Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 17th June 1986.
I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister. Well over 40 right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have written to me expressing their wish to take part in the debate. There may well be other hon. Members who wish to take part. Between 7 o'clock and 9 o'clock I propose to limit speeches to 10 minutes. May I say to Privy Councillors who may be called before that time that I hope that they will hear in mind that there are other hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate.
Yes, Sir. You will know, and the House is well aware — although it is often more regarded in its breach than in its observance — that if a Member of Parliament has interests he should declare them. Is it not incumbent on right hon. and hon. Members who have benefited from trips to the Republic of South Africa within the last year under the auspices of that Government to declare in this debate that they have done so, so that the House and the public can know why they speak as they do?[Interruption.]
Order. The hon. Gentleman well knows that we have an established Register of Members' Interests in the House in which trips to overseas countries are recorded. Obviously, if any hon. Member has a direct financial interest, he will declare it.
I beg to move,
That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government, in view of the worsening situation in the Republic of South Africa and in the light of the Report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, to work actively with the European Community, the Commonwealth and the United Nations for the imposition of effective economic measures against the Government of South Africa.
All hon. Members will agree that this is one of the most important issues which the House has ever debated, because the future of the people of South Africa and of the whole of the southern half of the African continent is at stake. The future of the Commonwealth is also at stake. Last year at Nassau the Prime Minister created a gulf between Britain and all other members of the Commonwealth, both old and new. If she deliberately widens that gulf this year, the Commonwealth may not survive. Moreover, Britain is a key member of all the international organisations now seized of the South African problem — the Commonwealth, the European Community, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations. The Opposition deeply deplore the Government's refusal to send arty representative to the United Nations conference in Paris on this problem this week.
Inside South Africa a situation already intolerable to all decent people has dramatically deteriorated in the past few days. South Africa 1986 is the embodiment of the world of George Orwell's "1984". We have in South Africa today a police state in which the Government's agents have a licence to arrest without explanation and to kill without being called to account. South Africa today suffers from a news blackout far more complete than any Communist country has ever known. [Interruption] Even in Poland in the worst days of the Solidarity crisis, foreign journalists were always free to report on the persecution of Solidarity and to publish in the press or on television interviews with opponents of the regime. That is not possible in South Africa today.
Armed men can break up church services, but no word may be published about what has happened. The apartheid regime has blotted out the truth in the blackest arctic night. Even before the latest state of emergency the Eminent Persons Group described the system in South Africa as "awesome in its cruelty." I am glad that the Prime Minister welcomed that report and I believe that——
You have appealed to all of us, Mr. Speaker, to limit our remarks, and I do not think that I would serve the House's interests if I were to give way in the first 60 seconds of my speech.
I regard the report of the Eminent Persons Group as one of the most valuable products of the Commonwealth. It is all the more impressive because it was compiled by men and women of various parts of the Commonwealth, with many different types of experience, most of whom have little or no previous personal knowledge of apartheid on the ground. The group included a Conservative ex-Prime Minister of Australia and a Conservative ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer of Britain, who has strong financial interests in South Africa as chairman of the Standard Chartered Bank. He was appointed to the group by the Prime Minister. I hope that the report, in its Penguin publication, will have a massive circulation throughout the world. I assume that the Prime Minister shares this hope.
The report describes in chilling detail a system in which the blacks outnumber the whites by six to one, yet whites have six times more land; a system in which the living standards of the whites are 10 times higher than those of the blacks; in which the state has used, and is still using, brutal violence on a colossal scale to uproot blacks from their homes and dump them in rural slums; and which separates husbands and fathers from their wives and children—in fact, makes 8 million blacks foreigners in their own land. The report describes a system in which the shooting or torture of political opponents is accepted practice and where the state systematically uses excessive violence against peaceful demonstrators against it, including mutilating the faces of schoolchildren with sjamboks. All this is to be found in the report.
On television last week, all that the Prime Minister could find to say about the system, after reading the report, was:
It must be so irritating, so full of resentment. I understand how they feel.
Does she really understand? Can she really understand? Can she not see that on South Africa, as on so many issues
closer to home, her total incapacity to understand how the victims of society feel about their predicament makes her unfit for office in a democratic state?
I am glad to say that the Eminent Persons Group was shocked and astounded by the reality of apartheid. It was equally astounded by the quality and moderation of those who oppose apartheid. It points out that for the first 13 years of this remorseless pressure the African National Congress remained loyal to Chief Luthuli's commitment to a non-violent struggle. It was only the massacre at Sharpeville which compelled them to reassess this commitment and even then the congress restricted its direct action to sabotage.
But 10 years ago another massacre in Soweto, in which most of the victims were children and a third were shot in the back, had an inevitable consequence. The provocation was more than flesh and blood could stand, but the Eminent Persons Group points out that, in the past 20 years, only 20 deaths have been the result of action by members of ANC when thousands were killed by the Government forces.
Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that the right hon. Gentleman is not giving way and he must not persist.
The Eminent Persons Group found the leaders of the ANC and the United Democratic Front whom they met, to be men of moderation—
Order. I shall have to hear it, but is it a point of order?
Yes, Sir. I seek your guidance about whether I am entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman—
Order. I have told the hon. Gentleman that if the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) does not give away the hon. Gentleman must not persist.
They were found to be men of moderation who wanted to achieve a multiracial society by peaceful negotiations and prepared to suspend the use of violence to achieve it. I am again drawing upon the report which the Prime Minister has rightly praised.
Until very recently, the Government refused all contact with members of the ANC. Even now, they refuse to allow their Ministers to talk to the ANC, although American Ministers do so regularly. Instead, the British Government, like the American Government, chose the path of what they called constructive engagement with apartheid. The apartheid regime rewarded them with systematic deception. Again, I quote the Eminent Persons Group, which said:
The SA Government has perfected a specialised political vocabulary which while saying one thing, means quite another".
The Prime Minister and President Reagan swallowed it hook, line and sinker. The House will recall being told by the Prime Minister two years ago that President Botha had agreed with her to take his troops out of Angola. They have been there ever since, even to the extent of blowing up American oil installations at Kabinda. Only last week they were shelling a port in Angola.
On 9 October 1984, the Foreign Secretary told us that there were encouraging developments in the Nkomati accord with Mozambique and rapid progress on Namibia, but President Botha broke the Nkomati accord even before the ink was dry, set up a puppet Government in Namibia and is now conducting military action against neighbouring Commonwealth countries, starting with attacks at the very moment at which the Eminent Persons Group was about to meet Ministers.
President Botha has played the Prime Minister and President Reagan for suckers. He finally admitted it last week when he said in his address to his own Parliament that countries which do not invoke sanctions against South Africa can continue to trade with her but cannot expect to exert any political influence on what the South African Government do, so that constructive engagement was a farce from the beginning. The Prime Minister herself agreed to that at Nassau last year because she signed a communiqué which said that the policy of constructive engagement was a failure in both of its objectives —ending apartheid, and getting freedom for Namibia.
It is sometimes argued that what happens inside South Africa is none of our business, but South African aggression against its Commonwealth neighbours is our business. It is the business of the whole of the outside world. This aspect of the problem has received far too little attention in the House and elsewhere.
Since 1980, the South African Government have engaged in systematic use of armed force against eight majority ruled states in the region. The list of its violations of international law makes a crime sheet of daunting terror. We have had South Africa invading the capitals of three independent countries and invading four other countries. We have had South Africa trying to assassinate the Prime Ministers of two neighbouring states. We have seen South Africa backing terrorism, which has brought two of its neighbouring states to economic chaos and which has caused grave disorder in two others.
South Africa has disrupted deliberately the oil supplies of six of its neighbours and it has attacked the vital railway communications of seven of its neighbours. In consequence of South African action in neighbouring states—these figures are quoted in the report—100,000 people have died and millions have been displaced. It cost the region $10 billion in the years 1980 to 1984—more than all the financial assistance that it received from the outside world. It is now costing the region about $5 billion a year.
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the alleged cost of South African actions. What would he the cost of the economic sanctions that the right hon. Gentleman supports to the rest of the Commonwealth and to the West if such sanctions were to be imposed?
I am very grateful, for once, to the hon. Gentleman, because that is precisely the point to which I am about to turn.
It is the cost already imposed by the apartheid regime on South Africa's Commonwealth neighbours which has led all of them, despite the real risk of economic sanctions, to support sanctions as the only means of shortening their agony. President Kaunda of Zambia used those very words this week on BBC radio. It is no good the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) shaking his head. That is President Kaunda's view. He knows better what is in the interests of his country than a Member of Parliament who has accepted hospitality from the apartheid regime in South Africa.
If the present situation continues, agony it will be. In introducing his report the other day, Mr. Malcolm Fraser said that the slaughter and bloodshed would be worse than in Vietnam. The Commonwealth group as a whole said that it
could be the worst bloodbath since the Second World War.
And it is a bloodbath, as Mr. Fraser pointed out, that the blacks are bound to win in the end but that they want to avoid, if humanly possible.
The Eminent Persons Group describes the leaders of the African National Congress and the United Democratic Front as men of goodwill who want a multiracial society. I prefer its views to those of the prejudiced bigots who sit below the Gangway on the other side of the House. But the Eminent Persons Group also reached the conclusion that there cannot be peaceful negotiations unless effective economic measures, as set out in paragraph 352 of the report, are applied by the outside world. The key paragraph of the report is the penultimate one, paragraph 354. It says:
The question in front of Heads of Government is in our view clear. It is not whether such measures will compel change; it is already the case that their absence and Pretoria's belief that they need not be feared defers change.
That is a direct condemnation of the Prime Minister by a jury of her peers, a jury that she helped to appoint. It was her action at Nassau that prevented effective action by the Commonwealth and she gloated about it when she came back to Parliament. If she were to veto action once again, the delay could be fatal for South Africa and inflict lasting shame on her Government, a shame from which I fear the British people as a whole could not escape. Indeed, if the Prime Minister vetoes action once again, then, as Mr. Fraser made clear, the Government who emerge from a decade of mounting violence will be bitterly hostile to Britain and the West. All our economic interests will be destroyed and all our hopes of political influence will be gone. We have seen this already in Angola and Mozambique, and we would have seen it in Zimbabwe if Lord Carrington had not persuaded the Prime Minister to reverse her policy just in time.
The future of South Africa is even more important than what has happened in other neighbouring countries. South Africa has a major population, important natural resources, a developed industry and a large mass of skilled manpower. It also occupies an important strategic position. To throw those assets away because of the imperious vanity of one person would be inexcusable folly.
How we tackle this important issue may yet determine whether the Commonwealth survives as an institution. I regret warnings given by some Commonwealth leaders that they may leave the Commonwealth if the Prime Minister exercises, her veto again.
I hope that they would not carry it out, because within two years we shall have another British Government which will have a very different policy on South Africa.
The Government cannot ignore those warnings, nor, as the Prime Minister knows, can the Palace. If the Prime Minister prefers to use the word "measures" rather than "sanctions" to save her face, I have no objections, nor has the Commonwealth, although I am bound to say that, in a discussion with me on television last week——
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for a right hon. Gentleman to seek to involve the Palace in a debate in support of his argument?
Order. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong. However, it is not in order to use members of the Royal Family to influence the debate in any way.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. It must be in order, because it cannot be avoided in this debate, to point out the position of one who is the Queen of the Commonwealth and not just of the United Kingdom.
Order. The hon. Gentleman knows "Erskine May" as well as any hon. Member. He knows that it is not in order to use members of the royal family to advance arguments in a debate.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Although I accept your ruling that it is not in order to use members of the royal family to further an argument, cannot one refer to the Head of State and to the Head of the Commonwealth?
Order. I think that I can clear this matter easily. I have already said that the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) was in order to refer to the Palace, but that it is not in order to use members of the royal family in advancing an argument.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is not a superficial matter. It is wholly out of order in the House to criticise the Monarchy. It must be in order to debate the position in which the Head of the Commonwealth is placed by policies that may or may not be advanced.
