere man, were asked, he would say what was good for his country. He wants to get rid of sanctions; he wants to see Rhodesia working again because he knows that it is for the good of black Rhodesians. But if he comes to an agreement on that basis, it will be at the expense of his being denounced by all black Africa—and, indeed, by the brown world and the yellow world—as a Quisling Uncle Tom. That is what would happen.
I find it hard to believe in the Government's sincerity when they talk of the hope of bringing Rhodesia into the community of nations on any conceivable terms. That just does not arise.
I turn to the sanctions and what they are supposed to do. The hon. and learned Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richards) said that they were preventing the financial development of Rhodesia. Of course they are. They are preventing industries there going ahead; they are preventing any increase in employment there; they are preventing black school leavers getting a job; they are preventing black workers in the Rhodesian economy obtaining promotion.
I am not a racialist. I never wanted to see Rhodesia as a white-dominated country. I wanted to see it as the first multi-racial country in Africa. I thought that that chance depended not on the form of constitution but on the evolution of the country and its economic circumstances. We are dealing with a country that is unlike South Africa, where the figures of black to white are three to one. The figure in Rhodesia is 22 to one. Therefore, apartheid on this terms is nonsense. Apartheid on those terms can exist only in a static society. It is precisely that static society which is the result, and the only result, of sanctions.
If the whole process could be stopped, it would be possible for white domination to continue. If one had allowed the economy to go ahead, one would not have had white domination since the figures were dead against it. One would have had to build that expanded economy on the advance of the blacks into all kinds of positions—first in subaltern authority and then in greater positions of authority. There are not enough whites in the country to envisage anything else. Educational advance would have gone forward because employment demands would have required educated men, and there were only Africans to provide them. The sad but effective part of these sanctions is that they have stopped the very process which would have imposed the first multi-racial society to come out of Rhodesia's advancing economy. The Government know that perfectly well, and they know whom they hurt, but they are going on with their sanctions.
Then the right hon. Gentleman told us that if these sanctions were removed it would cause the moderates to lose hope. What moderates has he in mind? Is it Mr. Bashford, is it Sir Roy Welensky? Which single moderate in Rhodesia has not begged him to remove the sanctions, because they are the one thing which keeps Mr. Smith and his more reactionary friends firmly in power? Does Bishop Muzorewa support sanc- tions? He would be utterly thankful to see them go. His chance would be enormously better if this nonsense were out of the way.
He may have spoken differently in private from what he has said in public, but that is no good at all. Certainly, I should be very interested to hear any public statement, by anybody who, by any stretch of the imagination, could be called a moderate in Rhodesia, that has favoured the maintenance of sanctions. I should be very interested if anybody could produce such a public statement.
Therefore, what are we doing here? In a word, this is a policy of appeasement. It is precisely this same policy that we discussed last week in regard to supplying spare parts for the Centurions with which we have provided Israel. We thought that, by that very dishonourable let-down of our plainest obligations, we could appease the Arabs. Maybe we have saved our weekend motoring, but not at a price that I care to pay for it.
Now this same idea is applied in Africa, and it is imagined that we can somehow appease black Africa by feeding our friends to them. It will go on. This policy of decadent appeasement, which is the real basis of what is happening tonight, happened in Biafra. But that is not true of this side of the House, because many on this side believe that it is nonsense. But, the Government think that this is a way by which they can appease.
I have a strong feeling that I am living in eighteenth century Venice, and am suddenly feeling the numbness which has come to a society with a lack of the will to assert its interests, to assert its point of view, to stand up for itself. There is this idea that something can be obtained by apologising for oneself, but when one does that the boot will always be put in. In the days when we had a better standing, South Africa was our friend and we traded with her. None of these African nations says "We will not trade with you if you trade with the apartheid people", because that trade is established. But if it started now, we should have the same trouble. Rhodesia is just something which they think they can kick us over.
We shall get out of this impasse only when we are prepared to stand up once again and say "No", to say that we are going to do what we think is right, that we are going to write our own foreign policy and not have it written for us either in Brussels or in NATO. Until we can show a little courage again we shall move from one miserable situation of surrender to another. Here again we are being asked to consent to a policy, which everybody on the Government side of the House knows is wrong, in order to appease.
I listened with attention and a great deal of satisfaction to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). His is a blessedly independent voice. There are perhaps too few such voices in the country, perhaps even in this place, and I hope his words will be heeded not only by his right hon. and hon. Friends but by those on this side of the House as well. I hope, too, that they will be read in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow and that the Government will pay attention to them.
They were rough words. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of a decadent appeasement, and I do not suppose many of us on this side of the House would wish to use that sort of expression in any debate about the Government or about policies pursued by a Government whom we support. Nevertheless, the mood which he describes is something which I dare say every one of us in this House is conscious of. I dare say the hon. and learned Gentleman is right and that we shall not get our foreign policy right or be in a position to take wise decisions until we can "ship" a little more courage, as he put it, than we do at the moment. I think this debate is simply about one aspect of a wider problem which he sought to describe.
I was grateful for the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, much more grateful than I was for the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard). He may be a very good lawyer, he is certainly no mean hand as a speaker in the House of Commons, but he is a rotten economist and would make an even worse businessman. He said that one reason why he did not wish to trade with Rhodesia was that the Rhodesians had abrogated their constitution. If he is not going to trade with any country in Africa which has abrogated its constitution, how much business will he do?
The hon. and learned Gentleman produced figures which, although I am not a great hand as an economist or even as an arithmetician, seemed to me to support the exact contrary argument to the one which he was seeking to adduce. He read widely from some article—I apologise for forgetting which magazine it was; he could have written it himself, I should have thought—which was nothing more than an expression of opinion. We are all entitled to our opinions in this place. The author of this article manifestly shares the opinions of the hon. and learned Member for Barons Court, but it does not make him right.
If the hon. and learned Gentleman talked to people who do business in Africa he would find that the gentleman who wrote the article was writing nonsense. Certainly most people who have experience of the area would agree with me. One thing alone which he said I agree with, and that is that this debate has become a charade. That is why I shall confine my remarks. Most of the things that I wished to say have been better said already by hon. Members on both sides of the House. This debate is a charade because we know the outcome. We know what is going to be said and by whom it will be said. The only purpose is to examine old arguments to see if they are still valid, and to see whether there may some new element in the situation.
I should like to say a word on those two themes. First: are the original arguments—those I have adduced over the years—valid still? The case that is so blandly presented to us each year by whatever Government is responsible is always put in terms of actuality. Seldom does my right hon. Friend take account of the beginning, or, very often, of the end. For the record, I would like to go back to the beginning.
Rhodesia has ruled her own destiny since 1923. During that time, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, there have been many wise and liberal leaders, whose aims were near to the highest ideals of Cecil Rhodes. After the war, Rhodesia was invited to join the Central African Federation on the clear understanding that she would be given independence as part of the settlement. Let us never forget that. What happened? Against the advice of many responsible citizens, Rhodesia joined the federation. As they had foreseen, the federation fell to pieces. Zambia and Malawi got independence, Rhodesia did not.
The conditions subsequently demanded by Labour and Conservative Governments were always just too much. Wise and responsible men in charge of Rhodesia's affairs would go so far, but they were always asked to go a little further, until at last the people of Rhodesia turned in despair to the Rhodesia Front. That is the background. Everything that has happened since has its genesis in that long, bungling relationship for which Her Majesty's Governments of both persuasions must take responsibility and blame.
That is the main reason why I shall vote against the order. It is the only way I have of expressing the revulsion I feel at this long and miserable story, regardless of the arguments today about what sanctions might or might not do.
For eight years we in the Conservative Party have been assured by our leaders that our instincts are generally right and that sanctions, though perhaps necessary, constitute a bad policy.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that the original resolution would wrest the initiative for settling the dispute from Britain and hand it to the Security Council. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said that it was an abuse of the charter and constituted a dangerous precedent. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that sanctions would never bring Rhodesia down and must not be applied vindictively. Finally, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that sanctions were the bankruptcy of statesmanship. So tonight we are invited to renew them again.
I know that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will accept this in the spirit in which I mean it. I know of no one who could advocate this counsel of unwisdom with such consummate skill as he. On listening to him this evening I almost imagined the Rhodesians shaking at the knees at the possibility of the withdrawal of sanctions.
Second: is there any new element? There is just one which was ably described by my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall). Her Majesty's Government's policy is now supposed to encourage discussion. We have heard a great deal about what is going on behind the scenes, but where is the evidence that anything is being achieved? With Her Majesty's Government removed from the scene, the influence over these discussions—if they be meaningful and are taking place—of the OAU countries, Nigeria, Zambia and Tanzania in particular, is being brought increasingly to bear, so that the Rhodesian Front Government are not negotiating with Bishop Muzorewa alone, or indeed, with his more moderate advisers—and there are not many of them—but are instead negotiating with these other countries.
