The Government welcome this opportunity to make clear their approach to the problems of Southern Africa and the discussions that will be taking place on these and other matters at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Lusaka, and the opportunity to hear the views of hon. Members.
There is naturally deep concern in the House and in the country generally about the situation in Rhodesia. Rhodesia is the last sizeable territory of the British Empire which we have not yet been able to bring to legal independence. It is the Government's objective, as it has been our predecessors', that the principles of a non-discriminatory multi-racial society should be enshrined in all our former territories at the time we grant them independence.
In relation to Rhodesia, successive British Governments laid down clearly before the unilateral declaration of independence in 1965 the way in which those principles should apply to negotiations for a political settlement. Those five principles were: first, the principle and intention of majority rule already enshrined in the 1961 constitution would have to be maintained and guaranteed; second, there would have to be guarantees against retrogressive amendment of the constitution; third, there would have to be immediate improvement in the political status of the African population; fourth, there would have to be progress towards ending racial discrimination; fifth, the British Government would need to be satisfied that any basis for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. After the illegal declaration of independence, a sixth principle was added by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), namely, that it would be necessary to ensure that, regardless of race, there was no oppression of majority by minority or of minority by majority.
That is the basis on which successive British Governments have sought to achieve a solution to the Rhodesian problem. Our election manifesto reaffirmed our commitment to those six principles. It made clear our intention to achieve a settlement based on the democratic wishes of the people of Rhodesia and to ensure that the country, when it proceeds to independence, gains international recognition.
The House is familiar with the attempts made by one Government after another over the past 16 years, for they began well before UDI, to find a basis for Rhodesia's independence which stood up to the test of those principles. Those attempts ended in failure. It has not been for want of trying that successive British Governments have been unable to bring about a solution, but there was no significant change in the internal situation in Rhodesia. White minority rule continued. The terrorist war intensified, claiming more and more lives and a growing list of atrocities.
There was, however, for those who could see it at the time, real hope for the future when, in response to the Kissinger proposals, Mr. Smith, in September 1976, accepted a commitment to majority rule within two years. It nevertheless proved impossible to reach agreement at the ill-fated Geneva conference, and further attempts at a settlement under international auspices were also unsuccessful. Eventually, agreement between black and white was reached within Rhodesia on 3 March 1978. This internal settlement, despite its imperfections, represented a major advance, and it is right that we should acknowledge this fully. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I were united in urging the then Government to recognise that this was so and to take positive steps to encourage it to develop in the direction that both we and they wanted. The late Reginald Maudling, whose understanding in these matters we remember so well, spoke strongly in that sense in our debate on 8 November last year.
The response of the British Government at that time was never more than grudging, yet remarkable progress was made in Rhodesia. All racially discriminatory laws have been repealed. In a referendum of the white electorate a new constitution was approved. After that came the elections in April, the first ever held in Rhodesia on the basis of universal suffrage.
Many critics have sought to deny the significance of that election, in which 65 per cent. of the electorate voted, attributing the high turnout to pressures of various kinds. If the turnout had been small it would no doubt have been argued that that demonstrated a lack of support for the internal leaders and the arrangements they had negotiated. That election cannot possibly be written off as an event of no significance. It is, indeed, an advance without parallel in the history of Rhodesia.
There are those who, against all the evidence, have sought to deny that major changes of a kind and on a scale that would have been unthinkable a short time ago have taken place. There are others who have sought to minimise the importance of what has been achieved. That is not the view of the Government, nor is it the view of the team of observers under the distinguished leadership of my noble Friend Lord Boyd. It seems to me self-evident that our policy must be based on a full appreciation of what has been accomplished and that we should pay tribute to it. I believe that it has brought us much closer to a solution than ever before.
We are conscious of Britain's responsibilities towards Rhodesia. We intend to carry them out with full regard to the situation as it exists now in that country and to the wishes of its people. Terrible war still rages in Rhodesia. Hundreds of ordinary anonymous Africans who never had any part in UDI are being killed every week by fellow Africans.
It is imperative that we seek a solution that contributes to a better and more secure future for the people of Rhodesia and of the neighbouring countries. To that end we initiated a full process of consultation. Our first concern was to establish proper contact and communication with the newly elected Government in Salisbury. A senior official, Mr. Day, was sent to Salisbury for that purpose. He keeps us in constant touch with what is happening there. One of the main purposes of these contacts has been to break down the atmosphere of suspicion, bitterness and mistrust which has bedevilled all attempts to achieve a solution to the Rhodesian problem over the past 15 years. Rhodesians, both black and white, are now coming to realise that we are determined to do the best we can to help them and their country and that we do so as their friends.
The Government appointed Lord Harlech as a special emissary to visit the Commonwealth and other African States most closely concerned with the Rhodesia problem. I am most grateful to him for the way in which he has carried out that task. He has had discussions with the Presidents of Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Angola, with the Mozambique Government, and with the federal military Government in Nigeria. He also met Mr. Mugabe and representatives of Mr. Nkomo. Although, not surprisingly, the views of the people he met varied considerably, he found general agreement on three points: first, acceptance that the situation in Rhodesia has changed and that account must be taken of this; second, criticism of certain aspects of the Rhodesian constitution; third, a firm view on the part of all the leaders to whom he spoke that a solution to the Rhodesia problem must stem from the British Government as the legally responsible authority.
Later, Lord Harlech visited Salisbury to discuss with Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues the results of his consultations with the African Presidents. Later again, Bishop Muzorewa saw President Carter and Mr. Vance in the United States, and my noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and I had talks with Bishop Muzorewa in London. We welcomed this opportunity to discuss with him the way towards a settlement. We impressed upon him that the present British Government recognised and accepted the extent of the progress that has been made inside Rhodesia. We explained that the British Government were engaged in a process of consultation with a view to bringing Rhodesia to legal independence with the widest possible international acceptance.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Lusaka will be an important stage in these consultations. Subsequently, the British Government will put forward firm proposals on the constitutional arrangements to achieve a proper basis for legal independence for Rhodesia. In that task, I stress that we shall be guided by the six principles that have been supported by successive British Governments in relation to Rhodesia. We shall aim to make the proposals comparable to the basis on which we granted independence to other former British territories in Africa. They will be addressed to all the parties to the conflict.
The Government's purpose will be to help those who wish to resolve their political problems by democratic and peaceful means. We cannot subscribe to a solution which seeks to substitute the bullet for the ballot box.
Will the right hon. Lady say whether the Government will in any circumstances be prepared to recognise the independence of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia in the present circumstances, which enshrine, for the white minority, certain rights which cannot in any way be taken away from them? Those rights, as many hon. Members are aware, would be totally at variance with the terms upon which independence was granted to any other Commonwealth country.
As the hon. Gentleman has heard, I have said that the proposal which we shall make will depend upon two things. The first is the matter of the six principles. Secondly, it will be similar to the basis upon which independence has been granted to other African States. In his own way the hon. Gentleman is asking me whether we would decide whether the fifth principle, the test of acceptability, has been fulfilled by the elections which took place. I shall be frank with him. Although sometimes diplomatic process and frankness go ill together, we have not yet determined whether that is so. We are extremely anxious to try to take along as many as possible with us in bringing Rhodesia to legal independence. We believe that the path that we have chosen to that end is the better one.
I am aware that other people have already made that determination. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has read carefully every word of the report of Lord Boyd, who is held in great affection in many British Commonwealth countries in Africa. In a chapter on the nature of the vote, the report states that
It was the intentions of the voter when he voted that we wished to probe and we are satisfied that the election did in fact constitute a kind of referendum on the constitution".
That was his view.
We have not yet decided on the matter, because we have wanted to go another way—a way that we believe will be better for Rhodesia in the longer run. It is a way that we believe will bring more countries along with us, and if we go along that consultation route it will be to the benefit of Rhodesia. It is a way in which we can gain that country's acceptance to legal independence.
I should like to ask a perfectly fair question at this stage of the right hon. Lady's speech. She talks of conferring legal independence and says that she does not expect to carry all with her. Will she answer a question that she has dodged on two Wednesday afternoons in succession, while sitting on that Front Bench beside her Lord Privy Seal? Will she tell the House whether she has met any other Commonwealth leader who, like herself, believes at this stage that it is possible to confer legal independence upon this State of Rhodesia?
With all due respect to the hon. Gentleman, I have tried to answer that question in as much detail as possible. I shall shortly say something about the constitution. The hon. Gentleman will understand that I have to go to Lusaka for further consultations. Therefore, I am not in a position to put detailed proposals to the House ahead of those consultations.
The progress that Rhodesia has made towards democracy in the past two years canont be brushed aside. At the same time, because it is in Rhodesia's own interest to be accepted fully into the international community, we must have regard to the views of other Governments. That is the point I was trying to make to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, West (Mr. Johnson).
Many black Rhodesians realise the extent to which the country's economic future depends on the continued involvement of the white community and, consequently, on retaining their confidence. Some elements of the present constitution are based on provisions which have been accepted and implemented in virtually all other independence constitutions. For example, there are precedents for a measure of special representation for min- ority communities, both white and Asian. However, there has been criticism of the blocking power of the white minority and of the character and powers of the public service commissions.
Our concern is to find a solution which, while acceptable to other Governments, will enable the white community to play a full part in the future of the country, a solution in which their skills and contribution are recognised, their confidence maintained and which will encourage them to stay.
At this point, we should like to make clear that we are wholly committed to genuine black majority rule in Rhodesia. We believe that it is possible in Rhodesia, as in other countries to which Britain has granted independence, to reconcile reasonable reassurance for the white community and the protection of their rights with black majority rule.
We feel deeply the need to do everything in Britain's power to bring an end to the war. Unfortunately, that does not depend on us alone. It depends on an equal disposition to do so among those who are engaged in the fighting.
There are those who seem to believe that
war is better than any negotiations
That remark was made by Mr. Nkomo on his arrival at the OAU summit earlier this month. Mr. Nkomo said to Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos:
the war has reached such a stage that there can only be a settlement by military means. If there are to be talks, they will have to be carried out by generals meeting on the battlefield.
The British Government totally reject that view. Those who rely on force to achieve their ends must not have a veto over those who seek to advance their cause by democratic and constitutional means.
The need for peace is equally great among Rhodesia's neighbours. The Government intend to do all that they can to contribute to a solution which would be of benefit to the people of Zambia and Botswana as well as bringing to the people of Rhodesia, both black and white, a stable and peaceful future.
I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend say that the proposals by the British Government will be put to all parties to the conflict. Will she undertake that in putting those proposals to all parties to the conflict she will expect all parties to call off the conflict while they are considering the proposals?
There is no longer any vestige of excuse for the conflict to continue. Most of us recognise that fact completely. I hope that at Lusaka we shall have the co-operation of other Commonwealth nations in calling off a war in which hundreds of Africans who had nothing to do with UDI are being killed and maimed weekly, their crops burned and their stock taken. There are some similarities between the situation in Rhodesia and that in Namibia. In both cases there is a choice between a solution by violence and a solution by peaceful agreement. There are also major differences. Britain has no direct responsibility for Namibia. We are one of five Western countries which have worked out in a process of long and arduous negotiations a settlement proposal which is designed to enable free and fair elections to take place in Namibia under United Nations supervision and control, leading to full independence with international recognition and support.
Perhaps the major difference compared with Rhodesia is that the proposal of the five Western countries has been accepted formally by all those concerned—South Africa, SWAPO, by virtually all the other Namibian parties, by the Security Council, by the remainder of the West and by the Third World.
Before the right hon. Lady leaves the question of Rhodesia, will she clarify the Government's position on sanctions? She made a statement in Australia that has caused some confusion. Will she, before she goes to Lusaka, say what her intentions will be on sanctions in November?
I have already made it clear that the top priority is to try to move Rhodesia to legal independence with wide international acceptance. If we bring Rhodesia to legal independence sanctions will fall because, I am advised, the United Nations sanctions motion depends upon there being a state of illegality in Rhodesia. I am the first to say that there is not much time left. If we do not make progress towards legal independence within a reasonable time this year, I do not think there will be any better chance next year or the year after. I therefore regard the consultations at Lusaka and the proposals that we shall make in the light of some of those consultations as crucial. If we are successful, the problem of sanctions will not arise. I do not think that I can add to that.
Before I was interrupted I was referring to Namibia. I said that agreement had been reached but that there were difficulties in respect of precise interpretation and implementation of the agreement. The current obstacles are about how the SWAPO armed forces inside Namibia at the time of the ceasefire are to be dealt with and how SWAPO's adherence to the ceasefire and to the other provisions of the settlement proposal are to be monitored in the countries that border on Namibia.
The five countries concerned have devoted intensive efforts to trying to resolve these matters in a way which all concerned could accept. We agree that there should be a further round of more detailed talks, and in the past fortnight the five have put to the South African Government suggestions about how these might be best handled. It was announced this morning that Sir James Murray, the United Kingdom's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, has been appointed as the envoy of the five to conduct these talks with the South Africans. A great deal is at stake there. A success in Namibia—a success for peace and negotiation—could have tremendous effects on the prospects for peaceful solutions to other problems in Southern Africa. It could affect the whole relationship between South Africa and the rest of the world. By the same token a failure would have the most dangerous and negative effects for all our efforts in that part of the world. It is for these reasons that the five will spare no effort to try to bring about the agreement which we all seek.
If there are to be peaceful settlements to the problems of Southern Africa, the role of South Africa is critical.
The details in the interpretation of that agreement are what have caused the problem. Quite a number of soundings have been taken. Any further negotiations are being handled by Sir James Murray on behalf of the five. It is not possible at the moment to go any further.
I was referring to the critical role of South Africa in the settlement of the problems. The policy of apartheid, with its emphasis on separating peoples rather than bringing them together, and all the harshness required to impose it on the South African population is wholly unacceptable. Within South Africa, as in the outside world, there is a growing recognition that change must come. It is in everyone's interest that change should come without violence. We must work by fostering contact, not by ostracism. We must be ready to acknowledge and welcome progress when it is made, even when it may appear slow and inadequate. We must not drive the South Africans into turning their backs on the world. We need to recognise the immensity and complexity of the problems they face. We must encourage progress in working out solutions to those problems.
The heart of the problem in Southern Africa in the immediate future will be Rhodesia. That is so for two reasons. The first is that if it can be given peace Rhodesia stands at the threshold of resumed economic growth and prosperity. That can be of great benefit to its neighbours, some of whom have been less favoured by nature and by circumstances. Rhodesia can feed others as well as itself. Greater prosperity in the region can bring greater stability and can reduce the tensions on which terrorism feeds and from which it profits.
The second reason is that it is vital to the future of Southern Africa that the democratic process should be seen to succeed and that terrorism should be seen to fail. Whatever further progress remains to be achieved, the plain fact is that Zimbabwe-Rhodesia has moved far along the road, by means of elections, towards building up a democratic society founded on racial partnership. This achievement must not be thrown away or discarded in favour of the rule of force. I look forward to the consultations in Lusaka, believing that they can help us in our task of creat- ing an independent Rhodesia—a Rhodesia that will win that widespread acceptance from peoples of good will that is so important for its future.
I am grateful to those who arranged the business of the House for giving us the opportunity of discussing this important matter, and to the Prime Minister for coming here at what must be an extremely arduous time for her to give us some indication of the policy that she intends to follow when she meets her fellow Heads of the Commonwealth. That applies especially to the question of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
It is not my desire this afternoon to make her task more difficult. This is a problem of deep concern to all of us, and if we need any reminder of the gravity of the developing situation it would have come, surely, in the two dreadful events of the last seven days. In one the whole staff of about 50 persons in a Roman Catholic mission near the Mozambique border were abducted. The second was the killing by Government troops of 183 of their own black auxiliaries who were being moved for the purpose of retraining, and most of whom were supporters of Sithole. In those circumstances, all of us must speak frankly but with the desire to help the situation and to try to make the task of the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting as easy as possible.
I must apologise to the House for the fact that because, unavoidably, of arrangements made for today I shall be unable to be present throughout the debate, and I hope that hon. Members will excuse me.
First, I should like to say a word about the Commonwealth conference itself. These meetings are extremely valuable because the Commonwealth embraces people from most, if not all, parts of the globe—from rich nations and poor, from North and from South, from large countries and small—all of whom have to some extent a shared history, and all of whom—and this is perhaps the most important point that emerges when the 30 to 40 Prime Ministers meet—speak a common language. There are no interpreters' booths. All this in itself has been of singular significance.
The Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, as we all know—we have had recent illustration of it—attaches great weight to her responsibilities to the member countries of the Commonwealth, and in her person she forges a personal link between all the members of the Commonwealth in a way that cannot be achieved by any other method.
I am sure that I carry the House with me thus far, but I must say this to hon. Members on the Government Benches. I think that there has been a tendency in some parts of the Conservative Party over recent years to dismiss the Commonwealth as being a body of little value. It is an attitude which has sprung partly from the fact of the end of Empire and partly, if I may say so, from their love affair with the European Community in the 1960s and early '70s.
That attitude is a mistake. Our experience shows that for a medium-sized country such as Britain, as we are now, working in a number of international forums, whether in the United Nations itself, in UNCTAD or in conferences such as that on the law of the sea, the links between Commonwealth countries and the personal contacts which have been built up among them have been of immense help in the process of understanding and agreement.
In our negotiations in the European Community on agricultural and other matters, our membership of the Commonwealth and the fact that the Commonwealth countries believe that we understand and speak for them on a number of such issues is very highly valued by them. I speak, for example, of countries such as Botswana, Barbados and Mauritius. The knowledge that there have been long historical ties between Britain and those countries has meant that they feel that they have a friend at court in the Community.
We should never forget that and I am sure that the Government will not, but I emphasise that we must stand firmly for a strong Commonwealth and Britain must supply a great deal of the impetus behind it. Therefore, from these Benches we hope that the Commonwealth conference which is about to begin will be very successful in strengthening Commonwealth ties and that Britain, through the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, will be active and will exert every influence to make the conference a success.
However, as the right hon. Lady has already deduced, the issue which will be most inflammatory is the one on which she spent most of her time, namely, the disagreement about the future of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and it is to this and this alone that I shall speak this afternoon.
The first point to note is, I think, the one that Lord Harlech was told and which the Prime Minister reported to us a few minutes ago. She will find that she is constantly told that the legal and moral responsibility for solving this problem belongs to her Government. But, because many of the Commonwealth countries say that we have by our own default been unable to solve the problem, a new element has come into it, and this is part of the problem, as she will find. They will say that she must take the initiative, but they will say also "Because you have failed to solve this problem, other events have taken place which have resulted in some responsibility falling upon us."
That will be said especially by some of the front-line States, in particular, Zambia, because Zambia feels deeply and strongly about the severe effect that what she regards as our failure to bring an end to the rebellion, as it is called, in Rhodesia has had upon her trade, upon the living standards of her people and in the hardship and loss which has been caused. So there is this dilemma. The Commonwealth countries expect Britain to give a lead but at the same time they say "This is partly our responsibility and we expect fully to be brought into the picture."
This afternoon, I think, the right hon. Lady has made some impression upon that situation. I must tell her that I have thought that she would be well advised—I think that she has begun to do it this afternoon—to play down the impression that is around that the United Kingdom intends to take its own decision unilaterally on these matters irrespective of the views of the Commonwealth.
The right hon. Lady said today that she intends to try to carry as many members of the Commonwealth or the international community with her as possible. I am glad to hear it. But there has been an impression around—perhaps it has not sprung from her and it may have sprung from members of her party—that somehow the Commonwealth conference is a bit of an embarrassing interlude for the Government because it prevents them from taking an early decision on sanctions and in due course on recognition of the Muzorewa Government.
It would be folly if that impression were allowed to prevail, and I think that the right hon. Lady has gone some way today to correct it. But here I must revert to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans) regarding the Prime Minister's interview in Australia. She there said that an order to renew sanctions would not pass in this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear.") Indeed, the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) has put his own gloss on that and has gone further in his interpretation in an article in The Daily Telegraph yesterday. He said that the Prime Minister's statement in Canberra amounted to a repudiation of sanctions. That was his word, a repudiation. Is that so?
When my hon. Friend asked the Prime Minister the question, I thought that she ascended into the clouds. I got no clear answer from her as to what she meant and as to her attitude. I do not press the right hon. Lady unduly this afternoon because she has to go and discuss these matters with Commonwealth Prime Ministers, but I repeat her words:
would lapse in November and we doubt very much whether a renewal of sanctions would go through the British Parliament.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I dispute that conclusion. I believe that if the Government were to recommend a continuation of sanctions, such an order would pass. It would have full support from the Labour Benches, as I have already told the right hon. Lady, and it would, I assume, receive considerable support from her own followers.
A sanctions order which was backed by the Government would pass easily in the House, and I hope that the right hon. Lady will not shelter behind an excuse of that sort. She may have meant that there would be a division of opinion in her own party on the matter. We have noted from some of the cheers this afternoon that that is so. There has always been a divi- sion of opinion in the Conservative Party on the issue. But that is not the same as conveying the impression in Australia and to the whole Commonwealth that the order would automatically be defeated.
I quoted the exact words that were used, and I now repeat them:
We doubt very much whether a renewal of sanctions would go through the Briitsh Parliament.
That is what I said. But certainly it starts here in the House of Commons. This is where the sanctions order will be taken. If, of course, another place were to decide differently, that would be a different matter. I do not wish to get into that constitutional issue this afternoon—we have too many others to trouble ourselves with—but I do not proceed on the assumption that if the Government of the day decided that internationally it was of the greatest importance and in the interests of this country that sanctions should continue, the House of Lords would take a view different from that of the House of Commons. At least, I trust not.
I wish to press this matter a little further, and I press it because I believe it to be vital to everyone in the House and outside. Are we to understand that the right hon. Lady would like the sanctions order to be renewed but she fears that it would be defeated? If that is it, I believe that she is wrong. Or does she really mean that the Government's policy is not to renew sanctions? If the latter, she is dissembling, and she is using the attitude of some hon. Members in her own party as a cover to shield herself from what would be, in my view, a majority in the House to renew.