I thank you for endorsing my words, Mr. Speaker, which were used at Prime Minister's Question Time today, and have been used by hon. Members at other times.
The arguments that the Government are using against sanctions look increasingly threadbare and contradictory. The first argument, which the Prime Minister uses every time that she appears on television, is that they never work; but if they never work, why did she impose sanctions on Poland, to deal entirely with the internal situation, on Argentina, Libya and Iran, and accept them on Zimbabwe by not opposing them when in opposition? She knows as well as I do that the sanctions imposed on Iran, Argentina and Zimbabwe played an important role in the resolution of those issues.
The United States is also operating sanctions against Nicaragua, and when it was accused yesterday of some inconsistency a spokesperson of the State Department said that if South Africa were a Communist dictatorship, it would be different. I suspect that that is the secret, private view of the Prime Minister.
The second argument is that sanctions would hurt the blacks and the front-line states, which would not like them. However, all the representatives of the blacks except Chief Buthelezi have argued that they want sanctions in order to shorten their agony, and this is the argument used by the front-line states as well because, like the Eminent Persons Group, whose work the Prime Minister has commended to us, they see sanctions as offering the only hope of promoting dialogue between the regime and the blacks.
I find it slightly disgraceful that the Government sneer at countries such as Bermuda and Australia that might make economic gains out of sanctions, but sneer even more loudly at Governments that support sanctions but know that they will suffer as a consequence. I find that profoundly distasteful and typically graceless of the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister's real concern is with her view of Britain's economic interests. I remind her that in 1986 we are not talking of economic interests as they were in 1946, 1956, 1966 or 1976. The value of our investments has already fallen by half with the value of the rand, and more and more British companies as well as multinationals are getting out as fast as they can. There is the imminent prospect of the South African Government imposing exchange controls, which will prevent British companies from repatriating their profits, and an immediate prospect of South Africa defaulting on its debts. South Africa is no longer a shining pillar of industrial enterprise. It is sliding fast into the condition of the banana republic.
Why do the Government oppose sanctions? Having read the Government's amendment, I ask myself whether they oppose sanctions. The Government's amendment would be quite acceptable to me, provided the omission of the word "economic" does not exclude economic measures. The objectives that the Government set out in their amendment are acceptable, as I have already made clear. Indeed I was tempted to accept the Government amendment when I started, and if the Foreign Secretary can allay my doubts about the meaning of the amendment I may still discuss with my right hon. and hon. Friends the possibility of accepting it.
Make no mistake, if the Government mean what they say, and if the words are not part of the South African vocabulary that long contact has led the Government to adopt, they are committing themselves to a course of action that means increasing pressure on the apartheid regime, steadily over a number of years, until it finally agrees to negotiations.
The objective set by the Government—the suspension of violence — has been accepted by the ANC and rejected by the South African Government. Any effective measures taken at this time must, as a minimum, mean all the measures on which other members of the Commonwealth agreed at Nassau, plus the measures now being put to the American Congress which, I gather, are certain to be passed by the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate.
I believe that circumstances will compel the outside world to increase pressure on South Africa as the crisis deepens and as the slaughter mounts. We would be wise to consider — I hope that the Government are considering it — graduating economic and other measures to be applied at intervals, as envisaged at the Nassau meeting, until finally netgotiation takes place.
If that is what the Government are recommending to the House, that is fine by me. If not—if they are simply weasel words by which the Government hope to escape criticism and responsibility for a few months— I warn them that they are riding straight for disaster. If the Prime Minister believes that she can, once again, come out of a a Commonwealth summit bosting that she has outwitted her colleagues, that she has given only a "tiny hit" of what they asked for, she will be condemning this country and the Commonwealth to disaster.
I put to the Prime Minister and her colleagues that, at this time, manner is almost as important as matter. We in Britain have become used to the chilly indifference of the Prime Minister to human suffering. We are used to her armour-plated complacency on issues where her ignorance is total. We are used to it, but we are also sick and tired of it. We cannot accept the monstrous, sacro-egoismo which allowed her to say on television last week, "If I were the odd one out and I were right, it would not matter. would it.?"
I ask the Prime Minister to recall that she is not always right. She nearly wrecked the negotiations in Hong Kong before they started by her disastrous pontificating in Beijing and Hong Kong from which the Foreign Secretary. doughty fighter for British interests that he is, finally rescued her. She would have wrecked the negotiations on Zimbabwe if the then Foreign Secretary had not pulled her back from the brink. She could have brought down the Government on the Westland and British Leyland affair earlier this year by her certainty that she is always right. If she allows her fatal, conditioned reflexes to determine her actions on this crucial question, she will bring disaster to Britain, the Commonwealth and the whole of southern Africa.
I beg to move, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
'calls upon Her Majesty's Government, in view of the worsening situation in the Republic of South Africa and in the light of the Report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, to work actively with the European Community, the Commonwealth, and the Economic Summit Seven countries for effective measures which will help achieve a peaceful solution in South Africa based on negotiations and a suspension of violence on all sides.'.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has engaged the House with a characteristically simplistic opening to the debate. He closed by enunciating a number of the Government's achievements — the conclusion of the Zimbabwe independence negotiations, the conclusion of the Hong Kong joint declaration. the conclusions of the Commonwealth-Nassau declaration, and the conclusion of the Fontainebleau summit of the European Community. The achievement of each of those successes was due to the leadership of the Government by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the concept of imperious vanity. There is no more outstanding example in the House of imperious vanity than the right hon. Gentleman. I do not want to be unfair to the right hon. Gentleman, but if I had to identify one consistent thread running through his entire approach to foreign policy, it would be his insistence that Britain should now do everything that it did not do when his party was in government. The right hon. Gentleman has become an echo of his pupil's voice. If the problem were as easy to solve as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, it would have been solved long ago.
I am able to start the debate from one plain piece of common ground. On behalf of the Government, I join the right hon. Gentleman in expressing our complete and absolute condemnation of apartheid and indeed of racialism wherever it is practised in the world. I have visited South Africa only once. That visit included a visit to Soweto under the guidance of a black community leader. Those responsible for my arrangements had not found it possible to organise such a visit in my programme.
We entered the township in Soweto 10½ years ago without a pass and without leave. Whenever we saw a South Africa police vehicle — the presence of such vehicles was not inconspicuous—we had to turn quickly out of sight. Our guide felt and had to behave as if she were — I take the graphic phrase from the report of the Eminent Persons Group — "an alien in her own country". That was an alarming and a deeply moving experience. We forecast with unhappy precision almost exactly the tragic explosion of violence that occurred a few months later, 10 years ago. Such incidents are inevitable in a society that has institutionalised the denial of human rights, that has done so, and continues to do so, explicitly on racial grounds. That is the vice of apartheid, which is condemned by all hon. Members.
In January, President Botha, reaching forward to a better future, described apartheid as "outmoded". No phrase could have been more revealing because, for the rest of the world, such institutionalised discrimination has never been acceptable. Apartheid casts a heavy shadow, not only over South Africa but over the entire region. It is the defence of that indefensible system that has brought South Africa into conflict with her neighbours. For the people of this country, for successive Governments of this country, the problems of South Africa and the impact of apartheid have been for decades a cause of profound and growing anxiety.
We have major economic interests in South Africa. That fact was completely ignored by the right hon. Gentleman. He took no account of the extent to which British capital, skills and people have contributed much to South Africa's economic vitality. In considering the measures we should adopt to promote change in South Africa, it would be quite wrong to overlook completely the fact that up to 120,000 jobs in this country still depend directly on trade with South Africa. One is entitled to ask: what guarantee is there that, if those jobs were destroyed in Britain, they would not be recreated elsewhere in the world?
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree with the statement by the President of Zimbabwe that, by not applying sanctions, the British Government are protecting British interests in South Africa but, unless sanctions are applied, those interests will go up in flames?
I do not propose to deal with the speech of the President of Zimbabwe.
In considering the difficult balance that we must strike, it would be wrong to disregard entirely those interests. There are other ties as well. It is estimated that there are at least 2 million persons of British birth and descent in South Africa, of whom 800,000 or more may be entitled to claim the right of abode in this country. All those people aspire to play a part in the development of South Africa; so, too, do all the other peoples of South Africa —so, too, does the black majority—yet, for all of them, that future is at risk, if it is to be dominated by armed struggle, racial conflict and bloodshed. Much more than their future will be at risk, if the South Africa that eventually emerges from such conflict sees itself as having done so in the face of opposition from Britain or the West.
It is against that background that my right hon. Friend. the Prime Minister and I have repeatedly made plain the objectives of our policy towards South Africa. We wish apartheid to be brought to an end at the earliest possible date. We wish to see established in its place a non-racial society with democratic, representative government and with proper safeguards for all minorities. That can be the only secure foundation of a prosperous South Africa, living in harmony with its neighbours. We wish those changes to be brought about peacefully, without violence, by dialogue and reform, not by revolution.
It would not help in any way to promote change of that kind if we were to implement policies that would ruin the South African economy, risk economic upheaval for South Africa's neighbours, fuel an explosion of mounting racial strife and tribal violence and risk possibly grave consequences for racial tolerance throughout the world. It is precisely to avoid such consequences that we hake for so long concerned ourselves with the future of South Africa and of all its people.
In that context, it is wrong to see the question of "sanctions" — to use that hard-worked, over-simplified word—as though it is one that has arisen today. this year, last year, for the first time. For years, successive British Governments have been taking measures to hasten the process of peaceful change in South Africa. Those measures have helped to press the case for change in South Africa; so, clearly, too, have the mounting pressure of events in South Africa and the growing economic pressures from the world outside. Increasingly, the judgment of world capital markets has been bringing borne to South Africa the urgency of the need for far-reaching change. Changes have been made but, so far as I could hear, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East did not acknowledge them. It is only right that we should acknowledge them.
Were not the banks facing precisely the risks which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just described for the South African economy when they threatened not to reschedule South Africa's debt? Was that not the most powerful instrument for change that we have seen in recent years?
Measures of that kind taken as part of the course of business dealings are measures from which neither party can sensibly escape. They strike home dramatically and plainly on those responsible for deciding matters concerning the economy. They are different from measures of the type under discussion being imposed collectively by the world outside.
In the past year or two, we have seen the repeal of much petty apartheid, including the Mixed Marriages Act, section 16 of the Immorality Act and the Prohibition of Political Interference Act. Those matters cannot be brushed aside. We have seen fundamental reforms in labour legislation and the extension of freehold rights to urban blacks. Only a few weeks ago, a Bill to reform the pass laws was introduced. A year or two ago, those changes would have been beyond imagination. One must acknowledge that they have been made.
Most members of the South African Government no longer try to defend the apartheid system. They have recognised the need for fundamental reform.
I am sorry; I shall not give way at the moment.
The South African Government have begun to find the courage to make a start on that task, but they have not yet found the final courage of conviction that apartheid in all its guises must be swept away. That conviction is necessary. In the absence of that commitment, the tide of violence has continued to rise. That tide reflects the anger and frustration of people who, in the words of the report of the Eminent Persons Group, are
no longer prepared to submit to the oppression, discrimination and exploitation
It is still possible to assert that what is going on in South Africa is primarily a matter of law and order, but that is to miss the real issues. Of course we must recognise that there is an internal security problem in South Africa. No one who learned of the Durban bomb explosion on Saturday or heard of the appalling necklace killings or other incidents of brutality in the townships can fail to have been chilled by what is happening. We cannot, and must not, turn a blind eye to that. Such action will not bring justice in South Africa one day nearer hut, as the report of the Eminent Persons Group rightly pointed out, violence is firmly rooted in the apartheid system. Treating the diverse forms of violence only as a security problem, without tackling the underlying cause of the problem, can only make things worse. It is that underlying problem, the nature of the system itself, that stands in need of change —change not by violence but by dialogue, in the context of a suspension of violence on all sides.