That is the danger that this policy has created. So long as we were holding the ring this outside interference would not have taken place to the same extent. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that he saw it as the task of the Government to hold the ring. I see no evidence of their succeeding; rather the precise contrary—I see increasing interference from the outside as a result of our having opted out.
I put it simply, in that case. It has nothing to do with legal entanglement at all. It is a straight and simple question. The hon. Gentleman has said three or four times that it would be better if we were holding the ring. How can we be in a better position to hold the ring in Rhodesia if we withdraw from it almost entirely and wash our hands of what happens?
That is a nonsensical interpretation of what I did not say. The hon. and learned Gentleman is talking about sanctions. I certainly want to get rid of them, but I do not want to get out of the situation at all. I want to achieve a sensible solution.
By advocating talks and taking part ourselves. I do not see that, by getting out, we are doing any more, on present evidence, than encouraging interference from African countries outside—and that manifestly has happened increasingly since last year's debate.
I can see no real hope of progress in these circumstances. If the ANC is in the hands of the African powers outside, or is influenced unduly by them, I am afraid that it is being excessively hopeful to pretend that there will be a settlement. Therefore, it is only sensible, surely, after these eight years to stop now. There could be a phased programme, say, against agreed reforms in Rhodesia, and in the general context of the talks and of what my right hon. Friend has called "Pearce-plus" there might well be room for improvement, with sanctions disappearing on a phased programme against some gain on the other side.
The time has come to advocate that Rhodesia has every right to expect to be recognised. There is a very interesting and well-argued Bow Group pamplet which has just come out on this subject and which goes some way, perhaps, towards refuting the accusation of those who have always held that we who are opposed to the policy of sanctions are simply a band of incorrigible reactionairies on the right of the Conservative Party. It is a very thoughtful document, and the Government would do well to study it.
There is a traditional British policy, expressed by none better than Lord Trevelyan in his recent book "Diplomatic Channels", in which he says:
The sensible British practice is to establish diplomatic relations with any government which has control of a country and looks like keeping it, whether we like the government or not. To be in relations with a government should not mean that you approve of it, but only that you have interests in the country which you want to protect and therefore have to deal with the people who are governing it.
That is common sense and was appreciated throughout the nineteenth century,—indeed, until only a few years ago.
If Lord Trevelyan were here, he would have to say that this was in respect of independent foreign countries and not of one which had a dependent relationship with the United Kingdom. That is the difference.
That is my understanding of the proposition, although I am not an international lawyer, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend.
My verdict is that despite their assurances and attempts, the Government have failed to solve the problem of Rhodesia. I conceive it to be a disgrace that we should be asked yet again to approve this order. I wish the Government could screw up their courage and rid us of this unnecessary abscess. This is the only realistic contribution that they can now make towards security in Central Africa. Of course there would be an international row. It would last three or four weeks, perhaps even two months, and they would have to sit it out. But are they incapable of that? I refuse to believe it.
If they will not pursue this course—my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice also hinted at this—let them explain their convictions now that we—indeed, all of West Europe—are being subjected to economic sanctions to achieve a political aim. We seem to be a good deal more compliant in Western Europe than the Rhodesians, incidentally.
When the history of our times is written from the perspective of, say, 50 years, I believe that it will be said that this incident was the point at which we lost touch with the realities of power: indeed, the point at which we went off our collective head. I have no intention of going off mine, and I shall vote against the order tonight as usual.
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) referred to what might have been done in the nineteenth century about one feature of this problem. If the Government of a British colony in the nineteenth century had illegally seized power, I wonder what he thinks would have happened. What we would have done—and what we should have done in 1965—would be immediately to use as much force as was necessary in order to compel the obedience of that Government to the law. That would have been the spirit of the nineteenth century and it is what we should have done in 1965.
Whenever I have intervened on this subject I have always been ready to admit that the primary responsibility for our failure in Rhodesia—although the responsibility belongs to both parties—is that of the party that was in power in 1965 and was immediately charged with responsibility. That was my own party.
On these occasions it is easy to make trouble between the vultures on the Government benches below the Gangway—the description does not apply to all of them—and their own Government, but when this House is responsible for 5 million people and has positively asserted its responsibility by passing an Act of Parliament eight years ago come Monday, and has repeated its responsibility each year, the situation is too serious and our honour too closely concerned to try to make trouble between different factions of the Conservative Party.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) used the word "decadence". Right from the time of UDI and before I have felt that the word "decadence" is the one that immediately springs to mind in talking about Rhodesia. That feeling dates at least from the debate in the House on 12th November 1965—before I came here—when most speakers seemed more concerned with scoring party points than with acting up to their responsibilities on behalf of a British colony. But although hon. Members on both sides of the argument might use the word "decadence", I suggest that decadence can show itself in very different forms.
My hon. and learned Friend and the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire feel that it is decadent to give in to the pressure of black African States to do something in Rhodesia. I regard it as decadent that successive British Governments, faced with the accepted illegality of the revolt of the Government of a British colony, seizing 5 million British subjects into their control, have not immediately settled the hash of that Government.
I want to see the kind of "gutsy" reaction that the previous two speakers called for, but it should be a gutsy reaction in the direction of modern life and not in the direction of maintaining racial supremacies in the middle of Africa which are doomed in the end, whether the vultures opposite below the Gangway accept it or not.
I will explain. It could have been done in a number of ways. When the Government of a British colony decide that they will tear up the constitution which this House made and imposed upon them, it is the duty of the British Government, possessing the legal authority in that territory, to use such force as is required to bring those who have disobeyed the law before the courts to suffer the proper penalties. That is the responsibility of the Government. That is what the process of government is all about. If someone breaks the law in my constituency or in the Gorbals he goes to gaol. The attitude of the British Government should have been that those who broke the law in Salisbury should go to gaol.
That is what I mean by "settling the hash"—ensuring that those who abide by the law are protected and that those who break it, like Smith and his gang, are brought before the courts to suffer the full penalty of the law.
I wonder whether it is correct to refer to this annual charade as a farce, or whether it is not more in the nature of a tragedy. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who has now left the Chamber, feels that the lapse into violent reaction by those who have no legal means of getting their way in Rhodesia is something which must condemn their side. We all know that if people are denied advance by democratic means they will turn to violence. It is not something of which we have to approve or disapprove. If we have been alive we know it happens. That is life. It will not be nice violence. It will get nastier—and not because I want it to. I do not want to encourage Mau Mau type activities in Rhodesia, but we have to face the fact that if people are denied any democratic means of achieving a political and social advance, this is what will happen.
"Tragedy" is the right word because in the end these people will do things which we shall all condemn. Atrocities will be committed. But what other development do we expect if we deny these people the normal processes of political evolution? The shameful rôle of this country in connection with Rhodesia has gone on for eight years. The principal ingredient of all the errors that we have committed from, say, a year before UDI until now—and which will persist—has been self-deception.
The British have a capacity for self-deception which is boundless. We assumed, or some did—I must say I did not—that economic sanctions against Rhodesia might work. It was plain to some of us—and we said so at the time of UDI—that it was extremely unlikely that economic sanctions would work, especially if they were not backed up by the possibility of using force. It was the ruling out of force that made all lesser measures ineffective. A man can be led by the arm if it is made clear to him that he will be frog-marched if he resists. If we say to him at the beginning that we do not intend to use force against him, all the lesser measures, warnings and sanctions, will have no effect.
There is always an argument on these occasions as to whether sanctions are biting, or working, or whatever the term is. Sanctions can bite without working. They bite if they impose some hardship. But they work only if they produce the objective which we have set ourselves—which the Government set immediately after UDI—namely, the securing of a change of government in Rhodesia. They did not work, and were never likely to work. So we are faced with sanctions which are having a harmful effect in Rhodesia—sanctions which are biting but are not working. They never will work to secure a change of government there.
Nevertheless, if it were only a matter of British self-respect in the face of the Government of a British colony who have illegally and immorally seized power, I would not wish to condone that activity in any manner by restoring normal relations with the present Government of Rhodesia. We have to face the fact that in the future the Africans of Rhodesia will, regrettably, have to work out their own salvation without the help from us to which they were entitled. Neither this Government nor any other British Government in prospect will do that job for them. They must do it for themselves.
I wish to mention again what I believe is the very marginal service that the House can, even at this stage, perform for the 5 million people whom we have so badly let down. I have yet to encounter anyone who agrees with me upon this. At this stage it is our duty—as we are not ourselves willing to do the necessary—to endeavour to hand over to the United Nations some power, additional to its rights at the moment—which are limited in respect of Rhodesia—to intervene. We are not going to do the job. In the end the Africans in Rhodesia, with such United Nations help as they might get, will have to do it. Assistance for the United Nations is more likely to be quicker and based upon law if Rhodesia becomes a United Nations trust territory.
No, I do not think it is. But the United Nations has never managed to perform a peace-keeping rôle in a manner which I would regard as competent. However, one either looks to the United Nations to assist the Africans in Rhodesia or one fails to give them any assistance at all.
