I beg to move,
That the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965 (Continuation) Order 1975, a draft of which was laid before this House on 13th October, be approved.
The tenth anniversary of the illegal and unilateral declaration of independence by the white régime in Rhodesia is nearly upon us, and this is the eleventh time that the Government of the day have asked this House to approve the Order—
If the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) wants to associate himself and other members of the Conservative Party with Lord North, that will show that, like the Bourbons, they forget nothing and they learn nothing.
We ask the House to extend for a further 12 months Section 2 of the Southern Rhodesia Act 1965. This empowers Her Majesty in Council to take whatever measures may be necessary to deal with the situation created by the unilateral declaration of independence. Among the measures which it will maintain in force are the Orders in Council applying sanctions to Rhodesia. I believe that the Order will achieve the overwhelming support of this House.
The renewal of sanctions is a reaffirmation of our commitment—a commitment accepted by successive administrations—to settle a debt of honour to the people of Rhodesia as a whole and in particular to the African majority whose legitimate aspirations remain thwarted. I shall have something to say later about the impact of sanctions on the Rhodesian economy. But since their imposition they have had a further significance. The fact that they have been imposed is a symbol to the world of Britain's intention and determination to do everything that we can to contribute to a peaceful settlement in Rhodesia on the basis of the Six Principles which were formulated a decade ago.
For Rhodesia, the past decade has been a decade of drift, of drift towards potential disaster which, as time passes, becomes more and more difficult to avert. The decade has been marked by the consistent refusal of the régime to come to terms with one basic reality—that if Rhodesia is to have a peaceful and prosperous future the right of the Africans to play the major part in the running of their country must be recognised.
The most important development over the past 12 months has been that all of Rhodesia's neighbours recognise that the Rhodesian problem is, in a very real sense, their problem as well as ours. All Rhodesia's neighbours now realise that, unless that problem can be solved peacefully, there is a real danger that Southern Africa will become engulfed in an armed racial struggle.
Earlier in the decade which is just coming to an end, it was felt by successive British Governments that the right course to follow was to attempt to negotiate a settlement with Mr. Smith directly. The turning point came, I think, with the Pearce Commission of 1972. Thereafter, it became absolutely clear that a settlement in which the Africans were not directly involved had no hope of being accepted by them.
Perhaps as important was a growing realisation by the Africans, both in Rhodesia and in the surrounding States, that Britain really did mean what she said in the Six Principles and was not simply seeking a sell-out or an accommodation with Mr. Smith. It was to reinforce that view and to obtain a convergence of our policies that I visited several African Commonwealth States and South Africa earlier this year.
However, in discharging Britain's responsibility we recognise that the condition for a lasting settlement is that the prime responsibility lies on Rhodesians of all races to determine the country's destiny. In that process both Britain and Rhodesia's neighbours have a crucial and legitimate rôle to play in promoting a settlement. The ultimate constitutional responsibility for Rhodesia still lies with Britain. But it would be unrealistic to deny that Rhodesia's neighbours have at least as great an interest as ourselves in finding a solution to the Rhodesia problem, and can bring greater influence to bear in the quest for a settlement. For us it is a debt of honour. For them it is a vital matter of security.
I should like to pay a tribute, which I am sure the House will wish to endorse, to the Presidents of Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia for the rôle they have played in attempting to smooth the path of negotiations between the parties in Rhodesia. I should like, too, to acknowledge the very positive efforts of the Government of South Africa towards the same end. A year ago Mr. Vorster spoke of the need for all parties in the position to do so to bring their influence to bear and he has acted in recent months to carry out his own statement of intent.
Despite the present impasse we shall continue our efforts to get both sides around a negotiating table. It is my earnest hope that the four Presidents and the South African Government will continue their effort to achieve the same end. I believe that they can and should continue their readiness to act together in pursuit of this objective, despite the well-known and deeply held differences of view among them on matters. The great majority in Rhodesia counts on their help in achieving a settlement and would be gravely disappointed if they did not pursue their efforts.
In the future, as in the recent past, it is right that Brtain should co-ordinate her efforts as closely as possible with those countries.
I shall not take up the time of the House by rehearsing in detail today the events of the past 12 months or the successive hopes and disappointments to which they have given rise: the release of Joshua Nkomo and the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, with the prospect of constitutional talks "without preconditions" in Mr. Smith's own words, and the uncertain cease-fire; the Lusaka meeting with the four Presidents, followed by my own sounding in Southern Africa in January; the OAU meeting in April; our consultations with Commonwealth leaders at Kingston; the visit by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to Lorenço Marques, Pretoria and Salisbury in June; the partial achievement of the Victoria Falls Bridge talks which then foundered—and let us be clear that they foundered on Mr. Smith's own shortsightedness; the early unity, but subsequent disarray, of the African nationalist leadership. To what point does all this bring us today?
Today, we are faced, and the people of Rhodesia are faced, with a year of lost opportunities—opportunities painstakingly created by the four Presidents and Mr. Vorster, and largely thrown away through the failure of the illegal régime to make a correspondingly generous and statesmanlike response. That failure was perhaps most notable when Mr. Smith refused to make a concession on immunity for the exiled ANC representatives at the Victoria Falls talks in August. Since then things have become steadily worse. What can be done now to keep the hope of a negotiated settlement alive?
I repeat my conviction that our starting point must be that Rhodesia's neighbours will be willing to continue to play a helpful role. A peaceful solution which meets the aspirations of the majority of Rhodesia's population is clearly in the interests of all with power and influence to bring to bear on the situation. Without rapid progress to majority rule, peace will break down, because no power on earth can make Rhodesian Africans tolerate a political system which they have made clear they reject. But war must be equally abhorrent to Rhodesia's neighbours, because each of them has pressing political, economic and social goals which could be put in jeopardy by a resumption of guerrilla warfare on a wider scale.
The conclusion is inescapable. Yet there is still a depth of illusion among Rhodesian Europeans and their supporters in this country and elsewhere about the realities of the situation. They seem to cling to the belief that there is still a chance for them to be left alone to work out their salvation in the way that they, not their African compatriots, decide, that they can be left to choose and dictate the rate and direction of progress, and that they have a preordained right to undisturbed enjoyment of their privileged position. They have totally failed to understand why South Africa, as much as anyone, desires a settlement in Rhodesia which will be acceptable to Rhodesian Africans and to African countries to the north.
The consequence of this failure to understand what is taking place outside could be disastrous, because the outcome could be racial war. I have said before, and I repeat again, that I think that every hon. Member well understands the fears and hopes of the white population for the future. They have jobs, homes, farms, pensions, and the future of their children to think about. They do not want to throw these things away. But no one else wants them to throw them away either. What we do say is that there can be no future for them if they persist in their present course.
In their own interests, the Europeans in Rhodesia must start seriously to look for alternatives which take account of the racial balance in the Rhodesian population and provide at least a chance of peaceful co-existence with their fellow African countrymen who overwhelmingly outnumber them. They are done no useful service by those who tell them that the choice for them is between oligarchy and anarchy. The choice is between ultimate defeat—perhaps long delayed—and a chance of a multi-racial society. A number of white Rhodesians understand this very well, and I pay tribute to them.
However, if statesmanship is necessary, as it certainly is, on the European side while they hold power, it is also necessary on the African side. For them the message of the 1950s and 1960s is equally clear. Progress towards their goals will be very difficult unless they can restore a broad measure of unity in their ranks and in their leadership. I hope that even yet it is not too late for the nationalist leaders to subordinate their differences, to repair them and to advance together.
It is against this background that we ask the House to renew the legislation which keeps sanctions in being. As I said in my opening remarks, they are a touchstone of our determination to maintain pressure on the régime to come to terms with reality, and to come to terms with the aspirations of the majority and thus with world opinion. To dispense with them now would be an act of incredible political folly. It would shock world opinion as a violation of our obligations under the UN Charter to obey the mandatory rules of the Security Council. It would be interpreted by Africans in Rhodesia as an abandonment of our responsibility towards them. It would shake the Commonwealth. Indeed, it would be an act of folly, and any hon. Member who goes into the Lobby to vote against them must surely hope that he will be defeated in what he is doing.
It is our task and duty to see that we, and others, enforce sanctions as strictly as possible. Even now they are not universally applied—they will not cripple the Rhodesian economy—but they serve a useful purpose in bringing home to the European man in the street—and perhaps the man on the farm—the true extent of Rhodesia's isolation in the world.
Enhanced by the effects of the world recession, the effects of sanctions are now severe. In the financial year which ended last June the deficit on Rhodesia's balance of payments rose to a record peak of nearly R$80 million. The allocations for foreign exchange, travel abroad by Rhodesians and imports have been drastically cut back. On the regime's own admission, improved sanctions' surveillance has contributed markedly to the worsening of the economic climate in Rhodesia—[Laughter].
Is that a matter for laughter? The hon. and learned Gentleman says "What an achievement!" That is true. If I were in Mr. Smith's position I should feel that it was necessary to consider where my policy was leading me.
I might add here that the need to meet the threat of renewed guerrilla activity has also placed strains upon the economy, leading to a rise in defence expenditure of some 23 per cent. in the last Budget. Moreover, the increase in the scope of the call-up for military service is bound to have a considerable effect on productivity in the economy.
In attempting to ensure that sanctions are stringently enforced, we have enjoyed the fullest co-operation of the United Nations Supervisory Committee on Sanctions. There have been setbacks. I do not conceal my disappointment at the refusal of the House of Representatives to repeal the Byrd Amendment, under which the United States permits the import from Rhodesia of certain strategic minerals—notably chrome and ferrochrome—but I am encouraged by the evident intention of the American administration not to let the matter rest there.
I am glad that, following discussions which I initiated with our European Community partners last year, machinery has now been set up to exchange information about the prevention of sanctions breaking. Other countries, too, have taken steps to strengthen their sanctions controls. Japan, for example, to whom as Foreign Minister I made representations on more than one occasion and who subsequently sent a delegation to visit South Africa, has, I believe in the light of the knowledge she has gained, introduced new documentary requirements for trade which are making it more difficult for her firms to evade sanctions, and she has also made it an offence for them to trade with Rhodesia via third countries.
I believe—I know that the great majority of hon. Members will agree with me—that this is right. There is a new note of earnestness in the attitude of great trading nations towards the enforcing of sanctions. This is a trend to be encouraged, and we shall continue to play our full part.
Looking to the future in more general terms, one concern is and will remain totally and unconditionally central to the Government's Rhodesian policy—that is, the search for a just solution by peaceful means.
Throughout the last year we have devoted our diplomatic effort to this end, and we shall continue to do so. All those who are concerned with this problem, both in Rhodesia and elsewhere, would do well to bear in mind that to abandon the search for a negotiated settlement and to go over to seeking a solution by military means would be to adopt an irresponsible policy of despair. No one who argues in favour of a war of liberation should forget that the Europeans have the power, even if they cannot win, at least to make the struggle a long and bloody one. We can and must do our utmost to see that these destructive forces are not unleashed. The armed struggle is not a soft option with inevitable results. If the attempts to negotiate a settlement fail, the drift to armed racial confrontation will begin in earnest. No one can now know how it will end. We know not only that the struggle in Rhodesia will be bloody, but that it is likely that all her neighbours will be sucked into the conflagration. Who and what would survive, we do not know, but I am certain that every country in Southern Africa would pay a very heavy price indeed. That is why I have committed the British Government once again so firmly to the process of negotiation. As part of that commitment the continuation of sanctions is essential.
We remain ready to discharge our historic responsibility for Rhodesia and to convene a constitutional conference when the time is right. But a constitutional conference does not in itself constitute or guarantee a solution of the underlying political problems. As I see it, a pre-condition for calling it together is that the elements for a settlement should exist. Only in extremis would it be worth calling it together as a last ditch enterprise. At present neither the conditions for a settlement nor an extreme situation in which we might do it as a last hope exist, but events are closing in. Mr. Smith has little time left to choose which path he intends to take.
We shall maintain solidarity with the international community on the issue of sanctions and go on working in the closest consultation with the countries in the region which share our broad objectives. We shall hope and work to achieve a settlement which will recognise and meet the aspirations of the African majority while preserving peace in the country so that people of all colours and races may live and have a future there.
I do not think that it could be fairly said that the Government have neglected any opportunity in the last year to make a constructive contribution to this problem. We shall certainly continue our efforts in the coming year and go on actively seeking out such opportunities as there may be. With my right hon. Friend the Minister of State I am always considering what intervention will help best. I feel confident that we shall have the understanding and support of the large majority in this House and in the country at large.
grief returns with the revolving year.
I cannot help being reminded of those words in this debate today. It is a grief to everyone, because Rhodesia—a lovely country endowed by nature with enormous resources and in which men and women should be able to live happily together in prosperity and unity—is still suffering from these grave difficulties. It is a grief to us that this should be so. It is also a grief to us, inevitably, that we in this country, and particularly in this House, should have so little power, in practical terms, to do anything whatever about it.
We must recognise, as the Foreign Secretary properly recognised, that Britain's ability is now limited to the exercise of such influence as we still have, particularly with the States around Rhodesia, to try to achieve a settlement. Certainly we welcome what the right hon. Gentleman said about what he and his colleagues are trying to do. We assure him that anything that he does to try to bring about a settlement in Rhodesia on the basis of the principles accepted for many years on both sides of the House will have our support.
We have this debate year after year. It comes with "the revolving year". I suspect that the arguments this year will be much the same as those made last year, which I read closely, and that the vote, when it comes, will be much the same as the vote last year, because Members' convictions on this subject do not change.
I must stress that this is an annual debate. Parliament provided that it should be an annual debate, because it was thought wrong to commit ourselves on any one occasion for more than 12 months ahead. This year, when the situation is particularly fluid, it is important to emphasise that we are being asked to continue this Order for 12 months. At the end of 12 months the situation could be very different. We may—I hope to God that we shall—see a settlement of this whole problem, and then the thing will lapse. On the other hand, we may be facing a situation of severe fighting, as the Foreign Secretary rightly suggested. Therefore, it is right that we should reserve our position on what we might do in another year in circumstances which we cannot possibly predict.
On behalf of the Conservative Party I must make it clear that, in accepting the need to continue the Order, we do so for this year only, as we are asked, and reserve our position on what may happen in a year in circumstances which may be totally different.
It is true, as the Foreign Secretary said, that pressures are now developing which may help to bring about an agreement and settlement of the problem. I was glad that, in paying tribute to Southern Rhodesia's neighbours, the right hon. Gentleman included not only the four Presidents, but Mr. Vorster and the Government of South Africa. All of them are properly to be congratulated on the efforts that they have been making. Clearly they all recognise that it is in their mutual interests that there should be a settlement and that it can be in no one's interest in any part of Southern Africa for the situation in Rhodesia to develop into brutal armed conflict between black and white. After all, it is only from there that a solution can come.
We should particularly bear in mind today what effect our actions and speeches may have upon the efforts made by President Kaunda, Mr. Vorster, or any of the others concerned who are trying to bring about a settlement. If there is to be a settlement, basically it will come from their influence and activities. Anything that we did to impede those influences would be a sorry thing indeed.
I shall now proceed to the practical question before the House: do we approve the Order? It would be wrong to oppose the continuation of this Order. At the same time, I think that the Foreign Secretary's defence of the Order and of economic sanctions was a bit flimsy. I have a certain sympathy for those who argue that economic sanctions in this, as in almost every other, case prove to be an exercise in absurdity.
What effect have they had over the past 10 years? The answer is, precious little. It is all very well to say that Rhodesia has a balance of payments deficit. Rhodesians are not the only people faced with that difficulty and I am not convinced that their balance of payments deficit arises from the imposition of economic sanctions.
Nor do we feel that the imposition of sanctions has been as impartially applied as it might be, or followed up as consistently as it might be by other countries. I notice that last year the Foreign Secretary referred to this and spoke about what he was doing to make sanctions watertight. He said that he would raise the matter with EEC Foreign Ministers. That was 12 months ago. I gather that all that has happened is that they have reached an agreement to exchange information. That is a splendid idea. They should have done that years ago.
The right hon. Gentleman also spoke about the Byrd Amendment. He hoped that he would be allowed to send an appeal to Congress to repeal it. I do not know whether he sent that appeal, but if he did, Congress did not pay very much attention to it.
Whatever the moral or political purpose of sanctions, it is only right to say that in economic terms they have had precious little effect and support. It is worth while emphasising this, because one often hears it suggested that economic sanctions should be applied to this or that country. There is no example in history to show that the application of economic sanctions has done anything more, in practice, than stiffen the resolve of those to whom they are applied.
In relation to this Order I believe that we, as a country, are committed to mandatory sanctions. I think it was a pity that it ever happened in the first place. I should like to quote what Sir Alec Douglas-Home, as he was, said about this, because what he said in 1973 remains as true today as it was then. He said:
It is true that mandatory sanctions should never have been put on. We voted against them…. But the British Government of the day put its signature to a resolution of the Security Council of United Nations which is binding on its members. We are a permanent member and we are in the habit of keeping Britain's word. We do not…pick and choose which laws we obey and which we do not, nationally or internationally.
He went on to say that the time may come when we have to ask the United Nations to be relieved of this special
responsibility. That day, he said, might come, but he went on the say that
with all the emphasis I can command that now and for the foreseeable future, to drop sanctions without a settlement would be to fall between two stools.
What he said on that occasion remains true today. We must have regard to the rapid rate at which things are changing in Southern Rhodesia. If I may be allowed to say so, we should perhaps say tempora mutantur and be prepared to mutare in illis—be prepared at all times to change our stance in the face of changing circumstances. If the time comes to demand such a change, I hope that we shall respond to it. In the meantime it is right to allow the continuation of the Order on the 12-month basis on which it is proposed. I say again that anything the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues can do to bring about a peaceful settlement will have our wholehearted sympathy.