It was for that purpose that last autumn the international community decided to put in place a series of additional measures designed to hasten the process of change—the United States Congress on 9 September, the European Community countries at Luxembourg on 10 September and, finally, the Commonwealth at Nassau on 20 October. In none of those cases was the approach based solely on taking measures against South Africa.
The Commonwealth's approach, particularly, was combined with a political initiative. The establishment of the Eminent Persons Group was a far-sighted endeavour to break the impasse and to end the cycle of violence. We arrived at that conclusion as a result not of the "isolation" of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister but of our determination to act in concert with the rest of the Commonwealth in support of the establishment of the group. The Eminent Persons Group could never have been put in place without the energetic support of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain why he finds it so necessary to oppose economic measures in the instance of South Africa when, within the Commonwealth, he countenances the application of economic measures against a Commonwealth ally simply because of its reluctance to have nuclear weapons within its territory? I refer to New Zealand.
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's intervention is a mile from the point under discussion. We shall look forward to hearing his views on relations between this country and New Zealand in a different context and at a different time.
When we met at Nassau and contemplated the possibility of forming the Eminent Persons Group and creating a political initiative that would help to find a way forward in South Africa, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had clearly in mind the part played by the Commonwealth some years before at the Lusaka conference. But on that occasion, it was the intervention by the Commonwealth that created the circumstances in which it was possible for the Government under my right hon. Friend's leadership to bring about a solution to the long-standing problem in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. It is a matter on which the Government and my right hon. Friend are entitled to massive credit. The problem eluded solution for years under the Labour Government. We concluded that the Commonwealth conference at Nassau was right to try to formulate an initiative that would pave the way forward for a new solution in South Africa.
Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman—for whom the House has much regard and for whom I have a great personal regard—as a major Minister speaking from the Government Benches on this momentous and appalling issue ashamed of himself to be speaking in such feeble terms?
I am deeply moved by the regard in which the hon. Gentleman claims to hold me, although I am continually astonished by the way in which he chooses to express it.
I love the right hon. and learned Gentleman but he does not deserve it.
I bask in glory at that tribute.
The Commonwealth group showed the range of expertise and experience that the Commonwealth can offer. The fact that we were able to fashion that group underlines the importance of the Commonwealth to this country and the world. What is more important is that the initiative attracted growing support, not just from the Commonwealth but from the rest of the world.
The group was set a specific task by the Commonwealth Heads of Government: to encourage the process of peaceful political dialogue in South Africa in the context of a suspension of violence on all sides.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government called upon the South African Government to take a series of specific steps: to declare that the system of apartheid would be dismantled and to set out what specific actions it would take to achieve that end; to terminate the state of emergency; to release immediately and unconditionally Nelson Mandela and all others imprisoned or detained for their opposition to apartheid and to establish political freedom, in particular by lifting the ban on the ANC and other political parties. One has only to read that list to regret the lack of progress that has been made.
However, the group was able to make much more progress than many expected. It was able to overcome the initial climate of suspicion and distrust. It offered the South African Government an unprecedented opportunity to break out of the vicious circle of violence. The group offered the negotiating concept which it had discussed with opposition groups and Nelson Mandela. It must be to the great regret of the House, as it is to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and myself, that the South African Government have so far declined to take that opportunity. The way ahead is inevitably more difficult. We shall still urge upon the South African Government the need to be ready to think again about that.
Even if the group did not secure the breakthrough for which we all wished, it has charted a course for the negotiations that must eventually take place. It has identified many of the obstacles ahead and some of the ways round them. Its mission would have been worthwhile for that alone. We all owe the Eminent Persons Group a debt of gratitude for the dedication and effort it brought to its task. I am sure that the House will join me in extending our warmest thanks to the group.
I echo the debt of gratitude to the Eminent Persons Group. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has frequently referred to negotiations, as has the Prime Minister, and he has referred to dialogue. Does he realise that the Eminent Persons Group said that the concrete and adequate progress which it looked for has not materialised? It says:
in recent weeks the Government would appear to have moved consciously away from any realistic negotiating process.
I live in hope, as does the right hon. and learned Gentleman. However, what grounds for hope has he got that the Botha Government will enter into any realistic negotiations?
It is because the group concluded as it did that the House is contemplating the motion and the amendment for the consideration of measures in that context. One must still believe that the mission, which went as far as it did, which helped to identify the way in which negotiations could take place, can be our starting point.
Whatever our standpoint, even starting from the position of the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), we must ensure that the contribution made by the group is not wasted. In the end—sooner, rather than later, we must all hope—the only way forward is to be found by dialogue and negotiation. If the task is harder today than it was six months ago—and it surely is—the objectives must surely remain the same as those defined at Nassau.
There are one or two questions to which my right hon. and learned Friend has not yet addressed himself. Is it not the case that South Africa is the only country to which Britain has ever given independence without the entire population being entitled to elect the successor Government? Therefore, does that not give us a particular obligation, which we have in no other circumstances?
Secondly, my right hon. and learned Friend rightly refers to peaceful negotiation and the consequences. However, if South Africa threatens or executes military action against its neighbours such as Botswana, or strangles them economically, should we not warn South Africa that that is an act of war, which will be met accordingly?
My hon. Friend has raised two points which he obviously intends to develop later. They are both points which deserve further examination. In answer to my hon. Friend's first question I would say that I am not sure that he is right in his historical analysis. He generally is right. Certainly, the background of South African independence is one reason, not the only reason, for substantial and continuing concern by this Parliament on the future of South Africa.
Two propositions stand out today with even greater clarity than before. First, it becomes increasingly clear that, in the long run, the forces of law and order in South Africa will be able to maintain the peace only if their authority is founded clearly upon the consent of all the races in South Africa. That lesson must be learned and applied.
Secondly, it is also increasingly clear that the key to the commencement of dialogue, if one has to try to find one key, is the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela. That must be seen as the most important act of reconciliation that is necessary to pave the way for peace.
It is to secure swift progress in that direction that we need, as our amendment points out, effective and co-ordinated international action. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on 13 June:
We have to consider what would be the measures that would he most likely to bring about the change we all wish to see, which is the end of apartheid and the black people of South Africa having rights which they do not have now, rights to take part in the democratic process of the country.
My right hon. Friend's words are an accurate description of our objectives. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East has argued that only the imposition of sweeping measures aimed directly at the South African economy can force that progress. The Eminent Persons Group reaches no conclusions as to the measures which should be adopted.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman must be aware that the Eminent Persons Group says:
We are convinced that the South African Government is concerned about the adoption of effective economic measures against it. If it comes to the conclusion that it would always remain protected from such measures, the process of change in South Africa is unlikely to increase in momentum and the descent into violence would be accelerated. In these circumstances, the cost in lives may have to be counted in millions…it is already the case that their absence, and Pretoria's belief that they need not be feared, defers change.
If that is not a demand for economic measures to influence the South African Government, what the devil is it?
The Eminent Persons Group plainly leaves it, as the Commonwealth Heads of Government did, which is absolutely right, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government to consider and decide what measures should now be taken. It is in those circumstances that the House is now considering it.
All experience teaches us that such measures directed at the economy of a country, punitively on a universal basis, are most unlikely to be effectively enforced worldwide. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East cited the case of Poland. He must know that in that case economic measures did not produce the effects intended. He cited the case of Rhodesia and he must know that they did not produce the effects intended in that case. If ever they were to be applied in that way to South Africa, their effect would be almost entirely negative. No one should under-estimate the length of time for which resistance within South Africa could be maintained if that economy was seen to be under seige. Meanwhile, there would be severe and long-term consequences for the whole of southern Africa. That is the basis on which the Government are now considering, in consultation with the international community, what measures should be put in place. I shall tell the House the principles that we should have in mind when considering that question.
If such measures are to be effective, any steps that we take must be directed not at the destruction of the South African economy but at influencing opinion in South Africa more firmly in the direction of reform. If they are to be effective, any steps that we take must give the South African Government the incentive to respond positively rather than the excuse to retreat still further into isolation. If they are to be effective, any steps that we take should be designed to encourage the South African Government and the South African business community to press ahead with the agenda of reform. If such measures are to be effective, any steps that we take should be calculated to command, and should secure, the fullest international support at every stage. In the absence of such support, any action would be no more than an empty gesture.
As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House last Thursday, we shall now be in touch with
our Commonwealth partners, our European partners, and our economic summit partners to discuss this report."—[Official Report, 12 June 1986; Vol. 99, c. 490.]
As the House knows, the seven Commonwealth Heads of Government appointed at Nassau, including my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, will be meeting for that purpose in early August in London. We shall of course be in touch with the other Commonwealth Heads of Government long before then.
Meanwhile, we are consulting with Governments of the summit seven. Within Europe, consultations have already begun. At yesterday's meeting of the Community's Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, we had an exchange of views, and commissioned an urgent report from our Political Directors. The Government will be taking a leading and active part in all of these discussions.
As stated in the amendment, which I commend to the House, we shall be working for measures that will be effective in helping to achieve a peaceful solution in South Africa.
South Africa is a land that we all know to be rich in human and other resources. Yet today South Africa stands closer to a future of violence and misery than ever before. That prospect can be averted only by a process of genuine dialogue and reconciliation. That requires two things: first, the total renunciation of apartheid in all its forms, and secondly, the suspension of violence. Only the Government and peoples of South Africa can achieve those things. Above all, it is for the South African Government to act, and act now.
The international community acting together, can and should take steps to encourage the South African Government to take that action. This Government can and will work actively with our international partners to promote that action now, before it is too late. I invite the House to support the amendment.
It must be clear to anyone who listened to the Foreign Secretary's speech that the Government have not made up their mind what, if anything, they intend to do. That may be an advantage to us all, because this debate has come early enough to influence possibly some of the decisions. Indeed, it is helpful to us that the Prime Minister is in her place in the Chamber. No one is under any illusion but that it is the Prime Minister who will determine whether this country takes the responsible action now necessary to maintain the unity of the Commonwealth.
I believe that an important crack has appeared in the solid facade that white South Africa has presented to the world. There are signs of a crack in the moral judgment of the Dutch Reform Church. Its council is meeting in October, and there are signs that if we can bring international pressure to bear, through the whole international body of Churches, an extremely important change may be made in those very things that underpin apartheid. I say to the Prime Minister that on this issue, above all, a little more genuine moral indignation about what is going on in South Africa would not come amiss.
Without indulging in moral judgments, there is still a desperate need to show that this country is prepared to pay a price in order to live up to our feeling of moral repugnance at what is going on inside South Africa. We must not judge every economic action that may be necessary by the cost to us. There will be costs. Let us evaluate them carefully and make effective judgments.
There has also been a shift of National opinion. It is only a start, but National Members of Parliament are no longer an absolutely solid block. Many of them have understood that they can no longer mend their fences or build bridges back to the far Right. The far Right has chosen its course, and the Nationals are increasingly having to keep the support of the majority of the whites in South Africa, which often includes the English-speaking population. There is now a grouping that goes across Afrikaner and English-speaking South Africans.
There is a major crack, which could become a fissure, in the business and commercial community. It is only too well aware that the pressures from the international business world are increasing so savagely that it will not be long before the economy can no longer stand the strain. The withdrawal of confidence and the private bank actions of last year and this year were of crucial importance in that regard.
Against such a background, what action is needed? Any sanction or measure must have the support of the entire international community. We saw what happened in Rhodesia without the solid support of the international community. But before the Prime Minister can pray in aid the failure of sanctions on Rhodesia, she should acknowledge that one of the greatest weaknesses was that the common border between Rhodesia and South Africa was openly and totally breached with the full connivance of the South African Government.
Furthermore, only a brief reading of the Bingham report shows that successive British Governments connived in the breaking of sanctions. Therefore, it does not lie in the mouths of right hon. and hon. Members to say that sanctions did not work in Rhodesia. Nevertheless, for 15 years sanctions were one of the only ways of showing the world's condemnation of what was going on inside Rhodesia. Although ultimately the armed struggle was the critical pressure, no historian of the independence of Zimbabwe will ever say that sanctions had no impact on the Smith regime. They did. The tragedy was that they could have been much more powerful, and that if they had been carefully and determinedly applied, the armed struggle would not have reaped such a toll.