Sooner or later the United Nations will give some assistance to Africans in Rhodesia. At the moment it has no legal right to do so. Since, over eight years, we in this House have been decadent enough not to do our duty, before we bow out finally from this aspect of British colonial history, this shameful episode, we ought, as we are not prepared to use our legal powers, to hand over to the United Nations that small legal right which derives from a territory's being a United Nations trust territory, so that what intervention it is able and inclined to make is at least based upon law.
It will not be a great advantage. The advantage which the United Nations possesses in respect of Namibia is not very great compared to its rôle in respect of the Republic of South Africa, but it is a significant difference. The United Nations has been able to do more in Namibia—to have more of a presence and an effect—because this is a mandated territory. If we were prepared to make Rhodesia a United Nations trust territory, instead of doing absolutely nothing for the 5 million people whom we have let down, we should at least have handed over some small part of our legal powers in relation to Rhodesia to the only body which, in the end, is likely to be able to help the 5 million Africans.
I am delighted that I took the precaution, before listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. George Cunningham), who apparently wants to make sure there is a war in Central Africa, of visiting Rhodesia on two occasions since the recital of this charade last year. From listening to speeches made from the other side of the House and viewing the situation as it is in Rhodesia, one is constrained to believe that there are certain hon. Members who live in cloud-cuckoo land. The realities of Rhodesia are vastly different from what we are told here.
On my visits I had the opportunity of visiting he whom I prefer to call the Prime Minister rather than the "gangster" referred to by an hon. Member opposite. I also visited members of the opposition—and the black opposition. In how many Parliaments in Africa to the north of Rhodesia can one visit members of the opposition? They are not allowed to exist? But in Rhodesia, not only do they freely exist and one can visit and speak freely with them, but with one exception they were all black and they all had plenty of views, which may be sensible or otherwise, but they can speak freely, and they do so.
Similarly, there is no country on the African Continent to the north of Rhodesia which has a free Press as Rhodesia has, a Press which is a monopolistic Press, hostile to the Rhodesian Government. That is inconceivable anywhere else and is something which we should record.
Why is it, in the context of what is happening in the world today, that Rhodesia is singled out for such singular persecution? What crimes has it committed? It was alleged, on the one hand, by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister, that Rhodesia was a threat to peace. It has never been a threat to peace. It is not now and it was not then. It is probably the most peaceful country in the African Continent. It is the only country where, for example, the Prime Minister has no protection whatsoever. Anybody can enter his office. There is one unarmed policeman outside the Prime Minister's office building. The degree of freedom which exists there is unsurpassed on the African Continent.
What are we trying to do but destroy that and replace it with what? There is no country to the north that Rhodesia can learn lessons from. Is it not significant that Rhodesia is a country into which Africans seeks to immigrate, and from which Africans refuse to emigrate, because conditions are so much better than in their northern neighbours' territories?
In fact, the only serious migration which takes place is to the Republic of South Africa, where, for obvious reasons, social conditions are better because more money can be spent on hospitals and schools. But Africans from outside seek to come to Rhodesia because conditions are so much better.
When I go there, as I do most years, and speak to the hundreds of Africans whom I know, they tell me that conditions are improving. It is a fact based on statistics, equally good as those produced by the hon. and learned Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard), that, under the present Rhodesian Front Government, and despite economic sanctions by this country and many other countries—far too many countries in my opinion—the standard of living of the Africans and the amount of money spent on education and hospitals have increased and are increasing. Despite all the impediments that they have encountered, desipte the economic warfare, the standard of living of Rhodesians has improved, and I am pleased to say that, whatever disparity there has been, the standard of Africans has risen also at a greater rate.
Will the hon. Gentleman, in addition to his tributes to what is going on in Rhodesia, tell us whether Africans are free to reside in any part of Salisbury, the capital city of their own country?
There are, for reasons of protection of all segments of society, rules that prevent a European businessman opening a shop in an African reserve, or in a black territory. Racial relations are best served by the present means adopted in Rhodesia. If the hon. Gentleman is so interested in racial relations in Africa he should know that there is no former African colony where Asians feel as secure as in Rhodesia. Not one persecuted Asian refugee has left Rhodesia to come to this country. Not one wishes to do so. I met both Hindus and Moslems during my visit at Christmas and New Year who told me how their conditions were so much better than those of their brothers and cousins, whether in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania or anywhere to the north. The same is true of all other components of the population.
It is not merely a coincidence that this country itself is being threatened by the imposition of sanctions by the Arab States. What makes that so interesting is that at present Egypt, which is an aggressor, has received a bounty from this country of £10 million; yet not only has Tanzania, which was recently feted in London, had its business interests threatened but, as was revealed in the Press, British settlers in Tanzania are forced to leave the country because of reprisals owing to what has happened in Libya and the unsubstantiated suggestion that they were helping the Israelis.
This partially answers the points raised by the hon. and learned Member for Barons Court. Of course there is substantial investment and trade in black Africa. But there is not an export merchant in the City of London, not an investor in those territories, who will not speak of the jeopardy in which he is placed. Ask those interests which have had their losses in Tanzania or Uganda without any compensation whatsoever. All British investment in black Africa is in jeopardy. Much of it has been lost. Bankruptcies have occurred in the City of London time and again because of the confiscations that have taken place.
Such risk is increased at the moment because so much of the commerce in these territories was in the hands of the Indian population. The Indians were good at commerce, and now that they have been removed commerce is in the hands of people who are incapable of exercising commercial understanding. The result is that, in addition to confiscation and nationalisation, millions of pounds of British money have been lost.
The amount of money that has been lost in Africa has been lost very largely by investors, investing companies, confirming houses and merchants in the City of London, and I have no doubt elsewhere as well. The great difference between Rhodesia and the countries to the north is that Rhodesia asks nothing of us. She never received a bounty from the British Exchequer. She does not seek aid. She merely requests the opportunity to trade and perform legitimate business. The other territories which have been mentioned earlier and where money has been lost seek and obtain aid from the British taxpayer and at the same time do everything to undermine British lives and interests. We should also not overlook the fact that after 50 years of peaceful development which Rhodesia has enjoyed, that country has gone ahead in a way that no other country has in central Africa. During those 50 years the Rhodesians have had complete local internal autonomy.
It was the suggestion of Mr. Winston Churchill, when he was Colonial Secretary, that Rhodesia should go in with the Union of South Africa in 1921. I have his speech in which he commended this possibility, and he did so in a manner very different from the attitude adopted towards Rhodesia today. He merely suggested that it would be in Rhodesia's interest that it should have the last word. Rhodesia had a referendum on the subject. The decision was that it would rather remain within the British Empire and have local autonomy. During that period it has maintained all services and its army, through taxes imposed locally, and it has done so in a way that is by most standards commendable, in that the United Nations figures prove that more money is spent on social welfare on Africans in Rhodesia per capita than in countries to the north.
What strikes me as so appalling is that Opposition Members who, in another context and in other debates are so concerned about unemployment, poverty and distress anywhere else in the world, are trying to manufacture it by making sanctions bite. What does that mean but to reduce Rhodesia to poverty? What good can that possibly do to anybody? It does no good to the black; it does no good to the white; it does no good to this country. It merely creates not only unemployment but a chaotic condition which must produce a revolution. Surely no reasonable person can want that.
It is significant to have a confession that hon. Members opposite seek a bloody revolution—
Revolutions are always bloody. The risk involved is so great that this is one of the greatest confessions of a dedicated partisan of sanctions. But is it not remarkable that, whereas, for example, in Ethiopia drought has produced the most appalling conditions and suffering, Rhodesia had its worst drought last year for a very long period and yet, because of the self-help and enterprise of the population, and despite sanctions, Rhodesia is even now exporting agricultural produce because of her ability?
The tobacco industry has been almost ruined by sanctions, and the Rhodesian tobacco farmer has largely gone over to growing cotton. But what is the effect? Far fewer Africans are employed in growing cotton than in growing tobacco. I should have thought that a net disadvantage. But such is the patriotism of the Rhodesian population that the tobacco farmers, who have suffered more than any other part of the population as a class are the strongest supporters of Mr. Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front.
I find it particularly distressing, in the light of what is happening in Rhodesia that Her Majesty's Government should have given a United Kingdom passport to Mr. Chetepo, who is the head of the terrorist organisation ZANU financed by the Red Chinese, when Mr. Gerald Hawksworth, a Briton, is a prisoner of ZANU—nobody quite knows where, but it is believed somewhere in Tanzania.
These things have a strong emotional effect on Rhodesians, almost as much as sanctions. They feel that we support brigands and terrorists, such as ZANU, who wish to bring destitution to that country. They resent the fact that a Briton could have been treated as Hawks-worth was, that Britain has done nothing about it and that no one knows where he is and that there is no outcry in this country. Yet if he had been black, there would have been the most appalling outcry—he would probably have joined Mrs. Allende in Trafalgar Square when he came out of captivity.
That is the trouble with double standards.