We may not be able to get an answer today, but we shall need to know when the House returns because there will be very little time afterwards. It is as well to put the right hon. Lady on notice and to make it clear where she stands. Although I do not press her this afternoon, I promise her that she will be pressed hard in Lusaka. The Commonwealth Heads of Government will not be easily brushed aside on this issue. All the reports that reach me from overseas confirm that her interview in Australia has made her task at the Commonwealth conference much more difficult. The right hon. Lady knows as well as I do the suspicion that can be created, and has been created, among other Commonwealth members. She has been informed of it. I believe that the interview in Australia was a self-inflicted wound, and it is one which I regret.
The Foreign Secretary has taken a rather wider view. He said in another place recently that the election in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, whatever its defects, has created a new situation and that we should take advantage of that. I do not disagree with him. I have emphasised the same point in my contacts with African and other Commonwealth leaders, including my conversations with Bishop Muzorewa. I was glad to hear the right hon. Lady pick up that theme this afternoon.
The Foreign Secretary's view, which he put clearly, is that the greatest objectives are a peaceful settlement, an end to the war, a return to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia of legal independence and the widest possible international acceptance. I agree with those aims. No one would disagree with them. However, that is not the end of the story. That is the easiest part. The hard part comes when the Government and the Prime Minister have to consider how the conditions are to be created that will lead to a peaceful settlement and an end to the war.
The Prime Minister spoke about the bullet and the ballot. Who could disagree with those remarks as a general principle? However, do the Government share the Opposition's view that Mr. Nkomo, Mr. Mugabe and the Patriotic Front must have an important role in the discussions about the settlement if it is to bring peace and is to endure? Surely that is a fundamental question.
I have referred to the impression, which I do not say the right hon. Lady herself has given, that Britain intends to proceed unilaterally to recognise the new State when the Government are satisfied that the six principles have been observed. This afternoon the right hon. Lady said that there must be a second condition. She said that we must carry with us as many countries as possible. I understand the first principle. It is an arguable position for Her Majesty's Government to take. However, other elements have entered into the dispute, as she partially recognised this afternoon, since the six principles were laid down, namely, the existence of large bands or armies of armed men in Zambia and Mozambique who have no present intention of laying down their arms or subscribing to a settlement that is reached with Bishop Muzorewa's Government on their own. That is the problem.
I make these remarks now so that before the Prime Minister goes to Africa we shall have considered the consequences of the actions that she takes there. Let us suppose that a Government were to return from Rhodesia and to say "We have used our best endeavours. We believe that the six principles have been observed. Alas, we cannot carry the Commonwealth with us, or large numbers of the Commonwealth. A, B and C agree with us, but the great majority do not." Suppose that the right hon. Lady was to proceed along those lines and lift sanctions and in clue course, presumably, as she said in Australia, recognise Bishop Muzorewa's Government. That course would ensure a long-standing hostility to Britain among many members of the Commonwealth and among the United Nations.
I do not want to put it too high, but another factor is the impact on our trading relations with some parts of the world. We should not be put off a course that we believe to be right because of that, but we must take it into account as a factor. I do not know what the truth is of the stories that are coming back from Africa of British firms being denied the right to tender.
Leaving that aside, what would follow from the gesture of lifting sanctions without getting the consent of other countries which now, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, feel more involved and have a greater sense of responsibility because we have failed—we have all failed—over the past 15 years to solve the problem? What would be the consequences?
I ask my hon. Friend to allow me to follow through my train of thought. When I have done so, I shall give way to him with pleasure.
If the Government took the course that I have described, would they not be morally committed to assist Bishop Muzorewa's Government to survive? What form would that assistance take? No doubt it would take the form of money, technical assistance and credits. Would it go further? Would that gesture of solidarity taken in opposition to so many lead to the supply of arms? Would British troops be sent to stiffen Bishop Muzorewa's armed forces? Would British troops be involved in an armed struggle with the Patriotic Front?
These are not fanciful questions. These are the issues that the Government will have to face when they take their vital decision whether to lift sanctions if they cannot persuade others to support that course. I give the Government early notice that the House will expect to know where the Government will stand on the sequence of events that will derive from the attitude that is taken about the lifting of sanctions and the recognition of Bishop Muzorewa.
What would be the end of the road? None of us in this House will forget that the involvement of the United States in Vietnam began with the sending of a handful of American advisers there by President Kennedy. We all know where that ended. The United States was drawn in inexorably. The only basis on which the Government could proceed with any hope of success in these circumstances would be to persuade Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe that further armed struggle would be fruitless and that the front-line States would accept the British Government's conclusion.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, in the strict sense, we cannot lift sanctions? The only body that can determine the sanctions issue is the Security Council of the United Nations. If we were to act unilaterally we should be in breach of our obligations under the Charter and would be defying an action of the United Nations which was instigated and initiated by the United Kingdom.
I did not wish to go down that by-way, although my hon. Friend has raised an important issue, namely, where our international obligations begin and end. The sanctions orders preceded the resolution of the United Nations. Nevertheless, the way in which we have carried out our obligations to the United Nations so far has been through the annual renewal of sanctions. It could well be argued, although I prefer not to go down the road any further, that we would be in breach of our international obligations if we unilaterally decided not to renew the order. I hope that I shall be forgiven for not pursuing that issue any further.
The right hon. Gentleman has sketched a most important scenario. However, as all the forms of aid that he thinks might possibly be supplied by a British Government subsequent to a settlement of which he may disapprove are now being supplied by the Eastern Powers—for example, Cuba and Russia—what is the Opposition's view on that type of aid and its continued escalation?
With respect, I am not interested in trying to score debating points. I am trying to find the least unsatisfactory course and path forward. I shall take up the hon. Gentleman's intervention later. In fact, I was about to come to it. Before I gave way to my hon. Friend the Member for Heeley, I was about to say that if the Government cannot persuade Nkomo, Mugabe and the front-line States that the continuation of the armed struggle is fruitless and we recognise and we lift sanctions, we shall get the worst of all worlds. We shall be involved. We are bound to be involved. It would be morally wrong for the Government not to become involved on Bishop Muzorewa's side, having encouraged him against the Patriotic Front.
I prefer not to give way. I want to have a connected theme.
In the scenario that I have painted, where would Nkomo and Mugabe look? They would look, of course, to where they are looking now. They would look increasingly to the Soviet Union and to Cuba. At present both countries are helping them. Both countries, especially the Soviet Union, are adopting a low profile in Africa. There is more than one reason for that. I shall give what I consider to be the main reason. It is that they, especially the Soviet Union, do not wish to jeopardise the ratification by the United States of the strategic arms limitation agreement. Our interests in this matter coincide with those of the Soviet Union. The Opposition and the Government, I know, believe strongly that that agreement should be ratified. I hope that it will be.
I am projecting my mind forward. What would be the attitude of the Soviet Union and Cuba in the following circumstances: in a few months' time the SALT agreement has been ratified and is out of the way; Britain has made a gesture—this is a reasonable assumption—by refusing to lay the sanctions order again, and therefore she is not committed to sanctions against Rhodesia; and the Patriotic Front, knowing that in those circumstances it had nothing to gain from the West or from this country, appealed for armed assistance on a massive scale from the Soviet Union? How do the Government evaluate the response that the Soviet Union would make in those circumstances, having got SALT under its belt? What does the House think its response would be?
If the United States and the United Kingdom stood together, we might face the Soviet style. It has been done before. But if we were together, there would be a catastrophe in which the United Kingdom would be immersed up to the neck and embarked on a long-drawn-out war which we should not win. The right hon. Lady's attitude, therefore, at the Commonwealth conference, and the policy that follows in the ensuing months, will determine which of those paths Britain intends to tread. As the right hon. Member for Pavilion said in his article, which I have read with care, the right hon. Lady really has very few cards left to play. One of the cards that she had to play—the one called sanc- tions and recognition—has, I am afraid, been partially thrown away because of the impression that was given in Australia.
The Lusaka conference need not, and must not, be just a period of recriminations, sterile debate and who-did-what. There will be some experienced Prime Ministers present, together with our own Prime Minister. Some of them have considerable experience of working together on the problems of race. The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Sir Shridath Ramphal, has also had much experience in those areas.
When the Prime Ministers are assembled in Lusaka they will be geographically and physically as close to the problem and to the central point of the controversy as ever they are likely to be. I urge the right hon. Lady to consider whether some quiet private initiative cannot be taken under the umbrella of the Commonwealth by some of the Prime Ministers present. The right hon. Lady said that Lord Harlech met Mr. Mugabe and representatives of Mr. Nkomo. I hope that she will take the opportunity of meeting and talking, if meetings can be arranged, with Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe.
In this situation the political and the military aspects of the struggle are intertwined. Lord Carver gave his opinion in another place the other day after his experience as Resident Commissioner-designate. He said that it was impossible to make any progress in the political field unless one took account of the military aspect. With respect, it is not sufficient just to use the phrase "ballots and not bullets". We must take account of the fact that these men are in the field; they are armed. Somehow they must be brought to a peaceful conclusion.
Let me sum up. I bear in mind that our primary concern must be the welfare of all the people, black and white, living in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and we recognise that progress has been made by Bishop Muzorewa's Government. We think that the Prime Minister's policy emphasis is wrong in its present objective of lifting sanctions, followed by recognition of the Muzorewa Government. The first objective should be to work to bring the armed struggle to an end through a political settlement that will involve all the leaders both inside and outside Zimbabwe-Rhodesia—that is, the Muzorewa Government and the Patriotic Front.
For that purpose the Prime Minister should seek the co-operation in any appropriate way of the other Prime Ministers who will be present at the Commonwealth conference. In our view an essential step—I agree with the right hon. Lady—is to make further changes in the constitution, the composition of the Government and the powers of the black Ministers. The Government must work on the assumption that the Patriotic Front has the capacity to keep the war going for a long time. The Patriotic Front believes that it will win. At least I should say that it cannot lose.
The constitution has not been voted upon. That is a necessary condition for a settlement before recognition, but there should be changes in it before it is submitted to the people. At that stage a vote in favour in some form would constitute a better basis for international recognition. In all that the Government must work closely with the United States.
The House will recognise that I do not—I hope that my tone has shown this—underestimate either the difficulties of the Prime Minister or the risks of the course that I recommend. Nor am I over-painting the prospects of success, whatever course is taken. My conclusion is that a policy of not renewing sanctions, unless events have changed between now and November, and doing it in isolation, would almost certainly be in contravention of our international commitments; would be dangerous for this country and disruptive of the Commonwealth; would give false hope to the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia; would not end the war; and might lead to a collapse of the structure of that part of the African continent.
Order. There are eight Privy Councillors who wish to catch my eye and five hon. Members who hope to make maiden speeches. There is a much longer list of Government supporters on this occasion than there was of Opposition speakers in the debate on regional policy. The Privy Councillors will place a long-established tradition in jeopardy if they are not brief and do not allow others to speak.
It is right for me to begin by saying that the House has—perhaps not unusually but rarely—been treated to two extremely thoughtful and logical opening speeches, for which we are grateful. Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition put the issues before us with great clarity. That will, I hope, enable the rest of us to be even briefer than we should otherwise have wished to be.
There are two important differences between the situation in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia now and that of any other emerging country under the British Commonwealth. The constitution was not put to the people as a whole, as the Prime Minister said. The acceptability of the present constitution was never tested in that way. It was put only to the white minority. Nor was the constitution negotiated at a constitutional conference by the British Government with all the parties involved. In fact the present constitution—we must never forget this—flows from the proposals of an illegal regime in rebellion against the Crown. That is what makes the present constitution intrinsically difficult to accept, even if we accept the view of Lord Boyd—I personally do not—that the election process itself was some kind of referendum. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister is surely right to go on reminding us that the new regime in Salisbury exists. She was right to say that that was a major advance.
My conversations with Bishop Muzorewa over the years have left me with the impression that he is, indeed, a sincere man drawn into politics almost against his will, who plays a distinguished role in his country and who now finds himself leading the Government. My impression is that he accepts parts of the constitution which he probably finds objectionable. That is part of a political process with which we are familiar and of which we have all had experience. It is, of course, the art of compromise. I do not dispute that.
In a debate in the other place some months ago I heard two previous Foreign Secretaries, Lord George-Brown and Lord Home, each say that he would have accepted the present constitution in his time. Indeed, well they might, and well might this House. We have to remember that the present constitution, with its 10-year entrenched clauses, and so on, might have been perfectly appropriate in the late 1960s or early 1970s, but events have moved on since then. That constitution was not on offer at that time, and many of the African population, and many of the African leaders, took Mr. Smith at his face value when he said that there would not be African majority rule in his lifetime, or when he said on other occasions that there would not be African majority rule in a thousand years.
That is why we had the development of the armed struggle. We have only reached the present compromise constitution, and Mr. Smith has only changed his mind to the great extent that admittedly he has, because of the success of the armed struggle in 1977, 1978 and 1979. When we find, therefore, that those who in their movements brought about that degree of change—those who have been banned and sent out of the country—were excluded from the recent election process, we can understand why so many people inside Zimbabwe-Rhodesia today view the Government of Bishop Muzorewa in precisely the same way as the French Resistance viewed the Vichy Government in France. It may not be a point of view that we share, but unless we understand that point of view, and how it has been arrived at, we cannot grasp why it is that there are those outside who are continuing the war against the Government.
One of my fears, after my last visit to Rhodesia in January of this year, is that the bitterness against the new Government of Bishop Muzorewa could be precisely because it is an African-headed Government, so that the bitterness may be even stronger than that which existed against the white minority Government. That is the danger that we have to recognise.
Is not the right hon. Gentleman making light of the fact that Bishop Muzorewa and his party were elected partly because they supported the constitution? Secondly, is it not vital that there should be strong safeguards for the white community in order to stop the exodus, currently running at about 1,000 a month, from increasing? Will the right hon. Gentleman look at those points?
I have never disputed at any time that there should he guarantees to the white minority. As for saying that Bishop Muzorewa's party was elected because it supported the constitution, I remind the hon. Member that all the parties in the election supported the constitution. The parties which did not were not allowed to take part in the election.
I am sorry. I listened to the appeal from the Chair and I promised to be brief. I want to finish as quickly as I can.
It will not do to adopt the attitude—which is to be found in some parts of the Conservative Party—that because there is a black face at the head of the Government things will be easy from now on. The fact is that the liberation struggle has been supported by the frontline States. They have, as the Leader of the Opposition rightly said—and he also came into the firing line of criticism, as all British Prime Ministers have—been critical because they have suffered, their economies have suffered terribly and their people have suffered terribly as a result of what they regard as the failure of successive British Governments to bring an end to the rebellion.
I ask the hon. Gentleman, please, not to interrupt me. I promised the Chair that I would be brief and I am determined to set an example in this respect.
We have also to bear in mind at the same time the report of the Bingham commission and to understand the impact that that has had in Tanzania and Zambia, as I found when I was there earlier this year. We are still forced, at the end of the day, to recognise that the Prime Minister was right when she said that those who rely on force cannot exercise a veto, but where did the primary violence come from? It came from the injustice imposed by the Smith regime when it sought to exercise a veto on the orderly transfer to majority rule, towards which every other colony under the British Crown had moved. That is where the primary violence arose. The injustice was the primary violence, and the secondary violence followed.
This Government are in no different position from the previous one. They still have to seek reconciliation, a ceasefire and the end of the war. It will not be helped by the threat to lift sanctions. I do not want to make much of the Canberra interview, although the Leader of the Opposition did so. That is the only criticism that I have of his speech. It was not a prepared statement, it was an off-the-cuff interview, and all of us have been caught out at different times with off-the-cuff interviews. Let us forget that. I much prefer the statement of the Prime Minister this afternoon to what she said in Canberra.
It is right that the Government should take whatever initiative they can to bring about reconciliation. I, like the Prime Minister, regret some of the utterances of Mr. Nkomo. As I told Mr. Mugabe when I met him in Mozambique, I regret that he has not travelled more widely, to London and to America, to put his point of view, because I think that today he carries far more support—although this is a matter of opinion—inside Zimbabwe-Rhodesia than does Mr. Nkomo.
The Government must be sensitive to the feelings of the Commonwealth as a whole. They must accept that at the end of the day a successful, independent Zimbabwe-Rhodesia must have international acceptance. It will not succeed if it has simply British acceptance and that of a few other member countries.
I end by wishing the Prime Minister well in her journey to Lusaka. There are no easy solutions to offer, except the path of seeking reconciliation between those fighting outside and those currently in control inside. That is the only path that she can follow.
I think that there is general understand- ing in the House about the importance of Southern Africa to the economies of the OECD countries, and not least to our own, in terms of mineral resources, in terms of investments made out there, and in terms of its geographical position. There is also a very widespread understanding—the Leader of the Opposition shares it as much as does my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—of the threat of the Soviet imperialist thrust into Southern Africa, already achieved by the colonisation of Angola, the establishment of a protectorate over Mozambique, and the back-up of the civil war in Namibia and Rhodesia.
The issue between the two sides of the House, if I may put it that way, is how we are to resist this imperialist thrust. It was, I think, the view of the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister and of President Carter that they must at all costs avoid a confrontation with the Soviet Union in Southern Africa. They therefore tried to achieve what I might call a Yalta-type solution, that is to say, a settlement in Namibia and Rhodesia that would give an important role to SWAPO in Namibia and to the Patriotic Front in Rhodesia—and, if need be, a leading role, as happened with the Communist parties in the countries of Eastern Europe, as happened as a result of the Yalta agreement.
We had just now from the Leader of the Opposition, if I may say so, a speech which was the quintessence of appeasement and almost of what in wartime we called "collaboration". The ghost of Neville Chamberlain—and perhaps even of Pierre Laval—would have nodded approvingly. The right hon. Gentleman was saying to us "Never mind about principles. Yes, they have fulfilled the six principles. Yes, they have had an election, and we may not be able to argue too much about it, but think of the risk that we should be running by recognising what is, in reality, a legitimate Government. We should be running the risk of a possible Vietnam in Southern Africa."
To begin with, I think that the idea of a Vietnam in Southern Africa is rubbish, and I should like very briefly to say why. We have seen the impotence of the frontline Presidents to defend themselves against the raids of the embattled Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. We have seen the total failure of the Patriotic Front to disrupt its elections. This does not look to me like a Vietnam. If the Soviets wanted to take on—with their new East German Afrika Korps—the combination of Rhodesia and South Africa, they would have to send a sizeable expeditionary force to the area. They would not get very far with local forces alone.
While my right hon. Friend is discussing the attitude of the Patriotic Front, will he not agree that the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) was entirely wrong a few minutes ago when he asserted that the Patriotic Front was prevented from taking part in the election? That was not the case. Does he not agree that Mr. Sithole, Bishop Muzorewa and others made quite clear before the election that the Patriotic Front was free to play a full part in the election at any time? I have a quotation here from the Boyd report to prove it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) is absolutely right. The Patriotic Front was repeatedly invited to take part in the election and, even since the election, Bishop Muzorewa has said in public that he is perfectly ready to allow its leaders to come back, if they came back unarmed, to take part in the political life of that country.
It is clear enough that the Anglo-American proposals put forward by the previous Government are dead. I fear that the Waldheim proposals for Namibia will also be dead shortly. Here I would like to say a word about Namibia. I was in South Africa when the British ambassador presented the five-Power proposals to the South African Government. These were described—I remember the words because I saw the document—as "final and definitive." The South African Government accepted those proposals on the understanding that no further proposals would be put forward and no further concessions would be asked for.
It is stretching the imagination beyond the bounds of credibility to suggest that what Mr. Waldheim has since proposed falls within the ambit of the five proposals. It simply does not. Sir James Murray is at present in South Africa dis- cussing these matters and I do not want to make his task more difficult. It agreement can be reached, we shall all be delighted. However, what I would say is that it would be dishonourable for the British Government to go back on their "final and definitive" proposals and lend their support to asking for further concessions. It is equally unthinkable that we should support sanctions against South Africa if it failed to accept the new demands of the United Nations.
In the debate on the Address I ventured to suggest to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that the Government would be well advised to recognise the Muzorewa Government as soon as it was appointed—that is to say, the first week of June. If the Government had done so there would have been a storm of protest, but there is a big difference between the protests that people make against an accomplished fact and the protests that they make when they think that their protests may well prevent what they want to prevent.
Because we did not grasp the nettle—I suspect that my right hon. Friend wanted to do so—entrenched positions have been adopted by the different African leaders. We had the first dose at the Organisation of African Unity and we shall get the next one in Lusaka. There will be more at the meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations and again at the meeting of the non-aligned conference in Havana. Each time it is more difficult for the people who have adopted entrenched positions to retreat. I suspect that we may have to pay a higher price, in the shape of reprisals in Nigeria and elsewhere, than we would have had to pay had we taken a decision at once.
The Government have made it plain that they will not make their own proposals until after the conference in Lusaka. We all know that the Government will have a rough ride, and we wish them well in facing the storm that is ahead. The Government will be in the dock. There may well be massive demonstrations in the streets. The portly shadow of Mr. Nkomo will be in the background, if not in the foreground. There will be the constant anxiety not to embarrass Her Majesty the Queen. But the test of the skill and determination of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will be whether she can emerge from this situation without having tied her hands. The Prime Minister can be sure that the African leaders at the Commonwealth conference will do everything they can to tie her hands in advance. She must resist that at all costs.
We must speak of the British proposals in a speculative sense, because they have not yet been put forward and we shall not be in the House when they are put forward. But we are all agreed—even the African leaders—that there is a new reality about what has happened in Rhodesia. What sticks in the throat of the front-line Presidents is this: they know that there has been a free and fair election; they know that there is a black Cabinet and a black Parliament—
—but what the front-line Presidents do not like is the fact that it is difficult, under the existing constitution, for revolutionary change or a military coup d'etat to take place. They support the Patriotic Front because they are on its side—yes—but also because they are afraid for themselves. They are afraid that a successful, multi-racial pro-Western, liberal-oriented State in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia would have a destabilising effect on their own ramshackle Governments. Therefore, they have fastened on not the voting, not the Cabinet or the Parliament, but three particular issues.
The first is the ability of the white representatives in the Parliament to block an amendment to the constitution for eight to 10 years. In many African countries constitutions have been legally amended to make way for a one-party regime. Under the constitution of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia this could not be done. Should we complain? Does independence really mean a licence to introduce revolution by one vote in Parliament? I do not think many of us would believe that.