The right hon. Gentleman has made it clear that he believes that sanctions can be effective only if they have total support. He was Foreign Secretary when we had an arms embargo that in theory had the support of the whole world. Yet he must have know, as everyone else did, that although we honoured the embargo throughout that period, other countries were supplying arms on a massive scale. There was no problem whatever from the South African Government.
The hon. Gentleman has made my point. The arms embargo was dishonoured when it was not mandatory. But from 1977 onwards, when it became mandatory, there were many fewer breaches. There were some minor but important breaches, but a fundamental change came about when mandatory sanctions were applied in 1977. The South Africans have developed an arms industry, and if we take action, they will, of course, develop their own indigenous supplies.
However, I turn to the specific areas in which this Government should lead international opinion in taking action against South Africa. First, they should recognise that we must cross the threshold of economic sanctions. The best way of doing that is to put a ban on new investment. That would not have an immediate impact. It would not immediately create mass unemployment, but it would he the clearest and most positive signal to South Africa's business community that the squeeze was being, and would be, relentlessly applied. The South African Government know that there must be a topping up of new investment year in, year out, if the economy is to deal with the demographic and social problems and the strains which are imposed upon it.
It would be beneficial if we could devise an international strategy that would restrict loans to South Africa, but we should be under no illusion that other than for direct Government-to-Government loans that would be difficult to apply. There has been a good deal of experience in this, following the United States attempt to ban loans to Iran. The legislation that the United States Government introduced then and, indeed, the legislation that is before the Senate and the House of Representatives at the moment on the banning of private loans as well might be helpful. That is the most important economic pressure. It will bite slowly but it will he a clear indication to the South African Government that the patience of the international community is fast running out.
The other measure to which I should like to give serious consideration is a ban on direct intercontinental air travel into South Africa. Understandably that causes concern in this country as there are 800,000 people in South Africa with United Kingdom passports. People feel that they would not be able to visit relatives in South Africa. They are afraid that if relatives were ill, they would not be able to go there to visit them in hospital. But there would riot be a total ban on air flights into South Africa; it would be a ban on direct flights. Humanitarian flights through the rest of Africa would still be allowed; people could fly out of and into South Africa only by flying to an airfield which was in the control of a black African Government. For the first time, the balance of power in Africa would be tilted in favour of the black states. The problem at the moment is that the black states, particularly those surrounding South Africa, are dependent on rail links into South Africa and out through South African ports.
The House has only to think what would happen were there to be a ban on all intercontinental direct flights into South Africa. The ban would have to be applied by the Swiss as well. It is no use having an exclusion clause for flights to Zurich and Geneva. If there were a total ban on intercontinental direct flights, business men would have to travel through black African countries. If the South African Government carried out a raid against Gaborone, Harare or Lusaka, as they did in outrageous circumstances a few weeks ago, those black African states would no longer allow direct flights between their countries and South Africa and the whole balance of power would have shifted—
No, I shall not give way. The hon. Gentleman can make his statements in support of the South African Government later in the House or, as he frequently does, elsewhere.
The banning of direct flights would exert powerful pressure, which should be applied now.
One other sanction has been much discussed—it has been suggested by the Commonwealth and also by the Dutch Government in the European Community —namely, whether we ought to take action against trade in fruit and vegetables. I need to be convinced about that. The best argument for it is that it would be a way of impacting on the Afrikaans farmer. I think that such action could be evaded and would not have much pressure, but, in singling out the different groups of people to whom we have to bring home the impatience of the world, the Afrikaans farmer is an important element. That sanction might be undertaken in the full knowledge that over the medium term it might not have a great impact, but in the short term, until it could be evaded, it might have a psychological impact.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that many people in fruit farming in South Africa are not Afrikaners? Much more important, does he accept that the people who work on fruit farms — the blacks— are often the worst paid and that they would immediately be the most severely hit by that sanction?
I agree that that is an objection, but we have to take account of the fact that those black workers, not just their leaders, are saying loud and clear that they want sanctions to be applied. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Time and again we hear from Conservative Members, who risk neither their lives nor their income, that no sanctions should be taken. The fact is that black South Africans are now prepared, as events increasingly show, to risk their lives. They are prepared to lose their income. They went on strike yesterday to remember the massacre in Soweto. They lost their income when they did that. It is not a question that they are not prepared to make a sacrifice. Is this country not prepared to make any sacrifice?
The honest answer must be faced: that there is now a mood in South Africa among the blacks that they are prepared to endure sacrifices to win their freedom. The whole history of the independence movement in South Africa has been that people have been prepared to make immense sacrifices. Look at the sacrifices that were made in Zimbabwe and in Kenya before independence was gained. Hon. Members should consider what was said in the House before Kenyan independence came and before Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister of Zimababwe. It needs to be remembered that there were great massacres. That same pattern of violence will occur again. It is tragic. None of us wants it.
What we want and have the right to demand are genuine negotiations. It is not for us to dictate the constitutional settlement that will have to be reached in South Africa. All we can say is that there must be an open agenda and that there cannot be consultation by hand-me-down. We cannot have the South African Government setting the agenda and choosing the people with whom they should negotiate. They must recognise that genuine negotiations mean an open agenda to be discussed with the true representatives of black opinion. That means recognising that a charismatic figure like Nelson Mandela is necessary to keep the unity of black Africa in any negotiations in which compromise is to be struck.
Looking back over the history of Kenya, how much easier it was for the compromises to be achieved because there was an outstanding leader, Jomo Kenyatta. The same can be said of many other African countries as they went from a period of armed struggle and violence towards the transition to independence and democracy. It may be different democracy from what we have here. I should like to see much better democracy. But let us remember that little Botswana, which was taken out by the South Africans, is one of the best representatives of democracy. [Interruption.] Conservative Members should look back at what they said would be the fate of Kenya. They should remind themselves that Kenya, which is a one-party state, nevertheless has a stable Government who rule, broadly speaking, in the interests of most of its citizens.
I say finally to the Prime Minister that there is not much time. The right hon. Lady thinks somehow that it does not matter if she is the only one who is left out, but it does matter. There are one or two countries — Nigeria is certainly one — which are not enthusiastic about continued membership of the Commonwealth and might like to have an excuse to leave the Commonwealth on an emotive issue. We ought not to give them the opportunity.
Furthermore, even if the Commonwealth staggers through, and the Prime Minister, kicking and screaming, struggling to the last comma, eventually concedes and we cross the threshold of economic sanctions, great damage will have been done to our standing. We may be the 19th industrial nation in the world, but we still have moral values and a commitment to democracy that needs to be heard. Many Commonwealth countries want to hear that voice, and they want to hear it from the Prime Minister before it is too late.
There is not the slightest doubt from the speeches that we have heard so far that the House appreciates the gravity of the issue. I see two aspects to that. The first is related to the lives of the people in South Africa, the hardships that many of them know, the privileges enjoyed by some, and the aspirations of all. It is the people who are suffering. The second aspect is the perception of South Africa by the rest of the world. The disquiet that has long existed has grown over the years to a detestation of that regime. It has reached the point where there is almost a universal feeling that it is no longer adequate to be a spectator and wring our hands. Very few of us find it acceptable to do nothing. That international reality is clearly of the utmost significance.
We must also understand something of the history of the issue. The issue is more complex than the language that we use can express. The racial conflict in South Africa— and that is what it is—has deep roots. The present generation are the innocent inheritor and victim of events of long ago for which they bear no responsibility. I have no doubt that there was some kind of discrimination in the days of the great leaders such as Smuts and others. However, they were inspired by their vision of a promising future for their rich country that benefited all races and the whole population. Discrimination was no part of their outlook. Only in the past 30 years has discrimination become the basis of policy.
I would like to remind the House of the words of my noble Friend the Earl of Stockton when he was a Prime Minister. In a debate in the House on 22 March 1961, when the House was debating South Africa leaving the Commonwealth as a result of its vote to become a republic, the then Prime Minister, my noble Friend, said:
the Prime Minister of South Africa, with an honesty which one must recognise"—
and here my noble Friend was referring to the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference that he had just attended—
made it abundantly clear beyond all doubt that he would not think it right to relax in any form the extreme rigidity of his dogma, either now or in the future. And it is a dogma. To us it is strange, but it is a dogma which is held with all the force of one of those old dogmas which men fought and struggled for in the past." —[Official Report, 22 March 1961; Vol. 637, c. 445]
That dogma has been pursued ruthlessly ever since, to the point where millions in South Africa, who suffer under it, can take it no longer. They are sending out a cry for help, as would any drowning man. The most valid and authentic
expression of the present position is the report of the Eminent Persons Group with its compelling opening sentence and its conclusions.
The meaning of the report is clear. All endeavours to influence South Africa in its internal policy have so far failed, and evidently there is no prospect of South Africa changing if left to its own devices except in so far as internal violence might force that. However, no one would wish that course to be pursued. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs referred to some changes in his speech. However, I believe that the drift of those changes is that the South African Government are maintaining rigid control. The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) said that he had detected the possibility of hopeful changes. I hope that he is right.
A great many countries, including virtually all of the Commonwealth and the whole of Europe, have reached the stage where it is too uncomfortable to continue to do nothing. The feeling is that inaction in this case is immoral. I am especially glad to note that Her Majesty's Government share the desire for some form of action, that they accept the need for that and, in the amendment, they are asking the House to support a policy
to work actively…for effective measures.
I would hope and expect the House to support that.
However, there is an urgent need for action. The problems are self-evident and people's patience is running out. The period immediately ahead must be one of vigorous activity to carry the words in the amendment into practice. That brings me to the issue of sanctions. That issue is overloaded with emotion on both sides of the argument. We have already seen that expressed this afternoon. There is a place for emotion but policy, especially on such a delicate and difficult issue, must be based on rational argument.
I believe that the arguments against comprehensive sanctions or economic sanctions are intellectually strong and intellectually valid. The case against them is not proven by experience. However, it must be said that that experience is not encouraging. It is also true that sanctions would inflict hardship on individuals in South Africa and on the national economy with all the consequences that that would bring. But it must also be said that the opposite policy of not applying sanctions or doing nothing has not resulted in political progress, let alone power-sharing. Rather, the result has been to increase the laager approach and the use of emergency powers. That has also inflicted hardship on individuals just as the policy of sanctions would although they are different in detail.
It is a Catch 22 position. I believe that the Eminent Persons Group report shows the way. The hope was that the group would find a way forward, and that it would set in motion a peace process based on negotiations and a greater degree of mutual understanding within South Africa.
The hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way.
That is why the group came into existence after the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference. However, it has failed. The report clearly implies that, in its unanimous view, further measures are required. I would like to see my right hon. Friends and the British Government take a positive lead in identifying those measures. I do not want to see the Government being a reluctant co-operator. I want to see the Government set their objections aside. I did not feel that my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary, for all that he said this afternoon, had any great enthusiasm for the task ahead. He did not appear to be approaching such an immensely difficult task with the vigour and enthusiasm that are required.
We have reached the point when further measures are essential and we must use our experience and international position to help the Commonwealth, the European Community and all our friends around the world, to find a solution. We must have the support of the United States, Japan and Germany as well as the Commonwealth — and I speak as an enthusiastic supporter of the Commonwealth. The task is formidable and urgent. I do not believe that any other country can fulfil that task as we can and we must look to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary to take the initiative and lead the way. The sooner the first measure is put in place, the better. If that turns out to be a restriction on investment, so be it.
There is an added and important reason why, in my view, together we must succeed. On any geopolitical or strategic analysis, the so-called free world—the Western democracies, call it what you like—need South Africa for its huge resources and its geographical position. It matters that South Africa is a part of the free world. No wonder the Communists do all that they can to undermine South Africa.
We must find the way to bring South Africa back into the fold of our civilised democracies. That, aside from the great disarmament issue, or even despite it, is the greatest challenge facing the world today. We look to the British Government to meet that challenge.