This is the eleventh time that this House has been called upon to renew this Order. This is the first time that I have made a contribution to the debate. But I have read the previous debates, and on looking at the Opposition benches I note the faces that have appeared at these debates time and again.
There was the hope, 10 years ago, that this illegal régime would be strangled at birth but, regrettably, that hope proved somewhat premature. But this debate is taking place today against a situation of unprecedented fluidity in Southern Africa. It is not simply a repetition of debates of old, when the prospects of change were slight. It may be premature again to say that there will be no need to have a further debate of this kind, but skilled "Rhodesia watchers" are more than aware of the difficulties of predicting the fall of the Smith régime.
There are those who think that once again we are witnessing the dying gasps of Rhodesia, but there are still many imponderables. There will undoubtedly be progression towards majority rule, but will this progression be via a bloody route, and when will this progression take place? Will it be this year, or next year, or some years ahead? I very much hope that the Rhodesians themselves will realise that the time has come to settle honourably, and that the bloodshed that is inevitable by any other course can be avoided.
We are no longer at the centre of the stage. We were unable—indeed, some would say unwilling—in the past to discharge our ultimate colonial responsibility in Africa. Others hold the key, and an alternative strategy has been devised. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said last year:
The time has passed when the Phodesian problem could be settled through a negotiation between the British Government and the illegal régime alone…—[Official Report. 8th November 1974; Vol. 880, c. 1406.]
We still have a rôle to play in the ultimate settlement, and I should like to compliment the Foreign Secretary on his efforts to create a better understanding between the British Government and the other participants in this continuing saga. In Rhodesia, they are dealing with difficult men. They are men who are ostensibly dignified by the office that they hold. They are men who have built a State which at best could be called a dictatorship and at worst a Fascist regime. What they have done is made more obnoxious by the fact that they are of British descent. Few can take pride not only in the way in which they have conducted negotiations over the past decade but in the way in which Rhodesia was conquered, the way in which the last vestige of resistance was crushed, the way in which violence was used to establish the State, and the way in which violence and the potential threat of violence are used to sustain that State.
This régime has maintained white privilege and white supremacy whilst masquerading behind euphemistic phrases such as "a desire to maintain the Rhodesian way of life", "to preserve Christian standards" and "to keep the Government in civilised hands". We should not forget that we are dealing with a régime which is not only illegal but which, in almost every sense, offends against any standards of morality in the world today.
The situation now is very different from the situation two years ago, or even one year ago. The next 12 months will determine the future of Southern Africa. The events of the next 12 months, unless carefully and correctly handled, will turn the Southern Africa situation into one as potentially dangerous to world security as is the situation in the Middle East.
However, there are some hopeful signs. As Professor Spence, my former tutor, wrote:
The most encouraging feature of the current mood is that for the first lime in nearly a decade the major protagonists have asserted their faith in the operation of conventioned diplomacy.
This has been an encouraging feature of the past 12 months, but for Mr. Smith the options are closing.
The collapse of the Portugese empire two years ago signalled the end of an epoch—the end of 500 years of Portugese colonisation of Africa and, we hope, the end of a decade of the illegal régime in Rhodesia. For Rhodesia, one leg of the tripod crumbled—the Portugese leg—and the second leg, that of South Africa, is rapidly being shortened, so Rhodesia's policy options have slowly been whittled down. On the one hand it has seen its own strength vitiated and on the other it is seeing the power of its adversaries magnified.
Improbable though it might have been two years ago, it is now South Africa that holds the centre of the stage. It is South Africa that calls the tune. Mr. Vorster knows that white majority rule in Rhodesia is doomed, and any demand to sustain that régime economically or militarily is a burden which, I believe. South Africa is not prepared to bear. White minority rule in Rhodesia is expendable so that white minority rule in South Africa can be sustained. My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) said in an excellent speech to the Oxford University Labour Club last week:
In fact they—
namely, South Africa—
would clearly prefer a stable black régime than an unstable régime based on minority rule.
For South Africa there has been a stark choice—
Tanzania, Kenya—there are numerous régimes and political, systems in Africa which are stable. I can name a number of régimes in Europe which are incredibly unstable. In many ways, the reasons for the instabilities in Africa cannot be placed fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Africans; they are due largely to the legacy that the colonial Powers left behind.
For South Africa, the choice is stark It can either pursue its policy of détente, or it can try to sustain the illegal regime, which will mean military involvement. As my right hon. Friend said, that will benefit no one. Any nation involving itself in conflict in Africa will lose. That is the choice for South Africa, and I believe that it is taking the correct decision in assisting, indeed precipitating, a peaceful settlement. But one should remember the lesson of Angola. There is a bloody conflict in Angola today, but in many ways it can be put down to the fact that the Portuguese stayed too long and then refusal to get out largely led to the civil war.
We do not want too many simplistic conclusions and assessments—[Interruption.]Perhaps hon. Members are accusing me of a simplistic approach. I look forward to listening—quietly—to their analyses. An exciting time will probably unfold in the next four hours.
I hope that hon. Members will agree that we should congratulate those presidents and leaders who have involved themselves in the negotiations—President Kaunda, President Seretse Khama, President Nyerere and President Machele of Mozambique. These men are struggling to achieve peaceful transition. Although we may support the policy of detente by South Africa, we must remember its objectives. It is an attempt to secure an economic and political bridge with black Africa, now that South Africa's cordon sanitaire has disappeared.
But the price that black Africa and the West are expected to pay is to maintain a benign neglect of what is going on in South Africa. As the Foreign Secretary said, this is no time to abandon our role, to withdraw our sanctions. To do so at this point would be an act of monumental folly. It would result in our relations with developing nations and with black Southern African States being set back a decade. Far from abandoning sanctions, we must tighten them. We must root out the sanctions busters and condemn those engaging in sporting activities with Rhodesia. Sanctions themselves will never bring down the Smith régime and there are very few who ever thought that that would be the case—
Sanctions are clearly harmful to Rhodesia. One would be foolish to fall for the propaganda coming out of Rhodesia that sanctions are even beneficial. The pressures on the Rhodesian economy are continuing, including the effect of sanctions, which we should not minimise; the effect of guerrilla activity, or potential guerrilla activity, the problems posed by Mozambique, not only political but economic, particularly the problems of transportation. All these are harming, and will harm further, the Rhodesian economy.
The problems of that economy are exacerbated by the world economic climate, the oil crisis, and the world recession, which is hitting Rhodesia hard. There is also the decline in foreign exchange and foreign investment, and the manpower problems created by the call-up. Immigration to and emigration from Rhodesia provide a good barometer of the morale of the population. Many of them are clearly voting with their feet—
A few more could go, to our delight.
A gentlemen called Mr. Anthony Hawkins, writing in the Bulletin of the Institute of South Africa, Issue No. 1, 1975, said:
Economic sanctions, in their present form, will not bring down Rhodesia. Only a decision from South Africa to stand aside and see Rhodesia fall to such economic pressures could achieve such an outcome.
So the factors that I have mentioned—the way in which the economic screws are being tightened—mean that if South Africa stands aside the elimination of the illegal régime will be precipitated.
Mr. Hawkins refers to sanctions "in their present form" bringing down Mr.
Smith. I advise hon. Members to read the Seventh Report of the United Nations Security Council Committee about sanctions. It is a voluminous analysis of who is breaking sanctions. Regrettably, the admonitions are sincere but the organisation has few teeth. It sends polite letters to Governments, which are often ignored. The report said:
Some Governments have co-operated with us but the Committee feels that in a disturbingly large number of cases Governments have failed to respond to our inquiries.
It goes on:
Information received from established sources indicates that sanctions evasions have continued on a major scale throughout 1974.
The blame is placed to a certain extent on the shoulders of South Africa and Portugal, but as the Committee says:
Nonetheless, a substantial proportion of Southern Rhodesian trade with other countries continues to be conducted with countries the Governments of which do not question the validity of mandatory sanctions.
Clearly, many Governments are going through the motions of operating sanctions while closing their eyes to the facts.
One must comment on the failure of the American Congress to repeal the Byrd Amendment. I said "American Congress" because the American President is trying to put pressure on Congress to repeal it. I was privileged to attend—as an observer, a meeting of Congress when Congressmen and representatives from outside organisations were co-ordinating their policy to secure its repeal. It is vital that we have much stricter enforcement of sanctions, which will make an important and possibly decisive contribution to our objectives.
A publication called the "Common Market Law Review", published as recently as May, contained an article by a Dutchman named Mr. P. J. Kuyper, analysing the rôle of the EEC in sanctions. I hope that it has been read by the Foreign Office and that I shall hear the comments of the Foreign Secretary on it. I hope that his negotiations with the EEC will yield a much more favourable response by the various Governments.
I believe that there will be a solution. I hope that the disunity currently being witnessed in the nationalist movement will be healed. I hope that this saga is reaching its culmination, but one should not be too optimistic. Optimism has been raised many times before, but, as President Kaunda has said, we are dealing with a problem which has gone on for centuries, and we cannot expect miracles overnight.
Perhaps at the outset I should by the strictest standards declare an interest. I have no business connections with Rhodesia, but I am connected with a mining group which still has certain properties in that country.
The hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) urged us not to adopt a simplistic attitude. I cannot help feeling that he fell a little into the trap against which he warned us. No one would call Rhodesia a pluralist democracy, but it will not have escaped the hon. Member's attention that in the past few weeks both main branches of the African National Congress have held public conferences and demonstrations. This is not quite what we associate with the words "dictatorship" and "Fascism", which he used. I shall deal with some of the other points raised by the hon. Gentleman a little later.
The preface to the Authorised Version of the Bible begins with the words:
To the most high and mighty Prince James…King of Great Britain, France and Ireland.
That was King James I. The preface was written more than a generation after Queen Mary Tudor had lost her last foothold in France. It was a great piece of humbug for the King of England to claim that he was King of France. King James was known as "the wisest fool in Christendom." I cannot help thinking that if we continue to introduce these Orders, not just the Foreign Secretary—because we were guilty of it, too—but the House of Commons will deserve that soubriquet.
Cant and humbug are the prevailing diseases which afflict Britain today. Ministers shed tears over homelessness, and then it turns out that five of them have 17 homes between them. They advocate egalitarianism in education, and then it proves that many of them send their children to fee-paying schools. They shed tears over the plight of murderers of Spanish policemen, but not over the Spanish policemen or their families. But this Order really takes the biscuit for humbug.
The Order asserts that we are still the sovereign Power in Rhodesia, yet for 10 years Rhodesia has fulfilled all the criteria laid down by ordinary Foreign Office standards for an independent State. It has managed its economy and assured its defence independently and in face of great problems. It is total humbug and cant to pretend that it is not independent and that we are still the sovereign Power.
The justification for sanctions is that they are a means to persuade the Rhodesians to accept that they are not independent and that they still need our blessing before independence can be conferred.
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and the hon. Member for Walsall, South attempted to assess how sanctions have worked out. I shall try to follow them. The effect has been partly negative to us. We lost £70 million worth of trade at 1965 values, which would presumably have expanded in the period when commodity prices rose and food prices rose even higher. Sanctions have also done some damage to the Rhodesian economy, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out. They have inhibited capital investment from outside, and meant fewer settlers than Rhodesia otherwise would have had. In order to defeat sanctions it has had to pay rather more for what it imports and receive rather less for what it exports. There has been inconvenience for those who have pensions overseas and for those who want to travel.
But there is another side to the matter. Sanctions have meant that the profits of foreign companies, including multinational companies, could not be repatriated, so those companies have had to re-invest in Rhodesia. This has produced something of a boom, particularly in the construction industry. Behind the protective barrier of sanctions, scores of new industries have sprung up, which manufacture everything from loo paper to machine tools—commodities which Rhodesians never expected to make before, but which they always expected to import.
As a result, whole new strata of African and European business men and African and European skilled men have sprung up. What is more, many of those whom we used to regard as simple farmers have proved to be very competent operators in marketing and international finance. The Tribune Group should take heart from the remarkable success of the Rhodesian economy, operating behind precisely the kind of barrier of import controls and financial restrictions which it advocates for this country.
Three yardsticks should be borne in mind when trying to measures the balance of profit or loss arising out of sanctions. The great nightmare of the Rhodesian régime was that it would be faced with an insoluble African unemployment problem as a result of sanctions. That has not happened. Labour, indeed, is still being imported from Malawi and Mozambique. Apart from last year, in the past 10 years there has been a small net inflow of Europeans. Bank rate stands at 4½ per cent. The rate of inflation is even lower than that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer pretended was ours in the October General Election; it is about 7 per cent.
We may well ask: what are these sanctions for? I shall let the House into the secret. If the sanctions were taken away and if British business men were allowed to trade freely with Rhodesia, there would inevitably follow a de facto recognition of the Rhodesian republic. We might not recognise it de jure, and we might not send an ambassador, but very soon we should have to send a consul to protect our interests there. This would upset the left wing of the Labour Party, perhaps some of the bishops, particularly those who write in the Morning Star, and some of the more extreme members of the Organisation of African Unity.
How does the House of Commons, after 10 years of folly, get off the hook? Much the most attractive way would be by way of a settlement, which all hon. Members could commend as the grounds on which we could confer legal independence from this House. The Foreign Secretary analysed clearly the circumstances of a settlement. Originally, it was regarded as an agreement between Britain and the white régime in Rhodesia. After the Pearce Commission, that phase ended and the African National Congress became the chief protagonist in our place. It was then a question whether Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa could reach a settlement. More recently, others have come into the act, notably South Africa and Zambia.
What are the chances of a settlement? Until I visited Salisbury this year I had not been there for five years. Certainly there is a big change in the political climate among both Europeans and Africans. The Europeans talk widely about eliminating all discrimination. They have certainly reduced it. It has not been eliminated completely, by quite a long way, but there is a régime commission which is investigating what more can be done and tackling, in particular, the irksome question of the urban areas in which Africans should be allowed to own property and offices. At present they are restricted.
The question is, can those restrictions be swept away, or, at any rate, diminished? Hon. Members on both sides of the House have condemned this practice for a long time. What is interesting is that the Rhodesian Europeans are now themselves talking about sweeping these things away—but not because of sanctions, let us be clear about that. Many considerations are moving them—the change in the Portuguese colonies; perhaps even the threat of terrorism—but, as one distinguished opponent of Mr. Smith said to me, "Starve us out? We can grow enough food for 20 million". In a hungry world that is a big card to play.
In European circles there is much talk about nominating African Ministers to the Cabinet right away, and many are hopeful that some sort of settlement will be reached with part, at least, of the ANC—perhaps with Mr. Nkomo. The Europeans' position is that they are prepared to share power but are still determined not to transfer it, as happened in Kenya. The Africans are deeply divided. Mr. Sithole believes that only force can settle the issue. I was glad to hear the Foreign Secretary denouncing that view. Mr. Nkomo and his colleagues, for their part, have made a substantial step to meet the Europeans. They have made it plain that in their view majority rule does not mean, or need not mean, "one man, one vote". They are quite prepared to accept a qualified franchise and to leave the question of the qualification and, hence, of precisely how quickly majority rule would follow.
Is it possible to reconcile those two positions—the readiness of the Europeans to share but not transfer power, and the wish of the ANC to achieve early majority rule? I do not know. I do not know whether any of us do. But clearly outside influences will play an important part, and, in particular, the influence of Mr. Vorster and Dr. Kaunda.
There are very good positive reasons for Mr. Vorster's view that there is a great community of economic interest between all the countries of Southern Africa. That is particularly true of the interdependence of Zambia and Rhodesia, as the creators of the old Central African Federation well understood. Zambia is going through a very difficult period. It is very short of foreign exchange, and it can get only part of its principal export of copper shifted by the Tanzam Railway and Dares-Salaam. The Benquela Railway is cut, because of the Angola civil war and the Beira railway is cut because Mr. Smith has closed it to Zambia. Zambia still gets food and coal through Rhodesia, but it must go by circuitous routes, and it costs more in foreign exchange than the market price.
Zambia, indeed, is suffering more from the sanctions than is Rhodesia, and clearly has an interest, as has Mr. Smith, and, in logic, Mozambique, in seeing a settlement and an accommodation arrived at. But President Kaunda has his own political difficulties at home and with the OAU. He cannot very well accept an accommodation with Mr. Smith unless he can point to an accommodation between Mr. Smith and the Africans in Rhodesia.
The negative reasons for détente are perhaps even more compelling than the positive ones. Mr. Vorster and President Kaunda have both looked over the abyss, and they do not like what they see. They know only too clearly that however reluctant they may be to become involved, if there is an abandonment of the negotiation table in favour of the battlefield in Rhodesia, ineluctably both will get drawn in and on opposite sides. As Mr. Vorster has said, the consequences of this could be "too ghastly to contemplate." If reason and logic prevail, a settlement should be possible. But, of course, wisdom does not always prevail. Of the other African leaders, President Mobutu, President Banda and Sir Seretse Khama will certainly be working for moderation. I should like to be more sure than I am that Mr. Nyerere and Mr. Machel will use their influence in the same way.
No one can quite foresee what will happen in Angola, but if the present civil war there ended in a Communist victory the whole balance of power in Central Africa would be shifted in a way that would make a settlement more difficult and confrontation more natural.
What can we do? We have to admit that there is precious little. The most frustrating sense that I had in visiting South Africa, Rhodesia and Kenya, is that people listen to old friends and talk in a friendly manner, but one is very conscious that Britain has very little influence nowadays out there. We have no longer a military presence. The Beira patrol has gone—from Zambia's point of view—and the Simonstown base, from South Africa's point of view. Our economic situation is all too plain to everyone.