The front-line Presidents also object to the public service commissions which determine that, for 10 years or so, promotion will be by merit only and not by ministerial favour. Their object is not only to maintain standards but to prevent a putsch or coup d'etat.
There is then the issue of personality, the issue of Mr. Ian Smith. This is an emotional issue in the House and, I suspect, in the Foreign Office. It is much less an emotional issue in Africa. The Africans know that Ian Smith is the chief of the white tribe in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. [Interruption.] They know that as long as he is in the Government Bishop Muzorewa can count on the support of the white population. If Ian Smith were to go prematurely—when there is a settlement I have no doubt that he will go—the white population would divide or split. This is exactly what the Patriotic Front would like to see, because it could be very dangerous to the stability of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
I must keep my promise to the Chair and not be a minute longer than is necessary.
If we are to talk about too many white officers in Rhodesia, let us talk about the East German white generals on the other side of the Iron Curtain. We might also remember that it was not a bad thing, when the first two Labour Governments were in power in this country, that the bulk of members of the Civil Service, the Army and the police were, generally speaking, Conservative or Liberal.
Bishop Muzorewa's experience of other countries in Africa has taught him the danger of constitutions being torn up before the ink was dry on the paper, and of a putsch being carried out by officers. He cannot understand our hesitations. We have fulfilled the six principles. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister could not have said so more explicitly. Lord Home, who drafted five of those principles, confirmed that they meet the bill so far as he is concerned. The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Wilson), who drafted the sixth, said the same thing in a television programme that he and I did together. I am also a little surprised that my right hon. Friend did not entirely endorse Lord Boyd's view that the test of acceptability implied virtually a referendum on the constitution. Perhaps, because she is going to Lusaka, she wanted to hesitate.
I see no sense in the idea that we should now call a constitutional conference to confer independence through the normal colonial procedure. Rhodesia was never a colony in the ordinary sense. Its status was much more akin to that of the self-governing dominions whose independence we recognised under the statute of Westminster without attempting to tamper with their constitutions in any way.
We cannot weigh the Patriotic Front and the Muzorewa Government in the same scale. One is the result of a self-determination exercise resulting from a general election. The other is not only an illegal opposition; it has proved incapable of upsetting the general election. It would be ludicrous to suggest another test of acceptability.
The only argument is whether there would be advantage in trying to modify the constitution so as to secure wider recognition. If the modifications were cosmetic they would convince nobody; if they were substantial they could be immensely damaging to what has already been achieved in Salisbury.
It may be that my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary will be ingenious enough to find something that is neither cosmetic nor substantial but will paper the cracks. It will be very difficult. Therefore, I hope that the Government will heed the wise words of Lord Home and Lord Boyd—the most experienced elder statesmen in our party on African matters—both of whom have said "Be very careful in tampering with the constitution. It is a very delicate plant that was achieved with very great difficulty."
I am sure that my right hon. Friend and her colleagues are genuine in their desire to build on the achievement. But the delay in recognising risks undermining the very foundations of that achievement. We must rid ourselves of certain illusions. We may not be able to achieve a political settlement with the Patriotic Front. That may not be possible, because if Moscow does not want peace there will not be peace. It is time for a new approach.
Here I congratulate my right hon. Friend sincerely on what she said in Australia about sanctions. The significance of what she said, was, I believe, that in the new situation it would be quite wrong to have an adversary relationship with Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. After what has been done out there, whether or not it fully satisfies our requirements, we ought not to look upon the new leaders as adversaries. We ought to want to work with them. The time is past for negative pressure to be exercised on the Salisbury Government.
As I understand her, my right hon. Friend said that recognition might take a little longer to achieve. If she means a Bill to go through this House, that is perfectly true. But recognition is not an act. It is a process. We and the Americans have regular diplomatic contact with the Salisbury Government. So do the South Africans. Zambia has opened up the border and Zaire has been trading openly for some time. When the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia is received at Camp David by the President and at the State Department by Mr. Vance; when he is received by my right hon. Friend in London, as well as by the Foreign Secretary, we are nine-tenths of the way towards recognition. That is absolutely as it should be.
What we want is a positive approach to the final recognition, not a grudging one. There will be those who will try to say "Keep the new State at arm's length. Do not let us get involved". That is the view of the Leader of the Opposition. The attitude is "For goodness' sake, do not let us get committed to the Muzorewa regime". I take the opposite view. We must have a genuine and generous act of reconciliation. We must he ready to give aid, so far as we can afford it, to give political and diplomatic support, and even the supply of weapons if the other side does not make peace.
There is far more at stake here than just the fate of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. If a successful Zimbabwe-Rhodesia comes into being—pro-Western and liberal in its politics and economics—the impact on South Africa could be enormous—not on South Africa alone but on the ramshackle dictatorships in Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. We have a chance to make Zimbabwe-Rhodesia the rock on which the tide of Soviet imperialism can be broken and turned. We have the chance to open a new chapter in the history of this area which is vital to us and to the West. I say to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister "The responsibility now rests on you, with the House in recess, to a greater extent than ever. You have the chance. You may never have it again."
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) belongs to a family that has had a long association with the Commonwealth. Indeed, it was his own father who contributed to the position whereby every member of the British Empire was a free-born denizen. As a result, the new Commonwealth of today has been built up. I have yearned for the time when the right hon. Gentleman would make a contribution that would strengthen the Commonwealth. But, regrettably, each speech that I have heard him deliver has failed. I am sorry about that.
The situation in Rhodesia today is different from what it was when I first met Mr. Ian Smith in Rhodesia in 1964. We now have a black Prime Minister with an African majority in Parliament. From a British point of view, this is what we have been struggling to achieve for many years. But will it work? In my judgment, I am afraid that it will not do so because it will not satisfy the Commonwealth or world opinion. For that reason, we must consider the position as it is seen by others.
The Government who have been elected in Rhodesia have what we in Britain have been hoping to see for many years past—an African Prime Minister with African majority rule. The white Rhodesians took part in a referendum. The constitution that was adopted came about because of that. The black Rhodesians took no part, because they were not allowed to. Obviously, the Rhodesian Government did not want that to happen, because they knew what occurred when the highly respected judge, Lord Pearce, and his Commission went out to see what the reaction of the Africans would be to the provisional agreement that had been reached between Lord Home and Mr. Smith in 1970. The Pearce Commission enabled the Africans to let out an unmistakable yell of protest against the conditions that they had so long endured in silence.
The very people who have ill treated Africans—keeping their leaders in detention, murdering some and perpetuating a system that permits the confiscation of property and food, the destruction of cattle and crops and the forcible removal of people to protected villages—still rule. Detention without trial and summary executions continue even now.
Bishop Muzorewa came to power because both black and white Rhodesians saw him as a man not seeking power for himself, his tribe or his party but as a man of peace and good will who would unite the African nationalists. The Bishop has failed to get the co-operation not only of Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe but Mr. Sithole. As we know, leading members of his own Government have resigned. He has failed to take them along with him.
The black Rhodesians voted for the Bishop, believing that they would have an opportunity of working on their own farms, of buying clothes in the Salisbury shops or drinking in the white man's bars and cafes. The more sophisticated wanted to see a major transference of land and resources from the whites to the blacks. They now look upon the Bishop as a puppet—as a prisoner of the entrenched white bureaucracy and officer corps of white landlords and business men. Of course, this belief is encouraged by the patriotic forces, but so long as the Bishop shares responsibility with Ian Smith and van der Byl, the conviction that he is a stooge will grow, particularly among the young people. The unanimity rule in executive council means that the apparatus of power remains firmly in the hands of Mr. Smith and Mr. van der Byl.
Over the years, I have made many propositions to help solve the Rhodesian problem. I suggested to Ian Smith that he should seek active co-operation with Joshua Nkomo, who then had the mass support of the Africans. He spurned the idea.
When my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was Foreign Secretary and the first meeting of the interested parties was held on the Victoria Falls bridge under the joint presidency of Mr. Vorster and President Kaunda, I urged him to leave the negotiations entirely to them. They were in the front line and would suffer if there were violence. Later, I opposed Ivor Richard being sent on a mission because I believed that it would bring Britain actively into the struggle for power, and it has done that. I then suggested that a peaceful solution might be found if Mr. Smith were prepared to hand over power to Mr. Garfield Todd, who was a European, trusted by the Africans. If he had asked Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe and the Bishop to join him in forming a Government, a successful outcome might have been achieved.
I believe that we are now in a war situation. Reference has been made to Vietnam. No one wants to see a development of that kind, but I believe that it could arise. Indeed, I go as far as to say that if the Government support the present majority and the Prime Minister in Rhodesia that is almost inevitable.
I suggest to the Prime Minister that a further attempt is made to get all the parties together—the front-line States, Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe and the Bishop. After all, it is their future that is at stake. This time the Prime Minister should also take with her the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The recent conference of the Organisation of African Unity appeared to support that idea. The Government might also consider making a statement before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference. The atmosphere that that would create would enable the Prime Minister to take a more easy part in the proceedings than will follow from her statement in Australia, which at present is paramount in the minds of most of the African leaders.
The right hon. Gentleman keeps lumping Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo together, but is it not a fact that both of them are making active preparation for possible civil war? In those circumstances, can the right hon. Gentleman possibly say that whilst they may be called nominally the Patriotic Front they stand for anything like the same thing?
It is inevitable that there will be civil war unless we take the sort of action that I have suggested. In my judgment, for some years we have been heading for that situation. The only way to avoid a civil war is to get the United Nations, the British Government and all the leaders concerned together. With the OAU giving its backing, the atmosphere is right for fresh thought to be given to the matter.
The rght hon. Gentleman has twice said that with the backing of the OAU a settlement can be negotiated, but only the other day at Monrovia the OAU unanimously recognised the Patriotic Front as the sole legitimate representative of Zimbabwe. On that basis, how can the right hon. Gentleman hope to achieve a negotiated settlement?
I shall continue to say that. The OAU went on to say that it was not against a further opportunity to bring together all the parties concerned. That is an indication that the Africans are looking for a way out. We should play on that and not the more extreme statements made for public consumption in the various African countries.
Finally, in the context of Rhodesia I should like to comment on the threats to the BBC's external services through economic cuts. Those services do a wonderful job for Britain and the Commonwealth in teaching the English language. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, everyone at the conference speaks a common tongue, and we want that to continue. From the British point of view, the services promote trade, and the possibilities of development in Africa are enormous and will grow as standards improve. The vernacular services are useful in encouraging interest in Britain and disseminating information about current affairs in Africa with a view to a peaceful solution of their problems. It would be damaging to the peaceful development of Southern Africa if cuts were made in these vital services in the interests of economy.
I believe that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference could be the last chance of avoiding not only civil war but the probability of a large-scale conflict in Africa. I beg the Prime Minister to do all that she can to avoid that.
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me this afternoon. It is the first time that I have spoken, and sitting on these Benches waiting to speak it struck me that the term "maiden speech" was an apt one. Similar to losing one's innocence in other ways, it is one of those things that we do not especially care to do, but we simply have to grit our teeth and plough through so that at least no one can say that we have not tried.
Earlier this afternoon Mr. Speaker said that we were pressed for time. Accordingly, with a blue pencil I went through the speech that I planned and removed large chunks. If what I say seems incoherent and disjointed, I apologise. I should come clean from the start. The House will find me this afternoon and in the years to come a slow-witted man, who often gets the wrong end of the stick and tends to rush in and miss the point. That cannot be put better than by the master of my old college when he wrote a character reference for me. It was intended for the master of the new college to which I was going, but by an error was sent to me. He is in another place and I hope that he will not mind my reading the reference to the House. It says:
Dear Robert, This is to introduce Matthew Parris whom we are sending over as Mellon Fellow. Intellectually highly competent, but not, I would say, brilliant, Parris has been very active in student politics here. Small and sensitive, and dedicated to the financial reform of the amalgamated sports clubs, Parris is altogether just the kind of young man we are delighted to be able to send to America.
I had hoped to wait a little longer before making my maiden speech, as I notice that nothing pleases the House more than unrehearsed eloquence, and I am not someone to whom the unrehearsed comes easily. I have to practise. I planned to spend the Summer Recess in earnest pursuit of the impromptu and accordingly told many hon. Friends that I should wait until I was 30 before making my maiden speech. Imagine my distress when I read in the recently published "The Times Guide to the House
of Commons" that I would be 40 next week. Consequently, in haste and in some confusion, I rise to make my maiden speech.
I regret that it is a required practice to pay credit to one's predecessor only because Mr. James Scott-Hopkins may not realise that it is something that I should have wished to do and his old constituents wished me to do anyway. He was tireless in the way that he served West Derbyshire and Europe, and did both jobs superlatively well. It is not for us to question the laws of nature, but there are confirmed simultaneous sightings of Mr. Scott-Hopkins in Bakewell and Brussels. While canvassing I met many of his constituents whom he had been able to help personally and many whom he had visited to make sure that things were all right. In paying tribute to him I speak not only for myself but for all my constituents, of whatever party, and his many friends and colleagues in the House, who all wish him well in his challenging new job in Europe.
It could only be a sense of duty that leads a man to take Europe before West Derbyshire. I could weigh the whole of Holland against Hartington and Hathersage and the whole of Denmark against Doveridge, and find them wanting. Tideswell and Bradwell may have their rivalries, but they are on a higher plane than the rivalries of Strasbourg and Luxembourg. Given a choice, who would be in Brussels when he could be in Brassington? Who would trifle with Wallonia when he could have Wirksworth?
Although I admire the ingenuity with which my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) was able to compliment his football team without straying from order in a debate on the Banabans, I cannot match it. I am lost for an excuse to congratulate Matlock Town on a magnificent season.
I hope that I shall have the understanding of the House if I say a brief word about my constituency before proceeding to the subject of the debate, without any pretence that it is germane.
During the election campaign I had the privilege to meet both my Liberal opponent, Mr. Peter Worboys, and my Labour opponent, Mr. Bill Moore. The three of us have the best interests of the constituency at heart. I hope that the following short statement represents common ground.
Our part of rural England, an area of spectacular natural beauty, has always enjoyed the patronage or shelter of large and powerful families or authorities. Market forces, crudely defined, have never ruled us entirely, and they do not now.
In a previous age the dukes of Devonshire and other large landowners owned much and controlled even more. Under their patronage land was reserved and housing provided for local people. In hard times employment was created. In hard seasons tenant farmers could expect an understanding landlord.
The system provided an economic, a cultural and even a spiritual anchor for the region. Those days have passed. There is no going back. Successive Governments and successive public authorities have recognised that the shelter provided by that system cannot simply be swept away.
It may be given to this Government to lead our country out of economic decline. I hope so. It may be our good fortune—and I shall be working for it—to regenerate prosperity and galvanise the entrepreneurs. On the other hand, it may not. A little humility is called for. Despite our best efforts, we may find our task to be that of caretakers through years of continuing low growth or even continuing gentle decline.
That would be just as honourable and just as sensitive a task. Perhaps as important as whether the economic turning point comes now or not yet is that we should, when we go, leave behind us a country and a way of life the essential strengths, traditions and beauties of which remain intact. Nowhere are they more deeply rooted than in rural England and in West Derbyshire. Nowhere do they require more careful nurture. Our powers to create are so limited, our power to damage and destroy so great.
I was born in Southern Africa, in Johannesburg. I was brought up and educated in Rhodesia. My family were vigorous opponents of Mr. Ian Smith and his Rhodesian Front Party. Our political activities continued after the declaration of independence for four years, until we left in 1969.
I recall two experiences with particular intensity. Each of them pull in opposite directions. I shall recount them to the House. When I was about 13 I went with an African schoolboy friend of about the same age into a café in Salisbury. It was called "The Flowerpot". We wanted a cup of tea. The African boy had helped me to mend my bicycle.
I shall never forget the expression of hopelessness and helpless embarrassment on the face of the African waitress who was sent to tell us that Africans were not allowed into that establishment. That was the order of things which Mr. Smith was pledged to maintain and which he was swept to power to maintain.
In those days Mr. Smith was in the habit of gaoling Africans who organised political opposition to him. It is easy to remark that that order of things has changed. It certainly has. If I am asked why it has changed, I am in intellectual difficulty to deny that it is because of the cruel and violent pressures which I should be the first to deplore. The impact that those earlier days had on the political mentality of African politicians, who were then young men, cannot be underestimated. The House should understand that.
My hon. Friend the Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell), in a speech which I recommend to new hon. Members, said that to have spent some of one's youth in another man's gaol can form political attitudes in a rather surprising way.
The second episode which I recall happened a little earlier. It arose out of one of the most disgraceful episodes in recent colonial history—Belgium's ditching of the Congo at a few weeks' notice.
Pouring into Salisbury from the north came thousands of white families from the ex-Belgian Congo. They had lost everything. They feared, rightly, for their lives and for their children's safety under the new African Government, which was already faltering. They had been abandoned by their own Government. Their arrival made a deep impact upon white people in Rhodesia. We organised help for them while they looked for the means to return to Belgium.
People who jeer at the anxieties of the white Rhodesians or berate them for hardening their hearts in the way that they did in the 1960s should ask themselves whether this is the right way to deal with fear—the right way to deal with anxiety.
I invite hon. Members' attention to two elements of the problem—the element of distrust and the element of fear. I do not ignore the third element—the desire for power—but I think that hon. Members understand that better.
Bitter distrust on the part of the African politicians of Mr. Smith and all his works—of which the new internal settlement is counted, rightly or wrongly, to be one—will not be easy to dispel. They have the same disinclination to believe that the Government is really in new hands as many of my hon. Friends would have to any assurance, for instance, that President Machel of Mozambique is now truly emancipated from Soviet control. Unless a clear sign proving that the break has been made can be found, suspicion will endure.
Surely we can understand these suspicions. There are forces at work in Africa and in the world who simply want to make trouble and will use any excuse. Equally, there are African politicians to whom these suspicions are real and not excuses. Between those two groups runs a hairline crack across the face of seemingly united international hostility to any internal settlement.
It is vital that we should first find that crack and place the chisel there and nowhere else. Secondly, it is vital that when we find the crack we deliver a sharp and decisive blow. Many of my hon. Friends understand the use of the chisel and many others understand the use of the hammer. We have to understand the use of both. Both skills are well known on the Government Front Bench.
I cannot help thinking that if one wanted to behave towards the white Rhodesians in a manner calculated to deepen their anxieties, inflame their fears, induce among them a state of near paranoia and lead them collectively to act directly against their own self-interest as a community, it would be hard to find a better way than by the dismissive and vindictive attitudes that we have displayed towards them in the last 13 years.
That is changing. I congratulate the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Lord Privy Seal on the simple but crucial sea change in the way that we are talking about and talking to the white Rhodesians. I thank the Prime Minister in particular for the lead that she has given.
Will the House accept my good faith as one who has consistently opposed Mr. Smith when I say that the white Rhodesians need to be told that we care what happens to them? They need to be told that there is a place for them in Rhodesia and that we are relying on them to help in the transition. They are lonely and frightened people.
I urge Opposition Members, who can be so understanding about such matters closer to home, to recognise that defiance and intransigence are the symptoms of anxiety and insecurity.
I ask the white Rhodesians to keep an open mind about Mr. Joshua Nkomo. They should remember what Jomo Kenyatta did, and how we once hated him. They should remember what we once thought of Dr. Hastings Banda. They should remember what a rough time Britain once gave to Seretse Khama when he was here.
Bishop Muzorewa should not stand with Ian Smith, and may not be able to stand alone. Joshua Nkomo is said to be an unscrupulous man, who is interested in power. If that is so, he is just the man that we want on our side.
I cannot do better than to refer to another maiden speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Patten). He called for a forum in which business, industries, the CBI and the trade unions could meet to discuss things. On the following afternoon the Prime Minister announced her intentions to set up such a forum.
My knowledge of Greek mythology is slight, but someone called Orpheus used to play his lute just before dawn. Opinion was divided amongst local people as to whether he knew that the sun was coming up and accordingly played his lute, or whether his playing the lute caused the sun to come up. I sometimes think that politics may be rather like that. In the years to come I shall have my lute ready, and when I think that I see signs of an imminent sunrise I hope that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will occasionally ask me to play.
We have listened to a remarkable maiden speech. It is an ancient custom of the House for an hon. Member who follows a maiden speech to say something nice about the younger hon. Member who has recently entered the House. Sometimes that is a chore, and hypocrisy is often evident in the tone of the speaker. Not so today. We have listened to a speech which was not only lucid and modest but one of the best-informed on African affairs that I have heard over the years.
The hon. Gentleman is a genuine white African. I have been in a similar situation to him on the matter of apartheid. Many years ago I took a black leader on the Copper Belt in Kitwe to the Edinburgh hotel. His name was Kenneth Kaunda. Only one of us was allowed into that miners' hotel, and it was not the gentleman with me. I know exactly how the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) felt on the occasion to which he referred and I wish him—I am sure that we all do—many happy years in his Derbyshire dales. He will make many more speeches and we shall enjoy them—and I am delighted to be able to say that without an ounce of hypocrisy.
I wish to make a short speech on two aspects of this Gordian knot; first, on the position inside Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and, secondly, on the geopolitical position following the conference that took place at Monrovia, in Liberia.
It is difficult for any one of us to be definite today. I am scared of people who are what they term "honestly dogmatic" about the position. They know it all. I have not been to Rhodesia for some while, but I base my sentiments and impressions on listening to those who have come out of Central Africa. In a sense we are lucky to have so many black and white leaders, in all walks of life, who return to London. We know these men and women, we know that they have integrity, we value their views and we listen to them.
My impression of the society inside Zimbabwe-Rhodesia is that both the Bishop and his opponents are losing the good will—how much we cannot measure—of the masses of the people. The ZANU guerrillas of Mugabe batten upon the people, and I am told that they are even exacting taxes, never mind beer, food and the like. They will soon dissipate any attraction that they have if they behave in that fashion.
Conversely, I understand that the Bishop is not seen to be giving tangible benefits to his people. The long-expected and much-desired jobs are not coming forward. Even his enthusiastic supporters of some weeks ago are now losing the euphoria that they had at the elections, when they—particularly the women—danced just as others have been dancing for the Queen in another part of Africa.