I would like to tell the House something about another panel of eminent persons. I am sorry that the Prime Minister is leaving the Chamber. because I do not think that she has had an opportunity to read our report. I was a member of a panel of eminent persons appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations last autumn, which reported the weekend before the Nassau conference and before the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group was set up.
Our group was set up to hold public hearings in New York for a week on transnational corporations, South Africa and Namibia. We heard from, put questions to and had discussions with people, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, the South African Chamber of Commerce, the African National Congress, economists and various representatives of interest groups, and we produced a report.
I tell the House this because it has not been reported in the British press. I am probably giving the House information of which it is not aware. The report was accepted by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in April by a vote of 23 to two. Britain and the United States were the two countries that voted against. The report goes to the General Assembly in the autumn. It is also before the United Nations conference on sanctions against South Africa, which is being held in Paris this week and which I shall attend tomorrow. However, again, it is not being attended by the British Government.
I shall refer to the report's recommendations in relation to today's debate. Everybody who has spoken so far, from both sides of the House, has been in agreement about one simple proposition—that we all hate apartheid and we all want to do what we can to end it. I know that one or two Conservative Members might not agree wholly with that point of view, but 98 per cent. of the Members of the House of Commons do.
I give 98 per cent. credit for believing it.
Today we are attacking the question of measures. Personally, I hope very much that the Opposition will not vote against the Government amendment to our motion. I am prepared to welcome any study of measures, because it takes us further forward. I believe that our motion is stronger and better, but I hope that we shall not oppose the Government amendment.
The real issue at stake is what those measures should be. If we agree that measures are to be taken, and that measures to try to influence an end to apartheid in South Africa are to be welcomed, we are in the ball game of deciding what they should be. We should be absolutely clear about that. This is where the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) was indulging in a fair amount of mudge and smudge. We must decide. Do we seek measures, which we hope will make Botha and the South African Government feel ashamed of themselves, and make them say, "The international community does not really like us very much. We are disapproved of very much. We had better do something about it"?
I say to those who take that view that measures should seek only to influence opinion in South Africa. The former has been tried for a long time now has not succeeded. What is more, the partial action envisaged, such as banning air flights and avocados, is designed to stiffen the resistance of the extreme Right in South Africa. If nasty things are being done to someone, which he does not like and which make him feel guilty and bad, such things do not change the person. He says, "What horrible people they are who are doing these things." Such measures are likely to be counter-productive. Therefore, I reject any measures that seek merely to say to South Africa, "Behave better. We do not like you."
I am after the sort of thing that the Prime Minister talks about—effective measures. I now come to some of the recommendations of the report by the panel of which I was privileged to be a member. We were dealing with transnationals, which included transnational banks. We dealt with the activities of the transnationals in a country in which, as in all other countries, they have to obey the law. South African law includes the key point, that every transnational corporation operating in South Africa is bound to secrecy. That is part of the law. On behalf of the South African Government, the transnationals have to operate legislation against various people whom the Government do not like. The transnational corporations have to be wrapped up in that; they have to be part of it if they are to obey the laws of the country. They may not operate if they cannot obey the laws of the country.
The transnationals are involved in the supply of various things that are absolutely crucial and critical to the South African economy. I am talking not about destroying the South African economy, but about the elements in the economy that depend almost entirely on the support of foreign transnational corporations in critical areas.
Examples are the supply of computers, electronic equipment and vehicles. South Africa cannot operate its apartheid system without the direct involvement of transnational corporations that supply not only the equipment but the know-how in computers, electronics and vehicles. One needs computers to operate a sophisticated system such as apartheid. It is not a casual system. We have seen that in the arrests in the past week, whether of 1,000 or 3,000 people. The South African Government know precisely where everybody is. A computer system is needed for that. South Africa has that system because it has had the assistance of the transnational corporations which are operating in South Africa.
I am not criticising the transnationals at this stage. South Africa has had their co-operation in the supply of know-how, equipment and managerial skills, and in the transfer of technology in the nuclear industry.
What about the exchange of high technology and the provision of cheap food to the Soviet Union?
What has that got to do with it? The hon. Gentleman is so foolish as to be abysmally unworthy of being in the House.
I am not giving way. The hon. Gentleman can attack me later or report me to the Freedom Association. I do not care which.
Therefore, certain trans-nationals in some sectors are crucial to the South African economy. The banks are particularly important. I agree with the right hon. Member for Devonport about loans. The activities of the trans-national banks are probably the most critical factor of all. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, and the group of officials in the EC who are to report to Heads of Government next week, will have noted that the period when it seemed hopeful that change was occurring in South Africa, when Botha was introducing certain important reforms, was the very period when the banks and the International Monetary Fund, following last August, said, "We are not sure whether we shall reschedule. We are not at all sure whether we shall help you." When did it all go sour again? When did the South African Government begin to tighten up again and abandon all hopes of reform? In January, when the IMF and the banks agreed to reschedule and let the South African economy tick over as usual.
I am in no doubt whatever about that, and the Bank of America, for example, which has withdrawn from South Africa, is in no doubt. Other American banks, way ahead of our British banks, see the writing on the wall. As the Foreign Secretary said, there was less investment because of the judgment in world capital markets. He was right. But what the banks do is not just a matter for their private judgment. What they do is largely influenced and determined by what the IMF does. It was what the IMF reported in December that led to the rescheduling in January. Governments play a key role in the IMF, as they do in relation to the major banks in Britain and in the United States.
What our report suggested was simple. I offer this as one kind of measure. I am not necessarily saying that there should not be others, but this should be included on the agenda of measures. Our proposition, which has been accepted by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is that transnational corporations operating in key sectors should disinvest if they consider that obedience to South African law is in conflict with their asserted moral duty to oppose apartheid. They should not just decline to participate in any new investment; they should disinvest. if they do not disinvest by January 1987, there should be international resolutions to ensure that they do.
As many people have said, there is no doubt that influencing, not destroying, the economy of South Africa is the key factor. When the South African chamber of commerce talked to us in New York, it made it clear that it considered the future of business enterprise in South Africa as dependent upon the existence of a multiracial democracy. It wants that and, as we know, it has already talked to the African National Congress. Only by that sort of effective financial measure and disinvestment in key sectors of the transnational corporations' activities which are so essentially involved in apartheid shall we strengthen the hand of the business community in South Africa. Ultimately that is probably the only voice that will count against the extreme Right in South Africa which is forcing Botha, or with which he is willingly going along, towards an increasingly Fascist type of repression.
Whatever decisions are made about effective measures there are other criteria which should be taken into account and against which judgments must be made. One of those criteria is whether what is proposed is likely to command effective international support for trade sanctions. I do not understand why, in any logical analysis of the problem before us, so much emphasis has been placed on trade sanctions. They are just one of the measures that can be taken, but they are open to evasion by commercial organisations or countries. I do not understand why, when people talk of sanctions, they automatically assume that sanctions equal trade sanctions. There are many others, as I am trying to suggest.
It must be right that whatever measures are adopted are capable of universal application. In that regard it is important to recognise, according to the information that we have, that three countries command or control most of the transnational corporations operating in South Africa: 142 transnationals are West German, 341 are British, and 407 are American. Other countries have comparatively fewer transnational corporations in South Africa.
However, we must consider the need for self-protection and minimising the damage to Britain. Of those many transnational corporations, probably 90 per cent. have only a minute fringe marginal involvement in South Africa. They will not be damaged if they have to leave. Of the others, even of those major transnationals which have a considerable involvement in South Africa, I doubt whether their involvement represents more than a relatively small proportion of their total economic activity.
This is where we need to apply some economic analysis. I do not know what proportion of the activities of the British Oxygen Co. Ltd. — whose director, Sir Leslie Smith, is now the chairman of the British Industry Committee on South Africa — are dependent on its. South African activities. I suspect that it is only marginal. I was cheered when I heard Sir Leslie Smith say, "If we think that sanctions will be effective, we will sacrifice our own self-interest." That is splendid.
Effective financial sanctions and disinvestment by key transnational corporations in key sectors of the South African economy need not present great damage or loss of jobs to the British economy.
A further criterion is that in our judgments about what are the best measures to take against South Africa, we must also take into account that some measures which we ask all countries to adopt could produce the maximum retaliation against the front-line states. That would not be sensible because the front-line states are immensely vulnerable. It has already been seen that South Africa has no hesitation whatever in taking ruthless military retaliation against the front-line states. We must consider that factor.
It would be all very well to say, "Stop the supply of fruit and vegetables; stop the supply of avocados; stop the supply of exports from South Africa through the southern African routes." But we must bear in mind what the consequences of that might be for the front-line states. That is a valid factor that we have a duty to take into account. That is not to say that the front-line states are not prepared to accept tremendous sacrifices, but it is something to be put into the books when one considers the pros and cons.
Out of what I regard as a fair amount of muddle and confusion surrounding the issues that we are debating, I hope that we can now move to sensible economic analyses and judgments which take account of all the information available to us and the fact that we are not only meeting a demand from our colleagues in the Commonwealth when we study the matter and seek to produce satisfactory answers, but that we are also likely to be answerable to the wider forum of the United Nations, at least by, if not before, the autumn.
I agree with much of what the right hon. Member for Clydesdale (Dame J. Hart) has just said, as I am sure do other hon. Members. The problem, as the right hon. Lady said, is not whether we want to get rid of apartheid but the best way to do that. Some of the solutions that the right hon. Lady suggests should be adopted.
However, I do not agree with what the right hon. Lady said about the transnational corporations. She omitted one thing. The presence of the transnational corporations in South Africa can be beneficial provided that they take with them the practices, especially the employment practices, which they have in their own countries. I believe that that can help.
In general, I join those who believe that trade sanctions are not appropriate because I do not believe that Botha intends to relinquish power, whatever the pressures and whatever the cost. That is the opinion of the Eminent Persons Group and many others. It was, for example, the opinion of Dr. van Zyl Slabbert, who, as the House knows was the leader of the loosely described liberal party's national party in the South African Parliament. He came before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and described his parliamentary policies and activities. He then returned to South Africa and almost immediately resigned from the House there. I had the advantage of seeing him later and I asked why on earth he had done that; he gave us no hint that he would do it. The reason, he said, was that he had had four interviews with President Botha as soon as he got back, and after the last one he was convinced that President Botha did not mean a word that he said and had no intention of introducing any meaningful reforms.
If that is so, neither sanctions nor anything else are relevant to changing Mr. Botha's mind. That is where the Eminent Persons Group went wrong. Sanctions will be an exercise by us in moral indignation. Of course, as the Eminent Persons Group says, the South African Government fear sanctions. They will obviously make life more difficult and less comfortable. But it does not follow that they will change their mind because of them. The idea that the present regime in South Africa will turn to one man, one vote and agree, in effect, to commit suicide, which is the prospect before them, is vain.
Sanctions will have an effect all right. They will bring, if universally applied, and are intended to bring, unemployment, poverty and despair, leading not, as I have argued, to surrender by Botha, but to revolution or attempted revolution and then civil war—in fact, the bloodbath foreseen by the Eminent Persons Group—sooner rather than later.
My second objection to sanctions is less important but it should not be overlooked. History warns us that sanctions will be not universally observed. We shall probably witness much damage to our air routes, interests, markets, investments and employment. We shall see those opportunities being snapped up by others less scrupulous. There are also those who stand to lose nothing at present by sanctions but who do stand to benefit by the alteration in trade patterns which they would bring with them.
Some states and peoples, besides ourselves, will suffer, and suffer badly. They, or perhaps their leaders principally, are, we are informed, willing to endure the hardship which trade sanctions would bring upon them. That is their decision and one cannot but admire their courage and fortitude in that matter. But we should put down a slight caution: let them not come running to us to make up what they have lost in South Africa.
Furthermore, there are 800,000 British passport holders in South Africa who have a right of abode here and who may, if there is a war, come to the United Kingdom. Zola Budd would be only the forerunner—if that is the right word. We might see an influx of refugees—
Those refugees will have left their possessions behind them. Their chance of livelihood destroyed.