What can we do? The ideal would be for us to face the facts, recognise that sanctions do not work, and accept the reality of an independent Rhodesia and of our own inability to do anything about it, but I despair of getting the House of Commons to do that. The Opposition, when in Government, did not do it, so how we can expect the present Government to do it baffles me. But there are two things that we can do. One is in relation to the Europeans and the other is in relation to the Africans.
The Europeans have a deep mistrust of London. They fear that even if they make substantial concessions and sufficient concessions to arrive at an agreement with a representative group of Africans, the British Government and Parliament may not endorse that agreement and may simply come back and ask for more, under pressure from the left wing of the Labour Party, the OAU, or others. We must, somehow, convince Europeans that if an agreement is reached with a representative group of Africans we shall endorse it promptly before extremist or other pressures get at the agreement and wreck it. Where the Africans are concerned there is another point which we must make clear. The Foreign Secretary laid the foundation for what I am about to say, but he did not go as far as I shall go. We must make it perfectly plain to the Africans that if they abandon negotiations in favour of force, we cannot continue to maintain sanctions—which would mean a de facto recognition of Rhodesia. I say that for this reason: we have always set our face against the use of force as a means of solving the Rhodesian problem, and if the Africans who have taken over the main negotiating rôle now abandon negotiations and resort to force, we cannot continue sanctions without being accomplices of terrorism and accessories to it. That is a position into which no British Government should ever get, and I hope that the House of Commons will make it clear that it is unacceptable to all of us.
I am tempted to reply to a number of points made by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), particularly some very misleading statements he made about humbug on the part of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench. When it comes to humbug, certain Opposition Members take some beating. They are so fond of such phrases as "law and order" and "the rule of law", but they are prepared to give succour to a régime which, among other things, has hanged people who have received the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. It would be difficult to imagine a situation in which law and order and the rule of law, and things of that type, are more violently infringed then they are by that kind of activity.
I want to concentrate today on one theme and a number of points relating to it. The theme which is crucial to the problem of Rhodesia—I claim no originality for this—has been, since the declaration of independence, and continues to be the relationship between Rhodesia and South Africa. Some profound mistakes have been made in estimating that relationship and in making policy judgments based on estimates of the relationship. Further, during the past year that relationship has changed dramatically, as a num- ber of people thought that it would eventually.
It has long been my view that, if and when a real test arose, South Africa and the South African Government would not be prepared to back Rhodesia. There are any number of reasons for saying that. There are straight logistical reasons. It is fairly obvious that in the long run South Africa will have profound difficulties in containing itself within its own boundaries, let alone trying to defend boundaries hundreds of miles from its frontiers.
There are, I regret to say, racial reasons as well. The balance between black and white in Rhodesia—anyone who knows anything about South Africa knows that that balance and that ratio is one of the crucial factors in any estimate of policy—is simply not good enough for South Africans: there are too many blacks and not enough whites. That calculation obviously enters into the South African consideration.
There is an even more deep-seated and cultural reason why the South African Government would always view whatever any white Rhodesian Government—English-based Rhodesian Government—might do or say with a fair degree of scepticism. The reason is entrenched in South African society, and particularly in white South African society, as anyone who has seen or observed it knows.
I can remember the shock which I received and from which I have still not recovered on picking up a newspaper in Johannesburg some years ago and seeing a headline something to the effect
National relations improving dramatically in South Africa.
I thought "My word. After all these years they are getting on at last. They are managing. They are coping well."
What the South Africans are referring to when they talk about national relations are the relations between the English and the Afrikaaners. The profound bitterness which exists between the English and the Afrikaaners still in South Africa must be taken into account before one can begin to understand South African society. To understand that is to begin to understand a great deal of South Africa's attitude to Southern Rhodesia.
It is common place for English speaking people in South Africa to refer to Afrikaaners as white kaffirs. It is an indication of the sickness of that society that that can be a term of contempt, but that is frequently the phrase used by English-speaking South Africans when they speak of Afrikaaners. We know of the cultural gap which exists between the Afrikaaners and the English. We know that the South African Government resisted to the last moment attempts to take television to South Africa for fear that it would swamp the Afrikaaner group with English-speaking views and influence. That is all part of the same symptom.
Therefore, when South African white society and the South African Government look to Rhodesia they see, not just a white-black problem but the dominance of English-speaking people in Rhodesia, and for the Afrikaaner in South Africa that is a subject of great concern in any consideration of future plans between the nations and between the races.
I have said that there are numbers of reasons why, when it comes to the crunch, a South African Government would have very great reservations about doing anything dramatic to help the Rhodesian Government. The significance of this in this debate is that during the course of the past year we have seen real indications that the collusion of thieves, if one likes so to describe it, between the South African Government and the Rhodesian Government is coming to an end. We have seen it with some of the remarks that Smith himself has made about Mr. Vorster and the part that Mr. Vorster played or did not play in the settlement that might have been achieved.
We have seen a reaction of the whites in South Africa to what was said. We have seen in effect Mr. Smith appealing over Mr. Vorster's head to his right wing and to his party in the country. That appeal was rejected, as we knew that it would be because it was an English-speaking person appealing to backwoods Afrikaaners and Afrikaans-speaking people in South Africa. We have seen the withdrawal of South African troops from Rhodesia. We have seen all sorts of indications that whatever honeymoon existed in the past is coming rapidly to an end. We should thank God for that.
According to a report I have here, the South Africans have been preparing for
an influx of whites from Rhodesia. I quote from a report in the Observer on 20th July of this year:
the South African Government is discussing a contingency plan to absorb thousands of white Rhodesians and particularly members of the 30,000 Afrikaaner community in Rhodesia.
So even in this situation it is the Afrikaaners the South Africa Government want there, if they are anxious to welcome anyone. It is not the rest. That, as I have suggested all the way along, is what we must appreciate in attempting to understand what is going on in South Africa.
So at a time when even South Africa—people know well enough that we on this side do not expect many good things to come from the South African Government—is saying "We are moving towards a settlement" and wants to see a settlement I cannot believe that Opposition Members would countenance a situation in which the British Government should step back from this and should in effect say "We will make it easier for you Rhodesians in the next year. We will step back from sanctions. We will put a settlement further away." That would be monstrous and ludicrous.
Though I know that the logic of events will take some Conservative Members into the Division Lobby, I cannot believe that right hon. and hon. Members, if they consider this argument, will not see the logic and truth of what I am saying. Events in Mozambique have moved against South Africa. Another significant development of the past year is the way in which the South African Government have begun to react in a way in which I would have expected them to react a long time ago but which in the end was bound to come.
There is barely need for me to give my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary any advice on negotiating. To attempt to give him advice on how to negotiate would be rather like teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. However, rather than appear to be too anxious to seek a settlement at present when events are moving inexorably against Smith and against the South African Government I would tend to let things drift a little. Things are at least going in the direction in which anyone with any sense of history knew that they would go. Let us hope that there is a settlement as soon as possible. But let it be recognised that events in that part of the world are moving against Smith and in particular as regards the crucial relationship with South Africa. I profoundly hope that the House will support the continuation of sanctions.
The hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Grocott) began his speech with a reference to law and order. He then said that the Rhodesian Government had hanged people who had received the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. The hon. Gentleman will recall that the three men in question were convicted murderers, who had been condemned well before UDI. Since then, terrorists who have been caught in the act have been hanged by the Rhodesian Government. I remind the hon. Gentleman, too, that many people in this country are now saying that the same should happen over here.
I follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) in declaring what limited interest I have in Rhodesia. I have no financial interest. The Foreign Secretary will recall that when we visited Rhodesia some time ago I purchased a small rocky outcrop, on which I hoped one day to build a holiday bungalow. I suppose that if sanctions have had any success at all, one could say that their main success has been to prevent my so doing.
It is 10 years since UDI and the start of the tragic farce of sanctions, the nonsense of which has been so eloquently underlined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion. I should like to go back to the start of this conflict. Right hon. and hon. Members on both Front Benches have a responsibility for the unfortunate situation which prevails today. The Conservative Government at the time of the Victoria Falls conference, if they had not been too clever, could well have negotiated the independence of Southern Rhodesia at the same time as Zambia and Malawi, and world opinion would have taken that independence without too much argument. The Labour Government could well have secured a settlement at the time of "Fearless" if they had not insisted on the second safeguard of an appeal to the Privy Council. I suppose the best hope of a settlement in this dispute came during the Home-Smith agreement, which was negated by the Pearce Commission. That was the responsibility of the then Conservative Government, but it was also a Foreign Office responsibility. It would seem to an observer that the Foreign Office has given the wrong advice to successive Governments—first that UDI would not take place, then letting the Prime Minister, nine years ago, say that the matter would be settled in weeks rather than months, and, finally, by mistiming the Pearce Commission, which is the main reason why it did not achieve success.
That is in the past. I now address myself to the new situation which has been created by the South African Prime Minister's policy of détente. I join the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in paying a tribute to the South African Prime Minister. Not only Rhodesia wants a settlement; so does Zambia—economically even more so. She must find routes to get her copper exports out of the country, due to the prevailing chaos in the ports in Angola. Mozambique needs a settlement, because she depends largely on South Africa's help for her economy and tourism. Therefore, détente is wanted not only by the South African Prime Minister but by the Presidents of Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Tanzania. Each of these gentlemen is applying pressure to the protagonists in Rhodesia.
What is the problem in Rhodesia? I suggest that it is this: with whom do the Rhodesian Government negotiate a settlement? The problem is very similar to that facing Her Majesty's Government in Ulster. If they negotiate with one group in Ulster, they know that automatically the other group will disagree and there will be no settlement. That is the problem facing Mr. Smith today. It is now shown that the enlarged ANC which emerged from the Lusaka agreement was a "phoney" arrangement, which was designed merely to paper over the cracks. The tribal groupings in Rhodesia are the major factor in Rhodesia and, indeed, in the whole of Africa today. We call it tribalism, but it is really nationalism, which we in Europe have faced over the centuries. ZANU, mainly SHONA, has the larger guerrilla army, but that army is now largely disarmed in Zambia. I have said in the past that I do not believe that there is any chance of a settlement as long as they have to negotiate with Mr. Chitepo or Dr. Sithole. Both these men are vehemently anti-white, and do not want a settlement. Indeed, they were both prepared to shed blood. Now, Mr. Chitepo is dead and Dr. Sithole is isolated in Zambia. That leaves Joshua Nkomo and his ZAPU, which is NDEBELE-based.
I believe that there is now a chance of a settlement. It is true that when the ANC faction, led by Dr. Gabella, met in Salisbury recently, they had a far larger meeting than did Joshua Nkomo, who had a meeting two weeks earlier. But so far as ZAPU is concerned, it was a conference attended by delegates from all over Rhodesia, whereas in the case of ANC it was attended by any supporter that Dr. Gabella could gather.
I believe that the deciding factor will be the views of the Presidents of Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique. I believe that they will very soon show who they believe to be the real leader of the African Nationalists in Rhodesia. Once this is done, negotiations can start with a reasonable chance of success.
As has been said by the Foreign Secretary and others, the alternative is war. The British Government do not want war; neither do the Opposition, but if some people on the extreme left of the Labour Party, who have made speeches, not in this debate but in previous debates and in the country, really think that South Africa is prepared to throw Rhodesia to the wolves, they the living in cloud-cuckoo-land. South Africa, if forced, would certainly rather fight in Rhodesia than fight three years later in the Northern Transvaal. Therefore, people should not think that South Africa will jettison Rhodesia in the search for a settlement. That will not happen Of that I am absolutely certain.
We all want a settlement. It is the only answer to the problem of Africa, because without a settlement there will be more racialism and the danger of conflict. What, then, is Britain's rôle? It is accepted, as is apparent from speeches from both sides of the House, that Britain's rôle is now minimal. Sanctions are irrelevant. One of the amusing factors about sanctions is that the Beira blockade was instituted because the Mozambique-Rhodesia border was open. Now, the Beira patrol has been disbanded, and the border is still open, in spite of the fact that many people said that when Mozambique became independent she would impose sanctions against Rhodesia. This has not happened.
If sanctions are so irrelevant, why is there to be a vote in the House today? Many of us on the Opposition side of the House—I suspect this applies to many hon. Members opposite—have always regarded sanctions as wrong in principle. They will not help a settlement, and hurt the Africans most. We do not want sanctions. They encourage anti-Western forces in an area which is of great strategic importance to the West. In addition, a vote today will serve to show that the Government and the Opposition still differ in their policies on Rhodesia.
Is there anything that we can do? I have one suggestion. I know from my visits to South Africa, at my own expense and as the guest of the South African Government, that the British Government's information about what is happening inside Rhodesia is minimal. They do not really know what is going on. Therefore, it would be of advantage to re-establish our representation in Salisbury. Such a representation would carry with it the right of Rhodesia to have a representative in this country. In discussing other international problems, such as Portugal and Cyprus, we are always told that it is important to keep open lines of communication. This is what I advise the right hon. Gentleman to do, and I hope he will refer to this when he concludes the debate. Let us do that in the case of Rhodesia. Let us re-open those lines of communication which were severed by the action of an over-anxious Labour Government.
I shall summarise the position as I see it. Bad mistakes have been made by successive Governments both here and in Rhodesia, but today I think that both sides of the House are agreed that we face a new situation. I hope that we also agree that this situation can be settled only by Rhodesians in Rhodesia, assisted, of course, by their friends in adjacent States. Let us keep aloof from the situation until the Rhodesians have themselves reached agreement, and then—and this is the key—let us be prepared to act with speed in giving Rhodesia legal independence, which I believe should then be guaranteed by South Africa and Zambia. Then and only then can the Western world claim to have won a major victory over the Communist Powers.
I am sorry that the Secretary of State has left the Chamber, as many of my remarks will contradict what he said. But I begin by paying tribute to the right hon. Gentleman in that, after the failure of the Douglas-Home initiative—surely the last one which can ever be mounted from this country—he had the sense to realise the minimal rôle which this country can play. In that context, the right hon. Gentleman has acted with courage in his party because he has not hesitated to invoke the help of that arch devil, South Africa, in attempting to reach a settlement. That required considerable courage for a Labour Foreign Secretary. It could not have been easy for him to enter into discussions with Mr. Vorster and to enlist Mr. Vorster's help in trying to reach a settlement in what we were always assured was a British responsibility in a rebellious colony.
Apart from the inaccuracies of which the right hon. Gentleman was guilty, he was also a little unfair to me on one matter. I have never been a particular admirer of Mr. Smith. On the occasions when I have met him, we have usually engaged in controversial argument. But it is not fair to suggest that the Livingstone talks failed because of Mr. Smith's obduracy. I was not present at those talks, but I do not think that there was any doubt that they largely failed because there was no independent chairman. It is a matter of regret that at this stage we have so far lost control of and touch with the situation that we could not have supplied the independent chairman.
In the event, there were Mr. Smith and a colleague on one side of the table and eight members of the African National Council on the other. Having said his piece, Mr. Smith asked the Africans for their views, but as soon as one of them said something another said, "I do not agree." That went on right through the eight Africans present. That is the truth about that conference, as I am sure the Minister of State must know from his own information. One after the other, all eight Africans contradicted what the previous one had said, and it was that which led to the breakdown of the talks.
There are many things about which we can be critical of Mr. Smith in the past, but on this occasion I can truthfully say that I do not know how he could have done much better, in view of the convincing proof that at present there is no single voice representing the Africans with whom negotiations could take place.
I have some personal sympathy with that problem. It may surprise some hon. Members opposite, but I was approached professionally—albeit without fee, so I have no declaration of interest to make—by members of the ANC to help in the drafting of a constitution two years ago, which was to have in it immediate parity leading, at a later stage, through qualified overall franchise, to African majority rule. Those talks ended in the production of a fairly massive confidential volume, which was then taken to Rhodesia.
The first thing that happened was that Mr. Smith managed to get hold of a copy and condemned it out of hand as selling the pass. Within a couple of weeks, the situation was put back to normal in Rhodesia because the ANC headquarters there repudiated all that their colleagues overseas had agreed because of the conflict between the various factions within the ANC.
The greatest problem in the way of reaching a settlement is not Mr. Smith's obduracy, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested. Nor is it anything to do with sanctions. There is no doubt that both President Kaunda and the South African Government are trying to get a settlement. But the great problem is the extraordinary difficulty of making a settlement with such an elusive body as the ANC, which is supposed to represent African opinion in Rhodesia. Sooner or later, the negotiators will have to choose one group as representative of the broad mass of African opinion and come to a definite decision, because if they continue to think that they can negotiate simultaneously with the four or five factions involved, they will be continuing the argument for a very long time.
I do not want to deal now with the divisions in the ANC, but I certainly do not want the hon. Gentleman to think that I accept his judgment that the main reason for the breakdown of the Victoria Falls conference was the divisions within the ANC. The reports I have received show that the main reason was that Mr. Smith was not prepared to make any concession to grant immunity to those leaders outside Rhodesia to enable them to take part in the negotiations.
The right hon. Gentleman and I must continue to differ. Of course that was one factor, but the right hon. Gentleman must know that there were some terms on which the eight African members would agree and some on which they would not. I have put forward my interpretation of what took place. I believe that the principal feature in the failure of the talks was the inability to make a deal with a piece of quicksilver, as it were, in that there was no single representative voice of the Africans.
Over these last 11 years, I have from the beginning expressed my doubts about the effectiveness of sanctions. After all this time it is easy now to say, "I told you so." But it should have been obvious almost to everyone what would happen. There were two main reasons for the failure of this exercise.