Time is not on the side of the Bishop. The time factor is fearfully important, and time is slipping away from him in the task that he has set himself. Do not mistake me; I wish him success and I wish for a peaceful settlement, but only if others, such as Mugabe and Nkomo, are involved.
Some people think that that is impossible, but it is my analysis at this moment. I should like the Minister, when he replies, to tell me what he thinks about this up-and-down situation, and to give me the number of guerrillas. Is it 10,000, 12,000 or 15,000? I am given to understand that there are more arriving and that the position is getting worse. The official security forces are killing off many guerrillas; make no mistake about that. But that does not endear them to the black masses. Unless the Bishop can fairly soon dispel the impression that he is being manipulated by Mr. Smith and Mr. van der Byl, and others of the 28 or more in the political limelight, he will not turn the tide of the war. That is my feeling.
All the portents are that he is not delivering the goods and that the morale of black and white is low. Thousands of whites are leaving. Again, can the Minister give some figures to show the tendency there? I do not want the whites to leave. They are the linchpin, the key factors in the economy, and I should like to have some assessment.
I say sadly, but with sincerity, that I can see no future for the Muzorewa Government unless those former private armies of the Bishop and the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole are successfully integrated within the Government forces. I am told by the Government that the six principles that were originally laid down have been fulfilled. I accept that but I wish that they had been fulfilled six or eight years ago, when there was a chance of geting home with the bacon. I think that it is now too late.
The constitution, as set up at this moment, does not accord the Muzorewa Government sufficient power—they want far more clout, far more power. Changes are needed to give the Bishop—or any other black leader if someone comes into his place—more power to legislate for the political, social and economic changes that the blacks desire.
I echo the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley) in his fine speech. The exit of Mr. Smith from the stage is absolutely imperative. Having seen what has gone before him—Welensky and Garfield Todd in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and Bundell and Vasey in Kenya—I do not understand why a man of Mr. Smith's intelligence cannot see where the tide of history is flowing. I do not suggest that he should sacrifice himself, but why does he not, with political modesty, quietly get out of the way and allow a lot more lubrication in the political machine for the blacks to use?
How can the forces of Nkomo and Mugabe be persuaded to end the war by political means? The two are inextricably mixed. It is absurd for anyone to expect that those forces can be defeated this week, this year, next year or for decades ahead. They are there and cannot be shifted. That has been the history of independence movements all over the black continent. What can be done about that? I should like to see more ZANU and ZAPU forces joining the Government side, but at the moment I cannot see that happening. Time alone will tell.
The possibility has been mooted of inviting the Patriotic Front—Nkomo and Mugabe—to take part in discussions and elections on the changed constitution, even without Smith. I have thought hard about this proposition, but I do not believe that it is possible. There is no black or white leader in the Commonwealth—I include Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders—except perhaps Hastings Banda of Malawi, who is on the side of the British Government when we speak of sanctions and what will be done in the near future to settle the matter.
I should like to make a few remarks about the OAU conference and the dominating influence of Nigeria. Those speeches that I have read which were made at the conference are more than adamant on economic sanctions and Zimbabwe. Ministers know that that is the case. Nigeria is setting the pace by doing more than hint that it could use sanctions against us in the sad event of being forced into that action, let alone Britain thinking again about enforcing sanctions over Zimbabwe. We should be deserted by all African States, from Gambia to Zanzibar and from Sudan to Swaziland, if we were to lift sanctions and come out openly in support of the Government in Salisbury.
I would put more weight, any day of the week, on the advice of Julius Nyerere than anyone else in Africa. Why are Her Majesty's Government not giving more help to Julius in the sad condition of his country? It is a poverty-stricken nation, which deserves the thanks of all mankind for shifting a monster like Amin. Only one other man in Africa can compare with Amin. I refer to Mengistu, in Addis Ababa. Nyerere, with his impoverished economy, has come out against all the so-called philosophy of the OAU, which proclaims that one must not disturb the divisions left by the white imperialists of the past. Nyerere has taken the bit in his mouth, or out of his mouth, whichever way one views the matter, and has got on with the job. This is the first step to movement in Africa that is so badly needed. Nyerere deserves help.
I am finishing my speech. There are many hon. Members waiting to speak.
As the Lord Privy Seal knows, I have asked questions about this matter. I hope that we shall hear some answers. It would be sheer folly for the British Government to pursue any other course than to work with our Commonwealth colleagues. As the Leader of the Opposition said, we should work with our Commonwealth colleagues, old and new, to seek positive solutions and harmony with the front-line States, Kenneth Kaunda, Seretse Khama and the others.
What is the alternative? It has been said twice already—I shall say it a third time—that the door is left wide open, as in the Horn of Africa and Angola, for the Cubans and East Europeans to move in. If that happens, there will be no end to the conflict. I contemplate with horror such a possibility. For God's sake, let us avoid that situation. There is sufficient venom, vice and danger in the Horn of Africa. Let it not occur south of the Zambesi.
I warmly welcome the tone and content of the Prime Minister's speech. We must also be grateful for the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition on the importance of the Commonwealth and the need not to aggravate difficulties in advance of the meeting in Lusaka. I dissent, however, from many of the assumptions and conclusions of the Leader of the Opposition.
In previous debates on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia I have always taken the view that it would be wrong to lift sanctions before the six principles could be regarded as satisfied and the way opened to a return to legality and international recognition. I believe, however, that the situation has been radically changed by the recent elections. These have been deemed by the great majority of observers, including the team led by Lord Boyd, to be fair and free. In that context, the views expressed by Lord Home in another place are correct and should be heeded. Lord Home has also hitherto taken the position that to lift sanctions unilaterally would be an unjustifiable breach of the mandatory United Nations resolution, albeit that it was undoubtedly wrong to have referred the matter to the United Nations in the first place.
If the House agrees with Lord Home—share the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that it must—that the six principles have now been satisfied, which was also the position of the Labour Foreign Secretary in the previous Government, we are bound to honour the moral and specific commitments entered into by successive Governments. That is an aspect of the matter that was entirely neglected by the Leader of the Liberal Party. I cannot shake off the feeling that if the present settlement and constitution had been negotiated by our own Foregin Office, it would have been delighted with it.
It has to be accepted in the House that there has been a genuine internal settlement, not one imposed from outside, however much we might wish that we could have imposed one. In those circumstances, it seems that we can do no more than suggest improvements at the margins of a kind that would smooth the path to general international recognition. We may make suggestions. We should make suggestions. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will make suggestions at Lusaka, and that she will welcome such suggestions as may come from Commonwealth leaders. We should certainly not be seeking to impose new conditions or to add to the six principles.
To lift completely what the Bishop himself has called the curse of UDI requires the state of rebellion to be formally ended. I wish that the Bishop would think along those lines and perhaps agree that it would be appropriate for a Governor-General to be appointed, not someone like Field-Marshal Lord Carver but a person acceptable to the Bishop himself who could be appointed for the briefest of periods necessary to take through the British Parliament an independence Bill based on the internal settlement and constitution.
Such a course would result in a return to legality which, as the Prime Minister said today, would, in effect, remove the whole issue from the ambit of the United Nations and so logically and inevitably bring sanctions to an end. If that is not acceptable, or not possible, we must act promptly and, if necessary, unilaterally to fulfil our clear obligations, stated again and again by successive Governments in this House. I agree that time is slipping away. The effect is to undermine the hopes of all who took part in the successful elections. A heavy responsibility will rest on this House if we should be the authors of the destruction of the moderate black African Government who have been established.
I trust that the Government will acknowledge the truth so cogently expressed by Lord Home that any anxieties which might follow the lifting of sanctions would be almost incidental compared with the catastrophe of the chaos and the war which would follow if the Soviet Union and the Cubans had their way on the continent of Africa.
If we act promptly, I very much doubt whether the ultimate African response will be as negative as many people seem to fear. The point was made with the reference to the recent activities of Mr. Nyerere in dealing with Amin. In the past, the African nations have shown a very good understanding of the realities of power and the nature of the world in which we live. I believe that there is very little genuine support for the terrorist guerrilla leaders who believe in "one man, one vote, one party, one election". The only people who believe in them are the Soviet Union, the Cubans and the African Communists.
If a clear British policy is announced, without being presented in a provocative way, it is likely that any storm would blow over, particularly as a stable, moderate, black African Government is in the interests of the neighbouring States. I hope that that will be the case and that the conference in Lusaka will be successful, but whatever happens the British Government should not be deterred from doing their duty by the threats of economic or political retaliation from any quarter.
There was very much of what the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) said with which I profoundly disagreed. However, I warmly welcomed what he said about the speeches from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Both of their speeches were of great importance. If it does not embarrass the Prime Minister, I should like to congratulate her on the openness of her approach today and in the period leading up to Lusaka. I also congratulate the right hon. Lady on having taken so long today to listen to speeches from both sides of the House when she has many other preoccupations.
I had expected to say something different from what I am now saying to the right hon. Lady, because I have been deeply concerned by the statement—it seems that it was an off-the-cuff statement—which was made in Canberra. It seemed to me that at that time—I think that it would have been so—if that policy had been pursued, and we were indicating in advance that sanctions would not be carried in November, our country would have had two distinct policies. One would have been that set out by Lord Carrington in another place on 10 July, and a separate policy.
I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Lady. I know that she has come in for some criticism from the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and some of his colleagues. However, she must have recognised that any policy that announces in advance that sanctions will not be continued in November has two immediate consequences. First, it is virtually the same as a recognition now of the Muzorewa regime, which I know some of the Prime Minister's hon. Friend's wish to see. Secondly, however, it would remove one of the main levers of power and influence that we have in the changes. Together with others of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I believe in the constitution that has now been carried through.
I am sure, also, that the right hon. Lady will have recognised that a "go-it-alone" policy, which is what would have been the case if we had stood by our policy of no sanctions from November, come what may, would have brought great political difficulties for Britain. It would have created for us a crisis in our relationship with the United States. It would have been very damaging to our relationship with our European colleagues. I give credit to the former Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen), for having brought along the countries of the EEC in the policy that Britain has pursued in Europe. It would have caused for the right hon. Lady, and all who care about Zimbabwe, grave embarrassment in the Commonwealth as well as in other countries of Africa.
I believe that it would have caused grave economic damage. Following the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham, I believe that it is not a question of whether we agree with threats that may or may not have been made by the Nigerian Government and the difficulties which British firms are or are not facing in securing important contracts in Nigeria. However, what hardly anyone in the House would doubt is that if we were to pursue a policy that was not the result of consultations with our colleagues we would find that the economic prospects for us would be damaged not merely in Africa but in many other parts of the world—and our economy can ill afford that. Very often it would be our friends, in a sense—the Germans, the Japanese and the United States—who would be quickly in to seize the economic opportunities that would be presented. There would be grave economic consequences.
Lifting sanctions has, in a sense, more symbolism attached to it than it has economic content. What Africa wants, and what Zimbabwe wants, more than the lifting of sanctions is the ending of the war, positive measures to end injustice and discrimination, and the achievement of international recognition. However, there is no doubt that sanctions have a crucial symbolic value and are an absolutely essential element in the pressure that needs to be brought upon the Muzorewa regime.
There are many parts of the present constitution about which I believe the Bishop himself has doubts. Certainly many would find objectionable the guarantees that all key posts in the army, the police, the public services and the judiciary should be held for at least five years by white Rhodesians. The main task that the Government have in the negotiations that have been undertaken by Lord Harlech and by officials is to seek to secure the fulfilment of the fifth principle, because, whatever is said by the Lord Privy Seal, this Parliament has not yet satisfied itself that the majority of all Rhodesians are substantially in favour of this constitution. That was not a question put to them in the elections that took place. The black population have not been consulted about the new constitution, and eventually this Parliament must be consulted as well.
I know that the Prime Minister has already come in for some criticism from her own Right-wing Members, who, after all, supported Mr. Smith through thick and thin during long years of this illegal regime. Whether they were on the Oppo- sition Benches or on the Government Benches, they were prepared to advocate policies that would have given greater recognition to Mr. Smith at the time when he was saying clearly that he did not believe that majority rule would come in his lifetime and that he did not want to see majority rule. Therefore, they are now giving to the right hon. Lady advice which at that time was unacceptable to successive Governments.
I hope that the right hon. Lady will stand firm. It was encouraging that she took the open position that she did today. It has greatly improved the reception that she will have in Lusaka.
I for one stand by the objectives set out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. I believe that to carry the Commonwealth along with the Prime Minister will be a task that all of us in Britain, of whatever party, would warmly support. I say to those right hon. and hon. Members who are the Prime Minister's critics on the Right of her party—they who have been so friendly with Mr. Smith over the years—that the best contribution that they could make now would be to advise Mr. Smith and Mr. van der Byl that while there must be Europeans in a multi-racial Government and a multiracial Parliament, the names and the reputations of both these men are doing such damage to the credibility of Bishop Muzorewa's reputation and his Government as to make it very difficult for him to fulfil his task.
I believe, with my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley), that Bishop Abel Muzorewa, whom I have met on many occasions, is a man of integrity and honesty, who wants to carry his country forward but who finds himself in difficulties beyond his control. The trouble is that he is controlled by others.
The greatest contribution that the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion could make would be to persuade Mr. Smith and Mr. van der Byl that the time had come for them to step aside. All of us who care for peace, independence and genuine majority rule in Zimbabwe would wish success to the Prime Minister in her mission and to the Commonwealth conference in the contribution that it may be able to make.
I rise with considerable trepidation for the first time in the House to make my maiden speech. That is partly because of the awe which the traditions and history of this place so rightly inspire, but it is also more than a little because over the past two or three months I have had the privilege of listening to many distinguished maiden speeches which have put those who follow them on their mettle. None has done so more than the extremely distinguished contribution that we had the privilege and pleasure of hearing this afternoon from my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris). With great humility I congratulate him on his fine effort.
I am leaving this afternoon an increasingly exclusive club. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have already made their maiden speeches and those who remain are few. With the greatest respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram), I rise sero sed serio late, but very much in earnest.
My first task this afternoon is to thank all those senior Members of Parliament who have made me, as a new Member, feel so welcome. They have made this experience far from the daunting experience that I had feared. Their tact and kindness is a trait which I distinctly recognise from my acquaintance and friendship, which has grown over the past three years, with my predecessor Evelyn King, the former Member for Dorset, South. Evelyn King possessed in full measure that charm and tact which I now recognise are among the most distinguishing and agreeable features of the House of Commons. It therefore gives me the greatest pleasure to pay my tribute to him this afternoon, not only for his kindness to me but for the extraordinary assiduity which he showed in his devotion to the interests and the affairs of his constituents.
Evelyn King followed with great distinction a long line of Members for Dorset, South, in whom that constituency has been most fortunate. I must mention in that number the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett), who, in what those of us on the Conservative Benches might consider to be a moment of aberration, was elected some years ago to serve, in the Labour interest, my constituency. He was, and still is, in spite of that, remembered with respect and affection.
Dorset, South deserves well of its Members of Parliament, for it is truly an extraordinary constituency. Dorset as a whole is unquestionably an ancient place. It is a place of legends which perhaps leave something in the air of witchcraft. It is a place of ancient stories and ancient houses. It is a place of secrets and mystery. It is a place which shows to the visiting public a face which is pleasanter by far than even the dales of my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West.
My constituency possesses in full measure the attributes of which the country as a whole can boast, from the town of Swanage and the Purbecks through to the Royal manor of Portland. Equally, superimposed on the agricultural workers who constitute a relatively small part of the population of my constituency, the fishermen and those engaged in the traditional holiday trades of the South Coast is the fact that the bulk of the population are engaged in employment of great moment to the future of this country, whether we are talking about Benches they were prepared to advocate Bovington and Lulworth and the great Admiralty Under-water Weapons Research Establishment at Portland, or whether we are talking of the light industry of Weymouth and Wareham. Above all, we can boast in these days of energy shortage a fine atomic energy establishment at Winfrith and, perhaps just as important, our own onshore oilfields along the southern and western littoral of Poole harbour.
There were certain adventurous spirits who suggested to me during the last election campaign that if the Labour Party won the election South Dorset was self-sufficient enough to be able to declare UDI. I am mindful of the need not to be controversial in my maiden speech, and therefore it is with great relief that I am able to report to the House that I did my utmost to discourage such seditious talk, however attractive it might have seemed at the time.
That mention of UDI brings me at last to the subject of the debate, for there can be no doubt that Rhodesia is the central issue in any discussion on Southern Africa. Before I go any further, I should declare a small financial interest in that country, which Labour Members will readily appreciate is dwindling rapidly.
As I say, I am conscious of the need to avoid controversy on this occasion, and I do not wish to abuse the courtesy with which hon. Members on both sides of the House are listening to me by embarking on any rehearsal of controversial views and opinion. The strategic importance of Southern Africa and the legal obstacles in the way of the settlement that we all desire have been amply covered by right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken from both sides of the House. Indeed, they have covered them far more ably than I should have been able to do.
However, I crave the House's indulgence to make a general point. We all know that Rhodesia is a land of tragedies. Perhaps I, more than most hon. Members, have cause to know that. It is a land where, daily, hundreds of people are murdered, tortured and maimed. Most of those people are Africans. Hundreds of people who are not murdered, tortured or maimed daily go in risk of all three. No inhabitant of the United Kingdom can understand the horror and the danger of living in that country unless he lives in the troubled province of Ulster.
The bitter irony is that the tragedy is unfurling in a country which has almost unlimited potential. For example, the staple foods of maize, wheat and beef that are produced in Rhodesia can feed its present young and growing population easily, even in the present troubles. In times of stability, that capacity could be increased several times over. When the enormous reserves of land that stretch from the north down to the low veldt in the south-east are considered, that capacity is almost limitless.
One should take account not only of the staple crops but of the country's capacity to produce tea, coffee, milk—all the ingredients that go towards the staple English diet. It is a land with huge deposits of coal, chrome and other minerals. It is a land that has managed to develop a remarkable industrial manufacturing capacity and a highly developed financial system that is more sophisticated than any south of an Italian bourse.
When we examine the tragedy and the bloodshed of Rhodesia, it is extraordinarily easy to forget that it is not just a land of blood and murder. It is a land of extraordinary opportunity, and not just for the inhabitants of Rhodesia. In view of its unique attributes, particularly after the last election there, it could become the economic motor of that part of sub-Saharan. Africa. If we consider what is happening in Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Zaire and Angola, we see the inhabitants of those countries ridden by war, famine and pestilence in varying degrees. When the qualities and attributes of Rhodesia are realised, it is possible that it could provide the stability, skill and technology for the progress—even the political stability—that is needed in that part of the world.
I am grateful for the patience and consideration that the House has shown me this afternoon. The splendid vision of Rhodesia is on the verge of disappearance and it is becoming one of the might-have-beens of history. In all humility, I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister say this afternoon that she recognised that time was running short. Indeed, it is. If the vision is not to disappear altogether, it is vital that we achieve a settlement in the near future. Otherwise, what remains will be chaos and destruction.
I listened to the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne) with great interest. I was particularly interested to hear him lamenting the fact that he was leaving a club which was becoming more exclusive as each day passed. He should rejoice in the fact that he has joined a new club—the club of the no-longer maiden speakers. He has now become one of those who will be listened to. I believe that he will become one of those speakers for whom, when his name is seen on the annunciators that are scattered throughout the building, serious efforts will be made to come into the Chamber to listen to him—if hon. Members are not already there.
I pay tribute both to the hon. Member and to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris). They have brought an assurance which would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. At that time for a maiden speaker to make his first contribution in a major foreign affairs debate would have been considered to be almost heresy, although I was not in this place 20 years ago. The fact that they chose to make their contributions at this time and triumphed over that fact speaks more eloquently than I am able to.
We are dealing with a problem of great concern. The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), who appears to have left the Chamber temporarily, sees the problem as being not so much that of the people of Southern Africa as one that springs from the thrust of Soviet imperialism. We hear that comment every time Rhodesia, Namibia, and South Africa are discussed. The constant theme is that the real problems in that part of the world are caused by the presence of Cubans, East Germans or Russians. It occurs to me that if there is a man in the Kremlin whose job it is to negate Western influence and to make certain that Soviet influence is expanding, he must be out of his tiny mind with boredom. He has absolutely nothing to do. All he needs to do is to make a modest investment in Hansard, send out copies of the speeches of the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion, and his work is done for him.
The contempt with which the right hon. Gentleman expresses his views of Mr. Nkomo and many of the African leaders convinces many of those in that part of the world that the West is determined, if nothing else, to make certain that they will not have their proper place in the governing of those countries. The tragic result of that attitude is that the need to end the present conflict in Southern Rhodesia becomes greater and more difficult to achieve. The conflict is not easing; it is increasing—perhaps imperceptibly to some—and increasing every day. Some Labour Members were discussing the problem of Southern Africa long before they came here. We feel that ever since the ill-fated attempt to set up the Central African Federation there has been an inexorable drift towards the present conflict.
It does not please me one little bit to say that we warned 20 years ago that this would happen but that people would not listen and accused us of scaremon- gering. We were told that we were misreading the situation. The situation has been misread by those who believe themselves to be experts and who thought that they had all the answers.
It is worth while recalling recent events in order to understand the position fully. The purpose of UDI was to frustrate the genuine African democratic majority in Southern Africa. The perpetrators of UDI were unable to maintain it in its pristine form largely because of the twin efforts of sanctions and guerrilla warfare. The purpose of the internal settlement was precisely the same.
Nothing of substance has changed in Southern Rhodesia as a result of the internal settlement. The army is still under the control of the white officers who controlled it before. The Bishop finds himself having to try to explain the raids across the border into Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana, not even knowing that they have taken place. Yet he is the Prime Minister, who is primarily in charge of the army. The Civil Service is still under the charge of the same people who ran it before, and the judiciary is still in the same hands. The illegal hangings continue.
Nothing of substance has changed, because the internal settlement was designed solely to enshrine white domination in Rhodesia. It was not a question of minority rights, or of making certain that people's rights were not removed. The purpose was to make quite certain that there would be no genuine majority rule.
One of the tragedies of the whole affair has been that people have been unable to recognise that events in other parts of Southern Africa were having a considerable influence on the opinion of the nationalist leaders. I do not believe that many people realise, even today, the significance of what happened in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. Those events were a watershed in the history of Southern Africa.