They can do various things with cricket bats, but not earn much money with them.
Those refugees would be entitled to stay here and, bereft of the resources that they have left behind, would have to be supported by the state.
My last objection to sanctions is that they do not bring the parties to the conference table. Rhodesia has been mentioned this afternoon. Sanctions in Rhodesia did not end the Rhodesian problem. It was the war which ended that. If it is said, "So be it. Let us have sanctions. Let us provoke a war," I say that that is not the price which we, from outside, are entitled to ask the peoples of South Africa to pay.
It may be right—the right hon. Lady referred to this — that some lesser measures than universal sanctions should be taken to show our abhorrence of apartheid. Her Majesty's Government have already made clear their feelings about that matter. Our policy that Mandela should be released without conditions and that the basic changes should take place in the South African state is something which we can only continue to affirm with ever greater resolution.
It may be right to do that, apart from anything else, to meet the deeply held feelings of other Commonwealth countries. It would be a diplomatic disaster in many ways —not for Britain alone—if the Commonwealth were to start to break up because of this matter. But the measures which could be taken must be universally agreed and applied and should not be such as to ruin South Africa and to bring about quickly the tragedy that we seek to avoid.
Will my hon. Friend consider the vast possibilities of economic pressure such as having a Marshall plan for southern Africa and the front-line states for development, of which South Africa deprives itself if it does not immediately put a line through the word and legislation of apartheid?
My hon. and learned Friend is right. I see political difficulties in turning 180 degrees and starting to invest heavily in South Africa at present, but it would be desirable if we could bring prosperity to South Africa. It is far more likely that we would get our way about apartheid in that way than otherwise.
But we do not, as the right hon. Member for Clydesdale said, have to pass many resolutions in the House or anywhere else on economic measures. They are happening by themselves. If we were to pass a decree now that no one should invest in South Africa, it would not be necessary. Who is investing in South Africa? We can tell the bankers how to behave, but they are already behaving in the way that we would wish. That is unnecessary. Nevertheless, we must consult our partners in order to agree what the object should be. I am sure that it is possible to do that in a way which would bring home to South Africa that the time has come when it will have to bend.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr. Jackson) said that fruit and vegetables should be allowed to come to Britain. I agree. The people who produce the fruit and vegetables are the poorest in South Africa, and it would be a tragedy and a great mistake to strike at them.
The senior leadership on both sides in South Africa appears to be beyond redemption. They both demand all or nothing and no compromise is possible for them. But surely, in contemplation of this, many of the younger people in South Africa, not only whites but blacks and not only the English but the Afrikaners, are starting to see that a compromise must be found.
The business world is very much against sanctions. No managing director could stand up and ask for sanctions which would ruin his company. Nevertheless, they are inclined to think that a compromise is possible. They see that it is inevitable. I can think of many compromises, as could any hon. Member. One which has been bruited around— I do not know whether it has any chance of success — is that Natal, which is largely English speaking, should have a provincial Government, mixed with black and white. It has been said that the obvious candidate for the president or leader would be Chief Buthelezi. Once that sort of thing was started, it could never be stopped. Such important changes could be made.
We must also recognise, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said, that President Botha has proposed some remarkable changes. The trouble is that we do not believe him, and nor does anybody else, but I hope that they can be done. If he finds that he has support, perhaps he will change his mind and do what he says he wants to do.
Has diplomancy really been exhausted? Is our only policy that intended to provoke civil war in which the voices of the moderates would soon be drowned by the bombs and the machine guns? I hope that we shall not be stampeded by the shouts of those behind us — I am speaking metaphorically— who in many cases stand in no danger and perhaps even hope to gain. Let us not be stampeded into a policy of all-out sanctions which can justly be described as a policy of "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war."
I was encouraged, as was my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), by the terms of the Government's amendment to the Opposition's motion. The Opposition's motion refers to
the imposition of effective economic measures against the Government of South Africa",
The Government's amendment refers to "effective measures" leaving out the word "economic". That presumably means that the Government are prepared to consider, with our partners, other forms of pressure on the South African Government provided that they are seen to be effective in influencing the way in which the South African Government operate.
One measure, which is presumably included in the terms of the Government amendment, is the supply of arms to the African National Congress in order to strengthen it in putting pressure on the South African Government. The Government amendment leaves out the word economic, so presumably it encompasses the possible use of force by Britain, by other countries in the Commonwealth or by countries which believe that the future of South Africa could become so disastrous as a result of doing little or nothing or by using economic sanctions that prove ineffective, that the use of force would be the only way to solve the problem.
It has been said in the debate that economic sanctions were ineffective against Rhodesia, and that it was the use of force that finally got rid of Ian Smith and his racialist regime and led to the birth of Zimbabwe. We may find all too quickly that that will happen in South Africa and in that sense I am encouraged by the terms of the Government amendment.
Before my hon. Friend becomes too enthusiastic in his textual analysis, will he note that the Government amendment leaves out the United Nations?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. I do note that the United Nations has been left out of the Government amendment. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see that the phrase "effective measures" is included in the amendment. I, and I daresay many of my hon. Friends, were disappointed by the terms of the Foreign Secretary's speech. It seemed that he had either not read the Eminent Persons Group report or was riot living in the real world. That report contains an introduction by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth in which he says:
Apartheid must end. It will end; if necessary through a bloody struggle.
In concluding their report the members of the Eminent Persons Group used the following horrifying sentence:
There could he little doubt that the alternative to a negotiated solution would he appalling chaos, bloodshed and destruction.
That is the situation facing the House. With due respect to the Foreign Secretary, he did not give a proper picture of the urgent problem that we face. In his speech the hon. Member for Stroud (Sir A. Kershaw) said that Dr. Botha is intransigent. Because of that we must find effective measures to deal with a situation that will not be dealt with by peaceful negotiation, a phrase of which the Foreign Secretary was fond. If there is not already a war in southern Africa there soon will be, and certainly, the amount of violence in South Africa and the violence committed by South Africa against its immediate northern neighbours are the first signs of developing bloodshed that will affect the whole of southern Africa. For that reason this is a desperately urgent problem, and the Government's present attitude does not measure up to it. The attitude is that we can wait until the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in August. That is, if there is not some need now for a strongly worded statement in the face of the deteriorating situation in South Africa and nearby.
There is violence in South Africa's townships and there are signs that that violence is moving out of the townships and into the white areas, into the cities and the towns. As I have said, there have already been examples of violence in South Africa spreading beyond its borders and affecting innocent countries such as Botswana. This is not merely a minor civil war, something going on within the borders of another country; it is taking place on the international stage, and for that reason it directly concerns the Commonwealth. That was clearly recognised at the last Heads of Government meeting.
Events in South Africa directly concern the Commonwealth because Heads of Government meetings year after year have been characterised by an interest in racial equality, a hostility to racialism, and an interest in the contrast between the wealth of the West and the poverty of the South. The Commonwealth Heads of Government in Nassau were bound to take seriously events in South Africa. Those Heads of Government could not stand aside from something that not merely affected South Africa but was certain to engulf, as has been said before, much of southern Africa and which could have disastrous consequences for the African continent.
For a long time I have believed in the unique value of the Commonwealth in world affairs. It may be that an accident of history brought the Commonwealth into existence, but it has flourished with very little encouragement from British Governments. The latest example of the way in which the Government devalue the Commonwealth is that the post of the head of the Commonwealth co-ordination department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been degraded. That is another example of the attitude taken in Britain to an association that is more deeply valued in other Commonwealth countries than it often appears to be in Britain.
Did the hon. Gentleman see an article in The Daily Telegraph yesterday by Mr. T. E. Utley, who spoke of the Commonwealth as more of an encumbrance than a reality? It is sometimes from Fleet street that we get the worst advice.
The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) will be well aware of the long hostility of The Daily Telegraph to the Commonwealth and of the general hostility that exists in large sections of the British press. That causes enormous distress in the Commonwealth and does Britain great damage in Commonwealth countries. Many hon. Members travel abroad, either with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association or under their own auspices and, it is to be hoped, we do something to restore the balance by demonstrating that at least many hon. Members value the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth has enormous relevance to the current situation, just as it had relevance to the situation in Zimbabwe. It also has enormous relevance in drawing a contrast between wealth and poverty. It would be the most appalling disaster if, through action or through a failure to act by the Prime Minister and the Government, the future of the Commonwealth were to be endangered or if, as an association, it came to be devalued and people looked elsewhere for international association and cooperation. The Commonwealth has an enormously valuable contribution to make not just to members of the Commonwealth but to international peace. We ought to take seriously the fact that we currently find ourselves in a minority of one. We should do everything that we can. through debates in the House and through the way in which those debates are represented outside, to reassure other members of the Commonwealth of our commitment to a non-racist policy and to effective measures, economic or otherwise, that will change the course of history in southern Africa.
The hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) made a helpful contribution to this sensitive, difficult debate which contrasted with the speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who adopted a characteristically belligerent and partisan tone which does not accord with the general type of speech we have had so far.
The hon. Gentleman referred to the Commonwealth group's report, and it is right that he and others should have done so, because the debate has been brought about by it. The Commonwealth group of seven eminent persons from five continents have produced a report which will inevitably have a major impact on international opinion and which cannot and must not be ignored. One may have reservations about some of its conclusions and regrets about some of its omissions, but when unanimity is shown by eminent and to some extent disparate people on a sensitive, contentious subject such as South Africa, their views inevitably command respect.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Lord Barber, who is well known to many hon. Members. No one could accuse him of being prejudiced against South Africa or of being other than an objective realist. He wholly supports and endorses the report. The group visited South Africa to try to find a path for peaceful change. Its objectives along that path were the dismantling of apartheid and the establishment of a non-racial representative Government. Sadly, it felt that its efforts to promote those objectives had been unavailing and that its mission was a failure. Therefore, its report is one of considerable gloom.
The group saw a country in upheaval and witnessed great human suffering. It expressed little doubt that the alternative to a negotiated solution would be appalling chaos, bloodshed and destruction. It is the group's considered view that, despite appearances and statements to the contrary, the South African Government are not yet ready to negotiate a non-racial representative Government, except on their terms, which, in the group's view, fall far short of reasonable black expectations and well accepted democratic norms and principles.
The only hopeful part of those views are the words "not yet". It is the Eminent Persons Group's opinion that the South African Government are seeking not to end apartheid but to give it a less inhuman face, and that their commitment to power sharing when analysed means that overall white control would never be surrendered. The group also reached the conclusion, with which I agree, that there can be no possibility of meaningful negotiations without including the African National Congress.
The EPG was by no means unaware of the many difficulties facing the Pretoria Government. I have no doubt that President Botha is anxious to bring about reform. Indeed, many changes have been made, and were mentioned by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Sir A. Kershaw). But when those changes have been made the President has received little appreciation or encouragement from outside. That has intensified the anxieties and demands of the Right wing of his party. That and organised black violence have produced a white backlash which is a major obstruction to the acceptance of meaningful reform. The EPG was left with the impression of a divided Government, but its avid impression that white opinion as a whole may be ahead of the Government in significant respects and ready to respond positively if given a bold lead is an important matter to bear in mind.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that when we are discussing the matters to be undertaken it is important that we ensure that the white opinion which is at present ahead of the South African Government is not driven back behind that Government?
My hon. and learned Friend is right. Obviously, that is the implication of what I said and the reason why I raised the matter, but I am grateful to him for elucidating it beyond doubt.
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that Mr. Botha is in a not dissimilar position to the Prime Minister because 42 of her hard Right-wing colleagues have signed an amendment stating that they are "resolutely opposed" to sanctions? That also creates similar problems for the Minister who will reply.
I am rather sorry that I gave way. I hoped that the hon. Gentleman would try to assist me in making my speech and even try to assist in the debate, but his intervention was wholly outside anything that I said or was likely to say.