First, we seemed to imagine that the kind of external threat which would solidify opinion in this country even among those who disagreed—external threats always do unite us—would not unite people in Rhodesia, who would react differently. But they are in the main English stock, and there is also a fairly substantial proportion—about 30 per cent.—of Afrikaaners among them, and they can be pretty obstinate when they get going. There were the conditions for a perfect amalgam of the Rhodesians to support the Rhodesian Government even if many of them had been disagreeing with Mr. Smith.
The truth is that we never thought the situation out. If there were an external threat to this country, those who disagreed with Her Majesty's Government politically would nevertheless react in precisely the same way and present a united front to that external threat. Thus, from the start, sanctions were bound to stiffen resistance in Rhodesia rather than the opposite.
Many of my hon. Friends and I said year after year that sanctions were bound to be ineffective unless South Africa was prepared to go along with them, and we were not strong enough to blockade South Africa. We said that the result was inevitable. Everyone surely should have realised that, so long as South Africa was not prepared to have Rhodesia driven to her knees economically and politically, there could be no other result.
In addition to South Africa's position, there was also the covert support of the neighbouring Portuguese territory of Mozambique and also the reluctance of Malawi, under the leadership of Dr. Banda, to become involved in the whole sanctions battle.
There has been a change in the Portuguese territories in Southern Africa, but trade is still continuing between Mozambique and Rhodesia because the new nationalist rulers in Mozambique are not necessarily as silly as we are. They are not prepared to make economic sacrifices in order to achieve something which they know to be ineffective. The border is open and trade is continuing between the two countries as a matter of reality. When they see the effect of sanctions over a period of 11 years, they are not prepared to cut off their noses to spite their faces.
Over a period of a year I have tabled a number of Questions for Written Answer relating to commodities needed by people in their ordinary lives. In every case I have discovered that the goods that Europeans buy in Rhodesia are cheaper than those purchased by housewives in this country. The taxes in Rhodesia are lower, and petrol there costs less. Certainly in terms of balance of payments, our Chancellor of the Exchequer would be delighted if he were faced with the situation in Rhodesia.
It is a little cheap to try to pretend that the power of British or international sanctions has had a colossal effect on the Rhodesian economy. The currency in Rhodesia is far harder than ours, and right across the board the Rhodesians have done better than we have and their economy has not suffered unduly. Of course in a period of recession things have gone wrong, but that has nothing to do with sanctions.
I wish to quote a letter which I have just received from an African who lives in Rhodesia. He is not a "stooge" chief or a member of the administration of the Smith Government. He is a graduate student largely engaged in trying to help race relations in one of the institutions there between white and black settlers. This is what he says in the letter:
Many people always speak of the imposition of tighter or removal of sanctions. Sanctions as they are now are helping Rhodesia to be self-sufficient and to depend less on foreign goods. This has the impact of stimulating economic growth and a healthy balance of payments. In fact, sanctions are protecting our home industry against foreign competition. Through the system of exchange control we are able to reallocate our limited foreign currency reserves. I don't approach this problem one-sidedly but in a broad spectrum.
I only wish that some others would follow the advice of that African, a man who lives in Rhodesia,
I wondered whether to attend today's debate, and whether it was necessary for me to say the same things that I have said in the past. We are not the only people who realise that we no longer have a rôle to play. The Rhodesians, black and white, know this, as does Kenneth Kaunda and everybody else. However, every year we go through this ritual sanctions exercise. People in that part of the world know that if there is to be a settlement, it will depend on the forces there. The days have long since passed when a British Prime Minister could strut on the quarterdeck of a warship 7,000 miles away and imagine that he could settle the destiny of Central Africa. I am doubtful whether that opportunity ever existed. Certainly it is now long past.
I have a suspicion that if this debate is reported at all in the Rhodesia Herald it will be read second or third after the fatstock prices or the list of local engagements. The interest that is likely to be aroused in Rhodesia at present over what we are doing and saying here is extremely minimal. We have no rôle today. We have the opportunity to do all we can by giving our support behind the scenes to South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and others. We must try to reach some kind of compromise settlement—a settlement that up to now has eluded us. But we are not even being asked by anybody to play a rôle in this matter.
This brings me to the sanctions Order itself. I have not made up my mind whether I shall abstain or vote against the sanctions. I find myself in some difficulty in going through an exercise that is designed to prove that something which has been shown to be ineffective through the years has some impact on the situation in Rhodesia. It is not useful for us to go through this exercise any longer.
I was slightly encouraged by the speech of my right hon. Friend the shadow Foreign Secretary, who appeared to suggest that the time had now come for us to look at the problem again. I do not know whether Labour Members realise that this situation has now been in force for 11 years. Are they seriously suggesting that no British Government and no British Parliament should take a fundamental look at the future of Rhodesia? Should we not conclude that this scheme has failed and that we should try some other way? I firmly believe that it is time to consider some other policy, and I hope that the Conservative Party will take that view even if the Labour Party will not do so. Do we need to go through this ritualistic exercise? Do we need to listen to totally inaccurate remarks about the effect of sanctions? Should we not aim at a more productive policy than the present policy has been shown to be?
I shall be very brief. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary set out the reasons why for the tenth time we must continue the sanctions Order. The hon. Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) said that reports of this debate would be read in Rhodesia only after the fatstock prices and local news items. That may be the case, but it will be read after discussion of the resignation yesterday of one of Mr. Smith's Government. It will also be read after the news from the outside world, including South Africa, which now cannot provide much hope or inspiration in Rhodesia.
I wish to intrude my remarks into the opinions of the Rhodesian lobby on the Opposition benches just to show that there is another opinion in this House about the continuation of sanctions. I do so in no gloating spirit, and I take no pleasure in seeing the last death agonies, as they will shortly be, of Mr. Smith's Government. It is clear that, for a number of reasons, Mr. Smith's régime is on its last legs. Plainly, the effect of sanctions is not the only reason for that situation. The progressive widening of the rift between the Rhodesian Government and Mr. Vorster and the South African Government has been a major factor. We must also remember that what has happened in the Portuguese territories has also had its effects.
The hon. Member for Torbay said that trade was continuing with Mozambique, and no doubt that is true. However, that is widely at variance with the propaganda sent to hon. Members presumably from Rhodesia, containing a hostile attack on Marxist Mozambique and the policies of the Government there. Rhodesian external propaganda is becoming more and more strident, and, indeed desperate. The progressive weakening of the Smith régime must be the main reason for that.
In the last few years—despite what has happened in other countries and what will, I regret to say, happen to the white settler population in Portuguese territories—it is a fact that the net inflow of white immigrants into Rhodesia has fallen away. The imbalance between the races will get worse rather than better from the point of white Rhodesia. If a few years ago the figure was 21-to-l or 22-to-l, it is likely in five or six years' time to be very much more in favour of the African population. It means that the embattled white minority in Rhodesia are less likely in future than in past years to be able to contain terrorism, if it is renewed. Of course nobody in this House would wish to see the problem of Rhodesia resolved by any form of terrorism, for that is no answer. We do not wish to see a repetition of the kind of tragedy where the white settler problem has complicated the transfer of power to majority rule.
I rather agree with the hon. Member. I think this is the most likely outcome. He referred to the Rhodesia lobby. I have never understood that sort of accusation. Surely, if people on this side believe that the present policy is wrong and counter- productive, it is their duty to say so. This does not mean that we do not expect terrorism to have the most awful effects. I share the hon. Member's apprehensions but I have a different interpretation of what should be done to try to stop those things from happening.
I use the term "Rhodesia lobby" as a description and not as an accusation. Like the hon. Member, I have in my few years in the House spoken each year on the renewal of the sanctions Order. Each year the same faces have appeared on the other side, putting a line similar to that of the hon. Member and others who have spoken, and no doubt will speak later, in the debate. I see them all present and on parade today. Broadly, they have always said that sanctions against Rhodesia are futile, that we should come to an accommodation with Mr. Smith, and that we should stop the sanctions. They have not said, as we always have on this side, that that should be on the basis of the Six Principles, or on the basis of African majority rule.
I say to Mr. Smith, and to those who may happen to read this debate, that it is quite clear that the blame for the failure of the Victoria Falls conference rests with Mr. Smith. In the continuing disputes between Mr. Smith and Mr. Vorster, which have not been ended by Mr. Smith's apology in this matter, we see some evidence that others in Southern Africa, and not merely the Presidents of Zambia and Tanzania, and so on, regard the breakdown of the Victoria Falls talks as essentially the responsibility of Mr. Smith.
I can see all kinds of reasons why Mr. Smith, with his internal security problems and the possibility of guerrilla warfare, resulting particularly after some of the South African security forces have been withdrawn from Rhodesia and the border areas, is neurotic about allowing any African nationalist leaders—particularly those who for many years have been outside the country or in detention within it—free movement to further conferences or to discussions of the kind which I feel must take place within the country. Indeed, the danger signs at the moment are that Mr. Smith's régime internally is in many ways becoming more repressive and not less, as its moment of maximum danger approaches. It has been said just this week, by one of the religious organisations active in Rhodesia, that there are now more political detainees in Rhodesia in the hands of the Government than was the case before the so-called Lusaka détente began eight or nine months ago. None of us knows the truth of the background of the kidnapping of Dr. Edison Sithole a couple of weeks ago, but it is not easy now to see how any African nationalist leader, moderate or extreme, whether he belongs to or sympathises with ZANU or ZAPU or not, can feel sure of moving freely at all into Rhodesia or making any kind of approach within constitutional boundaries to the Smith Government. The lives of African nationalists would appear to be at risk in the present situation.
The only possibility for the Smith Government today is to re-open constitutional talks. My right hon. Friend has said that he is ready to assist in this matter wherever and however he can. It is possible that the British Government might have a rôle to play in that respect, possibly in chairing such a conference.
The hon. Member for Torbay said that that was one of the points on which the Victoria Falls conference broke down. I do not know whether that is true or not. I know that, unless Mr. Smith's régime is prepared, in these last days of its undisputed rule in Rhodesia, to come to the conference table with both ZANU and ZAPU, and all the representatives of the African nationalists in Rhodesia—not simply waiting for ZANU and ZAPU to fall out further, and for more disputes to arise between the nationalist leaders in the country—it is doomed. It is doomed not merely to fall but to bloody civil war and mass exodus of the white population of Rhodesia—the kind of thing we have seen happening and will see happening in coming months in Angola and other territories.
We do not want to see the tragedy of Angola repeated in Rhodesia. We do not want, a year or two years from now, to have our debate on Rhodesia not on the resumption of sanctions—by that time sanctions will long have been forgotten—but on what we should do to resettle the 250,000 white people of Rhodesia as they are driven from that country. That is the possibility facing them. That is the stark alternative facing them today. The sooner they come to an accommodation which will allow for a multi-racial régime in Rhodesia, the better for them as well as for everyone else in that country.
I should like to refer first to the speech of the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George). He said that no one believed that sanctions would bring Mr. Smith down, but the Prime Minister did. The right hon. Gentleman said that it would take weeks, not months. I do not know whether that has been revised to "decades, not centuries". It has gone on for 10 years and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has used the phrase "a decade…of drift".
The hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) has doomed the Smith regime. It is just possible that it may refuse to go away.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) quoted Shelley. I should like to adapt Tennyson and to say that this annual masochistic ritual exhibits in our rulers lunacy broadening down from precedent to precedent.
I do not know when the hon. Member for Walsall, South was last in Rhodesia, but, in addition to my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), there are other hon. Members on these benches who were in Rhodesia a few weeks ago. I think they would agree with me that the description of Rhodesia given by the hon. Member for Walsall, South was a caricature. It bore no relation to the facts. Sanctions may have made Rhodesia less liberal, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion bore evidence to the contrary. I hope that hon. Members will not have heart attacks when I say that Rhodesia is the most liberal State in Africa.
On Wednesday at Question Time the Minister of State referred quite properly to the deprivation of the liberty of many Rhodesians. I regret this very much. Terrorism usually evokes arbitrary measures. Indeed, one of the motives of terrorism is to evoke that response from the authorities. But in Rhodesia—and I was talking to Rhodesians not so long ago—one gets the impression—in fact, one is told in no uncertain terms—that they consider the British to have double standards when they condemn detention in Rhodesia and at the same time hold or have held hundreds in internment and detention within this kingdom. They consider it to be hypocrisy in a Parliament which has passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and quite rightly so.
I invite the Minister of State to make a comparison between Rhodesia in this matter and other African States, and, indeed, with Rhodesia in the legal days of Sir Edgar Whitehead. I think he will find that more Rhodesians were deprived of their liberty then.
Undoubtedly sanctions have had some effect. Sanctions have deprived the Queen of a fair realm unequalled in its loyalty. Sanctions have deprived Britain of what 10 years ago was a small but growing and highly preferential export market. There have been some attempts here to launch a "Buy British" campaign. In Rhodesia, to buy British was automatic.
Sanctions have also retarded African education and economic advance. But, as those of us who visited the country recently found, the Rhodesians' inflation is as nothing to ours. Their economy has been well-managed. Would that our economy was as healthy as theirs.
But sanctions have not only deprived us of what was once a trusty partner in trade and a comrade in arms. They have almost erased British influence from Rhodesia. Our worst enemies could not have done it better.
Rhodesia was built by the courage, brains and sweat of Rhodesians of all races. There was no colonial period in her history. Rhodesia was never garrisoned and never administered from Britain. British aid has been minuscule. There is a subsidy at present to the multi-racial University of Rhodesia. A small sum goes to mission schools. The British taxpayer is at the moment financing the training of Rhodesian Africans outside Rhodesia. So, on the one hand. we apply sanctions with the object of impoverishing Rhodesia and denying her the means of improving education, and, on the other hand, we tax ourselves to make good some of the damage that we do to Rhodesian Africans.
It is ridiculous. Today, 1,100 black Rhodesian students receive grants in this country. Many of them arrive without proper arrangements for their maintenance. Some have not received grants. These are thrown on the labour market at a time of mass unemployment. I do not accuse the administration of inhumanity, but this muddle might well be a case for the Parliamentary Commissioner.
Ministry for Overseas Development awards go to students so that they may take post O-level courses. It would make more sense in my view for Britain to contribute to education in Rhodesia than to train Africans in the United Kingdom, where our own people cannot always find places—training them for hypothetical jobs in a far away country about which Her Majesty's Government know little or nothing whilst claiming sovereignty.
Her Majesty's Government have on their own admission no liaison with the Salisbury authorities about these African students, and they have deprived themselves of channels of contact and information and even of some influence which was formerly available. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall), I think that it was a mistake to close down Rhodesia House completely and to withdraw the last British representative in Salisbury who was doing useful work, making friends in wide circles and keeping the Foreign and Commonwealth Office informed.
If any principle governs these matters it is one of pettiness and pique.
Again at Question Time on Wednesday, my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) complained that it took a representative of the South African Government to visit in hospital in Salisbury a young constituent of his who had been severely injured in a car accident. The Minister of State replied that there must be what he called "a constitutional situation" before there could be diplomatic representation in Salisbury. That Answer was beside the point. His advisers could quote examples, for example, from the period of the Spanish Civil War when Britain had consular or other representation with administrations not recognised de jure. In all this unhappy affair, we have lost trusted friends and made no new ones in a part of the world which is of vital strategic and economic concern. If there is, as we hope, and as Government supporters have said, a chance of a settlement, it owes little to the British Government. It owes much to the diplomacy of detente in Southern Africa and in particular to President Kaunda and Mr. Vorster, who have established a working and even a cordial relationship.
In no part of Southern Africa outside Rhodesia is the sanctions policy more bitterly assailed than in Zambia. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) in his place, because we spent 12 days together in Zambia as members of the first parliamentary delegation from the United Kingdom since independence. President Kaunda knows, as do all serious students of history and political psychology, that, far from crushing resistance, economic sanctions by themselves, only harden it and, of course, military sanctions are ruled out, as the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary told us again this morning.
President Kaunda knows what sanctions have done to the economy of his country. It is not only that Rhodesia provides coal and power for the Copperbelt. At this very moment, Rhodesia, however unofficially, is providing maize for hungry people in Zambia. We found the traders of Livingstone longing for the reopening of the border.
Zambia could be an exporter of maize. She could, like Botswana under Secretse Khama, become an exporter of beef. But in Zambia most food production comes from a couple of hundred European commercial farms, which illustrates what that much-maligned animal, the settler, has done and can do for Africa. Higher prices for maize crops were announced when we were in Lusaka, but so far efforts to encourage production sufficiently among Africans, whose tradition is mainly pastoralist, have failed. So it is that South African grain and South African expertise are playing the same part in Mr. Vorster's policy of détente as that performed by American grain in President Ford's diplomacy of detente with the USSR.
At the Dar-es-Salaam conference, the Zambian Foreign Minister expounded his country's policy of trying to achieve change peacefully, and we welcome all that has been done so far by Zambia. The refusal of Zambia, Tanzania and Botswana to send delegations to the OAU conference in Kampala shows not only a distaste for some of the activities of the President of Uganda but also a regional approach within Southern Africa that is also being followed by Mozambique, which, however Marxist its ideology, needs South African assistance with the running of its ports as well as jobs on the Rand for its young men. What is more, according to my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett). Mozambique has no intention of applying sanctions to Rhodesia.
The Rhodesian currency and economy are underwritten by South Africa. South African forces would undoubtedly prevent genocide in Rhodesia. Mr. Smith must defer to Mr. Vorster, but a settlement which lasted would require endorsement of the four Presidents of a region where all its peoples could achieve prosperity through partnership.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet said, Britain cannot do very much now, other than watch and wait for a chance to do something helpful. This Order is anything but helpful. It is a pitiful irrelevancy. It says nothing for the collective sanity of the United Nations that it should have sought to universalise this farcical national folly.