I am not giving way again. I want to conclude my speech to give other hon. Members who wish to speak an opportunity to do so. I have also given the hon. Gentleman an opportunity—
In this country we should recognise what the Rhodesians have done, not only for their own people but in two world wars for us. I do not believe that that is something that we can ignore. The greatest danger we face in this country is failure to recognise who are our friends and who are our enemies.
Rhodesia has always been a friend of this country. Fundamentally, there is no conflict of interest. The sooner we make peace, the better.
I shall go into the Lobby tonight against the Government because I believe that these sanctions are vindictive. They achieve absolutely nothing politically, and if, as may well be proved, they have an unfortunate economic effect on Rhodesia, surely to create economic suffering is nothing of which one could be proud. It is something of which we should be ashamed on behalf of our own people.
Those of us who over a period of years have taken part in debates on Africa have a feeling of déjà vu. This has all happened before.
The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Soref) is a well-known performer on this circuit and others. One of the biggest defects of this Chamber is that, unlike the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, we have no black deputies or members of overseas territories to take part in our debates. If we had members similar to those who sit on behalf of Martinique and Guadeloupe—if, for example, we had members sitting here representing Zanzibar or Malta, or where ever it may be—we might have heard a very different viewpoint from that put forward by the hon. Member for Ormskirk.
The hon. Gentleman knows Central Africa well. He knows about the people, the situation and the economics of that Continent. I am sure he even knows how many tons of soya beans various countries export, and all the rest of it. But if we had here tonight, as there have been in Paris for many years, black men who live among their own people and who speak for their people, they would be shocked to hear the sentiments which the hon. Member has been uttering.
We have heard some hard language tonight. We have heard my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who is always salty and worth listening to. He has his views; he is an independent, and one can agree with much of what he says. The word "charade" has been used, but is this not also a matter of sheer hypocrisy? There is an unreal atmosphere in these debates. I listened carefully to the Foreign Secretary—he was not thinking aloud—who said that we must help the natural settlement, and must do so with the least possible disturbance.
Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that Smith—or should it be "Mr. Smith"—wishes to have a settlement on the lines that we in this House visualised when we had settlements with our own people in former dependencies such as Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania? I do not believe for one moment that he does, and I challenge anyone on the Government benches to state that Mr. Smith and people like him, who hold power between the Zambesi and the Limpopo, desire to have a settlement with blacks, Asians or whites in Central Africa on the lines that we in this Chamber, of whatever party, have visualised over the years.
I think of the names of those who have departed, such as kin Macleod, and who have gone to the Lords, such as Lord Boyd. There is no one on these benches who can say that Mr. Smith visualises that, in two, five, 10, 15 or 20 years, the Africans will advance to ultimate and final emancipation and political independence in the sense that we visualised in the 1950s and 1960s.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that this House has given multiracial constitutions to many ex-colonies of Africa, and will he say how many still have those multi-racial constitutions? How many have dictators or army takeovers, or one-party States?
I am not a statistical machine, but I know the facts as well as the hon. Member does. I tell him that if he wants to debate with me on those terms he is flying in the face of history, which is being made day by day. That is the way history is going, and the clock cannot be put back in continents like Africa or Asia. That is why I say that all parties in this House have looked upon those areas as territories where one finally moves into a situation where the mass of the people, whatever their colour, becomes dominant or leading, and becomes the government in power.
If, in a situation where there are only 250,000 whites, where blacks are having more and more youngsters in comparison with the whites, and where the population gap will become more and more wide with economic facilities and development, Mr. Smith does not hand over political power, that will not reflect the sort of democratic language which has been spoken by many of us in this Chamber for the past two decades. Hon. Members talk about the moderates giving up, but where are these moderates in this situation? There were Rhodesian moderates in the past who were much better than the present moderates. Who was a better moderate than Sir Roy Welensky. He was given a chance; maybe he was not given all the chances, but he was given a chance and set upon his way in the multiracial federation. But the African population would not wear this. This is history as it has been made in the lives of us all. Therefore, we are turning back Commonwealth history if we use lan- guage which has been used in this instance. Where, in Africa, have the moderates held power, continued to hold power, and built up a society? When we talk about the African National Council and about Bishop Muzorewa, do not let us call him—as he was called tonight, unfortunately by a colleague on these benches—"a Quisling Uncle Tom".
We are both saying the same thing. [Interruption.] We are, because in the opinion of this House "a Quisling Uncle Tom" would be his designation in his society. Therefore, this term would fit him. Otherwise, why use it? In my view, people like Bishop Muzorewa act as historical midwives in colonial territories when they move into a certain position; then as the political society develops, people who are not so moderate—we would now call them extremists—move in afterwards.
If anyone thinks that in a continent like Africa one can avoid changes of this nature without some violence, then, to use an expression which was used earlier, he is indeed living in cloud-cuckoo land. The charge can be levied against us on these benches that we sometimes live in cloud-cockoo land; but I am speaking in the light of African social and political development. Canute thought that he could hold the tide back. There are too many Canutes on the Government benches. I have sat here, almost thinking aloud, in this artificial atmosphere where the same things are said year after year. We may say them, as white people, in this Chamber, but the black society overseas is changing. It is a dynamic society out there. Here we are static. We say the same things year after year about those people.
I have followed my hon. Friend's argument with interest. Surely what he is saying is that time is moving on. Why do we not get out of its way? That is all there is to do.
My hon. and learned Friend and I have been sitting on these benches seeing Europeans, or white, or Anglo-Saxons, getting out of the way in Kenya. I am speaking in a political context. I am not speaking in the sense of miners, doctors, lawyers, economists and teachers. I am speaking in the sense of political development, political emancipation and political change. I am speaking of people who make the laws, people who decide the zones where people live, in Salisbury and elsewhere. Who are the people who make decisions in their own African society? We have seen the changes in Lusaka, Nairobi, Lagos and elsewhere. If anyone thinks that less than 250,000 white people can hold back this constant change and surge in political life they are living in cloud-cockoo land.
During the ninteenth and twentieth centuries we went to Africa and handed over the good things of life—material comforts, spiritual nourishment and political power and decision-making. That has been our mission from these islands and north-west Europe. Here, we are holding back on this course.
We have no black men sitting here to tell us what their people think, although there is a lot of third-party talk about what the OAU thinks. The Foreign Secretary and I were fortunate to be at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference recently. There I met no one, whether from Hong Kong, Canada, the Bahamas or Singapore, who did not condemn our political stance in middle Africa, where live these 5 million black people who are finding their feet and surging to get to the top. Not a single delegate at the CPA Conference thought differently from the way in which we on the Opposition benches think.
I was with the hon. Gentleman at that conference. The thing that the people of all shades of colour and opinion deprecate more than anything else is hypocrisy, wherever it comes from.
I began by talking about an atmosphere of hypocrisy. The speeches we have heard from the Conservative benches all have an air of unreality. We speak of the Africans being superstitious and employing witch doctors, but the superstition is all on the Conservative benches. It is all superstition and folk lore. Conservative Members behave like our ancestors did in the nineteenth century. Whether one talks to American-educated lawyers of the Bahamas, English stock in Quebec, or black men who have been to the LSE or Nsukka University in Nigeria, one finds without exception that they consider that Bishop Muzorewa and others with him should be allowed to come out into the open, and that Mr. Smith should alter his views about the way in which Rhodesian society should develop in the next 10, 15 or 20 years. I see no sign of this in this Chamber. I hear the same old clichés, superstition and soothsaying from the Conservative benches. I hope hon. Gentlemen will come into the daylight and find out what the black African leaders think about the present situation.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson) has made a careful study of certain parts of Africa and takes a great interest in that part of the world. I have tried to follow the theme of this argument, but I am not quite certain what constructive suggestions he is putting forward as a way out of this difficult problem.
I am in isolation on the Government back benches in that I support the Government's proposal to renew sanctions, but I do so extremely reluctantly. In two ways sanctions have made no contribution to solving the problem. We have heard from both sides of the House the economic arguments. We have heard that sanctions have not led to a change in the régime and its attitudes. But, far more important, sanctions lead to isolation—a lack of contact between Rhodesia and the rest of the world. This is harmful, and leads to more extremism. But I do not think that we can just drop sanctions, except on an honourable basis. We have four options before us.
The first is to say that after eight years, sanctions have been a failure and that, as one or two hon. Members have suggested, we should hand the matter to the United Nations. I believe that that would be utterly disastrous. It could make Rhodesia the playground of the prejudices of the member countries of the United Nations, and the consequences would be disastrous for the Rhodesians—both African and European.
The second option is to drop sanctions just like that. There would be international implications. There might be some implications for our trade. But I would oppose such a move on two grounds. First, it might well lead to a United Nations take-over of the Rhodesian situation, which is the one thing we want to avoid. Secondly—this was a most important argument put by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—it might spoil the chances of the discussions now taking place between Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa and other Africans and encourage extremism in Rhodesia.