The leaders of African opinion in the world have over a century tried to see, in Southern Africa and in other areas under colonial domination, a move towards peace and an end of colonialism. We saw it happening gradually further up in Africa. But in the Portuguese colonies it became clear, just as it has become clear in Southern Rhodesia, that there would be no surrender of power, and the liberation movement took up arms against Portugal. They won. It was the first time in Africa—it will not be the last—that people have won their freedom as a direct result of a military struggle against a metropolitan Power. They, incidentally, brought the metropolitan Power itself down in the process. The Portuguese revolution was a byproduct of the liberation of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, just as the liberation of those colonies was a by-product of the change in Portugal itself.
Those developments were an amalgam of two forces. The African leaders in those colonies had for years spent their time in detention or had been expelled from their countries. They had asked, pleaded and begged to be given a genuine movement towards majority rule, towards governing their own countries, and towards human dignity. They were refused, they took up arms, and they won. It was precisely that which changed the character of Southern Africa and which made the Patriotic Front take up arms against the Smith regime.
Is the hon. Member saying that in that case he would prefer that there should be a settlement by force of arms in Rhodesia rather than that there should be a settlement by the ballot box, which has taken place and which the hon. Member seems to be ignoring completely?
There are times when one wonders whether Conservative Members listen to what one is saying. I have always argued that the people in Southern Africa should have the freedom to determine their future through the ballot box. That has been denied them for generation after generation. It is our failure here and in Southern Africa to see that such a future was guaranteed by the ballot box that has caused the liberation movements to turn to the bullet.
I hope that the Prime Minister has some success in Lusaka, and that she will find a way of persuading the Commonwealth Heads of State to give her arguments a try to see whether she can get a negotiated settlement. I hope to be in Lusaka at the same time to argue the case for not recognising the present regime.
If there is to be a settlement by means of the ballot box, we have somehow to demonstrate that we mean it when we say that we want to see a transfer of power. We have failed since UDI—I disregard what happened before that—to do what we said we would do. It is not for me to use this debate to criticise my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), and in what I say I mean no criticism of him. He said that UDI would be finished in weeks rather than months. Subsequently, we found that the Government were encouraging and collaborating with the international oil companies to break sanctions and see that Rhodesia got its oil.
I sometimes wonder whether some Conservatives live in a dream world. They speak about our taking sides and about the liberation movements seeking help from other sources. How do they think the Rhodesian war machine is kept going? The answer is that it gets its bullets and its fuel to run its war machine from the West. We connive at it because we are unable and unwilling fully to apply sanctions, because we are afraid that we will be involved in taking on South Africa.
We demonstrate repeatedly that our commitment to a free and genuine democratic Zimbabwe is very thin. We continually let down the people who want to see a peaceful change take place. We continually bolster the Smith regime and, now, the Smith-Muzorewa regime with oil and weapons. We are selective in our reporting of it.
I could hardly believe my ears when I heard Conservative Members expressing concern for the safety of the Queen during her visit to Zambia. The threat to her safety, if there was a threat, was not from Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe but from the forces of the Bishop which were bombing Lusaka. The danger was an invasion from outside. Continually Conservatives have sought to deny Zambia the weapons that it needs to defend itself. By their convoluted logic they believe that it is dangerous for the Queen to go to Zambia because of the presence of the guerrillas.
Surely, it must be clear to the hon. Gentleman, even with his prejudices, that the only heat-seeking missiles which have brought down aircraft have been fired not by the Rhodesian forces but by Mr. Nkomo's guerrillas.
Is the hon. Gentleman now suggesting that the guerrillas would attack the Queen's aircraft? We all know that that is absolute nonsense. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends continually condemn the killing of innocent people involved in this conflict. I regret that very much, and condemn it, too, although I wish that there was as much condemnation of others. I have not heard a word today that condemns Bishop Muzorewa for the killing of 183 of Sithole's auxiliaries.
Not long ago, the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion told us, when he was in Opposition, that Mr. Sithole was a marvellous statesman. What about that? What about the arrest of 450 of Sithole's people today by the Muzorewa-Smith Government? I do not know whether Bishop Muzorewa ordered that. The silence with which the taking of African lives by the Smith forces is greeted is deafening. There is, therefore, a great suspicion of our intentions.
The visit of Mr. Jimmy Young to Salisbury to do a phone-in will not do much for the reputation of the BBC. I am not one who professes to be a Royalist, but hon. Members on the Government Benches profess to be great royalists and lay great store by the status of the monarchy. Rhodesia is a country in rebellion against the monarchy, yet the BBC is allowed to go and do phone-ins, and it is held up as some sort of paragon of virtue.
The Government must decide whether it will do other than simply creep into recognition of Rhodesia, almost by accident, after Lusaka. I put a question to the Lord Privy Seal asking whether the Government intend to have a further inquiry into the revelations which came out of the Bingham report on oil sanctions. He replied that that was still under consideration. I hope that it is under consideration, and serious consideration, too, because we need to know exactly what part was played, by whichever Government, in the breaking of sanctions.
We say that the British Government are an honourable Government and that they mean what they say. We say to people in Africa, who are fighting in a war for their freedom, "You must trust us. You must trust us to play the game by the rules and rely upon our integrity." Yet our integrity has been seriously compromised. We then wonder why they turn to other people—whether it be Cuba, East Germany, or the Soviet Union—and ask them for help. Who else are they to turn to if we are unwilling to help them?
I hope that the Government realise exactly how important the settling of the Southern Rhodesia problem is to South Africa. We have spoken so often of last chances when we have discussed South Africa that one hesitates to use the phrase, but if we do not get a peaceful settlement, if we do not bring in the Patriotic Front and achieve a settlement that is universally acceptable, it will be only a matter of time before the guerrillas eventually march into Salisbury. There is no doubt about that.
There are still 1,000 whites a month leaving Rhodesia. They do not have much faith in the great white tribal chief. Things are therefore not going so well in Southern Rhodesia. The Bishop no longer has a parliamentary majority. His former colleague, Mr. Sithole, is trying to go to court to have the elections declared invalid because he does not think that the election was free and fair. That is not the issue, however; the issue is that the constitution was never put to the blacks in the first place.
If we are to have a settlement based on a peaceful solution, we must have integrity. If we fail to get that, the guerrillas will fight on and they will win. People must appreciate that in a war what was acceptable 10 or 20 years ago is no longer acceptable.
I hope that the Government will undertake a serious investigation into how much of the South African Department of Information's funds came into this country to subvert the British press and to set up fancy research institutions. Hon Members on the Government Benches laugh at that because in their eyes the only crime that the South African Department of Information has committed is the breaking of the eleventh commandment, "Thou shalt not be found out". There has been not a word of condemnation about the millions of pounds used to subvert the democratic process. That is acceptable behaviour if one favours the South African regime.
We should have an investigation into how much money has come into Britain. A great deal has. Many people are said to have been bought by Rhoodie's people in order to subvert our ideas and make sure that our democracy does not hold sway. They want to see Britain firmly on the side of South Africa.
We have had many previous attempts. This must be our final attempt at a peaceful solution. If we fail now, we shall face a Vietnam situation because everyone will see the victory of the Patriotic Front in Southern Rhodesia—in Zimbabwe—as the only possible way for victory and freedom in South Africa itself and in Namibia.
I choose the democratic process first, but if we are forced into war I shall defend the Patriotic Front and the liberation movement in their fight for freedom. I am sure that many in the Conservative Party supported the French partisans, and those in Yugoslavia and Greece who fought the Nazis. I shall support them if that is the only course they have to face. I hope that we shall not have to face that.
I join in the congratulations offered on two very distinguished and elegant maiden speeches. If I do not say more, I hope that those hon. Members will forgive me, as I wish to be brief.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne) painted a picture of what Zimbabwe-Rhodesia might become—in economic terms—once peace is restored. He implied that to reach that situation required a significant number of white Rhodesians to remain in Rhodesia. We have found that to be the case in other African countries too, where white help comes from expatriate labour and experts. I urge upon the Prime Minister and my noble Friend the Secretary of State that they consider carefully the economic advantages and disadvantages—in the longer term particularly—of the way in which the prob- lems of Southern Africa are attacked and eventually settled.
Time is not on our side. White Rhodesians are leaving Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. They are leaving because they are worried not about the present but about the future and the degree of support that they will get from Britain and from the House of Commons. Without that support they can only believe that in due course all the white population will be driven out, having seen, as my hon. Friend described, the white population driven out of other African countries. So I hope that we will give them that support and that, despite the obvious dangers, we will lift sanctions, if necessary unilaterally, before very long.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to persuade those at Lusaka, especially the Nigerians, that that is the right thing to do from the point of view of Africa as a whole and for the future development of that great continent.
I know that the Nigerians take a rather emotional view of the present situation. Incidentally, they are annoyed at the apparent lack of interest in Britain in their own elections. We make a great deal of the elections in Rhodesia but the British press has been singularly silent about the election in progress now in Nigeria, as part of the change to democratic civilian rule.
There is a risk of economic damage from Nigerian reaction if at the start we alone recognise Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and lift sanctions. In terms of trade, Nigeria is the important country. There is not much that the rest of black Africa can do to damage our trading position. We export about £1,000 million worth of goods to Nigeria, and we import only about £286 million worth. I must declare an interest. I am the chairman of a publishing company that sells many educational books to Nigeria. If the Nigerians became angry enough they could delay remittances and damage the cash flow of British firms. They could cut back on the number of expatriates working there. They could even start the partial nationalisation of British firms.
However, I think that that is an exaggerated danger. One of the tasks laid upon my right hon. Friend is to use her persuasive powers to prevent the Nigerians from cutting off their economic nose to spite their political face, for they, as well as other African countries, will suffer without a prosperous Zimbabwe.
In the longer term, what is as important to Britain are the raw materials and the trading potentialities of both Rhodesia and South Africa. It is estimated that we have about £500 million to £700 million worth of investments in Nigeria and between £5,000 million and £7,000 million of private investment in South Africa. That is the comparison in terms of investment.
I join my right hon. and hon. Friends who wish the Prime Minister every luck and hope that she can reach some agreement with our Commonwealth partners, but I add my voice to those who believe that, if necessary, we must make an early settlement, an early recognition and an early lifting of sanctions. I do so in the knowledge that in the short term we may have to suffer trading and economic damage. However, I am confident that the damage that we would suffer from allowing the white population to leave Rhodesia and to see that country economically weak and politically dominated by our enemies would be far more damaging to our trade, to our economy and to our political position in Africa and in the world.
I begin by quoting a letter from an African girl in Rhodesia to her friend in London. It is not too long. She writes:
My dearest Maria, I want to tell you the thing which spoiled my Easter. On Good Friday, my eldest sister was badly beaten by soldiers. They broke her left arm completely and left her half dead. She was accused of feeding terrorists. Her whole body was just one lump when I saw her last week in hospital. Her arm is now in plaster. The sight that I saw in that Mrewa hospital was terrible. There were so many victims of soldiers, innocent civilians crippled for life. My sister is just one among hundreds if not thousands who receive this kind of treatment from soldiers. On that Good Friday and on many other occasions soldiers shout, beat and torture people.
Some villages were bombed and all people killed. Such things we see with our eyes but you never see them on the news. What they give us as 'killed in crossfire' is the purposeful opening of fire among people and killing them point blank.
One may not pay too much attention to a letter from a teenage African girl,
although I think that there is a certain poignancy in the fact that it comes from where the fighting is taking place.
Perhaps a more weighty comment was made by the International Red Cross in March of this year, when it issued a statement. It is unusual for the International Red Cross to issue such a statement about the war. Among other things, it spoke of the
climate of wanton and persistent cruelty in the Rhodesian conflict".
It said that the International Red Cross
has become increasingly alarmed in recent weeks by the multiplication of acts of inhumanity committed by the parties to the conflict in Rhodesia-Zimbabwe. As the fighting escalates and spreads out over the entire country and into the neighbouring countries, the warring parties adopt ever more merciless attitudes".
We need to remind ourselves that 90 per cent. of Rhodesia is now under martial law. I quote from a Rhodesian source that explains what martial law means in this context. I quote from a document issued by the Ministry of Information and Tourism in Salisbury, which states:
In martial law areas, the security forces can make their own laws to help them find and kill terrorists. They will not have to follow the ordinary laws because they can take too much time. … Here are some of the things the army can do in martial law areas"—
that is, 90 per cent. of the country—
1. they can arrest and detain people;
2. they can confiscate or destroy property such as huts and cattle;
3. they can make people work for them.
The security forces can now hold their own courts. These courts will have the power to sentence people to gaol and death".
The power to sentence to death is not academic. In a report compiled by observers on behalf of the British Parliamentary Human Rights Group it is stated:
Whilst executions are not reported in the Rhodesian press, various reliable sources confirmed that the special courts exercised their power to impose the death sentence. One Church source told us that during March 1979 alone, 28 people were hanged for political offences in Salisbury Central Prison. This was confirmed by other sources, who also told us that they had heard reports of executions being carried out on the spot. During our stay"—
that was during the election period—
the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia presented a petition to the
High Court in which they claimed that the hanging of people convicted by martial law tribunals was unconstitutional. Subsequent to our visit, the High Court ruled that death sentences under martial law should have the same status as death sentences passed under other emergency legislation and so fall under the presidential prerogative of mercy. General Walls"—
the General is the commander of the Smith-Muzorewa forces—
has described the petition as 'vexatious and politically motivated'".
The hon. Gentleman mentioned that in 90 per cent. of Rhodesia the security forces have the power to arrest without trial. Is he aware that Tanzania, which criticises the regime so fiercely, the power to arrest without trial extends over 100 per cent. of the country?
We are discussing the situation in Rhodesia, and the Government and the House have no authority in Tanzania. I do not approve of arrest without trial in any country in the world. I have never so approved, and I do not believe that hon. Members so approve. It is a queer defence of the savagery that is taking place under the Smith-Muzorewa regime to say that some other country exercises the power to arrest without trial.
The documents that I have quoted point to the society that Smith and Muzorewa claim they have returned to legality and to constitutional government. They claim that it should be recognised by the rest of the world, but the rest of the world has no intention of granting recognition. The OAU has made it clear at the meeting that has just ended that it recognises only the Patriotic Front and that it will have nothing to do with Smith and Muzorewa.
The UN Security Council also made the point clear in resolution 448, passed on 30 April 1979. The operative paragraphs are these:
The Commonwealth Heads of Government, meeting in Lusaka, are highly unlikely to assent to any form of recognition of the pathetic puppet that Muzorewa is now becoming, with his so-called majority-rule Parliament crumbling around him. Mr. Sithole and his 11 ZANU Members of Parliament are continuing their boycott of the Salisbury Parliament. Mr. Chikerema and the six Zezuru members have broken away from the United National African Council to which they were supposed to belong. They have broken from Muzorewa's party. The consequences are that the 28 white Members of Parliament, elected on a white vote roll, or nominated by whites, now have a total stranglehold on the entrenched provisions of the so-called constitution, which gives them full effective power over the police, the security forces, the judiciary and the public services. The clauses relating to health, housing, education and property rights guarantee that white privilege will remain the foundation of the structure of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, as it was of the former Southern Rhodesia. That is the political reality.
Why is it possible for a tiny white minority—in numerical terms, half the population of Sheffield—isolated in the middle of black Africa, to go on defying the whole continent and world opinion for so long? The key factor is the support from the Fascist-racist regime in South Africa. It has come about because of the political cowardice and hypocrisy of the Western world, which has put profit before principle and thrown over any sense of morality or political decency in its dealings with Southern Africa. The weapons used by Smith at the massacre at Chimoiu and the brutal assaults on Zambia were supplied by the West. The oil that continues to lubricate his war machine flows from Western-controlled multinational oil companies. That is indisputable. Despite the disagreeable stench from the Bingham report, nothing has been done to stop that flow. So far from stopping it, I believe that recently the Prime Minister gave her special blessing to an arrangement, under a swap between BP and Conoco, to make sure that South Africa continued to receive her oil, notwithstanding the upheavals in Iran.
The brutal and illegal occupation of Namibia continues. The atrocities of apartheid go on undiminished. A few months ago the Western world was still kowtowing to Balthazar Vorster even when he was tottering on the point of scandal and disgrace in his own country over Muldergate.
There are only three honourable courses of action open to the Government. First, there must be no recognition of the so-called internal settlement in Zimbabwe. The OAU, the United Nations and the Commonwealth have indicated in one way or another, by decision or by specific resolution, that they will have nothing to do with that regime. It would be international political lunacy if the Government were to recognise it. It is of cardinal importance to make it clear that we shall not deal with Smith. He is the symbol of the whole tragedy of Rhodesia. He went on in an arrogant, self-confident manner, rejecting advice, rejecting settlements and possibilities from various Governments, on HMS "Fearless", HMS "Tiger", the Pearce Commission, efforts by Lord Home and Conservative Governments as well as the previous efforts by Labour Administrations.
Mr. Smith knew where he was going. He was going ahead—the man of destiny for Rhodesia. He provided a destiny for Rhodesia, a destiny of blood, death, torment and economic destruction. The Government and Parliament should make it clear that with whomsoever we deal from now on, it should not be Smith. He is the symbol of the whole tragedy.
There should be a ruthless application of oil sanctions against South Africa and the threat of wider economic sanctions if she continues to support Smith, allows the flow of oil and arms to Rhodesia and if she continues to occupy Namibia against the considered judgment of the International Court and the resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council of the United Nations.
We must give full support to the authentic national independence movements in Southern Africa, the Patriotic Front, SWAPO and the African national movements in South Africa. In plain political common sense, that is the only sensible course. They are the men and the movements which, over possibly the next five years, and certainly over the next decade, will rule these countries. Only in that way, by recognising these political realities, can some vestige of political honour be salvaged from the miserable tale of duplicity and deceit that has made up Western policy in Southern Africa for more than two decades.
I must confess that my reaction as I listened to the maiden speeches by my hon. Friends the Members for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) and Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne) was one of increasing dismay and despondency. To make my own maiden speech following two such speeches was not a prospect that I relished. Had I been able to do so, I should have bolted out of the door. However, I am in the position of having to make my speech. The only way in which I may properly follow such speeches is by being extremely brief.
First, I should like to pay a tribute to my predecessor as the Member of Parliament for Nantwich, John Cockcroft. As those hon. Members who were in the House during the previous Session will recall, John, unfortunately, for personal reasons, was unable to fight the election. For three years I understudied him as candidate in Nantwich. They were not easy years for him. However, his courtesy and consideration to myself and family are matters for which I shall be grateful to him for a long time. He made many friends in the House. I am sure that all hon. Members will join me in wishing him a long and successful career in the City firm for which he now works.
I am extremely fortunate to represent such an excellent seat as Nantwich, which not only makes the best cheese in Europe but has great historic connections and much fine architecture. As a constituency it has a mixture of almost every kind of agriculture and industry, ranging from the computer industry to the smallest farms. It contains the elements which make our country so great, and a good cross-section of our community.
On might imagine that there was a feeling of indifference in Nantwich on the subject of Rhodesia. However, that is not so. It is a matter of the gravest concern to our people who vote for parties of all political complexions that for so long the Rhodesian people should have been left unsupported by the British. What I say will probably be more controversial than is usual in a maiden speech. If hon. Members feel it right to intervene, they should not hesitate to do so.
I must declare that I am among those—I believe that there are many of us—who regret that the sanctions were not lifted a long time ago. I specifically regret that the Government did not see fit to remove the sanctions as soon as they were elected to power. My own belief is that had that been done my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and Lord Carrington would not be facing the unenviable task of meeting the Commonwealth leaders in Lusaka, with those leaders attempting to wield a stick over their heads to persuade them to act in a certain way towards Rhodesia.
I should like to make two or three very short points concerning the reasons for the delay. The Prime Minister has told us that she is unable at the moment to commit herself or the Government to acceptance that the fifth or sixth principles has been duly complied with. I appreciate the Prime Minister's difficulty over the diplomatic consequences of any such statement at this time. I must say, however, that the article in the Sunday Express by Lord Home last Sunday, read by people throughout this country, seemed to give absolute confirmation to many of us that the six principles have now been utterly complied with.
If that is indeed the case, I am sure the Prime Minister will agree—it can be inferred from her speech earlier—that when those six principles are complied with we have no moral alternative but to honour the word that we have successively given and to recognise the Rhodesian Government. The only question then remaining is: how soon can this be done? The reason for delay appears to be twofold. First, there are the pressures that would be brought to bear on the Rhodesian Government and the Rhodesian people by other African States were we to go ahead and recognise the new Government unilaterally.
I appreciate that difficulty, but I would, with respect, say this. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Mukome, the Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. when he came here, and I can say that the Rhodesian Government are in no doubt whatever that they will be in far graver danger if we delay in recognising them than they will ever be from other consequences if we go ahead, lift sanctions, and give them recognition unilaterally. I urge the Prime Minister not to take the line that Rhodesia will be endangered by our recognition. If other African States and other Commonwealth States appear to use that as a threat, I respectfully suggest that we should counter it rather than retreat from it.
The second reason for delay is one that my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan), who is not now in the Chamber, described as irrelevant. I refer to the threat to our trade with other African countries. I believe that this country has for far too long allowed our foreign policy, and some aspects of our domestic policy, to be governed by fear—fear of the consequences, fear of the action that others will take against us if we act in a way that we know to be necessary and right.
If I am right in saying that the six principles have been fulfilled, I respectfully ask the House to make absolutely clear our determination to honour our pledge and not to be deterred from that course by any threats—trading, military or otherwise—that might be made directly against us.
I conclude by taking up one point that was mentioned earlier by several Labour Members. It is about white officers in the Rhodesian army. Mr. Mukome made it absolutely clear when he was here that it is the wish of the black majority ruling party that the white officers should remain in charge of the army, because they are the most qualified people to do so. The point has already been made that if we insist upon the Rhodesians removing their senior military men from command the Government will no longer have sufficient military strength to meet the growing pressure from the Soviet-backed forces which threaten their land.
I hope that the House, if we are to have a Division on the issue, will overwhelmingly show its support for the Rhodesian regime and its determination to see legality restored in Rhodesia at the first available moment.