I should like to comment on some of the points made by the hon. Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett), especially in respect of Britain's role. He deplored that Britain appears to have no rôle in the present situation—and that, I think, is a view shared by hon. Members on both sides of the House. He also spoke of the lack of a neutral chairman at the Victoria Falls conference. Although it may not have been possible on that occasion, in the future there might be a rôle for the United Kingdom in that type of situation.
If we are to avoid the ghastly alternative which the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) mentioned and which Mr. Vorster has coined in a very appropriate phrase, there must at some time be a drawing together of people with the aim of reaching an agreement. We all know—some hon. Members know from their industrial experience—that a genuinely independent chairman has some merit in that respect.
If we cannot fulfil our rôle—I hope that on some occasion we shall—this Parliament at some time will have to play at least a de jure rôle in regularising any new legal régime and constitution which comes to Rhodesia, Zimbabwe or whatever one calls it.
Clearly the ultimate constitutional responsibility in terms of legislation lies in this House. At some time there will have to be a Bill presented to this House, which will have to go through all the normal legislative processes. At that time the differences of emphasis which have been illustrated today will have to be debated. At that time there will be a rôle for this House and the United Kingdom. I am not saying that it would be a crucial rôle, because it might be just dotting the i's and crossing the t's of some previous negotiation. As we all know, the translation into legal language of an agreement between people often causes difficulty. This also applies to matters of interpretation. I hope that this country and House will have a role, although at the moment we do not have as big a rôle as we would wish.
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion made an interesting speech but he had his historical context out of focus or at least out of perspective. He spoke about the creators of the Federation—Zambia, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. He also mentioned the independence of Southern Rhodesia. Of course, it has had de facto independence concerning its internal matters since 1923. That is one of the historical facts which makes the present position so difficult. However, when we talk of independence we must ask—"independence for whom?" We are dealing with a struggle of national independence by a vast majority of the African population, irrespective of what may be happening in the surrounding countries. When we think of an independent Rhodesia, let us think of the whole country and not just the quasi de facto independence of a small European minority from 1923 until UDI.
Mr. Amery: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish to misrepre- sent me. I spoke at various points about the independence of Rhodesia. However, when I referred to the creators of the old Central African Federation, and the links between Zambia and Rhodesia, I used the word "interdependence", not "independence".
Mr. Spearing: I take the right hon. Gentleman's point. However, I am sure he will take my point about Southern Rhodesia's independence before UDI.
The trouble with Conservative Members is that they have underestimated the second independence surge of African opinion. The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion spoke about "talks" to reduce discrimination. He suggested discussions about greater liberalisation of the well-known and unsatisfactory laws in Southern Rhodesia concerning land and residence. The hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) spoke about job opportunities. We all know that Southern Rhodesia does not have a good history in that respect. However, I fear that "talks" at present are not good enough. There must be action and it must be fast.
Lack of action during the past 10 years has made the present position more perilous than it would otherwise be. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary appealed to the present European inhabitants of Southern Rhodesia to widen their horizons and to realise their position. In my view one of the great difficulties is that they have done so on only rare occasions. That problem must be taken into account when we consider how to solve the difficulty.
Mr. Smith has consistently adopted a policy of "divide and rule", concerning the two or more African elements. It is not necessarily true that the two groups would come together if Mr. Smith desisted from this policy. However, there would be a greater chance of their coming together and, perhaps with the backing of President Kaunda—we have not heard his recent views on the split—emerging with an agreed ANC coherent line. Unless that emerges it is more than likely that there will be an Angola-type situation. The more Mr. Smith uses the divide-and-rule technique, the likelihood of an Angolan denouement is greater. That would be to the ultimate disadvantage of everyone in Southern Rhodesia The likelihood of Mr. Vorster's alternative will become greater.
I enjoyed the visit which the Commonwealth Parliamentary delegation made to Zambia. There is concern in Zambia about the present position, including the closure of the border. I take issue with the hon. Member for Epping Forest about the reliance on power. Partly due to the help from this country the same ODM to whom he objected gave well-merited support to the training of people in Southern Rhodesia with loans from this country. In Southern Rhodesia the Kariba power station provides a good deal of power. I do not believe that Zambia is dependent on Southern Rhodesia in that respect. Its own coal resources have been opened up in Mamba and therefore perhaps the bias is not as great as it was in the past.
Zambia is suffering not from our policy of sanctions in Southern Rhodesia but from its own political will not to have the sort of trade with Southern Rhodesia that it otherwise might have. There is also the problem of transport to which the hon. Member for Epping Forest referred. I hope that in that respect my hon. Friend will take some initiatives. As a result of our visit to Zambia I was concerned about the apparent lack of liaison over the problems of Zambia between these two Commonwealth countries which have so much in common. We know about the transport problems. We know about the difficulties of getting copper out. But there is equal difficulty about getting imports in. I believe that the volume of imports and the needs concerning transport are greater than the demands on the export of copper.
Although in answer to a Question recently the Minister said that no specific requests had been received from the Zambian Government, I should hope that in dealing with this difficult situation the Government might perhaps take some specific initiatives. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister took an important initiative in Kingston on the question of copper prices. Approximately one-third of our copper comes from Zambia. Perhaps a specific initiative in this regard would be helpful.
I back my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in his request that these sanctions should be continued. We have no alternative. The problem is difficult, but I hope that Conservative Members will begin to see the realities of the situation especially concerning the internal conditions of Southern Rhodesia. That has been the long-term problem and unless there is some sort of rapprochement and the ex-European population realise that they must give up part of their economic and privileged position so that they can retain some position in the future, I fear that a result similar to that in Angola will be inevitable. Those people, and Mr. Smith, have some responsibility and I hope that Conservative Members will help them to understand their position. Unless their kith and kin in Southern Rhodesia understand the position, the situation will result in the ghastly solution which we all wish to avoid.
I agree so much with what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) that I see no need to cover again the ground that they so competently covered.
I wish to refer to some illusions which appear to persist on the Government side of the House, or perhaps, more justly, I should say, in the minds of Ministers. I then want to make the only suggestion that I can make of a constructive nature in this matter.
The first illusion was that the events in Portuguese Africa have in some way transformed the position. That was an illusion which earlier speakers appeared to cherish. Whatever the political motivation of the Portuguese revolution, and the expression which it took in Mozambique, practicalities will prevail. It would be a great mistake to think that the change of régime in Mozambique will materially alter the situation regarding a Rhodesian settlement or sanctions.
The second matter to which I wish to refer concerns the constant appeals—we heard one from the Foreign Secretary this morning—for democracy and majority rule in Africa. On these annual occasions I have always asked myself why we impose sanctions on Rhodesia, and what was the cause in aid of which the imposition was made. Always the answer has seemed to be that it was in order that we might have "one-man, one-vote", and majority rule, and that, because no safeguards could be obtained from the Rhodesian Government at the time of the break up of the Central African Federation, they could not be given their independence at the time that we gave independence to Northern Rhodesia—now Zambia—and to Nyasaland—now Malawi.
From Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana and Nigeria we asked for no assurances about their future conduct or the shape of their political arrangements, and we got none. Indeed, I was involved in the negotiations for the independence of Zambia at the time of the break-up of the Federation, because I was professionally instructed on behalf of Barotseland. Dr. Kaunda and all those with him made it clear that if we sought to impose conditions which they did not like they would sweep them aside as soon as they obtained their independence. They would not be bound by conditions.
On behalf of what was originally the independent Protectorate of Barotseland, I negotiated and, indeed, virtually drafted the Barotseland agreement which this House put in the schedule to the Zambia Independence Act, which Dr. Kaunda gave his personal assurance would be observed. I forget whether it was 14 or 18 months later that it was simply torn up. I put down Questions asking what we were going to do about it. The answer was "Nothing". Zambia was an independent country and if it chose to tear up bits of its independence arrangements, that was its concern.
Is not the crucial difference that in the other States to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred those doing the negotiating could make a reasonable claim to represent the people of those countries, whereas the Smith régime in Rhodesia, by no remote stretch of the imagination, could claim to represent the people of that country?
I was dealing with this matter in compartments. I shall come to that point almost immediately. The point that I was making was that we asked for no assurances from any of those other countries in Africa which are now independent. We did not say: "There are Six Principles with which you must comply, or we shall not give you independence." We asked for no assurance against retrogressive legislation, whatever that means—it is just one of those grand phrases—and no such assurance was given.
In passing, I observe that if the Six Principles were applied to most countries in the world, including this one, those countries' arrangements would not comply with them. There is no safeguard here against retrogressive legislation. Yet, from Rhodesia—from Rhodesia alone in the whole world, as far as I know—that safeguard was asked for.
I come now to the point made by the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tam-worth (Mr. Grocott), who suggested that this had something to do with ensuring democracy and the prevalence of the majority in both Rhodesia and Africa. Not only did those presently independent nations in Africa give no assurances on the future shape of their institutions, but each of those countries to which I referred slid rapidly into one-party States. The list is not exhaustive.
I shall come to Rhodesia. The fact is that the countries to which I referred are now one-party States. They are all oligarchies—most of them tribal oligarchies. There should be no mistake about that. In the whole of Africa, only in the Republic of South Africa and in Rhodesia is there any form of parliamentary democracy—of course with a restricted franchise. But we had a restricted franchise in this country for 700 years, up to 1915. We did not have universal adult suffrage until then. Of course, until 1919 it was a very partial suffrage. At least, South African and Rhodesia have a parliamentary democracy, and one with a considerable franchise. We should bear in mind that until UDI the Rhodesians had made no distinction in their institutional arrangements between people of different colours or races. The qualifications for the franchise was the same for everyone.
As the influence of Europeans was significant in Southern Rhodesia only 75 years ago, it followed that in education and property they had a great lead, and therefore predominated in the franchise. But there was nothing to stop any African from acquiring the not very high educational or property qualifications, which were the same for him as for everybody else. That process was continuing, and would have continued without interruption and without any prompting from us if we had not been so stupid, obstinate, bigoted and prejudiced at the time of the break-up of the Central African Federation.
When we hear all these high principles pattered out from the Government Dispatch Box, we should bear in mind that Rhodesia was never governed from London. We have given independence to many British territories in the world. We ruled them well when we were there, but we ruled as an Imperial Power. However, when we left we handed over power to some other race of people. When we ruled, we never established anything which could remotely be called a multiracial community. We had many gifts, but that was not one of them. Only in Rhodesia, of all our possessions, did this happen—and it happened because we were not actually ruling that country.
As the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said, the Southern Rhodesians began to rule themselves in 1923 and they evolved this multi-racial community, with its single franchise qualification and its mixed universities, schools, and so on. They, it was, who had this constructive and creative tolerance, and it is against them alone that we have launched this barrage of sanctions and sanctimonious condemnation.
I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will accept that while I agree with what he said about 1923, I do not accept his description of the country being multi-racial, in the terms that he has described it. I agree with all the other points that he has made.
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. The differences that may exist between him and me may relate to the social mixing and ebb and flow in that country, which was like the rest of Africa. The whites kept to themselves, and the Africans and Indians largely to themselves, but as far as the law and vote for the legislature were concerned there was one law for all. That was the situation until UDI, and if there are now differences, as there are, we can blame our- selves for that. We refused independence to Edgar Whitehead. We refused it to Roy Welensky. We have refused it to everybody in that country, and it is not surprising that in that embattled territory matters get more tense.
Then one considers sanctions—the subject that we are debating today. All that we have from sanctions, if we have anything at all, is a slight abatement of the normal carping criticism of the Western nations by the General Assembly of the United Nations. That is all. What value should we attach even to the praise of an assembly which now has a permanent terrorist, anti-democratic majority, just like the Inter-Parliamentary Union? I doubt whether any African country wants sanctions to continue, but most, cerainly Malawi, have to pretend that they do.
It appears from the tone of our annual debates on this Order that we are sunk in the same paralysis of hypocrisy as are those African nations. We would not impose sanctions now—I think that virtually everybody from the Dispatch Box, on either side of the House, has said this—but because they have been in force for 10 years it is too positive and significant an action to abolish them. That is a self-perpetuating argument, to which there will be no end, and I ask myself in conclusion: is there anything that I can suggest to Her Majesty's Government that might facilitate a way out of this ridiculous dilemma?
I should like to endorse particular aspects of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay. Let us be realistic about the true nature of the problem in Rhodesia. It is not that Mr. Smith is intransigent—that is all propaganda. Any sensible person in Rhodesia, of either colour, wants to get out of this wretched and ridiculous position, as do Dr. Kaunda and most other African leaders.
The problem is one really of mechanics. The Foreign Secretary said that the Pearce Commission had shown us that the Africans would not consider themselves bound by any settlement in which they had not participated. That is true, but the trouble is that they will probably not consider themselves bound by any settlement in which they have participated. That is the real problem.
Mr. Nkomo has always been willing to settle on reasonable terms. He told me, so long ago that there is no harm in my repeating it, that he would have been happy to settle for independence on the 1961 Constitution, and I should think that nearly all Rhodesians would have been similarly happy.
One had great hopes of Bishop Muzorewa, but it seems that he is not a force in himself but, rather, the resultant of forces acting upon him. As for Sithole, up to the time of the London negotiations for the 1961 Constitution he was for a settlement, and for moving forward together, but from then on he has become increasingly the tool, and is now the complete tool, of those outside Rhodesia who do not want to see a settlement.
That is the real problem. It does not arise in terms of a settlement between Mr. Smith and Nkomo. The problem has been to get the terms settled and recognised by the British Government, and I think that the Government have to tell themselves that they will recognise ZAPU and Nkomo as people who can negotiate and speak on behalf of the African people of Rhodesia. If they can reach an agreement with Mr. Smith, for heaven's sake let us quickly crystallise it and sanctify it and say, "All right, this is it".
What happened last year with Bishop Muzorewa was that he and Mr. Smith agreed on the terms of a settlement, and then Bishop Muzorewa had to go back to the African National Congress, where there took place one of those long and widespread debates that are guaranteed to wash away any terms of settlement. When I last spoke in this House on the subject of Rhodesia, I described it as an Indaba type of procedure. It is what Africans are accustomed to. They expect someone to come back and say what has tentatively been agreed upon, and then everyone has his say. By the end, about 40 people have had their say. The general sense is collected, and that is it. That is the tribe's work, and it works very well with the tribe, because the chief speaks last, and what he says goes.
However, when one applies the Indaba practice to negotiations between Mr. Smith's Government and some body of negotiators for the African side, with the sophisticated nations of the West, such as Britain, sitting and watching and thinking that they understand the African mind, one finds that any agreement that is reached in that way is dissipated and lost before it is crystallised.
That, I believe, is the real problem. It is a practical problem, though it is very simple to solve if only people will get down to it, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to recognise that most moderate and sensible Rhodesians are almost in despair because they cannot see how an agreement can be reached, for the lack of what I call Western negotiating procedures on the other side. That is the positive point that I want to leave in the Minister's mind.
I shall today show, in the Lobby, my disapproval of 10 years of idiocy, and my belief that Rhodesia was most wrongly and unjustly treated in 1961 when independence was given to Nyasaland and to Northern Rhodesia but refused to that territory, which was an advanced, tolerate and stable country and which had enjoyed complete internal Government since 1923. We have been in the wrong and they have been in the right, and I understand all their aberrations since. In the circumstances, they are understandable. For that reason, I shall happily go into the Lobby today to vote against the Order.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) spoke with his usual clarity, experience and knowledge of this vexed question and I listened to him, as always, with deep interest. He may at least be encouraged, along with others of our hon. Friends, at the fact that although our votes may be small in number our arguments continue to be displayed with a great deal more consistency than we have heard from those who support the Order. Indeed, in another 10 years, we may have to conduct this debate all alone—hopefully, on the other side of the House. But there is something lacking in the cut and thrust of argument as those who support the Order so strongly run out of steam.
Such speeches as we have heard from supporters of the Order today are characterised by one theme. I would except the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) who spoke moderately and in an interesting way, although I would not accept everything he said. What the supporters are saying to us is something like this: "It is nice to see that things are getting worse. We told you they would. We think that they are getting worse because of South Africa and the Portuguese territories, because of weather in the Vumba, because of the result of the latest South African Derby, and a whole lot of other reasons." But none of these reasons has anything to do with sanctions and that is what we are supposed to be discussing. There is nothing much more to be said about their contributions.
I do not intend to speak for long, for the very good reason that I have not been to Rhodesia since we last debated these matters and my knowledge of the situation is rusty or at best second-hand, but also for the good reason that practically everything that could be said has been said. We have heard some remarkable speeches, beginning with a penetrating analysis from my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). If these arguments are not to be attended to by the Government, nothing that I can say from now on is likely to make any difference.
I have no illusions that any of our arguments will be listened to with anything but the bare courtesy afforded in this House by the Treasury Bench. After all, it is much easier for the Government to close their minds as well as their ears on this matter, since even if they opened them there is nothing that they can do. The folly, the hypocrisy, the timidity and the dissembling which led a series of British Governments—I do not except that of my own party—first to betray Rhodesia and then to seek to mangle her with these sanctions are now just attitudes frozen in time.
So why stir up the ants' nest of the Third World or the United Nations? Is it not easier to go along with all the double-talk and gobbledegook of the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference last spring, for instance? The policy of course is wholly ineffective. I was amazed to see—I was well aware of it—that any time one has breakfast in Meikle's Hotel in Salisbury there are always kippers on the menu. If a Scottish kipper can get through the sanctions, it seems that there is not much that can fail to penetrate.