It is sad that the EPG found that not one of the five steps of the Nassau accord which the Government of Pretoria were called on to take as a matter of emergency had been taken. It has found that there is no genuine intention to dismantle apartheid; that the state of emergency, far from being terminated, has been further strengthened; that Nelson Mandela and the other political leaders remain in prison; that political freedom is being more rigorously curtailed; and that the cycle of violence and counter-violence has spiralled and there is no prospect of a process of dialogue leading to the establishment of a non-racial representative Government.
That is a sad, sombre picture. What can be done? What remaining influence does the international community have? In the words of the report:
What can major states do to help avert an otherwise inevitable disaster?
The EPG recommends effective, concerted action and suggests, without determining their nature or extent, the adoption of effective economic measures. The operative word is "effective";— measures which will be effective and help to promote clear objectives. What are those objectives? For most of us they are the end of apartheid, the end of violence and the promotion of a structure of non-racial democracy.
I agree with those who believe that full economic and financial sanctions which put South Africa into economic isolation will not be effective in promoting those objectives. They would achieve precisely the opposite effect and would not persuade Pretoria to succumb to international opinion. All experience has shown that states which are treated as outcasts behave as outcasts. Comprehensive economic sanctions on South Africa would fortify strong Afrikaner isolationism, pander to the siege attitude and mentality there and, above all, divorce South Africa, particularly that white opinion which is ahead of the Government, from all worthwhile outside influence. The only justification for such sanctions is that they promote moral uplift for those who propose them. It is an interesting question whether such moral uplift can be sustained when it becomes clear that the effects of sanctions could be large-scale black unemployment and increasing black deprivation and depression.
I agree with Sir John Killick, the eminent ex-diplomat, who, in his letter to The Times today, wrote:
There has surely never been a time when it has been more necessary to apply cool and dispassionate judgment to the problem of South Africa.
I therefore wholly support the Prime Minister's amendment. The EEC, the Commonwealth and the economic summit seven must consult and co-operate coolly and dispassionately and try to agree measures which
will be effective in helping to achieve a peaceful solution for South Africa based on negotiations and a suspension of violence on all sides.
The measures must not be designed to drive South Africa into isolation and possible chaos but must be politically effective. The measures must show Pretoria that the international world is determined that apartheid must go and progress must be made towards the other objectives. The measures must not finally close the door to outside contact and influence but must be effective in their impact and carry with them a united international warning that more will follow should progress not be made. I wish the Government and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State all good fortune in their task.
The right hon and learned Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Thomas), in common with many of his hon. Friends, once again opposes meaningful sanctions. Once again Tory Members offer no solution to the House on how to deal with this problem. I am afraid that this attitude is all too typical, not only in this debate but in many debates we have had on the subject over the years.
It is true—many Conservative Members have said this—that it may well he impossible to make progress in South Africa and to achieve a multiracial society without there being sacrifices. This has been accepted by all who are in favour of progress. Throughout our history few meaningful achievements in democracy have been made without individual sacrifices. We are seeing that before our very eyes today.
What is astonishing — I felt this when the Foreign Secretary was making his speech and referred to the jobs that might be lost in Britain —is that the Government pay such little regard to the passionately held views of the British public who want to see social justice and freedom emerge in South Africa. They have made it clear that they are prepared to pay a price.
There is nothing new in this. On 26 July 1833, the Bill for the abolition of slavery passed its Second Reading in the House. It was a Government measure and its success was assured. When Wilberforce heard the news he said:
Thank God, that I should have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give twenty millions sterling for the Abolition of Slavery.
I believe that the spirit that inspired those remarks and which helped towards the abolition of slavery, despite the fact that there was a cost, still exists. I will not accept that the British people, the people of the Commonwealth, of Europe and the United States are not prepared to contribute towards a solution to the problem, even though the Government gave no suggestion that they are searching for that solution.
What worries me—this emerged in the debate today— is that, sometimes, the Government give the impression that they simply do not want to listen. The facts are there, even though they are not always widely reported because of the restrictions in South Africa. It is absolutely absurd that we could not hear of the meeting of Bishop Tutu and President Botha on Sunday because the South Africans decided that, somehow or other, to report such an event would represent a challenge to their state. Is it not also absurd that a Conservative Member could say on TV-am today that Bishop Tutu does not have much of a following? Does anyone imagine that the President of South Africa would have spent a single minute, far less one and a half hours, with Bishop Tutu, if that were the case?
We are arguing over a serious issue and the background to that problem has been absolutely plain over the years and especially in recent months. We have all witnessed years of oppression, the denial of human rights and state-sponsored killings. Indeed on Sunday, The Observer mentioned that even today, 2,000 people are in detention. The black majority are reacting, as we would expect them to do, to the existence of oppressive rule by the minority 15 per cent. of the white population. I am not for a second suggesting that all the white minority agree with what the regime is doing. Nevertheless the kind of reactions we are seeing are inevitable when democratic institutions are not available. The majority cannot assert themselves or assess the values which Bishop Tutu and many others share.
I am sorry, but many hon. Members wish to speak and I do not want to stand in their way.
The British Government's position is shamefully negative. Nothing we have heard today will alter my view. The Government, at the United Nations, the EEC and within the Commonwealth, when they have had every opportunity to influence the direction of history, have been weak. They have been ambiguous and have failed to offer the kind of solution that I believe the British people want.
Meanwhile, in South Africa the shout for progress and freedom has become louder still, and why not? On every test, from the rate of infant mortality to educational expenditure, to the payment of wages, coloureds and Asians are at a disadvantage and the Africans are the most underprivileged of the lot. Many blacks are receiving a fifth of the average monthly wages of their white counterparts for doing exactly the same jobs. In 1983 to 1984 the South African Government spent nearly six times as much on education on every white head as on every African one. I regard that as shameful.
Discrimination is evident in the health service. There are two distinct patterns for blacks and whites. Whites have a much lower infant mortality rate and a much greater life expectancy. Obviously, there must be a challenge to that type of society within South Africa and it is clear that there is.
It is equally obvious when we consider the regime's response to that challenge— oppressive Acts, detention without trial, bans on meetings and organisations, curfews, news censorship and so on, many of which were practised even before the emergency was declared —that it accepts that kind of approach to a very difficult and delicate problem but is also in the process of institutionalising powers that enhance the role of the military and the police to continue the oppression that my hon. Friends and I regard as absolutely repugnant.
We have recently witnessed developments in that direction. At the very time when the Eminent Persons Group might have been making some progress—even President Botha was giving the impression that he was trying to co-operate — President Botha panicked, pandered to his extreme Right wing and there were dramatic military raids on Zimbabwe, Zambia and
Botswana, as well as related actions. As a result of such an indefensible record, 70,000 people are homeless. It is no wonder that The Observer reported
Those are the actions of a government which has shut its mind to world opinion.
That is extremely sad, but just as sad is the fact that our Government do not seem to be responding to world opinion. The future of the Commonwealth is important. It appalled me to hear at least one Conservative Member say "good riddance" earlier today—I understand that it was the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton). That is no way to peace and co-operation between nations. Nobody fought an election on that programme and I believe that such an idea is utterly inconsistent with the attitudes and aspirations of the British people.
While we have behaved like Pontius Pilate, other members of the Commonwealth have spoken for themselves and for freedom in South Africa. We have witnessed the passing of a new American sanctions Bill by the House Foreign Relations Committee, which reflects growing opinion in the United States. The United Nations mandated world conference on sanctions started in Paris yesterday. It is a pity that we were not represented.
The march towards progress and democracy will go on. The Government's stance on sanctions represents a lost opportunity for Britain, to say the least. I hope that even the Government will reflect on the influence of their passive approach and that they will accept that it does not help even long-term British investment to go along with what is happening in South Africa.
Before more people lose their lives and before the real bloodbath, which can still be prevented, takes place, Conservative Members — I accept that there are many who take this view—should stand up and be counted and urge on the Government the fact that the time for sitting on the fence has long since passed. We can make a contribution to freedom and progress in South Africa. The sooner the Prime Minister and her colleagues listen to that plea, the better it will be for all concerned.
When I hear the phrase, "social justice and freedom in Africa" I begin to wonder what kind of world the person speaking lives in because I cannot think of many, if any, countries in that continent which enjoy social justice and freedom.
We are discussing apartheid, which is the denial of rights to the majority race. The issue becomes especially emotional because the minority are white. I am often worried at how little emotion is displayed when black oppresses black as in Uganda or Ethiopia.
We all know that the National party of South Africa set up apartheid by gerrymandering the constitution about 40 years ago. I believe that it is now in the process of dismantling apartheid. I admit that it is going far too slowly, but it has started. My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary gave examples of that, such as influx control, property rights, which are now available, the restoration of citizenship and so on.
As politicians, we must consider what happens to politicians in other countries. The result of the reforms that I have described is a move to the extreme Right. That move is enhanced by external pressure and the traditional laager mentality of the Afrikaners.
The object of the debate is to decide how best to get rid of apartheid. The Government, pushed by the Commonwealth, advocate
effective measures… based on negotiation and a suspension of violence".
That is a limited objective, as are the measures. The Opposition advocate
effective economic measures against the Government of South Africa.
If English means what it seems to, the Opposition want to overthrow the Government of South Africa and presumably replace it with an ANC Government, which will obviously veer in the Marxist direction. I believe that one man, one vote is unacceptable in South Africa as it would mean chaos and civil war, although I know that that is what some hon. Members want.
What would be the result of economic sanctions? In Africa, the South Africans would return about 1 million blacks to Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe, among others, which would immediately destroy their economies. For the rest of the world, some countries would gain. Those that sell gold and coal would gain by having no competition from South Africa. The USSR would gain a great deal because she would then have a monopoly of supply of chrome, manganese and various other strategic minerals. For the United Kingdom, the effects of sanctions have already been outlined. They would involve 120,000 jobs, £12 billion worth of investment, £1 million worth of exports would be at risk and—perhaps most important, as the Opposition always seem to want to increase coloured immigration to Britain — 800,000 poverty-stricken whites might come to Britain. I wonder how the Opposition Front Bench would react to that.
More sanctions would mean less freedom of action for the South African Government. They would mean a continuing move to the extreme Right. They would mean the laager and civil war. I do not believe that, in the short term at least, the blacks would win that civil war.
I entirely disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) about the Commonwealth. I believe that it is important. I also believe, however, that the Eminent Persons Group has made a rather one-sided report. It has not dwelt enough on ANC violence. I think back to how the Monckton commission report started the destruction of the Central African Federation and wonder whether this will he a similar story.
I do not know whether hon. Members listened to the BBC at lunchtime, but if they did, they will have heard Colin Eglin, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the South African Parliament, coming out strongly against economic sanctions and what he calls coercive action from outside. He rightly said that the problems must be solved in South Africa.
In Britain, the far Left seems always to side with the extremists, in this case with the ANC. I agree that there must be talks with the ANC, but I wonder whether it can now control the wild young men of the townships. Perhaps that time has passed. I am all for the release of Nelson Mandela, who has now said that he will agree to end violence. According to the Eminent Persons Group, the ANC has agreed to eschew violence. I wonder, however, whether the time has gone when even the ANC can lead the black people of South Africa.
I am just coming to that. We should give much more credence to Chief Buthelezi. I believe that his scheme of amalgamating K wa Zulu and Natal should be a good pattern for the future of South Africa. What is more, I believe that it is possible, as Natal is mainly English speaking. We should also remember that the Zulus are the most powerful tribe in. South Africa, especially if it comes to a fight, as many past generations in Britain discovered.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is entirely right when she says that if pressure is to be exerted—and there may be a case for pressure, not for economic sanctions — it should be positive and have limited objectives. It took us 15 years to get off the hook of Rhodesian sanctions. We do not want the same pattern to apply to South Africa. Effective economic sanctions, which is what the Opposition want, would mean revolution. That is what some people on the Left—not necessarily in this House but in the country—would like to see. We, on the other hand, want evolution, although not necessarily through a European-style democracy, which has not worked in Africa. That is why I referred to one man, one vote. The House knows the phrase so well, but throughout Africa there has been one man, one vote only once.