The third option is to maintain the status quo, which, for the reasons I have given, I regard as being unsatisfactory. Indeed, a policy of sanctions is an essentially clumsy means of diplomacy. It creates isolationism. Sanctions on their own do not produce the results that we want. But if we are to maintain that policy, we are entitled to ask other countries rigidly to stick to sanctions, which many of them are breaking. But it is an entirely negative policy for the long-term future of the Rhodesians.
Finally, therefore, we in this House have an overwhelming duty to seek out new ways of breaking through the barrier of sanctions. I would like my right hon. Friend to consider the possibility of the United Kingdom's taking the lead with the Commonwealth in trying one more initiative which might provide a spur or incentive to the Africans and the Europeans to reach a final agreement on the basis that they are at the moment having discussions.
The criteria for satisfactory progress of the Africans towards majority rule and an enhanced political status, which is part of the proposals for the settlement which we reached with Mr. Smith, are a steady improvement in the educational standards of the Africans and, allied to that, a steady improvement in their income and property standards. In these proposals, the United Kingdom offered £5 million per annum for 10 years in capital aid and technical assistance, to be matched on an equal basis by the Rhodesian Government.
The communiqué of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in Ottawa contained two hopeful signs. First, it said that the British Prime Minister welcomed the constructive suggestions that other Prime Ministers made about Rhodesia, although it did not say what those suggestions were. Secondly, it said that the Prime Ministers took note of the development of a special Commonwealth programme for assisting the education of Rhodesian Africans. It is this note upon which we should build, because it could provide a basis for a new initiative and possibly a reconciliation between the Africans and the Europeans in Rhodesia.
If Britain could take the lead in persuading the other Commonwealth nations to put up substantial sums to help towards the more rapid development of African education and therefore economic advancement, it could lead to an advantage to the Europeans to the extent that if it was acceptable to Mr. Smith sanctions could be dropped, and, if it was acceptable to the Africans, they could have opportunities for more rapid advancement to majority rule. This is the only possible way to break out of this impasse.
The Rhodesian problem is one of the most explosive in the world today. We still have a tenuous responsibility, although no power. Most hon. Members will have read that moving book by Alan Paton, "Cry the Beloved Country". On the very last page, he referred to the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear. I still think that Great Britain has a duty to try to release the Africans from the fear of bondage and the Europeans from the bondage of fear.
Sanctions were first imposed on Rhodesia in November 1965, just eight years ago, and when we are asked to renew them for a ninth year it is appropriate to ask why they were put on in the first place. I never expected incidentally, to be speaking in a debate when under a Conservative Government, for the third year running, renewal of sanctions was sought. I find this disappointing.
Rhodesia was never governed from this country. It was first ruled by a chartered company. When that ended in 1923, it was given full self-government, which it enjoyed until UDI and, of course, enjoys still. Independence was, therefore, a technical consideration which did not matter. It acquired its importance only when the United Nations Committee of 18, which came to be called the Committee on Anti-Colonialism, began to take an interest in Rhodesia.
The institution of that committee and its activities were described in terms of withering condemnation by my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in two distinguished speeches to the United Nations Association, which caused a great stir at the time and with every word of which I would have agreed. That Committee made Rhodesia its first quarry, and that was when it became important that Rhodesia should have the technical independence of sovereignty, as distinct from the complete self rule that it had always enjoyed up till then.
This technical sovereignty was refused by British Government after British Government to Rhodesian Prime Minister after Rhodesian Prime Minister, in circumstances on which we must now look back with profound regret. Rhodesia is the only country in Africa which, of its own spontaneous movement, was developing a democracy based on a common rule and a society which politically, educationally and in every other way, was fully integrated.
Therefore, independence in that technical sense was not refused to Rhodesia by any British Government because they disapproved of what was happening there. Rhodesia was the model that we would have wished all Africa could follow. It was refused for one reason only—to avoid unpleasantness and difficulties with the Afro-Asian lobby in the United Nations.
It was not the Rhodesian Front that was refusing independence; it was Roy Welensky, Winston Field and people like him, and, even before that, Garfield Todd. This went on year after year, and the chase from the United Nations hotted up. Rhodesia asserted independence unilaterally in 1965. Then the sanctions were imposed by the Government of the day. At first they were mild sanctions, because the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) thought that they would work very quickly and lead to a negotiated settlement which would give sovereign independence to Rhodesia.
Of course they did not work, in weeks, months or years and so they moved on in severity and the language sharpened. In May 1968 the fatal error was committed of going to the United Nations for mandatory sanctions—a step which I think that even the right hon. Gentleman who did it must quickly have regretted, because it limited his freedom of manoeuvre from that time on just as it has limited the freedom of manoeuvre of my right hon. Friend.
I have looked backwards to that extent because people now talk in the heightened atmosphere of these debates as though sanctions were imposed on Rhodesia and maintained upon some high ground of principle concerned with the relations between the different races in Africa. That is absolute humbug. There never was any such dispute originally. Sanctions were imposed because we did not give Rhodesia its independence, because we did not want a row in the United Nations, and because the British Government thought it did not matter very much. Rhodesia had full self government and had had it for as long as anyone could remember, and so why should it have sovereign independence—there was no basic difference—at the expense of unpleasantness with certain African nationalist politicians?
That is the fact of the matter, and as the eight years have drifted past it has become covered up because principles have proliferated in all directions. It was bad enough to have five principles to start with. The right hon. Member for Huyton added another, and made it six, and now we are told that in these fruitful negotiations going on in Central Africa another 12 have been enunciated, making a total of 18. The language has become virtually histrionic. This is one of the tragedies of modern history.
It is an unnecessary quarrel which has poisoned relations between us and the people of British stock in Central Africa. I ask myself now, as every other hon. Member must ask himself: what is to be done in this situation? We can look at it from the point of view of the laws and practices by which one nation recognises another. The hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. George Cunningham) advocated a kind of gunboat diplomacy which reminded me of nothing so much as the pre-war militancy of the pacificist Labour Party we had in those days. We must not desist until we have crushed the rebellion, he said.
Some little time ago, I looked up the member States of the United Nations and found that about 30 per cent. of the Governments were based upon revolutions in the previous five years. We are talking about eight years for Rhodesia. The Government of which my right hon. Friend is a Member was based on a revolution if we go back to 1688, and I suppose that almost every Government in the world is so based. It is only a question of how far back we go. We do not have to go so far back with the United Nations.
Then it is said "Yes, but this is a rebellion against the Crown." The hon. Member for Islington, South-West said we should "settle their hash." I wondered how he would have settled the hash of the United States, which sprang from a rebellion against the Crown or, if we want to be more up-to-date, Sierra Leone, which two or three years ago staged a rebellion against the Crown and locked up the Queen's representative.
We did not turn a hair. Why? Because it was a coloured African country. That was the only difference. That is humbug.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has other arguments that I am sure he genuinely believes. He feels that sanctions help towards a settlement—that they press upon Rhodesia and will, therefore, influence a settlement.
There has been a good deal of talk tonight about the damage done to Rhodesia by sanctions. There has been some damage, naturally, but on balance sanctions have been beneficial to Rhodesia, in the same way as the limitation of the gold price by the United States for so many years was beneficial to South Africa, for it turned it into a major industrial country.
In eight years sanctions have turned Rhodesia from a monoculture into a considerable industrial and agricultural country. It has telescoped the advance of 30 years into eight. There is growing up a considerable vested interest in sanctions in Rhodesia, so let us not fancy that they are some great burden upon the European population of Rhodesia that will force the result.
Then there is the other side of the argument—that if one removes sanctions after eight years that is itself a positive step, with an emotional reaction. I suppose that after eight years it is a positive step to take them off, but it will be more positive after nine years and more positive still after 10 years. That argument lives with one for ever. Are we to continue, year after year, maintaining sanctions on Rhodesia because no one can think of a way of taking them off?
Not claiming a great knowledge of Central Africa, but only some knowledge, I believe that the continuance of sanctions positively harms the prospect of agreement. It makes the African nationalist leaders—and I am thinking not of Bishop Muzorewa at the moment but of those with whom he has to cope—more militant, more aggressive and less compromising. They think Britain is behind them and breathing down the necks of the other side in negotiations, and that if they stick out they will be guaranteed, anyway. If sanctions were taken off, we would have an agreement in Rhodesia in a matter of months. We are totally mistaken in our political tactics, quite apart from the question of merit.
What about the other nations in Africa? The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson) slid away from this point very quickly. He was asked how many of those nations still had their constitutions. We did not give the Rhodesia her independence when the federation broke up. That was crazy. We gave it to the two backward elements, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, but, when we imposed sanctions on Rhodesia, Zambia—as it then was—and Malawi were already abandoning the West-minister constitutions which we had given them.
We imposed sanctions on Rhodesia for not accepting the sort of constitution that Zambia and Malawi were already abandoning. That seems very odd. I have tried for many years to come to terms with the situation and to find some rationality in it. I cannot see the rationality. Year after year I have made this point in debate and in questions, or in other ways, to Ministers, asking what the difference is. They say that the difference is that our responsibility is to start these people off with a constitution providing for universal suffrage and the sort of institutions in which we believe.