Of course the policy is wholly ineffective. Let reality and truth stay decently buried under all the liberal illusions—is it not easier like that? This is the real argument for continuing sanctions. There is no other. So for me the only point of this debate, I am afraid—I have rather cynically to say this—is that it enables the spectre of reality to stir a little for a few short and rather eerie minutes. When we vote, it will not have much to do with this meaningless Order. It will be a gesture to show that there are still those who realise that truth and reality cannot for ever be buried and that to face them, even from a position of impotence, is safer than not to face them at all.
For me, the high point of all this idiocy was the Pearce Commission, the last practical attempt, one would claim, to sort all this out. We were operating then, as hon. Members proudly claimed today, on five principles—or was it six? I think they have got to six now. All these principles have everything to do with our liberal conscience and nothing very much to do with Central Africa. Shackled to them, we have no hope.
Even after Sir Alec Douglas-Home had managed the unlikely contortion of an apparent agreement with Mr. Ian Smith, we fell over one of those principles. A lot of amiable worthies arrived in Salisbury and stuck up the Union Jack. What could the Africans think but, "The British are back"? They did not know, and no one told them, that this was just a last despairing gesture. They thought that Mr. Smith was about to be toppled and all sorts of exciting things were about to happen. No one explained to them that the alternative was a bleak, uncertain and possibly violent future.
So they said, "No," and the amiable worthies went away. Since then, Her Majesty's Government have lapsed into a sort of Afro-Asian dream. How else does one explain the communique of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Jamaica, to which of course our Prime Minister assented and put his signature? In paragraph 18, they said of majority rule that the aim was to achieve it "by peaceful means, if possible." I hope that the Minister will allude to that when he winds up.
If it is not possible without violence, a weary British Government, presumably, will go along with the violence. Is that what we are invited to believe? And to what end? As several of my hon. Friends have already said, in order to establish—if to violence on that scale we should descend—another example of what is now referred to, perhaps at the Oxford University Labour Club, which the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) referred to—that deep reserve of knowledge and experience of African matters—as "African Socialism", the one-party State, where standards inevitably slip, where less and less and not more and more is spent on African education—the most important contribution that we still have to make, the vital one if that continent is to be in any way saved—where all opposition is illegal and where Communist influence becomes steadily paramount. That is African Socialism.
In any case, what are we to make of this Commonwealth in the African context? For instance, Mr. Arnold Smith has not said a word that I know of about General Idi Amin and his activities. Why is Uganda not excluded? Why have they not long ago been condemned and slung out? But they are not.
However, none of this matters very much now. The single event which has of course made the most difference since last we debated Rhodesia is the collapse of the Portuguese territories. I regret this, because in my knowledge of both of them I believe that they were the most promising and natural attempt at controlled evolution that we had in Central Africa. The process was slow but the Africans are used to that: they like it. It was non-racial in a genuine sense. There were black men in charge of and with authority over white men and it was unencumbered by Western democracy as we preach it and try to export it. All these were distinct advantages for the African people concerned.
Yet it has gone now and I suppose that since we lost our heads in Central Africa its days were numbered in any case. But the economic realities do and will continue to force Frelimo in Mozambique to exercise retraint. They will continue to do so, because their economy depends, first of all, on the market for the power of the Cabora Basa Dam and, second, on the revenues from the people working on the Rand and from the ports on the Indian Ocean.
In Angola, the collapse is far more tragic and unpredictable, but in both cases the probability is that the deprivation of the vast masses of tribal Africans in those territories will increase rather than decrease. If agreement is ever reached between Mr. Smith and his Government on the one hand and the Africans in Rhodesia on the other—I cannot confess to any great optimism, although there have been moments in the last year when it seemed as though some advance was possible—I should like to echo what my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion and a number of my hon. Friends have said, namely that the one thing left after this endless series of follies is for the Government to pounce on that circumstance immediately, to declare independence for what that is worth and to restore such legality as means anything to the situation there. Let them act with speed and not dither.
If they get that message from this debate—although they will not, of course, confess that it makes any sense to them—we shall have achieved something. We can do very little in practical terms to help in these circumstances—indeed, practically nothing at all.
But for a few minutes it gives us the chance to remember the vast achievements by a relatively few of our people in this part of Central Africa in only 80 years. The most distressing and distasteful aspect of most of the remarks made by Labour Members, including the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, was their gratuitous insults, continual carping, criticism—even hatred for the European people—their own people—in Southern Rhodesia. They use the phrase "kith and kin" with contempt. If they had exercised any real judgment and if they knew anything of the history of that country prior to the past 10 years, as reasonable men they would be forced to realise what has been achieved.
This place was a desert when the pioneers came from the south, in which the Matabele people, the descendents of the Zulu impi who escaped there, treated the Mashone, their neighbours, and the other peoples of these lands as game. Most of the population of what is now Rhodesia lived in terror on the top of the kopjes and did not even dare to build huts during the man-hunting season. That was Rhodesia when first they came.
It is a long road from that condition to the establishment of University College, Salisbury, which is a genuine multi-racial university established on Rhodes' ideals of equality for all civilised men. Why not give credit where credit is due? Even the blindest and most prejudiced opponents of Rhodesia will recognise that we are guilty and responsible for matters deteriorating as they have after so much advance.
In the passage on Southern Africa the Commonwealth communiquéof the Heads of States, which I read carefully before coming to this debate and which was signed by the Prime Minister, lends official approval to the ANC word for Rhodesia, "Zimbabwe." What is "Zimbabwe"? I do not know how many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have seen this grim monument. It was built some time in the fifteenth century by Africans. This symbol of civilisation was a vast circle or corral of unhewn stone. Its massive walls were constructed not to repel enemies but to keep slaves in, until they could be shipped down to the coast and sold. That is all there was before the first Portuguese colonialists arrived and put an end to it. And that is what they want to call Rhodesia.
I want to make a brief contribution to this important debate. The House should be grateful for the excellent contributions that have been made by my right hon. and hon. Friends, in particular, the contribution by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) which was a splendid and realistic analysis of the situation and the problems of Southern Africa. The contributions by my hon. Friends the Members for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) and Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) have also presented realism to us today.
One of the frustrations of this House is that realism is often submerged, does not surface and is ignored by those in positions of power, who take decisions which could ease a particular situation. I have been consistent in my opposition to sanctions. I intend to oppose the Order. A year or two ago when my party decided to abstain I was prepared to do so, but in recent times I have opposed with my feet this ridiculous Order which has absolutely no effect upon the situation in Rhodesia, and which is harmful to finding a satisfactory solution.
It was interesting that the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) blamed the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, Mr. Ian Smith, for the differences that existed between the various African factions in Rhodesia. He conveniently forgot that one of the factions under Mr. Sithole is pledged to use force to achieve its objective, and that the other faction under Mr. Nkomo is quite prepared to negotiate to achieve a satisfactory settlement. That is, perhaps, indicative of the closed mind attitude that is adopted by Labour Members.
I find it repugnant that after 10 years successive Governments have not learned the age-old rule that economic sanctions, far from breaking the spirit of a nation, strengthen its resolve and its will for survival. If the argument from Labour Members is still that Rhodesia must be brought to its knees, experience has shown that economic sanctions have been the binding, unifying factor in strengthening the spirit of Rhodesia and giving Mr. Smith the support of many in that country who disagree with him on many matters.
Sanctions have made Rhodesia more self-sufficient, to the detriment of United Kingdom trade and the advantage of our trade competitors. If we look at the spirit we have displayed in history, we find that when the world has stood against us our will and determination in the fight for survival has been magnificent. The spirit that carried and united us in 1940 is in many respects the spirit with which the Rhodesian Government have survived in the face of world sanctions. Therefore, far from weakening a nation, we have observed that Rhodesia has strengthened herself as a result of these nonsensical sanctions.
I am tired of so much time and energy being wasted year by year in this House, in the United Nations and by the rest of the world in perpetually trying to attack a small country in this squalid and futile manner. I am tired, too, of the double standards applied by those who describe the Government in Rhodesia as the oppressor of the black population and yet who fail to recognise that dictatorships in many parts of Black Africa, and in Eastern Europe as well, leave the citizens of those countries far more oppressed than ever are the Africans in Rhodesia. Perhaps one could mention the Ukraine, Tibet, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and Vietnam and Cambodia. What have hon. Members on the Government benches said about the oppression and disasters that have taken place in those countries?
When I see the Government laying before this House similar Orders against Portugal, perhaps, Idi Amin, and the Government of Uganda, China and the Soviet bloc, I might conceivably believe that they have the right to pontificate in the internal affairs of other countries, albeit that they be de facto Governments such as the Government in Rhodesia. But in the world of economic and political realities, we all know that however much we may wish to apply sanctions against the pet hate country of our choice, on the one hand world trade will not cease and, on the other hand, those sanctions will probably directly harm the citizens living within those countries, the very people whom we do not wish to see adversely affected.
I have talked about the resolve and the will of a nation to survive against sanctions and trade wars of the kind to which I have referred. Those who support sanctions because they believe that this will help the black Africans are, I sincerely believe, deluding themselves and the people of this country. As I have said, sanctions harm the very people they are supposed to aid.
After 10 years, with the spirit of Rhodesia running high—despite what has been said by some speakers from the Government side of the House—and with many countries circumnavigating the restrictions imposed by sanctions, now surely is the time to accept that sanctions are meaningless and are not contributing at all to a settlement of the Rhodesian problem.
I referred a moment ago to the application of double standards. In the world in which we live, and in which Britain has little influence now, to try to preach virtue in connection with the internal affairs of other countries by means of sanctions is simply unrealistic.
Briefly, I want to make some comments about Rhodesia itself. In 1940 when the United Kingdom stood virtually alone we did not hesitate to accept the support of the Rhodesians in our hour of need—that is, black and white Rhodesians. Are we not blinkering ourselves to the latent loyalty of Rhodesia in the action that we have taken over the last 10 years? In two world wars the men of Rhodesia have contributed to our victory and to the freedom that we enjoy today. That includes the Prime Minister of Rhodesia himself, who was a brave airman in the service of Rhodesia fighting for this country against the Nazi oppression. These same men are still in Rhodesia, men who have fought for this country, but they feel today badly let down by Britain's mismanagement of the whole problem.
As we have heard so well from those who know Rhodesia far better than I do, it has developed from a primitive society into a modern and prosperous society. For 10 years the British taxpayer has paid millions of pounds to try to bring Rhodesia to her knees. The British Government have promised, as we all know, to pay the Marxist State of Mozambique millions of pounds in assistance if it stops trading with Rhodesia. But I do not believe that it will stop trading with Rhodesia. In any event, how can we possibly afford this ridiculous sort of bribery?
Finally, I turn to the future. We hear about the need for African majority rule, but how many General Amins are waiting in the wings to grab Rhodesia and to take away the prosperity that all Rhodesians have had in recent years? It is no matter to some hon. Members on the Government side of the House that an African tribal dictatorship based on terrorism will then threaten the prosperity of Rhodesia. What action will there be from this House to impose sanctions against such a Government or régime? Do we want the African to be drawn into the state that he endures in Uganda, where, daily, bodies float face down in the rivers of that country? Is that the sort of situation that we want to see develop in Rhodesia? I do not believe it.
Do we want to see further dictatorship in the world? That is what will be the result if guerrilla warfare and terrorism from Zambia replace the tranquillity of Rhodesia. In a society in which tribal origins play a large part in daily life the Western style of democracy and the ballot box are surely a total delusion. What democracy is the "one man, one vote" in Kenya or Tanzania, where there is, as we all know, one-party rule? What does "one man, one vote" mean in a situation such as that? Rhodesia has had in its time a splendid colonial record, and compared with other parts of Africa its citizens are freer and have comparatively greater economic liberty.
I am convinced that the best service that we can do to the great people of Rhodesia, black, white and Afrikaan, is to accept that sanctions are simply encouraging terrorism and benefiting our trade rivals and are not helping the very people in that country that all of us in the House want to help. Let us end this miserable charade and have the dignity to accept that after 10 years we were wrong to engage in this sorry farce of sanctions. Perhaps then the stage will be set for the citizens, black and white, to consider peacefully their future, uninhibited by the follies of British policies of this House.
I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said that although he would accept the Order for the coming 12 months, we must have a new look at this situation and that he would not bind Her Majesty's Opposition to supporting sanctions again. However, I am consistent, like my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) and other of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I have never believed that sanctions would work, and I am prepared to go into the Lobby to show how much I disagree with them.
I approach this debate in yet another year with a sense of weariness. Although I have been present for the whole debate so far, I have been greatly sustained by the force of the arguments and the many excellent speeches which we have heard from the Opposition side of the House.
It should not go unrecorded that the Government's policy of the continuation of sanctions has had very few supporters indeed. Although it is now a few minutes past the lunch hour, I notice only two hon. Members on the Government side of the House.
Will the present Government never understand that the situation in Southern Africa has now radically changed and that old unhappy, far off things and battles long ago should now be put behind them?
It seems to me little short of incredible that once again this year sanctions are still to be maintained—sanctions which have failed miserably to do any good to anyone but, rather, have caused unnecessary suffering, particularly to the Africans, and which have only stiffened the resolve of the whites to maintain the position that they hold.
Why should Rhodesia, which supported us in two wars and which has been self-governing and self-financing since 1923, receive nothing but kicks and blows from the United Kingdom, when we are prepared to help near-Communist or Communist Mozambique and adopt an extraordinarily tolerant attitude to the bloodshed and chaos in Angola? Surely now that Rhodesia is under terrorist attack it is more than ever necessary that we should help and not try to harm her. Do the British Government want another Angola-type situation in Rhodesia itself? That is the grim risk if black majority rule were to be imposed by force on that country.
We have heard today that Zambia is desperately anxious to normalise relations, including trade relations, with Rhodesia. Above all, the immense progress of Mr. Vorster's policy of detente in Southern Africa has transformed matters in that part of the world.
Not only the whites but many black moderate leaders know full well that an acceptable compromise can now be reached in Rhodesia. Black majority rule is simply not practical politics in Rhodesia for the foreseeable future, but I am sure that Mr. Smith and many of his supporters realise that he will have to agree to something like a fifty-fifty white and black rule within the next few years.
I have been very impressed by many of the moderate black leaders whom we have seen in Britain in recent weeks, not least by those from South-West Africa, where I am sure that they will hammer out a fair and reasonable solution for that country. If that can be achieved in South-West Africa, surely it can be achieved in Rhodesia.
As there is one representative of the Government here to speak for the Foreign Office, I should like to attempt to place this debate in a slightly wider context. I suppose all hon. Members will agree reluctantly that Great Britain is at about the nadir of its fortunes as any sort of world Power. Our influence is weaker now than it has been for many centuries. In Europe we have become an embarrassing and tiresome poor relation of the European Economic Community. We are constantly duped by the Communist Powers, as we were at Helsinki. We have to bow very low to the Arabs and to the Persians who are now our paymasters. Our Armed Forces are diminishing dangerously and our Navy is conspicuous by its absence from most of the oceans.
But the British Government have to be tough somewhere, and so they continue to take it out of Rhodesia. I regard continuing to reintroduce sanctions year by year as ridiculous, unreal and completely counter-productive. We are insulted and abused by Amin in Uganda. We turn a blind eye to all the horrors being perpetrated in the old Portuguese colonies. Only Rhodesia seems to deserve censure and punishment in the eyes of the British Government, in spite of all the tyranny and misrule that are rife in so many other African States.
In spite of sanctions Rhodesia can show a far better growth record than Britain. Sanctions have stimulated its industries and steeled the white population to see things through to the end.
I believe that a country's foreign policy and defence should be above party ideology. The threat to Africa, as the threat to the world, comes from Communism. But this Government unfortunately seem to be so blinded by what I can only call pro-black and anti-white prejudice in Rhodesia, as indeed they are by their discriminating policies in favour of immigrants to this country, that they refuse to look at the situation with clarity or common sense or with a realisation of where Britain's true interests lie.
The humbug and double standards of the Government are almost beyond belief. My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) referred to cant and humbug. I always remember one of Dr. Johnson's pithy sayings—
clear your mind of cant".
I suggest that the sooner the British Government do that the sooner a settlement can be reached in Rhodesia. Our influence there is steadily waning as it is, alas, all over the world, but once we have the courage to call off sanctions and to give some reasonable recognition to Mr. Smith, I believe that the people of Rhodesia, both black and white, will soon come to a reasonable settlement. The continuation of sanctions only fills the extreme black politicians with immoderate hopes. I appeal to the Government even at this late hour to try to forget about the chip they have had on their shoulder for the past 10 years over Rhodesia and to let bygones be bygones and then perhaps, who knows, we might be able to give some real help to Rhodesia.
The Foreign Secretary referred to support in the House. I have not noticed any hon. Members ready to support him, but perhaps they are lurking in the Lobby. The right hon. Gentleman then—I thought somewhat rashly and most unwisely—referred to support from the general public. I invite Ministers to go outside the building and stop anyone in the street. Most members of the public will not even know whether sanctions are on or off, but, if they know that they are still on, they will be utterly opposed to them. Sanctions have always been disliked by all our constituents.
Finally, I appeal to the Prime Minister, whose great gifts have somehow enabled him to keep the Labour Party united. Surely with all those gifts he could turn his attention for a few moments to foreign affairs and to the situation in Southern Africa and try to use some of his skills of compromise there.
I am grateful for the opportunity to make a brief intervention. It has always struck me that Ian Smith made three mistakes in life: he was born white; he fought for us in the last world war; and the British Government never had the need to put him in gaol. If Mr. Smith had fulfilled those three criteria, I imagine that he would today be the Prime Minister of an independent Rhodesia.