It falls to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to congratulate the hon. Member for Nantwich (Sir N. Bonsor) on his maiden speech. I congratulate him on the lucidity of his comments. He said at the outset that he would be unconventional, in that he would be controversial. I must say that I disagree with almost everything he said, except for the comment about cheese at the beginning of his speech, when he was talking of his constituency. However, having listened to him, and knowing already that he is an hon. Member of some good humour, I am sure that he will accept my criticism of what he said in exactly the same spirit as that in which he joined in this controversial debate.
It has been said that the longer we delay recognition, the greater the danger to the regime. That seems to me to be the strongest argument for not recognising it. If the regime is in control, and if everyone is in agreement that there has been an election on the basis of one man, one vote, and that democracy has been upheld, what is the danger in not recognising it? I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there is a great deal of danger in the present position, whether the regime is recognised or not, but I do not follow his logic in arguing that we should recognise it as quickly as we can, otherwise the position will deteriorate.
It was also argued that there should be early recognition and an early settlement, but the two things are not the same. I do not believe that the Government are poised to recognise the regime within the next few days or weeks. We shall have to wait and see. We could recognise the regime, but that would in no way imply that there would be a settlement and that everything would run smoothly from then on. The position is quite the contrary, in that the two things do not go together, and it is very important that we should recognise this.
The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris), in a remarkably sensitive speech, spoke with great clarity about the fears and suspicions on all sides. He was absolutely right about that. These fears and suspicions have their roots in the history of this sad colony, going back over many years. We cannot brush aside those fears and suspicions, be they in the minds of the black Africans or in the minds of the whites who are there, by saying that if this so-called settlement is recognised, everything will be all right.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), I shall be going to Lusaka in a few days' time. Like him, I share the concern about the Jimmy Young programme coming from Salisbury. During the presentation of the internal settlement, I wrote to the BBC complaining of its description of what was taking place in Rhodesia as one man, one vote. I pointed out that the whites had had two votes, and that the blacks had never had the opportunity to vote on the internal settlement but only on who should administer it. After two weeks the BBC replied, accepting my correction. The BBC accepted that it was not one man, one vote, and stated that what it meant to imply was that the Government had been democratically elected. But that is another issue.
My point is that large numbers of people in this country, because of the presentation of what took place in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia in regard to the so-called internal settlement, really believe that it was based on one man, one vote. They believe that the election was fair, and that the six principles—hon. Members have said this here today—have been upheld. That is just not true.
When we look back at the history of the promises and commitments made by successive Governments on the very important point that any settlement must be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole, we all know—if we are honest with ourselves and consider what was in that settlement—that the people of Rhodesia as a whole have never been asked to say whether they approve the settlement. What they were asked to do, in a very complicated way—I do not have time to go into it in detail—was to say which group of people, who had been nominated in the first place, was to run the country after a settlement which had already been approved only by the whites.
Going back on the history of this sad affair in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, it seems to me that we never learn. One reason why there are the fears and suspicions that have been spoken about is that, from the moment decolonisation took place, and freedom and nationalist movements rose up in Africa, Britain always appeared to be on the wrong side.
Time and again in history Britain has had to eat her words. At the end of the day she has had to acknowledge that the road to independence was the right road and that she must acknowledge those leaders she had reviled over the years. Historically—this is where most of the fear comes in—black people in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and Africans in many independent States in South Africa, are rightly suspicious.
If we go back to the "Tiger" and "Fearless" proposals that many of us fortunately opposed from the beginning, we see that we learnt nothing. One of the fundamental mistakes that were made then was that Ian Smith—the tribal chief of the whites as he has been called—got together with the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Wilson) and others, and said "We have a settlement here. We have excluded the people whose futures are at stake. Why can you not all accept it? It seems perfectly reasonable to us".
The same mistake has been made now. When hon. Members say "Where are Mugabe and Nkomo, why do they not join us?", the reason is obvious. First, while Ian Smith remains in a position of power and influence in Rhodesia we shall never get the co-operation of Nkomo and Mugabe. I believe that the right hon. Lady the Prime Minister has already begun to recognise that. That is the first thing that must be learnt.
The second point is that we shall not get an agreed settlement by cooking something up and then going to the people who are most directly concerned—support for whom is growing all the time—and saying "This is what we have cooked up, why do you not join us?" It cannot be done that way either.
At the end of the day we shall have to sit down with Nkomo and Mugabe and discuss a proper internal settlement for Rhodesia which will have to be based on one man, one vote. Before it is decided which political party rules and makes up the Government, there must be a settlement that is put to the people as a whole.
I wonder whether the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) could explain something to me. She said that an internal settlement must be based upon one man, one vote. Surely she knows as well as I that it has been made quite clear by Robert Mugabe that he will not accept one man, one vote at any time and that he himself will rule. That has been said time and again. It was emphasised last year and it was admitted by the hon. Lady's own Front Bench.
I do not believe that. What was said has been taken completely out of context. Let us get the argument straight. I am putting forward what I believe must be the solution for Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. I also believe what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), that where there is martial law, where there has never been democratic rights for 90 years, where nationalist movements have arisen and leaders have been banned and there has been imprisonment without trial, where there has never been freedom to state ideas, it is understandable that statements should be made about suspicion and difficult problems that will arise when a change to a democratic society is suggested. I am not saying that Mugabe and Nkomo are right. What I am saying is that the only way we shall reach the point when we can have an agreed constitution that can be put to the people as a whole on the basis of one man, one vote is to talk with Nkomo and Mugabe and through them get the desired constitution. We shall then be able to start to argue and discuss who will be in control through a democratic election. I do not believe there is any other way that it can be done.
My fears and apprehension about the matter are that we have learnt nothing since 1965, when UDI was declared. Here we are making the same mistakes and assumptions, completely divorcing ourselves from a situation that, for over 20 years at least, has been rooted in suspicion, fear and mistrust. Today, some hon. Members—not all, but some—have said that with a crumbling internal settlement the sooner we can rid ourselves of this situation and recognise the regime, the better. That will not end the matter. The armed struggle will continue.
The only way that we can have any hope of avoiding handing on to our children a continuation of the armed struggle is to recognise that what we have now is not acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. We have to go further and talk to those who have not been included in the settlement. We must recognise that while Smith is there—the architect of UDI, the person responsible for an illegal regime and for carrying out illegal acts of hanging, imprisonment and preventing people taking part in any settlement—he is the biggest barrier to a solution. We must recognise that. The Government must recognise that. I believe that the right hon. Lady, if she has not already recognised it, will have it brought home to her very clearly in Lusaka next week.
This afternoon we heard three excellent maiden speeches which commanded the attention of the House. I should like to make specific reference to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne), who spoke of his vision of the blessings that could be bestowed not only on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, but on the whole of Central Africa, if that country were at peace. He also spoke of the terrible suffering that the people of Rhodesia—specifically the black people—continue to suffer by day and by night while this matter remains unresolved. My hon. Friend spoke with particular poignancy, in view of his own personal and tragic loss in the conflict a year ago.
A new situation confronts the House since we debated the issue last November. The people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia have spoken clearly and overwhelmingly, and we owe it to them to respect their views. It is difficult to conceive whose views Opposition Members are seeking to put forward when they try to downgrade and deny the validity of the important exercise in democracy that has taken place in Central Africa, and which has been so decisive in its results.
There is now a black majority Government and Parliament in Rhodesia. There is a black Prime Minister, Lord Boyd declared that the elections were free and fair, and Lord Home confirmed that, in his judgment, the six principles have now been satisfied. As Lord Home was the architect of no fewer than five of those principles, it might be difficult for anyone to gainsay his judgment on the matter.
It is an appalling commentary on the disarray of Western democracies today that three months after majority-rule Government came into being not one Western Government has extended the hand of friendship and support to that fledgling democracy of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, though it is beleaguered on all sides by forces of terrorism and Soviet imperialism.
My hon. Friend the Member for Nantwich (Sir N. Bonsor), in an able and courageous maiden speech, put his finger on the root of our disarray when he said that for too long we—I think that he was talking not just of our own country but of all the Western democracies—have allowed our judgment and policies to be ruled by fear. This must cease to be the case. Above all, Rhodesia remains a British responsibility. It must be for us to take the lead in bringing Rhodesia forward to recognition and independence. It is inconceivable that any hon. Member should wish to see the bullet prevail over the ballot box. If any hon. Member does, he has no business standing for election to a democratic assembly. If we do not wish to see the bullet prevail over the ballot box, it is our duty to provide swift aid to ensure that the ballot box triumphs over the bullet.
I am delighted that the ill-conceived Anglo-American plan, whereby the Rhodesian security forces—though they be 80 per cent. black already—would have been stood down in favour of the rival terrorist gangs to whom we were to hand over power, is dead and buried. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister not just on her excellent speech this afternoon but, above all, on her determination and shrewdness of judgment when she so successfully upstaged the Foreign Office and the United States State Department by declaring that there was no majority in Parliament for the renewal of sanctions this coming November.
If it was the Prime Minister's intention to make clear that there was no prospect of sanctions going through the House, is it right that such a statement should be made in camera and not in a proper statement from the Government Dispatch Box? Is that what the hon. Gentleman is saying—that the House of Commons is held in such contempt by his right hon. Friend that she deals with major foreign policy issues in off-the-cuff remarks on a sortie round the world?
I venture to believe that that was not an off-the-cuff remark. Indeed, I believe that it was an expression of a considered opinion with which the overwhelming majority of Conservative Members would agree. However, there remain those who, since they have no basis for criticising the validity of the elections or, indeed, the turn-out and participation in those elections, now seek to attack the constitution on which those elections were fought. I very much hope that my right hon. Friends will not embark upon this particular slippery slope.
Changes of a window-dressing character will never appease the hostility of the hardliners in Africa, let alone in the Soviet bloc countries. While changes of substance could undermine the whole basis of the internal settlement—that is, of course, what certain Labour Members would wish to see—and imperil the verdict of democracy in Rhodesia, I believe that Britain has an obligation of honour to the peoples of Rhodesia. That arises out of the Anglo-American plan that was put by Dr. Kissinger to Mr. Smith and his Government in September 1976, which was the basis on which the Smith Government agreed to go forward to majority rule elections within a two-year period.
The Rhodesian Government have fulfilled every one of their obligations under that Anglo-American plan. It is now incumbent upon us to fulfil our side of the bargain, which was to enact independence forthwith, to lift sanctions and to provide economic aid. Unbelievably, although it is the case, we also promised that there would be a halt to the terrorist warfare. I believe that that is something beyond the capacity of any British Government to deliver, and I am amazed that the previous Administration should have seen fit to put it forward as a serious proposal. However, I believe that we are duty and honour bound to fulfil our side of the bargain now.
We have an obligation not just to those in the white majority Government who counted on our word in September 1976. We now have an obligation of honour to those who form the black majority Government, who, over the years, have been told by successive British Governments of every political complexion that once they fulfilled the six principles—initially, it was the five principles—the British Government would recognise Rhodesia, end the state of illegality and lift sanctions.
It has been established by those most directly concerned with formulating these principles that all six have now been satisfied. It is for us now to honour our obligations. Time is of the essence, as the Prime Minister herself has made clear. It is of the first importance that as swiftly as possible we should now throw a lifeline to the peoples of Rhodesia so that they are not circumvented and dragged down into an abyss of bloodshed, terror and lawlessness, in the event that the forces of terrorism prevail. From that point of view it is a matter of profound regret not merely that three months have passed since the Rhodesian elections but that a further three months will pass before this House, under present plans, can have an opportunity of reconsidering this matter following the discussions that are to take place at the Lusaka conference.
I ask my right hon. Friends to give serious consideration to recalling Parliament in the early part of September so that we can consider the enactment of a Rhodesia independence Bill.
What we have just heard is an echo of what we have heard in this House not just for the last few months but for the last 15 years. I listened to the Prime Minister's speech earlier and heard the cheers from Government supporters below the Gangway. Those cheers came from many of those who cheered Ian Smith in 1965 and who cheered every rebellion against successive Governments between 1965 and the present day.
It is right to put into the balance not just the future of the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia but also the record of the people who have had control of that country. We must ask why they have changed their opinions in the last few months. I do not believe that there has been a change of opinion about what is best for the black majority in Rhodesia among right hon. and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway or among the white racist minority in Rhodesia. That is why some of the speeches today ring a little hollow. They come from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have backed a regime that has led its country to disaster.
Almost 15 years ago I came to the House as a student from University College, London, leading a delegation opposing UDI. In the House there was a feeling of importance—that we were in control, would pass resolutions and dictate affairs. Sadly that was not true. We have failed the people of Rhodesia, but successive Labour and Conservative Governments have not sold out.
One of the helpful things that the Prime Minister said today was that she was willing to consider other opinions. Since I made that visit to the House I have worked at Labour Party headquarters and with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition at the Foreign Office and at No. 10. In this House we have a debt of honour to the people of Central Africa. I passionately hope that in the first euphoria of victory the Prime Minister does not sell them short. She should look to the future but also to the past. The problem of Rhodesia could have been solved if the white minority, supported by many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, had made the mental leap a decade or so earlier that would have given Rhodesia a chance in Central Africa. Paying our debt of honour will be more difficult for a Conservative Government.
In 1976 I was sent to Rhodesia with my noble Friend Lord Greenhill to talk with Ian Smith about the prospects of a peaceful settlement. Ian Smith and his supporters below the Gangway always want to look to the future and never back. If we look back, however, we see why there has never been a solution to the problems in Rhodesia. I accept the comments of the right hon. Member for Brighton. Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that Mr. Smith is a factor to be considered. During that visit Lord Greenhill was pressing Mr. Smith about the problem, and Mr. Smith said that he sometimes thought that their little game of UDI had run its course. That was probably true in 1976 and even 10 years before.
What price has that little game of UDI cost? It has ruined the prospects of peaceful transition, and I desperately hope that the Prime Minister can pluck something out of the present situation. Looking back over that 20-year period, we must ask how many times Ian Smith could have brought about a solution to the problem.
In 1975 I was in Jamaica with my right hon. Friends the Leader of the Opposition and the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), and I met Joshua Nkomo off the plane from New York. The first thing that he told me was that he had that night seen his daughter for the first time in 10 years. He had spent 10 years in Ian Smith's detention, as had Sithole and Mugabe. That history cannot be wiped out. It is a decade of opportunity rubbed out by one man. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway now speak as exponents of multi-racial rule, but where were they in the 1960s when multi-racial rule by Ian Smith was within reach and there was not a Russian within 1,000 miles of Salisbury?
We had an extraordinary speech today that stretched from the overthrow of the first Ramsay MacDonald Government to Ian Smith being the leader of the white tribe of Rhodesia. It is not good enough for those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to threaten the Government. I was pleased with the Prime Minister's speech. She had moved away from the stance that she adopted during her sojourn in Australia, but we must now seriously consider what she will do in Lusaka because it will be a serious and dangerous conference.
The actions of the Smith regime have damaged not only the future of Rhodesia but that of its surrounding countries. Ian Smith is not where he is today because of an inspiration from heaven about black majority rule. He is there because there was a coup in Portugal and because Mugabe and Nkomo have organised a guerrilla group. Those who have gone out into the bush and fought and died and who have seen their comrades hanged in Salisbury gaols will not lightly give up their cause because suddenly Mr. Smith and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the Government Benches see a new approach. Great sacrifices have been made by the Patriotic Front and the young liberation forces in Rhodesia. We cannot roll back history. I should have been pleased had Joshua Nkomo shown more common sense in the early 1960s.
I should have liked Mr. Smith to take a number of the lifelines offered him in the last five years. However, blood has been spilt and organisations have been created. We must now examine the prospects for the Conservative Government.
I have no respect for the role of the Soviet Government in Africa. Their opportunism is despicable. If we recognise the reality of what is happening, the Africans will respond. We must not drive the Africans into a Soviet cul de sac. We have a lot to offer to Africa.
We have heard about the contribution that the Commonwealth has made and about our contribution in overseas aid and technology. Our contacts with Africa are superior to anything provided by Eastern Europe. However, there is a gap. That gap causes the most passionate feelings in Africa. There is a North-South conflict between the races. We must understand that the Commonwealth countries in Africa will make great sacrifices to fulfil their commitments in that racial conflict.
The danger is that we shall be lured into the black-white conflict and the East-West conflict on the wrong side, on the wrong issue and at the wrong time.
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion made a provocative speech. Mr. Smith is the issue. If he were to go now, many problems would be solved. In 15 years Mr. Smith has achieved a great advance. He has split the black nationalist movement. He has held on to real power.
Mr. Smith has managed to convince a number of Conservative Members that his is a crusade against Communism in Southern Africa. The reality is that he will receive no world recognition. There are 14,000 more guerrillas and widespread emigration. I do not imagine that the spear-carriers will stay with the great white chief. The prospect for Soviet involvement in Southern Africa is enhanced by Smith's continuing presence.
I hope that the Prime Minister will recognise three basic realities. I hope that she will say to the front-line Presidents that Bishop Muzorewa has proved a point and that he has support within the country. I hope that she will say that his is a voice that should be listened to. He puts Chikerema and Sithole into perspective. I hope that the Prime Minister will also say firmly that the settlement cannot be sustained in the international community without further negotiations and further elections.
Mr. Smith would enhance a solution by going—and going now. The arguments about his contribution to the white tribe of Africa do not hold against the fact that within the Rhodesian white population there has always been a large community—20 per cent. at the last election—who will stay and work with a black Government.
I should like the Prime Minister to go to the Commonwealth conference with the desire for a peaceful settlement but with the knowledge that we shall not accept the Smith settlement. I believe that the Bishop is an honourable man. However, he has swallowed Smith's settlement. Let us have none of that. Let us send the Prime Minister with that message.
I pay tribute to the sincerity with which the hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. McNally) gave the House his views. I agree with him to the extent that, as one looks back over the long history of this rather sad story, one can enumerate a long list of missed opportunities.
I doubt if any party in this issue comes out of it well. All of us have failed, in one way or another, to make the most of the opportunities that came along in times gone by. But they are times that have gone by. We are faced with a different situation, with the prospect of imminent decisions being taken. It is looking to the future that I think is the most important contribution that we can make at this time.
I think that many of the speeches from the Opposition Benches have been far too pessimistic. They have failed to recognise the tremendous advances that have been made in Rhodesia. They seem in many respects almost to wish that those advances had never happened. They seem to hanker back to those old days when they could hate Smith with all the venom that they could
We have had so many maiden speeches of exceptional calibre and quality that I nearly found myself beginning my remarks by saying that, having been an hon. Member of the House for more than a quarter of a century, I am in such fear and trepidation in advancing my views following on the competent performances that we have witnessed that I ask for the indulgence of the House. However, that might be going a little too far, and I ask only for the indulgence of the House in hearing me out while I put my points forward as quickly as I may because I am aware that there are many hon. Members who still wish to take part in the debate.
I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister recognises that on the question of Rhodesia the hopes of so many people in this country rest in her. It is a subject on which views are very deeply and passionately held, and I am certain that she understands that. After all that has been achieved in Rhodesia, and to which she paid tribute, it has been hard to understand why we have not been more positive in our recognition of that fact. I welcome the significant changes of emphasis and of tone in our dealings with the Government of Rhodesia, which were evident from her speech.
We cannot ignore the significance of what has been started in Rhodesia. They are engaged in an experiment, having seen the mistakes made in many of their neighbouring countries. They are engaged in a carefully phased changeover. They are trying to make a gradual advance as experience is gained. The Bishop is going out of his way to welcome back all who have taken part in terrorist activities, provided they return peacefully and are prepared to play their part in the new State of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. It is most important that this experiment should succeed. I am in no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wants the experiment to succeed. She must therefore be most anxious to secure for it the widest possible degree of international support, among Commonwealth members and outside.
None of us should be under any illusion. There are many who want the experiment to fail, and to fail even before it has properly begun. Russia is certainly one. The hon. Member for Stockport, South recognised that fact and condemned Russia's cynical conduct in Central and Southern Africa. Russia has imperialist ambitions. We are, or should be, all too familiar with Russian tactics. The backing of terror, the callous promotion of the arms struggle and the indiscriminate slaughter of a peace-loving people are the tactics by which Russia seeks advance in Southern Africa.
Another factor to consider is the Liberal-Left alliance, which is damagingly prevalent in this country and in the United States of America on this subject. The members of that alliance seem to find it impossible to contemplate a solution which they themselves have not devised or which does not involve the total capitulation of the whites.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will need all her many qualities of leadership when she goes to Lusaka. I hope that she will not become committed to yet another constitutional conference. I beg her not to be involved in a scheme for more delay. Such delay will damage, if not completely destroy, what has already been achieved. If we allow this matter to drag on much longer we shall be party, to our lasting shame, to wrecking the only real hope for a multi-racial State in Africa.
It has been recognised in all parts of the House during the debate that time is running out. In a sense, we are at a turning point. We can either witness increased tragedy and chaos in Rhodesia or we can witness wider participation in the multi-racial Government of Rhodesia and the involvement in her economic growth and stability of neighbouring African States. The key to the direction in which Zimbabwe-Rhodesia will go is largely in the hands of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Time is running out. The day is not far off when my right hon. Friend and her Government must act on this issue with the same courage as they have shown on so many issues at home.
We have heard practically everyone blamed today for the situation in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia except the place where I believe the blame most heavily lies. It lies with successive British Governments and successive British Parliaments. The performance of successive British Governments and the monitoring of those Governments by successive Parliaments has been a disgrace to this country and to our system of government and has revealed a great number of shortcomings in that system.
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) referred to ramshackle regimes in Central and Southern Africa and to the history of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. The most ramshackle regime of the lot has been the British regime here. UDI was declared in 1965. Sanctions were introduced shortly afterwards and eventually bolstered by is United Nations sanctions about two years after that. Allegedly, the British Government and the British administrative machine, the Armed Forces and this Parliament were committed to enforcing those sanctions so that they would bring down the illegal regime in Rhodesia.
Those sanctions failed. I believe that they failed partly because of the collaboration of Mozambique and South Africa in propping up the Smith regime, but largely because of a total failure of will on the part of successive Governments and this Parliament to make them work.