What countries do after achieving independence is their business and not our responsibility. Suppose that the Rhodesians had been willing to go to Lancaster House or Marlborough House and to sign on the dotted line of one of the constitutions, had achieved their independence, and had then gone home and torn it up, and had an efficient dictatorship as in Malawi, a one-party State as in Zambia, or a sort of South American arrangement as in Sierre Leone. Any of those things would be perfectly all right, and all 18 principles would be vindicated. But if they say, "No", in this minor respect or that minor respect, or "We do not think that this would work in the 1960s or 1970s in Central Africa", do we then roll out the guns and smash them to bits? I find that preposterous and absurd. I opposed sanctions from the beginning, and it is with a good heart that I shall go into the Lobby against them tonight.
It is important when debating Rhodesia to observe the situation as it is, and not to believe that it is as one would wish. I am inclined to take my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Mr. Luce) out of isolation on these benches, although in doing so I would put the accent slightly differently.
If we are honest about the situation, what was said a year ago during our debates could not be said with equal conviction today. I hoped that during the course of the year we would have seen meaningful discussions between the Africans in Rhodesia and the Rhodesian Government. But little has taken place, as far as one can judge.
I was disturbed to see in the wake of the recent Rhodesian Front Party Congress a report in The Times of 24th September to the effect that, although Mr. Smith had said in his presidential address to the conference that he had been talking to African politicians, it emerged at a Press conference later that he had been talking to African leaders on the basis of the 1969 Constitution.
Mr. Smith apparently denied that his Government were considering any changes in the 1969 Constitution. He said:
It simply means that when we talk to Africans we say we must now plan our future on the basis that we live under the 1969 Constitution.
This does not seem to bode any great hope for the future.
I do not think that tonight the hon. and learned Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) could look at, in particular, columns 1323 and 1324 of HANSARD of 9th November 1972 and utter the words which he did then with the same ringing conviction, in light of what has happened during the last year.
I suppose that there are still some hopes, and my right hon. Friend has evinced them. They are somewhat fainter now, but it does not mean that they are not worth while or unworthy, and I should not wish to sweep them away. The first hope is that there can be sufficient effect from sanctions to continue to pressure Mr. Smith and his Government into meaningful negotiations with the Africans. That is the hope of the sanctions.
The second hope is that this may lead to a multi-racial solution in Rhodesia. Many hon. Members from both sides of the House have referred to the ideal of the multi-racial solution. Indeed, there were hopes that that could be achieved Rhodesia. I should have thought that was a sufficiently worth while ideal, and that one should continue to work towards it.
It is my judgment—and this is a matter on which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) and I disagree—that it is the maintenance of the sanctions which is more likely to get a meaningful solution, but I share his doubts about whether there can be any meaningful solution at all. The aim should be to maintain the sanctions.
Our motivation and concern is to do our best for the people of Rhodesia. Hon. Members who have spoken in contrary terms tonight are saying what they think is right for the people of Rhodesia, and that, too, is a worthy ideal.
We should also take British interests into consideration. But how does one interpret British interests? We might be invited to be decent to our kith and kin in Rhodesia, bearing in mind that people in that country have stood by us in the past in times of danger and conflict. But I have to ask myself whether the people in Rhodesia and those in charge of the Government who are meant by the phrase "kith and kin" share the ideals of a great number of us in this country.
I have already acknowledged the point made by my hon. Frend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) from a sedentary position. The people of Rhodesia supported this country in the last war, and because of that feeling it is argued that we should take a more conciliatory attitude towards them today. But we can see what their attitude is towards the black people in their country.
It is interesting to be reminded by Mr. Des Frost, the Chairman of the Rhodesian Front Party, that the Rhodesia Front was formed in 1962 to stop the attempted handover of the country, and that remains the basic principle of the Rhodesian Front. Some of my hon. Friends may say "amen" to that, but it is not what I want to see happening in that country. It is not a view that I support.
One also asks, when mentioning kith and kin, whether the people running Rhodesia today truly are our kith and kin. The immigration figures and the kind of immigrant that Rhodesia has been having show that the nature of the white population in Rhodesia has been moving nearer and nearer towards that of South Africa, which is not necessarily closely related to us in origin.
I do not believe that the sympathies of the people who support the Rhodesian Front Government are headed towards any kind of multiracial solution. One's view on this matter must essentially rest upon on how one views the question of racial conflict.
I am still hopeful that it will be possible for black, white and brown to live together in harmony wherever they are in the world. However, if we are to endorse a solution which clearly accepts that white should be in charge of black in perpetuity, I do not believe that that will add to the chances of a successful racial solution in other parts of the world.
Some of my hon. Friends argue, too, that it is in British economic interests to resume a normal relationship with Rhodesia. I find that difficult to follow, because the amount of trade that we were doing with Rhodesia when UDI was declared was about £40 million. I am not sure how much trade we would be able to gain from Rhodesia if normal trading relationships were resumed from tomorrow. I believe the amount would be minuscule. It would be considerably offset by the trade elsewhere in Africa that we gained in recent years.
Another argument has been put forward; namely, that we as a country are making ourselves look an ass over the matter of sanctions. None of us likes to find that he has been isolated in the way we appear to have been isolated, as the only country playing it straight. Others are clearly acting in their own interests and choosing to ignore sanctions.
I do not like this situation any more than do some of my hon. Friends, but it is not a question of describing the lifting of sanctions as a positive act and of arguing the matter dialectically. It is a matter of the reaction which would arise to the lifting of sanctions. That cannot be ignored.
If we were to decide in this House that it was right for Britain to lift sanctions, the correct way to do so would not be by refusing to pass this order tonight. There would have to be an approach to the United Nations for us to be relieved of our responsibility.
My hon. Friend has dwelt on the morality of our use of an economic weapon in pursuit of political objectives against Rhodesia and on the possible consequences for us in that our trade with black Africa is more important than is our trade with Rhodesia. Will he expand that view and say a few words about his attitude towards the use by the Arabs of their oil as an economic weapon against us, and the morality of how we balance our trade with Israel?
If my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Tebbit) had been in the Chamber a little earlier, he might have heard that point discussed.
The other argument that is used about British interests is that we might be accused of adopting double standards. My answer to that argument is that our responsibility is at stake because we have a legal connection with and responsibility for Rhodesia. We must maintain our links with all our former colonies and dependencies and should not depart from our standards in the way we bring Rhodesia to independence. I believe that if we take that view we shall behave consistently.
I do not accept the particular way of defining British interests as I have heard them defined by others in this debate. I believe that British interests can best be summarised in this way. In economic terms we are trading more with the black African countries than we could ever have traded with Rhodesia, and our trade with black Africa is expanding at a faster rate than ever could have happened with Rhodesia. That trade is of great value to us.
I have some understanding of business in Africa, and I declare an interest. I cannot agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) that there is no substantial British economic interest in black Africa. That is not my experience of the motivations of British firms prepared to invest in black African countries. Surely they can be expected to know precisely what they are doing, and I believe that they understand it to be in the interests of British trade—and, in the final result, the proof lies in the figures, which clearly show that this trade is in our interests.
I also believe that, whether or not the value of our investments is declining—which is the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Dixon)—British companies are putting their money there, and they must be taking into account all the risks of so investing. I believe that they are doing this in a quite calculating way, understanding that they can get maximum value from those investments.
So I believe that the economic arguments are plainly in favour of our trad- ing with black Africa, and we must accept that we put at risk some of that trade if we suddenly ditch our policy on sanctions against Rhodesia in return for some small trade from there. People may argue that we could call the bluff, but I just do not think we can take that risk. We have far too much at stake in the African countries to take that risk.
I have been following my hon. Friend's speech, and I understood that he castigated those who were breaching the sanctions regulations because they were putting their own interests first. Surely his whole speech suggesting that we should maintain sanctions is based upon the idea that it is in our interests to do so, and therefore he wishes us to put our own interests first.
Yes, indeed I do. I believe that we must put our interests first, but we must also take into account how we are judged by other nations. Whether or not my hon. Friend likes it, the fact is that some countries attribute to us a higher standard in our dealings than they do to other countries. Certain other countries may get away with certain policies, because people say "That is what one would expect of those countries." But those countries with which we had a former relationship do not expect that behaviour of us, and are likely to react more bitterly and more sharply if we let them down in that way.
The second point that I wish to make in my defence of British interests is that, diplomatically speaking, we have to look not merely one, two or five years ahead but much further ahead than that. We shall have to live in a world in which the Asian and African countries, no doubt having suffered various constitutional traumas, will be major countries in the world with which we shall have to deal. I want to be on talking terms with those countries. I want this country to be influential with the third world, and I do not believe that we shall give much encouragement to the third world to deal with us if we appear to be aligning ourselves with a minority white régime in Southern Africa, which appears to be overriding its clear obligations. I believe that we should stand up for what we believe to be right in relation to Rhodesia, and that will stand us in good stead in our diplomacy in the years ahead.