When I spoke in this shabby charade of a debate last year, I concentrated on the question of the Beira patrol. I congratulate the Government on at long last having taken my advice and cancelled it. It would be wrong to allow this debate to pass without paying tribute to the officers and men of the Royal Navy who took part, with good humour, in that futile exercise, and who withstood the boredom of the patrol with remarkable fortitude.
The question has been asked time and time again from the Opposition side, with telling force: why should we decide to impose sanctions on Rhodesia and pick a quarrel with it? Tanzania and Uganda have been mentioned—the one-party States. We are told that in so many countries of Black Africa the ideal is "one man, one vote".
In Rhodesia there is a constitutional Opposition and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) pointed out, rival African factions can hold vast public meetings. Vast public meetings of protest are not held in the streets of Kampala. I do not hear of the opposition parties in Kenya holding mass rallies to demonstrate against the president of that country.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire talked of the kippers in Meikle's Hotel. I am able to inform the House that an Aga cooker has broken the sanctions barrier. Some people in Kent posted an Aga cooker, in small pieces, to Rhodesia, so now they not only have the kippers; they have something to cook them on.
Ten years ago the Labour Government of the day went to the United Nations following UDI. I believed then, as I believe now, that the question of Rhodesia is no concern of the United Nations. The problem is one between London and Salisbury alone. I believe that Sir Alec Douglas-Home was right when, in Blackpool in 1973, he said that the time might come when we would have to tell the United Nations "Sanctions have failed. We must think again." The time has come to go to the United Nations now and say that after 10 years sanctions have been a complete failure. The only nation which has really been hurt by sanctions is our country. Ten years ago we had £70 million worth of trade with Rhodesia, and an expanding market. How much has been lost to us—£250 million or £300 million a year? Think what that would do to help in our balance of payments problems.
When the Minister replies to the debate I hope he will say that although the Order will be passed for another 12 months, he or his right hon. Friend will tell the United Nations "Sanctions have failed. " It is because sanctions have failed that I shall vote against the contination of the Order.
At this time of the year the grey gloom of the autumn in northern Europe descends on this country, and at such a time as this it seems to pervade this Chamber. It is at this time of the year that we debate the renewal of the Order against Rhodesia, that brilliant country in which, at the beginning of the African spring, the sun is shining, as it always does there, to cheer everybody who has the good fortune to experience it.
It is strange that we seem to approach, this debate—certainly those on the other side of the House, although perhaps less evidently so today—with a certain degree of regrettable relish. I therefore stand here without any sense of shame whatsoever, described no doubt by one or two hon. Members opposite as a member of the Rhodesia lobby, whatever that phrase may mean. Of this I am absolutely certain: when the history of this rather tragic incident in our imperial history comes to be written, the speeches which have been made through the years since 1965 by members of the so-called Rhodesia lobby—I refer to all my hon. Friends who have spoken today, but most particularly to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings)—will go down in the history books as they rightly deserve to do.
I momentarily make the observation that if, because during the past 10 years my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire has spoken as he has done, he has not had the opportunity to represent the Conservative Party in wider and more ambitious spheres, it has certainly been the loss of the Conservative Party. My interest in this matter arises from possibly three directions. It so happens that a great-uncle of mine, known as Matabele Thompson, was the man who, with Rudd, obtained the concession for Rhodesia from the savage king Lobengula, so I have a certain family interest in this matter. Secondly, I have a very small—perhaps negligible—commercial interest, in that I am connected with a great shipping company which serves southern Africa. That is well known.
Perhaps more important, much of my early life was spent in southern Africa, and it is fair to say that anyone who has had that type of experience has a knowledge of that part of the world which is completely different in kind and degree, and perhaps in respect of any other qualification which one applies to knowledge, from that which one derives from reports, newspaper articles, Fabian pamphlets, or any other type of commentary on southern Africa. Therefore, when year after year, this debate takes place and I watch Government Members, I recall a notice which is occasionally flashed on the television screen. On this occasion one might slightly adapt it to "Do not adjust your minds. The intrusion of reality is only momentary."
What the members of the so-called Rhodesia lobby are doing year after year when they come here is to say "We told you so. We have told you so again and again." The consequences of our so doing have been few and far between because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) said, the posture of the Government, with the single exception of the cancellation of the Beira patrol, has been the same. The verbiage which is used is still very wordy and colourful. One hears words such as "majority rule", "constitutional", "totalitarian", and that most popular example of emotional graffiti, "racist", with very little relevance.
I should like to refer to a speech made last week in London by our former High Commissioner—indeed, I believe he was our Ambassador towards the end of his career—in South Africa, Sir Arthur Snelling. He made an extremely important point. Referring to South Africa he said that this was a British creation—"warts and all." He pointed out how many of the great contributions to life in southern Africa we had made, whether it be the pass which Lowry built over the Cape or the system of law which was introduced and is still largely maintained in that part of the world. These, he said, were essentially British contributions. If that is true of South Africa, how much more true is it of Rhodesia. Yet when one looks further afield and contrasts what is happening there with what we are trying to achieve by our sanctions policy, with very few exceptions one is driven to the conclusion that the maintenance of this achievement and what I might describe as populist majority rule are incompatible and inconsistent.
We are entitled to ask whether, elsewhere in Africa, majority rule has produced general political, social and economic well-being which is by common consent the objective in all quarters of the House. The answer is very clearly "No, it has not." If one asks over what spectrum has this not happened, one can pick the spectrum of anarchy to stability, the spectrum of terrorism to the rule of law, the spectrum of parliamentary government to a one-party State, the spectrum of economic growth to apparently total stagnation. The spectra are by no means consistently overlapping in all the cases which one may care to consider. Once again, the conclusion that one is compelled to reach is that at the stability end of the spectrum, or the end which, by common consent, hon. Members would regard as the proper objectives of the State, there are very few examples in Africa, outside southern Africa, of which we can say "This has been achieved, and we, as the former colonist Power, can claim considerable credit for it." This lies at the heart of what is described as the sceptism and cynicism with which the so-called Rhodesia lobby reacts to sanctions.
The question of South African military power in the context of the present situation in Rhodesia has often been referred to in this debate. I would be the last to suggest that Mr. Vorster, or anyone else in a position of responsibility in South Africa, has any desire to see that country militarily involved north of the Limpopo. But with that essential qualification, I think it is wise to give certain warnings. Let us not under-rate the military strength of South Africa as it is today. She is a very different and infinitely more powerful country, compared with the South Africa of 1900–1902, when a small group of men held a great empire at bay for over two years. The economic strength of South Africa—perhaps in this context one should say southern Africa, including Rhodesia—and that of the other countries in that area is now infinitely greater.
Thirdly, South Africa is almost certainly about to become a nuclear Power. Finally, and perhaps most important, she possesses still, in the handling of her own national affairs, a resolve and will which should not be underestimated. To put it bluntly, she has not been corrupted by some of the left-wing thinking about the place of Europeans in southern Africa which has happened here.
The dependence of Africa generally on the economic activity and development of South Africa has also increased considerably. For example, there is the situation of Mozambique and the continual flow of labour from all over central Africa to the south. Therefore, there have to be economic judgments of who is going to do what and who can do what. Let us consider the reality underlying the situation.
I heartily endorse the suggestion by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that if now or in the future the terrorists—that is how they should be decribed, because they are mostly not indigenous to Rhodesia—decide that they can only gain their political ends by force, we should abandon sanctions at once. South African opinion in this matter is and always has been that if change should take place and is required—and there is evidence that Mr. Vorster has reached the conclusion that change should be more rapid than it has been—South Africa's interest and that of Rhodesia and of this country requires that that change should be controlled.
The arguments between Great Britain and Europeans in South Africa over the last half century or more have been not about the direction of change but, always, about the pace. The central dilemma is that the pace of change is one which has to be implemented by those on the spot. It is easy for us here and for those who roar in front of the lions in Trafalgar Square to say that this and that must be done in southern Africa. We do not have to do it; we do not have to bear the consequences, economic, social or personal; we can only stand 6,000 miles away and trumpet our ideals to the roof. Perhaps it is correct that we should do so from time to time, but let us be realistic.
The pace of change in southern Africa from 1895 onwards has been a major political argument within the groups that live in that part of the world. We are entitled to our views, but let us not adopt the arrogant and quite unrealistic position that only we, outside southern Africa, can make a sane, sensible and intelligent judgment about how fast things should move and about what the consequences are if that move does not take place. Nothing has changed except the compartive degree of ignorance in this country about the affairs of southern Africa.
Is there a cause and effect in sanctions? Is there any perceptible, demonstrable, acceptable and positive relationship between the imposition of sanctions and the settlement which we all wish to see? Is there any perceptible, demonstrable and acceptable relationship between terrorism and the settlement which we all wish to see? Both exhibit plenty of evidence of negative effects, and nothing whatever of positive effects.
Economic self-sufficiency has only increased the determination of that resolute, isolated, brave and admirable community of British people in Rhodesia. If the rôles were reversed and they were here and we were there, I would like to think that our reactions would have been exactly the same. It is extraordinary how so often in the judgments we make about great world affairs we seem to make the poorest when judging the reaction of people like ourselves living in other continents.
What should we do? We should raise sanctions at once. I would go a step further. I would ofler not only the real resources which would be made available by that decision to guarantee economic and social development over a very broad front; I would also call a constitutional conference, on the basis of the good will which that step would create, to draw up and implement what I can readily describe as a Marshall Plan for central Africa. But as the great General Marshall is no longer with us, and probably had little relationship with southern Africa, perhaps a better name would be the "Schweitzer Plan" because none can deny the enormous contribution which Albert Schweitzer made to Africa. Let us call it the "Schweitzer Plan". A Rhodesian constitutional settlement would and must be the central part of that plan.
In drawing up such a plan, we could sketch out the nature of the constitutional guarantees, of which the United Kingdom, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, the European Economic Community and last, but perhaps not least, the United Nations must be an essential part, appending their signatures.
Surely the time has come when an act of imagination is required to get us out of the policy log-jam which has held us tight in this House, including Government after Government, for 10 years. Surely we cannot come back here in a year's time and say, "Is the status quo exactly what it was in November 1975?" Surely an act of imaginative statesmanship and policy is called for from the British Government.
This debate is to hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House a sobering, perplexing, painful and frustrating experience. Having recently made my first trip to Rhodesia, I can understand more vividly why this is so, and how it is that we have heard from so many of my right hon. and hon. Friends such very impressive and powerful speeches, based in most cases on their own personal experiences in that remarkable country.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) described Rhodesia as a beautiful land, and it certainly is. What struck me was the attachment that so many people out there, black or white, still feel for Great Britain. I was also struck by the potential which Rhodesia has for future development if a satisfactory solution to the constitutional problem can be found, and the fact that relations between black and white Rhodesians are so relatively relaxed. We are also all conscious that each of us has in his own constituency people with family links with those living in Rhodesia. It is therefore not surprising that this subject touches such a strong chord in the minds of so many of my right hon. and hon. Friends.
It is regrettable that so little interest has been shown in this debate by Labour Members. Apart from the Foreign Secretary, there have been only three Labour contributors, as opposed to 10 speakers from the Opposition benches.
I also regret the generally hostile tone from the Labour benches towards the white people in Southern Rhodesia. Indeed, I was surprised at the way in which some Labour Members described the situation there. The country that I visited a month ago was not the same country as that about which they appeared to be talking. Labour Members should give more reassurance to the white people of Rhodesia. I discovered that the white people there—people of all types; politicians, civil servants, business men, farmers—were looking anxiously for reassurance about their future. It does not help when the Foreign Secretary makes a speech, as he did today, which is generally unsympathetic to the white people, as a whole, in Rhodesia. They look to him for reassurance. It would help if he were to be more forthcoming in his attitude towards them.
Yes, I am talking of the white people of Rhodesia. I was saying that that régime has been regularly re-elected. When we hear scathing remarks about the white régime, it would help if, at the same time, we were to hear something to reassure the white people about help they will receive from Britain in the event of a settlement.
Mr. James Callaghan:
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has drawn back a little from what he said originally. The original implication was that I had said things that were hostile to the white people of Rhodesia. He knows that that is untrue. There was one paragraph in my speech in which I attempted to make clear my understanding of their position in regard to jobs, homes, farms, families. I hope, however, that he is not saying that I should not be allowed to condemn an illegal régime that is still in revolt against the Crown.
I believe that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said in opening that although we shall not stand in the way of this Order today, we shall reserve our position, in view of changed circumstances, in a year from now. I gather that it is no part of the Opposition's intention to continue to share responsibility for a policy we no longer believe to be effective—indeed, a policy described by my right hon. Friend as a patent absurdity.
There are two points I wish to make, if I am given the opportunity to do so by the Foreign Secretary. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet referred to remarks made by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, as he then was, in 1973—namely, that mandatory sanctions should not have been imposed, and that we would not have imposed them if we ourselves had been responsible at the time. But he went on to observe that the tradition of the Conservative Party was one of supporting obligations solemnly entered into on behalf of Great Britain. I remember making speeches throughout the country on that self-same point in regard to the EEC, and many of my Conservative colleagues no doubt remember doing the same. I believe that we are right to observe this obligation.
That is a matter for my hon. Friend. I shall now proceed to agree with the Foreign Secretary if he does not object to my doing so. I agree that in the past year there has been a movement over the Rhodesian problem. The right hon. Gentleman recited various agreements and steps that had taken place—for example, the Lusaka agreement; the acceptance of the ANC as a bargaining group; the Victoria Falls conference; the Pretoria agreement; and the meeting between Mr. Vorster and Dr. Kaunda. But there has also been the split in the ANC.
I should like to mention the powerful and remarkable speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). His views were also reinforced in an equally powerful speech by my hon. Friend the Member-for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings). Their view was that if agreement was reached between Mr. Smith's régime and a representative group of Africans, the British Parliament should proceed to endorse it rapidly. The trouble with the split in the ANC is that it makes negotiation more difficult. That is why I regret it. It also makes it more difficult to identify the representative African group for which my right hon. Friend is looking. But I hope that Mr. Smith will see that it is in his interests that the split in the ANC should not stop the process of negotiation, and that he will bend his efforts to find a way round this obstacle.
I endorse the points made about the need for speed by Great Britain in endorsing a settlement, if we are satisfied that it has been made with a representative group of Africans.
The main change that has occurred in the last 12 months, referred to by many speakers, is in the rôle of Mr. Vorster and of Dr. Kaunda and the other three African Presidents who are involved. All of them—especially Mr. Vorster and Dr. Kaunda—are using all their influence towards a peaceful solution.
The reasons are clear to see. They have been referred to by a number of my hon. Friends. Dr. Kaunda has a very serious logistic problem. There are now very few avenues open to him for the import and export of his goods. I believe that he would very much like to open the frontier with Rhodesia, if he had good enough reason to do so. I think he must have good practical and political reasons before he can do it. I believe, also, that he is earnestly hoping for a peaceful and not a warlike settlement, because he, with his colleagues in the Black African countries, is only too aware of the dangers of another Angola occurring on the borders of his country.
Dr. Vorster also has a key rôle to play. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) said that the alternative to a settlement is war. I recall that in 1973 he said that the alternative to a settlement was union with South Africa. I think that, whatever the position may have been in 1973, the change over those two years in the way he has put the case marks a very important change in the reality of the facts on the ground. I agree with him that the present alternative to settlement is war.
This is the obvious result of the Portuguese revolution and the changed geographical and political situation in Southern Africa. The recognition by Dr. Vorster of this fact is the key to South African policy. He is determined, if he possibly can, to avoid a war in Rhodesia because of the danger that his country, as a neighbour, might become involved.
Secondly, and even more important, perhaps, a war in Rhodesia would risk the ruin of Dr. Vorster's whole grand strategy of dialogue with the African nations to the north. Therefore, if we were to withdraw sanctions now, I think it is right to say to my right hon. and hon. Friends that nobody would be more disconcerted than Dr. Vorster himself, because it would disrupt the delicate balance which he believes exists in southern Africa, and which he believes, also, is a factor working in favour of a peaceful settlement.
While my hon. Friend is on the question whether or not Mr. Vorster would welcome a withdrawal of sanctions, does he not agree that if we combined the withdrawal of sanctions with a great and positive act of policy, having a much better chance of achieving a settlement, Mr. Vorster could only welcome it?
With respect, I find that rather an obscure statement. I am not sure what the great act of policy would be, and I am not sure, regrettably, that Britain alone at this point has the capacity to produce such a great act of policy.
I come next to the suggestion by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion, that if the Africans were to abandon negotiation and resort to force, Britain should immediately declare that we would drop sanctions. On that suggestion my comments are these: if there were a real war, it appears to me self-evident that that would be a totally new situation, and that we should have to treat it as such. I believe that my right hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to the dangers of war. That is the serious problem that Southern Africa faces.
In considering this suggestion—I know that my right hon. Friend will not expect me to give a definitive reaction today—there are two points worth making. It is right to say that there are some people, especially in southern Africa, who have misunderstood the lessons of Mozambique and Angola and who believe that Frelimo, in Mozambique, and the other rebel movements, in Angola, won their war. I do not believe that they did. That war was not won in Mozambique or in Angola. It was lost in Lisbon. That is a vital distinction which I hope will be taken to heart by people in Africa who are disposed towards the thought that terrorism might be the course to adopt.
Another point of equal importance is that the soldiers who were fighting on the Portuguese side in Mozambique and Angola were expatriates, sent there from their own country, who looked forward to going back. The white people who live in Rhodesia regard it as their home, in the same way as those who live in Israel regard Israel as their home. That is another lesson which those who contemplate terrorism should take to heart.