If one wants to consider what a wonderful effort has been made by the British Government over the years, I point out that in the time since 1965 only 38 companies have been prosecuted for breaches of sanctions, of which 26 have been convicted. Three cases are pending. It is six weeks since I asked the Attorney-General whether he would give me a list of those which had been found guilty. A list has been promised to me but, such is the effort and interest which the Attorney-General's office puts into this matter, that, six weeks later, I still have not been supplied with that list. However, as far as I know, not one oil company is on the list of those prosecuted. It is ironic that one of the companies prosecuted was found guilty of supplying petrol pumps.
The copy of the Bingham report which is available to hon. Members excludes a section which has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The report represents the most disgraceful series of episodes in the history of this country. I am quite serious about that. I take that extreme view. The report has been compared with Watergate in the United States. Hon. Members will recall that that affair brought down the President of the United States. However, compared with Watergate, this matter is much more important. Watergate was about a squalid political burglary. This report is an expose of the total failure of this country and our system of government to achieve what this Parliament decided should be achieved. It has brought us disgrace throughout the world and, very rightly, it disgraces us.
What is more, its effects are of immense significance, certainly far beyond the effects of the squalid Watergate affair. As right hon. and hon. Members have said this evening, people are being killed in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia today because no settlement has been achieved since 1965, and people living in the countries surrounding Zimbabwe-Rhodesia are dying or living in more squalid conditions than would have pertained had their economies not been dominated by the festering sore of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia in the middle.
God knows, no one can envy the Prime Minister her task in Lusaka. If she is to convince in Lusaka the other Commonwealth Governments and the non-Commonwealth Governments which are close to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia that the British are absolutely committed to bringing about a peaceful multi-racial settlement in Rhodesia, she has a lot of explaining to do. To be fair to her, she does not have a lot of explaining to do about the Government of which she is the Prime Minister. She has a lot of explaining to do about the Governments of which my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) and the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) were the Prime Ministers, and possibly about the Government of which my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) was the Prime Minister.
We have to remember that there has been a failure at civil servant level. There has been a major conspiracy by multinational oil companies operating from this country. The diplomatic service, for which we pay so much and about which we hear such paeans of praise at times, apparently did nothing to identify the flow of British oil into Rhodesia. The British secret service, which appears to spend most of its time monitoring cars parked outside Communist Party meetings in Walsall or on similar activities, did nothing to identify the illegal transmission of British oil from South Africa and Mozambique which involved British companies. If the secret service did identify it, the information was not passed on. If the information was passed on, senior civil servants did not pass it to Ministers. If they did do so, the Ministers did nothing. They denied propositions which were put to them in the House, and subsequently misled the House.
It is also clear from the Bingham report and other reports on this subject that the whole system of communicating vital information between major Government Departments, including the Department of Energy and its predecessors, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Prime Minister's Office, the Cabinet Office and the Attorney-General's Office, did not work.
I suppose I can say that I am not guilty, but hon. Members who have been in the House since 1965 have to acknowledge that Ministers misled them with successive answers about the flow of oil to Rhodesia. I have looked at some of the questions and answers, and it seems to me that people were fairly willingly misled.
The whole of the Bingham report, including the part that has not been made available to the public—which must be even more damning than the part that has been made public—was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions in September 1978. The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General, in reply to questions that I have asked them, have assured me, as recently as this week, that the Director of Public Prosecutions is still considering what action to take. One might think, from the amount of time that has elapsed, that there had been an industrial dispute in his Department.
A parliamentary inquiry was promised by the previous Government. The proposal went through the House of Commons but was obstructed in the House of Lords. That inquiry has not gone ahead, and it is necessary for the House to assert itself, whether it agrees or disagrees with sanctions or whether, as was said by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), sanctions were daft and unenforceable in the first place. That is a valid point of view in the light of all that happened. Whatever may be people's view about sanctions, it behoves hon. Members to insist that there should be a parliamentary inquiry into this disgraceful and protracted episode.
Lord Denning is not normally quoted with a great deal of approbation by Labour Members, save in exceptional circumstances, but I entirely support him when he quoted not long ago the saying of seventeenth century lawyers:
Be you never so high yet the law is above you".
It is imperative that the House, the Government and the machinery of justice should prove to all within this country and outside it that the oil companies, Cabinet Ministers and senior civil servants are all under the law of this land as laid down by Parliament. We are all failing in our duty if we do not ensure that that occurs.
I contrast what happened in Southern Africa with the performance of all the machinery of the State and the judiciary over the Clay Cross councillors. At that time, we were told by various people, including the present Attorney-General, although he did not hold that position at the time, that to accept the actions of the Clay Cross councillors was saying
that the best way to change the law is to defy it. No democracy could survive when people decided to obey only laws that suited them".
I quote those remarks from The Times of 15 March 1975—which happens to be my birthday.
Senior and distinguished people in this country appear to have decided that, as far as Rhodesia sanctions were concerned, they would obey only the laws which suited them. The Clay Cross councillors, whatever one may think of them, did what they did as an act of public defiance in defence of the people whom they believed they represented. Rhodesia sanctions were a covert fiddle for the sake of profit—a far cry from the action of the Clay Cross councillors, and more dishonourable because of that fact.
What are the Government doing now about breaches of oil sanctions? On 26 June 1979 the Foreign Secretary wrote to his predecessor, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen):
In response to an approach from the Company we have told BP that we would have no objection to arrangements they propose whereby they would make North Sea Oil available for sale in EEC or IEA markets in exchange for non-embargoed third country crude which can be supplied to their South African subsidiary".
I understand that that arrangement includes a swap deal between BP and Conoco that involves about 1 million tonnes per year. It is understood that, under the swap arrangements, BP will send oil through Rhodesia to Durban, despite the fact that the Indonesian Government has declared a boycott on its oil being sent to South Africa.
In answer to a recent question from the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), the Prime Minister said that the swap arrangement was
in circumstances which ensure that the swap oil will not go to Rhodesia."—[Official Report, 3 July 1979.]
However, the next day in the House of Lords, the Earl of Gowrie, in reply to a question by Lord Hatch, said that he simply could not guarantee that none of the swap oil would go to Rhodesia.
In the light of that, I asked the Secretary of State for Energy what special arrangements had been made to ensure that none of the swap oil would go to Rhodesia and if he was satisfied that this object could be achieved in the light of the law in South Africa which specifically prevents the disclosure of information on oil movements within, into and out of that country. That question was eventually answered by one of the Foreign Office Ministers, who said that British Petroleum had made clear that the assurances which it gave to the previous Government and which cover its South African subsidiary, as well as the BP group as a whole, about non-involvement in the supply of oil into Rhodesia, either directly or indirectly or through marketing arrangements that are related to the supply of oil by others to Rhodesia, remain valid and are regularly updated. He said that BP had undertaken to inform the Government immediately if it had any difficulty in maintaining these assurances.
Any hon. Member who has read the Bingham report will know that assurances of that sort from BP and Shell are literally not worth a light. It therefore seems to me imperative that if the Prime Minister is to achieve some success, as we hope she does, in bringing together in peace the various parties in and around Rhodesia Zambabwe, she must demon-state that inside and outside this country her Government are determined—and if she does it, it will be determined as never before by a British Government—that the policy decided by this House shall be vigorously applied.
I therefore hope that before she goes to Lusaka she will announce that the Director of Public Prosecutions has recommended prosecution of the offenders listed in the Bingham report, that a parallel inquiry will be mounted into the other aspects of the case, and that in order to ensure that no more British oil, or oil from British companies, gets into Rhodesia, Britain will forthwith cease to supply oil to South Africa. There is no other way of ensuring that.
I rise to make my maiden speech with the words spoken to me by Mr. Speaker when I swore the oath of allegiance still ringing in my ears. Mr. Speaker hoped that I would enhance the traditions of the House. That I hope very much to do. I find the traditions of the House sometimes difficult to define, although on this occasion I believe that principally there are three. Perhaps not the least of the duties imposed upon a maiden speaker is to get his speech over quickly so that other hon. Members may speak as soon as possible.
The three principal traditions are to speak of one's predecessor, to speak of one's constituency, and not to be controversial, so as not to upset the other tradition of the House of hearing a maiden speaker in silence.
I have great pleasure in fulfilling the first of those traditions. Mrs. Shirley Williams was a Member of Parliament for over 15 years. She carried out her duties in the House and in the constituency with enormous charm. I do not know her personally, but I am told by everyone I meet in the House and in the social gatherings I attend in Stevenage, Hertford and Ware of her great hard work and concern in connecton with constituency matters. I must pay tribute to her significant achievement in reaching high office and in doing so with great publicity and elan. As I pay this tribute to her, the House will be interested and no doubt grateful to hear that she has recently been given the freedom of the borough of Stevenage.
I come next to my constituency. The two factors about it that immediately spring to mind are the way in which idealism has lain behind the creation of the new town of Stevenage, and how, just as in the sixteenth century, it lies today at the heart of the community which surrounds Stevenage and Ware. In the sixteenth century Hertford and Ware was a major Quaker area which upheld the traditions of Christianity, and from which people went overseas to found the many towns in New England, including Hertford, Connecticut. A stream of idealism therefore runs through my constituency, and the most recent manifestation of it has been in the creation of the new town of Stevenage. The citizens of that town are extremely proud of being given the privilege of living there and of creating a new life and a new town. They are willing, given the opportunity, also to rebuild a new Britain as quickly as possible.
I believe that that spirit of idealism lay at the heart of the recent electoral change in Hertford and Stevenage. I believe that the people of my constituency want to rebuild Britain and make certain that people overseas as well as at home benefit in the same way as they have done.
I seek to be non-controversial, but it is becoming difficult to do so on this subject. It is a great shame to have seen in the debate such tremendous politicising of the issue. There is no doubt that in my constituency the issue is held to be beyond politics. The one belief that would draw people together is the strong conviction that the Rhodesia issue should be settled. There is a conviction that we should support Zambia, Malawi and the surrounding countries of Angola and Mozambique and try to achieve development and progress. Successive British Governments, particularly the Labour Government, have failed to produce such a solution.
I do not apologise for speaking on this potentially controversial issue, but I wish to find common ground. I believe there is much common ground if we look for it. The Prime Minister must look for the maximum amount of common ground when she reaches Lusaka next week. We owe it to the Prime Minister and to the House to find some ground upon which she could attempt to achieve the most difficult result—a settlement of the issue.
The real concerns of the world are trade, development, freedom under the law, and creating an economic climate in which people can work and use their initiative. The basis upon which those forces for good can be unleashed is the provision of security, incentive for people to work, stability, hope and vision.
We have sought to provide those things in Britain, and we must seek to provide them for the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia in the coming weeks. I hope that the Budget will assist greatly in creating investment in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia through the lifting of restrictions on overseas investment.
The Prime Minister should realise that she has a very good friend in Sir Shridath Surendranath Ramphal, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, to whom the Leader of the Opposition referred. It is through good will in the Commonwealth that we can seek a solution which is satisfactory, as satisfactory as it can be, to the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Giving trust to the Commonwealth leaders, who have so much in common with us, will, I believe, lead towards a solution.
I had the great privilege of working with the Commonwealth Development Corporation. The password of that corporation is partnership—partnership between, on the one hand, the capital provided by this country and management skills which are developed overseas and, on the other, the skills and ambitions of the people of the country in which the Commonwealth Development Corporation works.
The Commonwealth Development Corporation has evidence of success in that sphere in the countries surrounding Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Swaziland is a prime example, where funds voted by Parliament have led to development and stability. Its stability is not perhaps in a constitutional form which some hon. Members, particularly those on the Opposition Benches, would approve of, since Swaziland is a kingdom, but it is a stable kingdom which is developing and creating wealth for its poorest communities. Swaziland has developed the most efficient sugar industry in the Commonwealth. It has provided housing. It has developed rice fields and established schools in which to educate young agricultural trainees.
That form of aid lies within our grasp and must be utilised if we are to find a resolution of the problem in Rhodesia. We stand ready to make investments in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to create, I hope, the type of expansion that will help the poorest members of the community.
I have been amazed by the complete rejection of the Muzorewa Government by many hon. Members. After all, it is an attempt at partnership. It is an attempt to ensure that the white minority is given sufficient security to allow it to stay and work with the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to create a better economic climate in which everybody in that country and in the surrounding countries may survive. Would that we could find a similar constitution and a similar partnership to rule our affairs in the province of Ulster. Would that we could have found a similar solution of partnership in Vietnam. However, those solutions have eluded us. We should respect the opinions of Africans living in Rhodesia. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to pay attention to those opinions when she goes to Lusaka next week.
We must remember that majority rule in some circumstances—in many circumstances in Africa—has turned into nothing but tryranny and despair. In Lusaka next week I hope that my right hon. Friend will display the same qualities of leadership as she has displayed in Great Britain. We should take a principled approach. I agree with many hon. Members that it is an issue that has not enjoyed much principle in the past.
We must look towards the future with vision and hope. We must ensure that we conduct our negotiations with true compassion and humility and that we listen to our Commonwealth friends. We must ensure that the ambitions of individuals in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia are assisted and may begin to be realised. A concentration on the future and on the good things that we can do should inform the discussion in Lusaka, not an arid condemnation of past events and an arid and sterile debate upon the legalities of the current position. We must look to the future to find a way through looking towards the good things of life to try to create a better world in which to live.
It is a great privilege to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Hertford and Stevenage (Mr. Wells) on his maiden speech. The standard of the hon. Gentleman's contribution was as high as that of the three other maiden speeches that we have heard this evening. We sadly miss Mrs. Shirley Williams, who was well respected by Opposition Members. It was an achievement to win Mrs. Williams' seat and to be able to address the House. Those who have made their maiden speeches this evening have shown great courage. They have done so in a foreign affairs debate in the presence of many foreign affairs experts.
I regret that some of the progressive elements in the Conservative Party have not been called to speak in the debate. We have heard representatives of some of the great Conservative families—for example, Amery, Churchill, Macmillan and Eden. I forget the Salisburys' family name. They have all participated, but I am sure that they do not reflect the view of the Conservative Party on Rhodesia. When the right hon. Lady goes to Lusaka, she will be able to tell the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers "If you think that I am reactionary, read Hansard". We have had some of the most reactionary Conservative speeches that I have heard in the House. I think of the great names of the Tory Party. Their descendants have come down in the world. They express the most reactionary attitude to world events, one that was never expressed by their fathers or grandfathers.
It was vital to have the debate before the Prime Minister went to Lusaka. After all, it might be the last Commonwealth conference that the United Kingdom attends. South Africa was thrown out of the Commonwealth because of its racialist attitude. If some of the Conservative voices that we have heard today are heeded by the Prime Minister before attending the Commonwealth conference, I am afraid that we might be asked to leave the Commonwealth. The British Government are not the Commonwealth, and I fear that we might be expelled.
The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) made an excellent maiden speech. He gave an example of the racialism that he found when he was a youngster in Rhodesia. It is far worse in South Africa. I am reminded of the story of a white woman whose skin changed colour as a result of a liver complaint. She went on a bus with her daughter. She was thrown off it. She could not sit in it with her daughter because her skin was going black. We all know the family troubles suffered by that woman. Those troubles were caused by the apartheid system in South Africa. We reject it. That is why we reject the racialism that has gone over the border into Namibia and Rhodesia. It is believed throughout the Commonwealth, Australia and the United Nations that South Africa, which was ostracised by the United Nations, tried to develop an apartheid system in Namibia. We must ensure that Namibia moves on to the pathway of independence. Its people should be given the human rights about which we hear so much in Parliament—the human rights that are denied to the people of South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, even under the internal settlement today.
Reference was made to the Rhoodie funds that have come into this country. I refer to the Muldergate scandal. A President in South Africa lost his position. We do not know how those funds were used in this country. Did Saatchi and Saatchi get hold of the funds? Where have the funds gone? We must ask those questions and receive the answers. We must demand an inquiry into how South African funds were used in this country. We know that the South Africans tried to buy the Washington Post and other American papers. They tried to purchase British newspapers. Is there undue influence in the House as a result of the money coming from South Africa?
There would never have been trouble in Rhodesia over the past 12 to 14 years if the Rhodesians had not had the support of the racialist regime in South Africa. That is the situation. The Rhodesians have been sustained by economic and military means.
We know that the Prime Minister is to visit Africa. We realise the difficulties. It is said that she is the Iron Maiden. My word, she has problems on her own Benches. We know that the Conservative Party had troubles when some of its members voted with Labour Members to maintain sanctions.
The question I now put is the same as I put to the Prime Minister. She refused to answer it. Some people are now saying that what she said in Australia was off the cuff and that she was referring to the other place—not this House. However, I have the press release. Her words are down in black and white. I have the transcript. This is what was said:
Now there is not a strict timetable for recognition. As you know, President Carter has some problems over the resolutions on sanctions and British sanctions would lapse in November and we doubt very much whether a renewal of sanctions would go through the British Parliament. That goes for sanctions. Recognition is a slightly wider problem and could take just a little bit longer.
Before the Prime Minister goes to Lusaka, let her clarify her thoughts and clear her mind. Let her come to the country and tell us where she stands on sanctions and on the recognition of the internal settlement in Rhodesia. I hope that the Lord Privy Seal, who will reply to the debate, will clarify the situation. If the right hon. Lady goes to Lusaka, she will find that no other Commonwealth Prime Minister will do what was advocated by the members of the Conservative Party—that is to say, end sanctions and recognise the internal settlement.
We have serious obligations. We must recognise that we called upon the United Nations to support us in taking a stand on sanctions. It would be ludicrous if we were to be the only country to break sanctions that are maintained by the United Nations.
It is a pity that we have had such a short debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because it is surely one of the most important international issues to have faced this country since Suez. I hope that after the Lusaka conference is out of the way the Government will not say that they are ending sanctions or that they are to recognise the internal settlement in Rhodesia. Parliament should be recalled before any statement is made on this issue. The matter should be left until Parliament returns after the recess. Successive British Governments have maintained sanctions, and I hope that the Government will continue to do so until we have copper-bottomed guarantees that racialism will be written out of the constitution of Zimbabwe. The British Government should not recognise Zimbabwe until that happens. Until that time, we must maintain sanctions.
I have sat here throughout the debate, and I now have only a minute or two in which to express some views that I believe have widespread support on each side of the House.
May I first say how very much I welcome the initial statement by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, for, like her, I am glad to have seen the progress that has been made over the last year. It is very important that we should build upon it. There are two crucial points that I should like to bring to her attention before she undertakes her difficult task at the conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in Lusaka.
I should like to express my support for the views put forward by my right hon. Friend this afternoon. It is surely common ground in all parts of the House that we must have a settlement on the basis of the six principles, and therefore the crucial question that we have to ask ourselves is whether the settlement has been shown to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. I was very glad indeed that in her opening remarks my right hon. Friend did not endorse the views put forward by the Boyd report. Indeed, I believe that it is clear that an election is not the same as approving a constitution. That seems to me to be absolutely apparent.
If we examine the details of the constitution, we can see good reasons for supposing that it would not be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Mr. Smith has not taken the view that an election is the same as approving a constitution, because he ensured that the white population would have a referendum as well as an election. The argument that all the black parties had agreed to the election could equally be made in regard to the white parties, yet the whites had both a referendum and an election, whereas the blacks had only the opportunity of voting at the election. I welcome the fact that the election was held, but it is clearly not the same as endorsing the settlement, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will bear that in mind when she discusses the matter with her fellow Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
The second point that I want to stress as strongly as I can is that it seems to me that the constitution as now framed cannot form the basis for a permanent and successful settlement. We have only to look at the details of that constitution to see that about 3 per cent. of the population have 10 seats out of 30, and probably another two, in the Senate and 20 seats out of 100, and probably another eight, in the Assembly. To say, on that basis, that there has been a one-man, one-vote election seems to me to be a very strange assertion indeed, for clearly the value of the various votes was not the same. The value of the white votes was clearly much greater, in terms of representation, than the value of the black votes. It was not, in that sense, a one-man, one-vote election. In terms of Ministers also, there is a strong bias in favour of the white population. Indeed, the more the details of the constitution are examined, the more it can be seen that it cannot be a permanent basis for settlement.
It is the case that there have previously been constitutions which have contained clauses giving preference to a white electorate and on which we have granted independence, but I think I am right in saying that there has been no case where such provisions have been entrenched in the constitution. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, when he replies to the debate, will make clear whether that is so.
It may be that we shall be told that this is a constitution which Bishop Muzorewa and his colleagues have agreed to, but I believe that it is in his interests as much as those of anyone else that he should have a constitution that will last. I do not think that it is in his interests to have a constitution which is clearly biased and which, therefore, will encourage those who wish to undermine his position.
We are told that Bishop Muzorewa may not be in a position to alter the constitution. If that is so, there are obvious implications. I believe that we are generally agreed that Zimbabwe-Rhodesia is a British responsibility and that therefore it is up to us, in the final analysis, to decide what the constitution should be on which we are prepared to grant recognition and independence. I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will not rule out the possibility of a constitutional conference of the kind that we have had on former occasions, where the basis upon which we grant independence has received widespread approval of the House and, in addition, of the international community.
I welcome the progress that has been made. I believe that the Government and the House of Commons have a real opportunity to provide a lasting and peaceful settlement upon which we can all build and upon which we can look forward to a fine future for Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. But we must make changes. We must seek to persuade other countries to accept those changes to ensure that Rhodesia goes forward on a secure basis and not on a basis that could be dangerous.
Clearly, the issue of sanctions is crucial, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend was not wrong when she said that this is something that we must look at in the light of subsequent developments. The situation changes very rapidly indeed. What is clear is that if we were unilaterally to remove sanctions when there has been no satisfactory solution, that might be taken as an indication that we in this country and this Parliament are washing our hands of the whole affair. That would be extremely dangerous.
I wish my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister well in the difficult negotiations ahead. We have a real chance of securing a peaceful settlement, but I do not think that we shall do so without a true acceptance of the solution by the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia as a whole and some amendment to the constitution.
We had four maiden speeches during the course of this debate, three of which I heard and one which I regret I did not hear, although I am told that the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris), who was the first of the maiden speakers, delivered a speech which revealed great personal knowledge, feeling and, indeed, great moderation. It was well received in the House.
I did have the pleasure of hearing the other three maiden speakers. I thought that the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne) made a really outstanding speech. I do not think I need say more than that. The hon. Members for Nantwich (Sir N. Bonsor) and for Hertford and Stevenage (Mr. Wells) both spoke very cogently, lucidly and with considerable first-hand information of the problem with which they were dealing. I am certain that the House will wish to hear from them again, not only on foreign matters but on other matters as well.