So, while I believe that the hopes to which we cling when we discuss the renewal of sanctions are fainter, I do not think they have been completely extinguished, and, because the price is not too high to achieve a multi-racial solution, we should make one further effort to try to work towards it. I believe that, on any reasonable analysis, it is in Britain's interests to maintain the sanctions. If hon. Members cannot be swept into the Lobby with any sense of burning idealism in support of sanctions tonight, I believe that a serious count of British interests should take all hon. Members into the Lobby in support of the Government tonight.
I want to vote, and, therefore, I shall be brief. I have always believed that sanctions do not work, never can work and, in the end, are nothing less than a counsel of despair. I also believe, having listened to the whole of this debate, that the force of argument has been entirely against the further imposition of sanctions. I am sorry to differ from my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, for whom I have the greatest admiration, not least for how he has acted recently in the Arab-Israeli war, but I simply cannot follow him this time, as I have not previously for many years, down the primrose path to sanctions.
I had not intended earlier to take part in this debate, which I believe has become something of an annual bore, but this morning I was at a very large gathering of my constituents, and when I told them that I was coming here to listen to this debate and that I was going to vote against sanctions they said "We absolutely agree; why do you not speak for us?" I believe that I am speaking for many more people than just my constituents. I particularly ask hon. Members opposite whether they know or think about or care for the views of their constituents on this matter.
Every year we are led to expect that sanctions will be applied for the last time, and here we are proposing to apply them once more. I enjoyed very much, as I always do, the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who, in my view, is equally good on Ireland and on Africa. He said, what I believe is very true, that in continuing to impose sanctions we are giving way to some feeling in the United Nations and to black Africa.
I believe—and I say this with great regret as I see that my right hon. Friend has come into the Chamber again—that the Government have lost touch not only with the realities of power but with the wishes of the vast majority of the people in this country. After all, what do people think? They cannot understand, for instance, why General Amin is allowed entirely to get away with it, while Mr. Smith alone is pilloried. Almost every African leader to whose country we have given freedom has torn up the constitution and substituted dictatorship of one-party rule, and often with very rigorous repression of minorities.
Rhodesia is more or less ahead of these black African States, and is certainly a far freer and happier country than South Africa. Surely we must admit that something worth while has been built up by the British and more recently by other European people in Rhodesia. Naturally, they are proud of their achievement. Amid the chaos and brutality around them in other African States, can we blame the Europeans if they say "What we have we hold, and when we give way we give way in our own time and in our own manner"?
The Government in Rhodesia are under attack by cruel and ruthless terrorists supported by Powers which we all know, are enemies of this country. I regret to say that by our sanctions we would appear to be aiding and abetting the aims of those vicious attacks. The Government still behave as if we once ruled Rhodesia from here, which we never did. Their legal case now looks doubtful. We have certainly given our trade rivals in other countries a field day and, to my mind worst of all, we have allowed the United Nations, if I may coin a phrase, to poke its unacceptable face into this tragedy.
I believe the time has come to end this piece of nonsense as quickly as possible and to take off sanctions before the position becomes utterly untenable. This time last year many of my hon. Friends said that they would vote for sanctions for the last time. I hoped this time they will vote with the courage of their convictions.
I listened with care to the interesting speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Mr. Haselhurst). I hope that he will forgive me for saying that he was shooting at an enemy which is not there. No one regards Rhodesians as their kith and kin—at least I do not. I am no supporter of Mr. Smith. That is not the point at issue. What my hon. Friend was doing, although I am sure he did not mean to, was speaking as an imperialist. He is convinced that, as it did in the past, Great Britain controls Central Africa. That is the greatest illusion of all time. What matters is not whether the Government of Rhodesia are good or bad, any more than it matters whether the Norwegian Government are good or bad. What matters is that, for good reasons, we have not a single soldier or sailor from the Cape to Cairo. That is perfectly right, that is how it should be, but do not let us imagine that we are still an influential Power in Central Africa. We are not. That is the point my hon. Friend missed.
To support the re-imposition of sanctions tonight is to support something that is unlawful. Those who heard the then Sir Lionel Heald's speech of a few years ago will remember his eloquence and learning on this subject. The United Nations can impose sanctions only on a sovereign state which is a Member of the United Nations. The argument of the United Nations is that Rhodesia is not a sovereign State which is a member of the country to Great Britain. If that be so, then no sanctions under the United Nations Charter can lawfully be imposed.
It is clearly laid down in the United Nations Charter that any State that offends in a way in which it is suggested that Rhodesia has offended must have the right to appear before the United Nations and put its case. Rhodesia sought to appear, but consent was refused. So twice the United Nations has breached its own charter. I know the argument that the United Nations can breach its charter and do anything it likes, but it is a rash argument to accept. What we propose to do tonight is unlawful within the meaning of international law, and I take that seriously.
There are those who believe that what we are doing tonight is moral. Believe me, there is no morality whatever in it. Not for one moment does the Foreign Office believe that. We must face the fact that we are being realist. In the General Assembly of the United Nations since 1965 there has been an Afro-Asian majority, now numbering 75 out of 135. Not long ago I spoke to a Foreign Office official in the United Nations, and I take the point that it can be argued that we must in no circumstances offend that majority. If there be a case for what is proposed tonight, that is the case, and no other. It is the case of reality in politics. I do not take that view. As recent months have shown, to take that view is to run grave risks. The Afro-Asian majority is as powerful in the cause against Israel as it is in the cause of Rhodesia.
We have a duty to the Afro-Asian nations, which I have never denied, to give them aid and to do all we can for them. We have no duty to be dominated by them, and that is the trap into which, with respect, my right hon. Friend has fallen. Not only in Rhodesia and Israel but in a dozen other instances as the years go by this policy, if pursued, can lead us and the whole of Europe into disaster. We should help these nations, we have an obligation to them—yes, yes and yes again—but it would be fatal to accept that we should be guided by them in policy.
I want to say something constructive. I fully understand our difficulties. I fully understand my right hon. Friend's difficulties in facing the United Nations—the fact that this was placed in the hands of the United Nations by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), and that, because it is in the hands of the United Nations, it is difficult for Britain unilaterally to withdraw.
But there is a way out of it. I earnestly suggest that we should go to the United Nations—not a difficult thing to do—and say "There are doubts about what ought to have been done but we have for nine years used sanctions in the hope of bringing about a solution. It is now abundantly clear that this method has not been a success—that is indisputable. None the less, if it is the view of the United Nations that they should be continued, and if every member is willing jointly to see that they are continued, we will agree to participate, because clearly Britain alone, or almost alone, will not bear the heat and burden of the day while Japan and dozens of other nations, even African nations, are now breaching sanctions right, left and centre, and we cannot, in justice, equity or good sense be persuaded to go on alone."
That we can say, and say fairly. We can say that we do not wish to hurry the matter and that we can go on, if the United Nations wishes it, for another six months but that if in that time we still find ourselves alone, we shall not go on any further. That is not an illiberal thing to say, or unreasonable. It is something which could be said.
In the last three years we have heard my right hon. Friend on this side of the House with patience and admiration—and let me be careful here. My right hon. Friend never said, "This will be the last year", but again and again we have caught the inference that, "Perhaps, if we are lucky, this is likely to be the last year." It has always been untrue. I hope that this really is the last year. Perhaps my suggestion is not acceptable, for other solutions may be put forward. But it is practical, and I beg the Government to take note of the weight of opinion now behind them and which has been behind them for many years.
I hope that the House will allow me to say a few words in winding up the debate, although I am conscious that I opened it for the Opposition. In my defence, I should point out that one of the reasons I wish to speak again is that we thought it perhaps best to have only one speaker from the Opposition Front Bench, as, thereby speeches from the Labour benches may be somewhat shortened, as they have been.
In some ways this has been a vintage debate even for Rhodesian sanctions renewal order debates. But I seem to detect this year that the feeling displayed by hon. Members, particularly hon. Members opposite, was deeper than it was last year and deeper than it has been for many years past. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am not sure that I should be grateful for that applause, although of course I welcome it.
The reason for this is perhaps that the real divide in principle becomes more apparent as the years go on. It is clear, as I said earlier, that there is no real division in principle between the policies being pursued by the present Government and the policies which the Labour Government were pursuing and which we would now advocate. I said, and repeat, that I believe that having a renewal of sanctions in this way each year is basically a farce and a charade, because most people in the House of Commons and in the country now agree that the proper policy towards Rhodesia is one in which we maintain sanctions, that by maintaining sanctions we thereby keep up the economic and international pressures on the present Government in Rhodesia, and as result we hope that some kind of political movement will take place there. If that is right—and anyone who sat through this debate tonight will agree that the views expressed here, while they may represent a certain view in the Conservative Party, cannot be said to be fairly representative of the House as a whole or of the views in the country as a whole—[Interruption.] I do not mind being howled at by people who have been here throughout the debate, but I do object to being howled at by someone who has just rolled in.