Does my hon. Friend agree that Frelimo is overwhelmingly a Makonde movement, and that the enmity between it and the Mashone who live to the south makes the risk of conflict in this regard almost inevitable?
I would not care to speculate about that, and I am not sure that it would be desirable for me to do so from this Box.
Returning to my right hon. Friend's suggestion, I am not sure whether he was suggesting that this House should declare now that Britain alone would drop sanctions if the Africans abandoned negotiation and resorted to war. If that was his suggestion—it will no doubt receive appropriate consideration in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—there is one test which perhaps we should apply. Would it help those who want a peaceful solution, those who want to restrain guerrilla activity—I am thinking of some of the African Presidents who are directly involved, in that because of geography they are next door to the problem in a way that we are not—or, if it were adopted, could it be used by those who want to stir up terrorism, for example, by presenting it as an ultimatum in such a way that it made the position of the moderates more difficult? That is a thought which I throw out for further consideration.
There is in southern Africa now a delicate balance. If it is preserved we could see, through the combined efforts of Mr. Smith, the moderate Africans in Rhodesia, Dr. Vorster and President Kaunda, real progress towards a peaceful settlement. But if it is destroyed I fear that we shall see terrorism, the destruction of life and
property, and what Dr. Vorster has described as
consequences too terrible to contemplate.
I believe that we should do nothing today to disturb that balance. This is not a bold or an heroic posture, and if any of my hon. Friends, or any Government supporters, wish to make that criticism, they may do so. But I suggest to them that there is no ideal course available, because every other course has even greater dangers. If this course is not bold or heroic, it is at least wise, and the best calculated to restore the relationship between Great Britain and Rhodesia which Rhodesia properly ought to have.
The most obvious feature of today's debate is that all the speeches from the Government benches have been in favour of the Government's position and the continuation of the Order. The distinctive factor is that Opposition Members have taken an entirely different standpoint from that of their own Front Bench spokesmen.
Although I welcomed the fact that the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) had been on his visit to South Africa, Rhodesia and Zambia—we exchanged views afterwards and we found that we had many common impressions—I cannot say that I admire the courage or the determination with which the Opposition have handled this issue today.
I want to find out just where the Opposition stand. Do the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and the hon. Member for Blackpool, South—none of the right hon. and hon. Members sitting behind them can speak, so I have to put my question to those two—believe that the Government are right in putting forward this Order? As I understand it from what both have said, they think that the Government are right in doing so but they have no intention of supporting us in the Division Lobby.
The hon. Member for Blackpool, South said that if the Government's motion were defeated, one of those who would be most sad was Dr. Vorster. I think that the hon. Gentleman is right. However, it would also create very great concern throughout the rest of Africa. On that, they would be united. What is more, I believe that it would be so throughout the world as well.
If the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet and the hon. Member for Blackpool, South think that voting down the Order would be damaging to the course to which Mr. Vorster as well as the African Presidents and our Government are committed, why do they indicate that they will remain in their places when the Division is taken? I hope that this is not simply a lack of commitment by the Opposition Front Bench. It may be simply that they are trying to promote some greater association and trying to ease some of the problems in their party. I hope that it is purely a little local difficulty.
We on the Government benches look back to very different times, when the former Sir Alec Douglas-Home spoke up with principle for the issue that we face today—
The reason why I do not give way to the hon. Member for Havant and Waterloo is apparent to all of us here today. I directed my question to those who speak officially for the Opposition party and not to those who have dissoci- ated themselves from the policy not only of the Government but of her Majesty's loyal Opposition.
My second regret is that the hon. Gentleman used the occasion of this debate to misinterpret what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said. I want to repeat it. I believe that the whole House is concerned for the welfare of all the people in Rhodesia. We are concerned, of course, in any settlement for the welfare of the white minority. But I cannot imagine how the hon. Gentleman can expect the Government to show no antagonism towards the illegal régime which has created the situation which has caused this sanctions Order to come before the House for the past 10 years.
There is much that the hon. Gentleman said with which I agree. I share with him a sense of disappointment that the high hopes created by the Lusaka agreement last December have dwindled. A great many opportunities seem to have been frittered away. I look, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman does, with sadness at the widening gap between the leaders of the African National Council. There is no doubt that their cause is damaged by dissension. We must be careful not to place too much blame for the present stalemate on the rival leaders of the ANC, as Opposition Members have done. We must not forget that two of the leaders, Mr. Joshua Nkomo and the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, were kept in detention for 10 years while the Smith régime held power in Rhodesia and also that hundreds of their supporters are still detained, despite the Lusaka agreement.
My hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) raised the question of detainees. He said that he had heard reports that there had been an increase in the numbers. The evidence at my disposal—I cannot say whether it is accurate, but it comes from the organisation responsible for the welfare of the detainees—is that whereas in July there were 350 Africans in detention, the figure is now almost 800. That is a deplorable situation.
We must not forget that the African leaders agreed to come together under the leadership of Bishop Muzorewa. They maintained this alliance, under the umbrella of the ANC, up to the time when they met with Mr. Smith in a railway carriage on the Victoria Falls bridge. We must not forget that their objectives are the same—to achieve independence for Zimbabwe under majority rule. This is an objective which I believe is shared by most people in this country, although not by some hon. Members who have spoken in the House today.
The Minister has used the expression "Zimbabwe". In my remarks earlier I said that from the Commonwealth Heads of States communiqué at the end of their conference in Jamaica, it appeared that some official recognition was given to that word. I then proceeded to explain the background to "Zimbabwe". Is "Zimbabwe" the expression for Rhodesia which the British Government are using or not?
I was referring to the wishes of the Africans as expressed through the African National Council. The Africans' word is "Zimbabwe" and they want to see independence for Zimbabwe. I was quoting their objective. I believe that we all want to see majority rule. It must be recognised that majority rule is not only something which is accepted here, because it is also accepted by all the leaders of the ANC. It is certainly not for us to choose.
I understood the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) to suggest that we should choose one leader and give him our unqualified support. I do not believe that it is for us to decide. It has been said that we should not interfere. It is not for us to decide who are the representatives of African opinion. However, at present there is no sign that Mr. Nkomo's negotiating terms are any softer than those put forward by Bishop Muzorewa. The differences are on questions of tactics, not objectives.
Therefore, we regret the deep rift. We must recognise that some of Mr. Smith's policies have increased the difficulties of the African leaders in holding together. When they met Mr. Smith in the railway carriage on Victoria Falls bridge they were already smarting because so many of their colleagues were still in detention. They were told in no uncertain terms by Mr. Smith on that occasion that the main stage of the negotiations had to be in Rhodesia, not outside, as they had hoped, and that leading members of the negotiating team would not be allowed immunity to return to Rhodesia to take part in them. On that matter Mr. Smith had refused to budge. He was saying to them that he would decide which African people would be at the negotiating table. I hope that the time has not passed for him to think again about the position.
The Minister will be better informed about this matter than I or other hon. Members, but I understood that at the preliminary meeting in Pretoria both the South African Prime Minister and the representatives of Dr. Kaunda had agreed to the condition imposed by Mr. Smith that the meeting could take place only if it were understood that certain people would not be allowed to return to Rhodesia. Is that correct?
The leaders of the ANC were not present in Pretoria when that agreement was reached. Therefore, they were in a difficult position in that an agreement had been reached in which they had not fully participated.
We must recognise that Mr. Smith's intransigence has contributed not only to the division within the ANC but to the deepening suspicion of some African leaders, both in Rhodesia and outside, that Mr. Smith had no intention of taking part in genuine negotiations and that the only way to achieve majority rule in Rhodesia is through armed struggle. This is a terrible conclusion. Neither I nor my right hon. and hon. Friends accept it, and the two Front Benches are in agreement on this issue.
There are plenty of good grounds for keeping the negotiating option open. First, the fact is that Southern Africa is against the maintenance of white majority rule in Rhodesia. If Mr. Smith and those who support him, either in Rhodesia or in this House, believe that they can indefinitely hold down a population which is overwhelmingly black, they are living in a fool's paradise. They may be able to delay the process of change, but they cannot stop it. Continual prevarication must ultimately end in a guerrilla war which the whites can make long and bloody, but cannot win. The second reason for hope is that Mr. Smith's external support is crumbling. My hon. Friends the Members for Walsall, South (Mr. George) and Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Grocott) said that last year Mr. Smith could look to Mozambique for support when it was under Portuguese control, but he can no longer do that.
Mr. Smith thought that he could rely on South Africa—Mr. Vorster—to pull his chestnuts out of the fire. He now knows, and Mr. Vorster has told him in no uncertain terms, whatever the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) may say, that he cannot count on South Africa's unconditional support.
From within the European Community itself, whose members are anxious to live their lives in peace, not in warfare, there are increasing criticisms of Mr. Smith's leadership. The resignation yesterday of Mr. Wickus de Kock is a good example.
The third and perhaps most important fact—this has been recognised by the Opposition—is that the four African Presidents and the South African Prime Minister are determined that a solution to Rhodesia's problems will be found. I am glad that tributes have been paid to the determination of the four African Presidents and Mr. Vorster. It has been an act of courage that they have been able to co-operate together. I join the tribute to the rôle that they have played. For them it is crucial that the problem be solved. It is a must. They will not allow this running sore to infect the whole of the southern part of the continent of Africa. The fact that Mr. Smith must face now, not in 1976, is that time is running out fast.
This issue has not been raised by either my right hon. Friend or me with Mr. Vorster, but he has made no representations to us suggesting that the hon. Member for Blackpool, South was not right in the conclusion which he presented from the Opposition Front Bench.
I want now to deal with the important point made by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion—why sanctions? I do not accept that sanctions have had no economic effect. During 1975 there has been a marked and steady increase in the amount of attention which has been devoted to sanctions enforcement by the international community. The Rhodesians themselves have intimated that increased sanction pressures are worrying them. When the Rhodesian Finance Minister introduced his budget in July, he said:
It is not possible to give details of the public sector investment programmes because sanctions surveillance has been stepped up.
Perhaps I might, as an aside, answer a point raised by the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet, who referred to the EEC. It is important to recognise that, largely as a result of the decision by my right hon. Friend to raise the matter in the EEC, the performance of the EEC countries in relation to the observance of sanctions has greatly improved. In the past 12 months, only nine reports relating to EEC countries were referred to the United Nations Sanctions Committee, compared with 216 during the period since 1968. The right hon. Gentleman said that the matter ought to have been raised earlier with the EEC. Why was that not done when he and his party were in office? Why did they await the arrival of my right hon. Friend?
I am a little baffled. The right hon. Gentleman says that it is a good thing that this year there have been fewer reports to the United Nations Sanctions Committee, yet last year the Foreign Secretary boasted that there had been more. I do not understand.
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman was following what I said. I said that, in relation to countries of the EEC, because of the establishment of the Sanctions Committee and the representations that we had made to the countries of the Nine their performance had improved and it had therefore been less necessary for evidence to be submitted to the United Nations Sanctions Committee.
I come back to the point raised earlier by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion. He said that an end to sanctions would amount to a de facto recognition of the present illegal régime. That was perhaps the most important statement from the Conservative benches during the course of the debate, and he is right. The right hon. Gentleman is equally right in saying that if action were taken which provided virtually a de facto recognition of the illegal régime in Salisbury there would be anger on the left wing of the Labour Party. There would be anger throughout the Labour movement and I believe that unless his right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet and his hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South are speaking wrongly, there would be anger within the Conservative Party as well. It is not their policy to grant de facto recognition to the régime in Salisbury.
I ask the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion to consider what the reaction would be elsewhere. Conservative Members have business interests in Africa—not only in South Africa. We believe that there would be no welcome for that decision in South Africa. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that our business prospects in other parts of Africa would be improved if we were to take action that was equivalent to de facto recognition of the illegal régime in Salisbury? It is deplorable that the argument can be put forward in this House. The argument for sanctions is not simply economic. It is political, and profoundly so. There is a symbolic significance about taking action that is in accordance both with an international decision and with decisions taken by successive Governments.
One or two other questions were raised during the debate. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet said, on whosoever's behalf he was speaking—I suppose it was just the two of them—that the House should approve the Order for one year only. We are putting the Order forward for only one year, and it is right that this should be on an annual basis, because circumstances may change. No one would be happier than my right hon. Friend if, in a year's time, we were able to say that the situation had so dramatically changed that we did not need to impose a sanctions Order. This Order is based on the situation as we see it.
The hon. Member for Haltemprice asked whether there could be a represent- tative of Her Majesty's Government in Salisbury—"some form of presence" as I think he put it. There is a difficulty here. It would have to be short of formal diplomatic representation, but any form of representation that we appointed at this stage could be interpreted as a step towards de facto recognition of the régime in Salisbury. Although there could conceivably be circumstances in which it may be useful for officials or Ministers to be there for a particular negotiation or development, a permanent presence would, I am certain, be misunderstood.
Does not the fact that the Minister cannot give reliable figures of Rhodesians in detention or otherwise deprived of their liberty show that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not getting information about Rhodesia that it should have? Should it not have a man in Salisbury to give it the information?
Whatever might be the wish of this side of the House or of the Government to have a representative in Salisbury—I have indicated that it is not our wish—it is certainly not something that Mr. Smith would welcome. Someone collecting information about detainees so that the evidence could be given to the world is not a proposal that he would accept.
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion also asked how a decision could be reached. I think that he asked for certain assurances that any agreement reached between Mr. Smith and some group of Africans would automatically be accepted by the Government and commended to the House. The final decision is for this House. We hold the constitutional right and we could not in advance sign a blank cheque before we knew who was negotiating, how representative they were and what the outcome was.
We have recognised that this problem basically must be solved in Rhodesia, but if negotiation between Mr. Smith or any successor in command of the illegal régime and representative Africans were to produce a genuine agreement, then of course the Government would warmly welcome the opportunity of seeing that change.
The Minister is perfectly fair in saying that he could not give a blank cheque, but could he say—this would have an impact in Central Africa—that, if an agreement were reached by Mr. Smith and a representative group of Africans which was also acceptable to the surrounding African leaders of their countries who are proven friends of a settlement, that would have a serious impact?
All those circumstances would have a serious impact. It would be surprising if an agreement which was so generally welcomed was not warmly welcomed by Her Majesty's Government.
Several hon. Members have said that Britain has no voice in this situation. Of course my right hon. Friend recognises that the front runners in trying to bring about an agreement were Rhodesia's neighbours—the four Presidents and the Prime Minister of South Africa. The front runners are in Rhodesia itself. But it would be unwise to assume that we have no influence. We have a continuing influence. We are in constant diplomatic contact with the African Presidents as well as with the South African Government, with whom we have a businesslike working relationship on this issue.
Ultimately, we hold the key. Why has no country—not even South Africa—accorded diplomatic recognition to the illegal régime? Obviously, some Conservative Members would do that, but no country in the world has done it. That is not only because of a United Nations resolution but because it is recognised that the key to approval and to independence on the basis of whatever is negotiated is held in this Parliament. So we have a vital influence. I assure the House that my right hon. Friend the Foreign
If the Conservative Front Bench believes that Her Majesty's Government are right in what they are doing—I have not heard any serious criticism of this from that Front Bench today—it would be in the interests of Rhodesia and a peaceful settlement that the agreement that exists between us should be demonstrated in the Division Lobby.
We have been told that the vote will show the difference between the Government and the Opposition. It will do no such thing. It will show the difference between the Conservative Front Bench and the Conservative back benches. If that Front Bench had the courage of its convictions, it would go with us into the Division Lobby. It would be faced with a hopeless task if it tried to persuade the cowboys behind it to take that course.
Although it may be said that not everyone will read the reports of this debate, in the eyes of the international community Britain has an inescapable duty to discharge its responsibility for Rhodesia in an honorable manner and in conformity with African political aspirations. However difficult this task may be, we shall do ourselves no service, nor in the last analysis shall we help any section of the community in Rhodesia, if we turn our backs on that duty now. It is important that by its vote today the House should demonstrate that there is no wavering on this issue and no intention of conveying a misleading signal to a régime which has ostracised itself from the international community.
|Division No. 380.]||AYES||[3.27 p.m.|
|Archer, Peter||Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Jeger, Mrs Lena|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Deakins, Eric||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Atkinson, Norman||de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||John, Brynmor|
|Bates, Alf||Dormand, J. D.||Judd, Frank|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Edge, Geoff||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||English, Michael||Kelley, Richard|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Ennals, David||Kerr, Russell|
|Carmichael, Neil||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Knox, David|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Lamborn, Harry|
|Cartwright, John||George, Bruce||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Gilbert, Dr John||Lipton, Marcus|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Ginsburg, David||Luard, Evan|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Graham, Ted||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Grant, John (Islington C)||MacFarquhar, Roderick|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)||Grocott, Bruce||McGuire, Michael (Ince)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Hayman, Mrs. Helene||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Sandelson, Neville||Tuck, Raphael|
|Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Miller, Mrs Millie (llford N)||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)||Ward, Michael|
|Moonman, Eric||Skinner, Dennis||Weitzman, David|
|Noble, Mike||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Ovenden, John||Snape, Peter||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Owen, Dr David||Spearing, Nigel|
|Palmer, Arthur||Stallard, A. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Park, George||Strang, Gavin||Mr. Donald Coleman and|
|Roper, John||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
|Bell, Ronald||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wall, Patrick|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Brotherton, Michael||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Skeet, T. H. H.||Mr. Stephen Hastings and|
|Lloyd, Ian||Stokes, John||Mr. Nicholas Winterton.|
|Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)|