This has been a most necessary, important and, I think, most strikingly thoughtful debate. In a few days' time the Prime Minister goes to Lusaka and what is said and done there—in particular what is said and done by the British Government—could well have fateful consequences for Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and much of Southern Africa. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition stressed this afternoon, what is said will greatly affect the standing of this country and, perhaps, the future of the Commonwealth.
With so much at stake, the House, and the Opposition in particular, had a duty to debate fully and seriously the options for policy and the position taken up by the Government. As the House will shortly enter the recess, and it will be late October when we resume, it is especially important that the Government should be as frank and open with the House as circumstances permit.
Having listened to the Prime Minister today and taken account of the many recent statements that have been made by both the Lord Privy Seal in this House and the Foreign Secretary in the other place, I felt a little easier than I did before the debate began. Indeed, I was struck with what the right hon. Lady had to say about making proposals similar to those on which other Commonwealth countries were granted independence. I should like to have that elaborated, perhaps on another occasion. I also noted what the Prime Minister said about the blocking powers in the present Rhodesian constitution, and in particular the composition of the major commissions that are to look after the public services there. I noted particularly what she said about genuine black majority rule. Those are important statements. Nevertheless, I shall put certain questions to the Lord Privy Seal because I want certain clarifications.
It is important that we try to establish just how much agreement—perhaps disagreement—on Rhodesian affairs exists between us. I address myself now to the great majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House. I accept that there is a minority of hon. Members, particularly on the Conservative Benches, who have held a consistent view on Rhodesia—a view that has not been materially affected by the changes over the last 12 or 24 months, but a view that goes back to the very earliest days of UDI. I exclude them, because I do not believe that I have the possibilities of persuasion when I address these particularly experienced veterans of 14 Rhodesian debates in which they have not budged an inch. I do not believe that they will budge in any period ahead.
Let me now say something about the agreement that I believe there is between us. First, we are all aware just how urgent, dangerous and precarious the present situation is. Blood is being shed in Rhodesia, and apart from a limited, sporadic cease-fire across the Zambia-Rhodesia borders, there is every indication that the fighting will continue on a substantial scale. Whatever else the April election in Rhodesia achieved, it clearly and regrettably brought no cessation to the fighting. I am sure that we all agree that if the Commonwealth conference can assist in the process of peacemaking and of reaching a stable agreement, that opportunity must be seized.
Secondly, I think that there is common ground in the recognition that wide international acceptance is the necessary condition of any lasting settlement. I certainly do not take the view that we should have our own judgment forced, either by ill-considered resolutions or by threats to our trade. I share the view of the Lord Privy Seal, as he expressed it in our foreign affairs debate on 18 May, that in the interests of Rhodesia itself:
International support and recognition, and co-operation with other African States, must be vital to a landlocked State in central Africa, above all one that is still engaged in a cruel civil war."—[Official Report, 18 May 1979; Vol. 967, c. 565.]
Thirdly, I take it for granted that the necessary measure of international consent will not be achieved unless we ourselves are convinced, and others at least acquiesce in our judgment, that a settlement is acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. At this point, we come to an area of uncertainty. Elections in Rhodesia have been claimed by some Conservative Members as the test of acceptability. Because there is now a black President, a black Prime Minister and a black majority in the elected Assembly, they argue that the new constitution has passed the test of acceptability.
That view is far too simple. The elections have told us a great deal about the relative strength of the internal nationalist groups. They have given us some indication—but not a very clear one—of the strength and support for those who did not take part in the elections. The one thing that the elections did not tell us about is the acceptability of the constitution. As the House knows and as the right hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) reminded us, that major issue—the constitution—was put to the white citizens but not lo the black. We should be deceiving ourselves in a most foolish way if we assert that that issue has been settled and will disappear.
There have been exchanges in both Houses on that point, but the Government have sensibly refused to accept that the elections were the test of acceptability that the fifth principle requires. They have done that in hardly clarion terms, and have been cautious and perhaps even equivocal in what they say. Nevertheless, they have refused to accept that it was that test of acceptability. That is crucial, for unless consent is genuinely obtained the constitution and all that is built on it will not endure. It will be like bricks without cement, and it will be dislodged by the first hand that pushes against it.
Fourthly, there is some agreement that further constitutional change is essential. If I have correctly understood the Government's strategy, having consulted all the parties directly and indirectly involved, and having discussed the matter with our Commonwealth partners in Lusaka and our allies in the United States and Europe, it is their intention to put forward proposals for change on which a new agreement can hopefully be built.
I say this about those changes: I do not believe that changes at the margin will suffice. I accept that the elections were based on universal suffrage and that there was a turnout of over 60 per cent. They have produced a new and different situation, but there is still a massive entrenchment of minority rights and powers in the constitution. It is not just that the 3 per cent. of the European electorate hold 28 per cent. of the seats nor the elaborate provisions for appointments in the Administration, armed forces and judiciary that make them in effect a self-perpetuating oligarchy.
There is the major overriding fact of a veto on further change that is built into the constitution. No change can be made without the support of at least six of the European members. The constitutional review to be held in 10 years' time will, in effect, be carried out by a built-in European majority. All that adds up to a major flaw in the constitution. It entitled us to say that, in essence, what we have in Rhodesia today is a black majority Parliament in a white minority constitution, which ensures that the balance of power remains strongly weighted in favour of the minority.
None of us can have any doubt about the difficulties that lie ahead. Hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House have referred to the atmosphere of fear and distrust that undoubtedly exists. It is easy to see from the European point of view how great the changes already negotiated must seem. It is equally easy to see how threatened they must feel at the prospect of further change that will put them and all that they have achieved under black majority rule.
Nor do I find it difficult to understand the point of view of those black Africans who helped make the internal settlement—their commitment to the agreement that they negotiated and their sense of achievement in having carried so stubborn a party as the Rhodesian Front, with its previously unchallenged monopoly of power, as far as they have. But while the difficulties of achieving movement and compromise are formidable, all the parties involved are under great pressure to move, and movement there must be.
The internal settlement has not brought peace and security to the European minority. Bishop Muzorewa is having increasing difficulty in maintaining coherence among his followers. The majority has melted away. The massacre of over 180 supporters of Mr. Sithole is a grim portent of still further dissension.
The Patriotic Front was unable to prevent the elections from taking place. It cannot claim, as the OAU resolution wrongly asserted, to be the sole, authentic and legitimate representative of the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
All the parties know, as do the frontline Presidents, that the only alternative to serious further negotiations is a still more bitter, bloody and uncertain military struggle with a ruined country as the only prize.
The Lusaka conference provides a major opportunity. We have not asked for cut-and-dried Government proposals. Much useful talking must still be done with our Commonwealth partners before firm proposals can be made. But it is essential that the Government should go to Lusaka not as a partisan or patron of one group but in a genuinely constructive and uncommitted frame of mind.
I must comment on the great folly of 1 July, when the Prime Minister made her statement in Australia. If the right hon. Lady means to lift sanctions in November without embarking on a major new effort to bridge the gap between contending forces and without persuading substantial international opinion that this is the right course, she would make an appalling error and the most serious consequences would ensue. We should find ourselves almost totally isolated.
I am not aware of one Commonwealth country that would be ready to back us. We should not have the support of the United States and we should be in difficulty with our European colleagues. A unilateral British move would be of little benefit to Rhodesia. International sanctions would continue. Fighting and strife inside Rhodesia would continue.
Apart from the dangers of increasing outside intervention, as my noble Friend the former Lord Chancellor said in last November's debate, the Government have a solemn obligation to comply with mandatory resolutions passed by the Security Council. We are bound in international law to maintain sanctions until there is a return to legality in Rhodesia.
I remind those who dissent from that view that in the same debate the present Lord Chancellor spoke in even stronger terms. He said that he was shocked by the suggestion that we should act unilaterally in breach of international agreement. He said that if we were to abandon sanctions
we should not only be condoning but compelling a breach of promise by the United Kingdom which has gone on record as believing that the plighted word is something that should be kept.
The Lord Chancellor said that we needed the good will of others and that
Without that goodwill, which would be lost, in my judgment—I must tell my noble friends that it is my considered judgment—and if this country were allowed to stand alone in breach of her international obligations any constructive influence we might hope to have on the Rhodesian situation would be lost and would not be recovered before the situation had deteriorated beyond our control."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 9 November 1978; Vol. 396, c. 624.]
I do not believe that the Lord Chancellor has changed his mind in the last six months. I invite the Lord Privy Seal to say whether he has a different view.
A Labour Prime Minister invited the United Nations to impose mandatory sanctions against Rhodesia. The Tory Party, when in Opposition, voted against that. Why does the right hon. Gentleman think that a party which voted against mandatory sanctions should be obligated to follow him in the Lobby tonight or on any other occasion?
The hon. Gentleman knows the position taken by the three previous British Governments. The previous Conservative Government renewed sanctions against Rhodesia on three occasions. Do not let us get confused about that.
If we are to assist the situation and if the opportunities presented by the Lusaka conference are not to be thrown away, the House needs three minimum assurances from the Government about their stance.
First, the Government must make clear that there can be no question of lifting sanctions or recognising the Government of Bishop Muzorewa unless substantial changes are made to the Rhodesian con- stitution. I think that that was the Prime Minister's message to the House earlier, but doubt persists and it would assist her forthcoming visit to Lusaka if the matter were cleared up.
Secondly, the Government must accept that consultations about changes in the constitution will not lead to an acceptable settlement unless all the elements in Rhodesia, including the leaders of the Patriotic Front, are brought into the consultative process.
Thirdly, the Government must accept that the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia should have an opportunity to say, in an independently supervised referendum or election, whether the constitutional proposals endorsed by the British Government are acceptable to them.
We have a chance that will not come again. The consequences of failure and breakdown will haunt us and Southern Africa for decades. I urge the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to seize their opportunity with both hands.
As the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) said, there is a certain amount of common ground on this subject, and certainly complete agreement about the maiden speeches in the debate. Unfortunately, I missed one, but I heard the other three. All those speeches, in their different ways, were highly distinguished.
My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) was witty and entertaining. He has deep knowledge and experience of the subject, and he deployed it to good effect. His remarks about the fears and suspicions remaining among both communities in Rhodesia were particularly noteworthy.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne) also has deep knowledge of the subject, and he displayed it modestly and tellingly. He was especially eloquent about Rhodesia's economic potential, and he made his entire speech without a note.
I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stevenage (Mr. Wells) for not being here for his speech. With his experience in the Commonwealth Development Corporation, he was able to make a thoroughly authoritative contribution.
My hon. Friend the Member for Nantwich (Sir N. Bonsor) was vigorous and frank, particularly about being controversial. He expressed his strong views well. We look forward to hearing the first three of my hon. Friends when they are being controversial and to hearing my hon. Friend the Member for Nantwich when he is being either non-controversial or more controversial.
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar and to the Leader of the Opposition, who cannot be here, for the statesmanlike tone of their speeches, although, naturally, I could not agree with a good deal of them.
I assure the Leader of the Opposition that we share entirely his appreciation of the enormous value of the Commonwealth as a catalyst of progress, understanding and friendship among nations. We shall take every opportunity to strengthen it. The Government welcome this debate and the opportunity that it gives to take full account of the views of the House in their approach to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Lusaka and in formulating their policies to deal with the problems of the region. These problems have defied the efforts of successive British Governments to resolve them, but it has not been for want of trying. It is right to acknowledge that successive British Governments have tried honestly and courageously to contribute to the solution of those problems. That is certainly the way in which this Government will be addressing them.
It is not true to say, as some have said, that there has been no progress or that the Western nations have stood in the way of progress. The only form of progress which the Soviet Union and its allies have offered has been to fuel the flames of factional conflict and warfare while spreading the illusory belief that out of chaos and destruction comes the only true independence. In Namibia there has been definite progress which has been welcomed and supported by the frontline States. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said earlier, we are following this up with a new initiative, to which I shall return later if there is time.
In our dealings with South Africa, I believe that the Nine have made a significant contribution to encouraging internal reform, and we wish to see this continued. Much more remains to be achieved, but it can, surely, be claimed justly that we in Britain have been active in trying to conciliate and in trying to defuse the tensions in Southern Africa.
Inevitably and rightly, the greatest concern has been expressed throughout the debate about the problem of Rhodesia. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister emphasised the extent of the political progress that has taken place inside Rhodesia—of a nature and on a scale that would have been unthinkable a short time ago. I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition endorsed that view and agreed that we should build on what has been achieved.
We do not underestimate the difficulties of translating agreed aims into a settlement with a ceasefire. I recognise, too, that there is considerable distrust of Britain among African leaders and some Rhodesian leaders because of past failures, but to claim, as the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) did, that nothing of substance has changed in Southern Africa is palpable nonsense. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), who is not in the Chamber, said much the same.
As many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have pointed out, a great deal has changed, notably the removal of all racially discriminatory legislation and the advent of a Government elected by universal suffrage. To say that nothing has changed, under those circumstances, seems incredible.
Nevertheless, the situation which the Government have inherited and which the Commonwealth leaders at Lusaka will have to consider is not one of our choosing. If it was possible for us to choose where to begin, it would not be from here, and I am sure that the same goes for Bishop Muzorewa. Over the years since 1965, many foolhardy acts have been committed by the Rhodesian Front regime. History will show how tragically misguided those acts were. Fortunately, I believe, reality has now sunk in, and a new beginning is possible.
I do not have to remind the House that successive British Governments—none more so than that of which my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Home was Foreign Secretary—have resolutely opposed the attempts of that regime to deny fundamental justice to the people of Zimbabwe as a whole and their right to choose their own Government. In 1972, when Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe were detained, Bishop Muzorewa acted as the spokesman of the dissenting black majority. In announcing the verdict of the Pearce Commission, Lord Home said with reluctance that there would have to be a pause while the parties reflected on the situation and tried to work out a solution. My right hon. and noble Friend was a realist. He knew the depth of almost irreconcilable feeling on both sides.
We did not wish the process of negotiation to go through so many failures or to take so long. Nor did we wish the cycle of repression and terrorism to escalate to the point reached in 1978 when negotiations between Mr. Smith and the internal parties began. Nor did we wish to see divisions created between nationalist leaders.
This tragic legacy owes much to the unyielding instincts of Mr. Smith and his supporters. This legacy and, with it, the bitterness of past experience which my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West so eloquently evoked must now be put aside, because even to the most grudging observer it surely must be clear that the majority of the white community are now determined to face the future as equal citizens of a nonracial State and that a more representative Government have emerged.
Of course there are complaints. Mr. Nkomo, who himself negotiated, although unsuccessfully, with Mr. Smith, and Mr. Mugabe maintain that the settlement was inadequate because they were not involved. They were also, let it be said, attracted by the Anglo-American proposals and by the prospect of external diplomatic and material support. Progress on the lines of the Anglo-American proposals might indeed have been possible if the Patriotic Front had been prepared to accept a neutral authority during the transitional period. But it was not. That is now sometimes forgotten. Nor, incidentally, was Mr. Smith.
The experience of those long negotiations which the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) and Mr. Vance held over that period of 18 months contains lessons—above all, about the danger of giving all parties a veto over progress. That contains a lesson which the present British Government must take to heart.
Considered in this light, therefore, the agreement which was achieved by Bishop Muzorewa and the internal parties is all the more remarkable. It has achieved a peaceful transfer of power from a white regime elected by 3 per cent. of the population to a black Government elected by 64 per cent. of the population. Of course it is not perfect. No constitution is flawless, and the constitution of Zimbabwe will require wide acceptability if it is to withstand the strains of a painful independence. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may laugh, but no one would claim that the constitution of the Labour Party was flawless.
That was a heavy intervention. All violence of that sort is painful. It is to be regretted and is deplorable. However, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can seriously claim that that was a particular result of the constitution. It was the result of a war. A great many people were killed in this country, and in others, when we were fighting a war.
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman realises that the killing of the 183 Sithole auxiliaries had nothing to do with the war. It was the Bishop taking his revenge against Mr. Sithole for saying that the elections were not free and fair.
I do not know how the hon. Gentleman can know that. He might just as well say that the missionaries who were abducted the day before had nothing to do with the war either. I do not believe it in either case. However, to claim as the hon. Gentleman did, in effect, and as the hon. Member for Eton and Slough did, that the internal settlement is bogus shows to me an astonishing lack of historical perspective. I should not have thought that the OAU, as the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar recognised, could conceivably be justified in seeking to ostracise a leader who has achieved the free endorsement of 67 per cent. of the voters. That is a good deal better than either of our parties ever does. Nor can we afford to reject any plan which has been freely negotiated between blacks and whites in Zimbabwe. There at least are some of the bricks with which to build a settlement for men of good will.
All hon. Members are agreed on the need to bring a speedy end to the war. That is, above all, what the people of Rhodesia, both black and white, need most of all. In reply to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson), I can tell him that the white population are leaving Rhodesia at the rate of 1,000 a month. That has been going on for about two years, and unless the war can be ended they are likely to leave in ever-increasing numbers. Nothing more urgently illustrates the need for a solution in Rhodesia.
We are all deeply conscious of the suffering and the loss of life that the present conflict brings every day to innocent people in Rhodesia and in the neighbouring States. Had it been in our power, and if the advice of successive British Governments had been heeded, this war would never have been started. It does not lie in Britain's power to bring an end to the war. A ceasefire requires the acquiescence of the people who are doing the fighting. Again in reply to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West, there are reportedly about 15,000 guerrillas inside Rhodesia. Here again, we are conscious of the need to do all in our power to bring the war to an end. That is the greatest contribution that we can make to the people of Zimbabwe.
The right hon. Gentleman said that white people are leaving at the rate of 1,000 a month. Does not that make even more barmy the idea that Mr. Smith is the great white chief of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia? Would it not be better for the whites who want to build a nation there to go, and allow real nation building? The people are voting with their feet and not following Mr. Smith.
I certainly do not think that we should encourage the whites to leave. We want to encourage the whites to stay. I have not talked to the 1,000 who are leaving each month, but I should be surprised if their departure implied any judgment on Mr. Smith. I would not think that that had anything to do with it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) and the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar referred to the OAU resolution as being ill-considered. That was putting it mildly. We in the House recognise that Rhodesia is first and foremost a British responsibility, and that has been almost universally recognised. Over the years African Governments have been widely consulted and have on occasion contributed to our efforts to achieve a settlement. Tackled individually they have never shown much enthusiasm for taking the problem off our hands. Nor would it be proper that they should.
If the OAU collectively has constructive suggestions to make, we shall of course listen. In the past three months we have been in touch with every OAU country on this issue. We have sent personal envoys to 12 of them and had direct ministerial contact with three others. We have explained our thinking painstakingly and listened attentively to their comments. Of course, I cannot reveal what has been said to us in particular, but in general there was wide understanding of our position.
That being so, I deplore the recent decision of OAU Heads of State to accord the Patriotic Front the status of sole legitimate representative of the people of Zimbabwe. I believe that many African Heads of Government would also privately deplore this resolution, as it conflicts with the long-held tradition of the OAU that the choice of Government of Zimbabwe lies exclusively with the people of Zimbabwe. The resolution is profoundly unhelpful to our efforts to end the war in that country. I am grateful to know that the American Government fully share our views on this.
Nevertheless, we recognise the importance of the Patriotic Front and we have included it in our consultations. When our consultations are complete, we shall be making proposals for a settlement which we believe will be seen to be fair and reasonable.
As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister informed the House, these proposals will be addressed to all parties in the conflict. We hope that they will command general support, but a wider agreement depends on the willingness of both sides to enter into such an agreement. Some statements by Patriotic Front leaders suggest that they are not interested in a negotiated solution. If their objective really is majority rule for Rhodesia with a Government that is freely chosen by the people of the country, surely it should be possible to find an agreed solution.
I was disappointed to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that the Patriotic Front cannot lose. That was an inappropriate and damaging comment. The House will have noted the recent speeech of Lord Carver in another place. The noble Lord said:
If the Patriotic Front continue to hold out they will not win. Neither side will win. The whole situation will crumble into chaos."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 10 July 1979; Vol. 701, c. 788.]
I believe that statement to be true.
I asked the right hon. Gentleman three questions. He has answered the second question inferentially. Will he undertake that when the proposals are finally put they will be put to the people of Rhodesia as a whole for their approval under proper supervision?
The right hon. Gentleman knows that we are in the middle of a diplomatic process of great delicacy and considerable complexity. He cannot expect me to reveal in advance each step as we go along. If the House was undertaking the negotiations it would be a different matter.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have referred to the six principles. I commend to the House what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said about the fifth principle. My right hon. and noble Friend Lord Home, who has unrivalled experience in these matters, has pointed out that the constitution was within the six principles. However, it is difficult to be wholly dogmatic on the point. Lord Boyd, who, again, has great experience in these matters, pointed out in a speech in another place that it was impossible for the voters to vote for Bishop Muzorewa and against the constitution. That was not open to them. My right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) pointed out that there were good reasons why the constitution was not put to the African electorate in the January referendum. It is difficult to form a conclusive answer to the question because it is not clear whether or not the question has been put.
The Commonwealth conference in Lusaka will provide further opportunity to discuss these matters fully and frankly. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who has attended almost all today's debate, will listen attentively, as will my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, to everything that is said on the matter. My right hon. Friend looks forward to a valuable debate over there.
No doubt the House hopes that the traditions of justice and democracy within the Commonwealth should be an immeasurable help in seeking the way forward. I sincerely hope that by the time the House reassembles considerable further progress will have been made.
I commend the two basic elements of our policy to the House. First, it is essential to build on what has been achieved. I believe that that fact is widely accepted throughout the House although some Labour Members appear to want to destroy what has been achieved. Opinions may differ on how substantial is the progress that has been made, but there can be no conceivable doubt that there is a fundamentally changed situation of which we should take full account. We should not be forgiven if matters were allowed to slide again into destructive argument about the mistakes and failures of the past.
Secondly, we are committed to seeking the widest possible acceptability for Zimbabwe. It would not serve our interests or those of the people of Rhodesia to press forward to independence on a basis that did not enjoy the acceptance of a substantial—