If my general point is correct, namely, that there is a broad consensus on this issue between the two Front Benches and the two parties and throughout the country, it is understandable that, as the years have gone on and hon. Members below the Gangway have advanced their views with great sincerity—the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) and I crossed swords on Rhodesia in November 1965 and have expressed the same views, although I hope not in the same terms, since then—the divide should have become clearer in the Tory Party, the views more deeply held and perhaps more bitter.
What I beg hon. Members to consider for a moment is not just the effect that sanctions may be having in Rhodesia but what the effect would be on our international standing if sanctions were now to be removed. The hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) recently spent some time at the United Nations and it is noteworthy that, having done so, he did not join in the general condemnation of that organisation in which some of his hon. Friends were prone to indulge this evening.
Can anyone doubt that if we were now to remove sanctions against Rhodesia the effect on Britain's position in relation to other African and Asian countries, and, indeed, some of our closest allies within the Atlantic alliance, would be seriously damaged?
Have hon. Members considered the effect on our relationship with the United States? The Byrd Amendment is being considered by Congress. The administration this year, unlike last year, have seriously campaigned for the abolition of that amendment. If Congress does what it is anticipated it will do over that amendment, we shall find ourselves in two or three weeks in the most extraordinary situation—the United States reimposing a sanction in relation to chrome precisely when the United Kingdom, by a vote of the House of Commons, was removing general sanctions. We should be in a ludicrous position.
The evidence now is overwhelming that sanctions are justifiable both in relation to their effect within Rhodesia—economically, it makes sense for us to continue them—and also in relation to our international standing. If we did as hon. Members opposite wish us to do we should be putting ourselves on the wrong side of the racial confrontation which is taking place in southern Africa.
This is the eighth time that we have debated the renewal of sanctions. On the whole there have been the same speakers developing the same arguments year after year. As always in these debates, there have been hard words spoken, and there have been constructive speeches. I apologise in that I missed the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Mr. Luce). Whatever views have been expressed, they have always been deeply felt and spoken with great sincerity. I am afraid that because the same speeches have been made year after year the House will have to hear some of the same arguments in reply.
The hon. and learned Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) argued in his opening speech, and repeated it a moment ago, that we should take powers to avoid this annual debate. I see his argument, that it would be convenient for Governments to take such powers. But the imposition of sanctions on a dependent territory is a serious matter indeed. It is not right to sweep it under the carpet and allow it to be forgotten by the House. It is valuable to examine the actualities of what is happening in Rhodesia. It is valuable, too, that the House should have the opportunity of noting any changes that have taken place. The fact that so many hon. Members have spoken and expressed such strongly-held views and should have the opportunity of recording their vote is of real value in a democratic society, and I am not sure that it is something I would remove in present circumstances.
As I said, it is the eighth time that we have had to debate the renewal of sanctions. It is natural that there is great frustration and disappointment in every section of the House that we have to debate this again. Such disappointment means that we have had to examine very carefully once more the argument for and against renewal, but we cannot allow our natural frustration to take the place of judgment in debate.
Because of recent developments in Rhodesia, which my right hon. Friend described in opening the debate, it would be quite wrong for us simply to turn aside from the problem at this time and say that it is too difficult to solve. Although he is not here, I will refer to the hard words spoken by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). He used the hardest words of all when he said that Governments of both parties, and our society, were imbued with decadent appeasement. What has happened is that British Governments have asserted their responsibility for several millions of black Africans, and although our power on the ground is limited—
—we have from year to year re-asserted our responsibility. What the hon. and learned Gentleman implied was that we had given in to the pressures of Black Africa. What he was saying was that we should surrender to Mr. Smith, give up, wash our hands of it and surrender any hope of reaching a multi-racial society.
I will try to deal briefly with some of the questions that have been raised. I feel I must make one general point. The fact that sanctions have now continued for some time in no way means that we feel that they should automatically be continued. They should be re-examined in the present circumstances. But the question we have to ask is not whether it was right to impose sanctions for the first time but whether lifting then, now without a settlement—with all the emotional and political difficulties and consequences that would flow from that decision—will contribute to the talks between the parties concerned and the restoration of legal government.
We have to ask whether any alternative put forward is more likely to result in the restoration of legal government or is more likely to assist the talks that have begun inside Rhodesia. Many hon. Members have expressed doubts as to whether those talks will get anywhere. Many have been sceptical, and maybe they are right. No one can prophesy. Undoubtedly the situation is changing in Rhodesia, surely when, for the first time, talks are taking place, it is not the right time to give up. I understand the strength of the arguments involved but I rather doubted the logical position adopted in his interesting and knowledgeable speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall), who said that if he were Foreign Secretary he would probably introduce the order but, since he is a back-bencher, he will vote against it.
Those words are better addressed to the right hon. Gentlemen on the Labour benches than to the Government.
Many of my hon. Friends have argued that it is right to withdraw sanctions now without having achieved a settlement. The arguments that these have developed have been broadly along the lines that sanctions have not worked effectively and that they have hit hardest at the Africans It is also argued that we are losing, and have lost, the Rhodesian market to less scrupulous commercial rivals. I understand the feelings of those who advance these arguments. They have considerable force but they are only part of the picture. We all know that sanctions have not been as effective as those who began them claimed they would be. They will not force a political settlement but they do have an effect. This is particularly the case in relation to Rhodesia's foreign exchange and capital position. This and the inability to obtain international recognition.
On the question of foreign exchange, though sanctions have to continue, which I accept on balance, I should like my right hon. Friends to give some attention to the plight of two groups of quite innocent people. These are the British subjects who went to Rhodesia to retire long before UDI and cannot get their money out of England. They are not supporters of the Smith régime. The second group are those people who were sold Southern Rhodesia stock and cannot now get either their capital or their interest. I beg my right hon. Friends to give consideration to these two groups. They could be helped without damaging the sanctions policy.
My hon. Friend has raised two specific issues which it is impossible for me to comment on in detail straight away. Where there are humanitarian reasons for trying to ease the impact of sanctions, which we can do, we certainly will do so. I will consider the two specific points raised by my hon. Friend.
The shortage of foreign exchange is a factor, not a compelling one I agree, which has led to the holding of talks which have recently taken place in Rhodesia. My hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Soref) and other hon. Members pointed out in urging the lifting of sanctions that Africans were being hardest hit. They said that Africans
leaving school found it difficult to get jobs; their housing and education programmes were being delayed. That is probably all true. But we must not forget what the Pearce Commission said about the African response to sanctions. It said:
Sanctions might affect the Africans more seriously than the Europeans, but this was the price (the Africans) were ready to pay.
If one were to remove sanctions today without a settlement the prospect of getting an inter-racial agreement within Rhodesia would completely disappear. The moderates who are talking would be swept aside by the extremists.
The third leg of the argument concerns Britain's trading interest. Here it is possible to develop totally contradictory arguments as did the hon. and learned Member for Barons Court. I am not using this as an argument for the maintenance of the status quo, but it is a fact that our trade with Rhodesia, if sanctions were lifted, would be a very small element by comparison with the £1,500 million of trade we do every year with Africa south of the Sahara.
Our overall trade in Africa is a consideration which we must all weigh up very carefully when we speak in terms of Britain's trading interest. It is not only with Rhodesia or only with South Africa: it is with a multitude of sovereign countries in Africa.
The more general argument of those who would like to see sanctions lifted is that they are actually driving the community, especially the Europeans, into more extreme intransigent attitudes. I think that the decisive argument for maintaining the status quo is to look at what is happening on the ground in Rhodesia, and it is not a picture of the two communities becoming more extreme. It is true that there is terrorism and extremism, but the main political parties are now involved in talks.
For the first time there have been discussions between Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa, the leader of the African National Council. It may seem a very small step towards a satisfactory settlement, but it is a step in the direction of conciliation and moderation.
It may be true that there are some people who, out of a sense of defiance and feeling isolated, have become more extreme. But if we were to end sanctions now, with the talks going on but with no settlement reached, we should turn our backs on those who are working hardest for a settlement. It is from these people in Rhodesia that agreement must come—
The talks are taking place between the African National Council and the Rhodesian Front, and they have been taking place during the past year. Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa met in July, and the talks have been going on within the parties since then. Only last month, for example, the African National Council issued a unanimous statement saying that it wished these talks to continue. There have also been talks at other levels—for example, between the African National Council and the Rhodesia Party. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary pointed out, they have reached agreement on 12 principles for a multiracial society which they wish to see established in Rhodesia.
My point is that if we were to drop sanctions in breach of our international obligations under the United Nations Charter the control of events would almost certainly be swept out of the hands of moderate Africans and Europeans. While talks were still going on, and before a settlement had been reached, there would be such an emotional reaction in Rhodesia and outside that any hope of a settlement would be swept away.
For those briefly deployed but, I hope cogent reasons, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends and the House as a whole to support the order.