The answer probably lies in President Botha's original concept of a kaleidoscope of states. Unfortunately, he seems to have moved away from that concept, presumably because he has been pushed by his Right wing. I visualise the future of southern Africa as a confederation of small states: some white-led, some coloured-led, some black-led. Some of them will perhaps be led by people of mixed race, and others may be multiracial. A kaleidoscope of small states in a confederation could overcome the difficulties that face southern Africa today. I do not believe that the whites will transfer power to the blacks without the bloodshed that has been mentioned already in this House. It is only right for us to do all that we can to try to encourage, by all possible means, a peaceful solution to this racial problem, which is probably the most difficult problem that our world has ever faced.
On 25 and 26 June 1955, just outside Johannesburg, 2,888 delegates gathered from all parts of Africa. After that two-day congress, what is now commonly known as the "freedom charter" was adopted. It is referred to in the report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. I wish to put on record the preamble to the charter, as many things have been said this afternoon about the African National Congress. The charter said:
We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people; that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality; that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities, that only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief; And therefore, we the people of South Africa, black and white together—equals, countrymen and brothers — adopt this Freedom Charter. And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage until the democratic changes set out here have been won.
I recommed Conservative Members to read the full charter. It lays down in simple terms a system that operates
in the United Kingdom, a system for which the House of Commons has stood for centuries, and that operates throughout the Western world. I refer those hon. Members who are highly critical of the African National Congress to that document, because the ANC sponsored the 1955 Congress. The charter was adopted after more than half a century of trying to obtain freedom through dialogue, discussion and consultation. The Government of South Africa had been asked to meet the wishes of the people and the international community had been asked for assistance in getting round the negotiating table with the Government of South Africa. The people of South Africa wanted a peaceful transition. For more than 300 years they had been confronted with racialism, and for decades since the nationalists came to power racialism had formed part of the constitution. That racialism—apartheid—is based upon more than 300 laws. South Africa is the only country that has enshrined in its constitution laws that segregate people because of the colour of their skin.
After the 1955 charter had been signed, 156 people were arrested on treason charges. Those charges were based upon their support for the charter. However, they were asking only for fundamental and basic freedoms. For four years the South African courts heard the cases of those 156 people. All of them were found not guilty.
At the same time, the African National Congress and other organisations that were fighting for peaceful change were banned and pushed underground. In 1960 there was Sharpeville, although that was no more and no less than the ANC and other organisations in South Africa asking for a dialogue and for the right to put their case, resulting in a peaceful transition to black majority rule. However, 69 blacks were shot in Sharpeville.
For how long can we expect people to suffer the indignation of apartheid? More than 300 laws upholding apartheid are enshrined in the South African constitution, and 85 per cent. of the population hold only about 15 per cent. of the land. The reverse of that is that only 15 per cent. of the population — whites—own the majority of the land. The fact is that 3·5 million people have been lifted out of their homelands and displaced by the authorities. There are over 3,000 doctors for every group of 1 million white people, whereas for the same number of black people there only about 11 doctors. The average income for white people is four times greater than that for the blacks, and spending on education is seven times higher for the whites than it is for the blacks.
After 15 years of trying to bring about peaceful change in South Africa is it any wonder that the African National Congress was left with no alternative but violence? There was no alternative because countries throughout the world did not hear the cry of South Africa. The international community did not respond to that cry, even after the publication of the freedom charter and even after the ANC's case had been placed fully before the international community.
In 1960, therefore, the ANC took its decision to turn to the gun. However, it was made clear in 1960 that this would mean acts of sabotage, not acts against the person. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said that the report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group shows clearly that only about 20 people have been killed in South Africa by the ANC. It is deplorable to hear Conservative Members referring to members of the ANC as terrorists. It is Conservative Members who are destructive.
I draw an analogy with the people in my city who fought Fascism in the second world war. I was taught at school about the resistance movement in France, Germany and Holland. I was a member of the European Parliament and sat side by side with many people who fought in the resistance movement. They were fighting Fascism, the kind of Fascism that has been clearly indicated in the report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. That type of regime exists today in South Africa.
On that analysis and parallel, these people are not terrorists. They should be put alongside the freedom fighters who fought in France against Nazi Germany in the second world war. They are the same type of people.
It is inevitable that pressure has continued to grow on South Africa. A state of emergency has recently been applied in South Africa because of the 10th anniversary of Soweto. Let us consider what happened then. Some 15,000 schoolchildren were objecting to being taught Afrikaans. I have already said there is a ratio of 7:1 in the way that resources for education are divided between the whites and the blacks. The young blacks decided that it was better to be taught in English and that the limited resources that they got should be employed in giving them the skills and basic education that they needed than to be taught Afrikaans. They then had a demonstration in Soweto on 16 June 1976. The police opened fire on those 15,000 schoolchildren, and, in the weeks after that event, nearly 1,000 blacks were killed on the streets of South Africa because those children had decided, despite opposition from the boards of the schools and teachers, that they should be taught in English.
The Foreign Secretary told the House, and Conservative Members have repeated, that the system of apartheid is being changed and that the President is making concessions. I refer to two paragraphs in the report of the Eminent Persons Group that demolish the Foreign Secretary's arguments. Paragraphs 50 and 51 read:
Indeed, the State President has specifically ruled out 'the principle of one man one vote in a unitary system.' …
The concept of white domination — of power-sharing without losing white control—is enshrined in the present Tricameral Constitution in which whites, coloureds, and Indians are given their own parliamentary chambers, with some power over their 'own affairs'. Not so blacks, responsibility for whose 'own affairs' is vested in the State President.
To tell the House that the Botha regime is prepared to start conceding is nothing less than misleading the House. The ANC and many other organisations asked for a boycott of the tricameral elections and received much effective support. That shows that the blacks and the coloureds were not prepared to accept the further departmentalisation written into the constitution by participating in such an election. The fundamental point about South Africa is not about messing around at the edges, or the cosmetics, but about whether there will be universal suffrage. [Interruption.] We know the rubbish talked by Members of the Conservative party. The realities will come through. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) can make all the noise that he wants—
The hon. Gentleman has been making a noise all afternoon. I have no doubt that his constituents will hear him.
The Foreign Secretary said—in this he was supported by the Prime Minister — that if we apply economic sanctions we shall lose 120,000 jobs in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom South Africa Trade Association is saying that it will cost 250,000 jobs. The then Minister with responsibility for southern Africa, the right hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) said that there will be about 50,000 job losses. The United Kingdom South Africa Trade Association brought out a report in 1979 and again in 1982 that would not pass O-level economics. That was shown in the way in which it did its calculations and arrived at its total of 250.000 jobs.
Two reports on this subject have come out, one from Bailey and Rivers and one from Rogers and Bolton. The former report was based on the Treasury model of the British economy and concerned a loss of export equivalents. That showed that if full economic sanctions were applied immediately —which is most unlikely —there would be a loss of about 20,000 jobs in the first year, which would taper off. The Rogers and Bolton report was slightly more sophisticated and said that in the first year, again on the scenario of immediate sanctions, there would be a loss of 13,000 to 14,000 jobs. However, that does not consider what jobs would be created if the investment of companies which previously invested in South Africa were to be invested in the United Kingdom. Nor did it take into account the point made by a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends of what will happen after the apartheid regime is removed and how relationships will change not only with the people in South Africa but with the front-line states.
How the Conservative party can support a Government such as this I do not know. Only today I had a telephone call from the Sheffield branch of Oxfam, which is an active organisation. It said that yesterday somebody working under the auspices of the Council of Churches, to which it had given money to try to develop some harmony in Crossroads, had been picked up off the street and held in detention. This man has never carried arms and was merely trying to help.
How the Conservative party can support a Government who are illegally occupying Namibia against United Nations resolution 435, have bombed three Commonwealth countries and perpetrate acts of terrorism on their neighbours, I do not know. People can read the history and judge, as the Eminent Persons Group has. By the criteria of humanity, basic democratic needs and the rights of people within a country to determine their own destiny, the only course is to support the Opposition motion.
I was interested in the parallel that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn) drew with the resistance fighters during the war. I shall return to that later. First, I should declare an interest. I have been associated over a number of years with the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa and that association has given me the opportunity to explore the country in considerable depth and to meet people of all races.
I think that we are all agreed that apartheid in uniquely abhorrent. This is not because it is uniquely oppressive. It is not as oppressive as a great many other regimes. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said that he thought that it had become as oppressive as the countries in the Soviet bloc. I understand from the newspapers that he is going to South Africa on Monday. I do not think that such a visit would be allowed to many Soviet bloc countries in a crisis. any more than a visit from Mr. Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative. Nor is it uniquely a minority Government.
I agree with the hon. Member for Sheffield, Central that South Africa is the only developed country of which I can think whose regime is based on racial discrimination' enshrined not in custom or convention, but in law. That is what we find unacceptable and difficult to swallow. When we talk about dismantling apartheid, surely what we mean, in logic, is the repeal of the laws which discriminate against sections of the community—the majority of the community, as it happens—on grounds of race.
I think that we would be on common ground in saying that most of the pillars of both petty and grand apartheid have been dismantled over the past five or six years. More dismantling has taken place in the past 18 months. Two pillars remain—the Group Areas Act and the exclusion of the black population from the political process at national level.
The group areas have been substantially eroded in the big cities. The local authorities have turned a blind eye to the movement of more prosperous non-whites—Indians, coloureds and blacks—into some of the surburbs. It will not need much of a push to get the Government to accept that that process should continue, subject always to good provisions of town planning to prevent shanty towns being built up around the big cities.
As far as the inclusion of blacks into the political process is concerned, the President has proclaimed publicly what he seeks to do. He has said that there will be a national council, and that he will discuss with representative blacks how it should be brought about.
I had hoped, when the Eminent Persons Group visited South Africa, that it would have assessed the prospects of dismantling those last two pillars which, if dismantled. would mean the end of apartheid in the strict sense of a regime that discriminated, in law, against sections of the population.
Because I hoped that that would be the case—and here I must say that I had some encouragement from my right hon. Friends—I urged the President to co-operate with the eminent persons and to give them all the facilities they required. Having read the report, I regret that I did so. I cannot endorse the view of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary that we should be grateful to the eminent persons. I shall say what I think about their report in a few minutes.
The eminent persons agreed that there have been substantial reforms, but they condemned what they called the
quest for power sharing without surrendering overall white control.
That is a rather surprising statement. When the British aristocracy accepted the Reform Act 1832, it did not agree to a transfer of power. It agreed to the association of the rising middle classes with itself. That was also the case with
the later reform Bills. Had we accepted the Chartist proposals, I doubt whether Britain would be a democracy today.
I think that the eminent persons stretch beyond logic when they say that dismantling apartheid means a transfer of power and a social and economic revolution. I am not saying that a transfer of power is wrong or that a social or economic revolution is wrong, but it is not what dismantling apartheid means. Dismantling apartheid means repealing the laws which entrench white supremacy by law. Once those laws are gone it becomes a state, such as many others with which we do business, where minorities dominate, as they do in the Soviet bloc and in many military dictatorships in other Third-world countries.
The eminent persons claim that they should not dictate South Africa's future. No one who has read the EPG's report can possibly doubt that it regards the African National Congress as the natural successor to the present regime. The extent of the emotional commitment to the ANC goes beyond anything I have read in any state paper. In the report Mr. Mandela is canonised and Mr. Tambo is beatified. Nothing too praiseworthy can be said about him. No one else receives such encouragement. Chief Buthelezi gets a mention. None of the other homeland chiefs are treated with any regard at all. The Ministers in the regime are regarded as, at best, machiavellian demons and, at worst, devils incarnate. It is an odd way to approach the problem. The commitment to the ANC is underlined by the negotiating conditions which the eminent persons proposed to the South African Government.
I wish to develop the point.
The eminent persons' second condition was that the South African Government should withdraw the police and the army from the townships while negotiations took place—the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) may think that is a good idea — and that the townships should become no-go areas. Some of the townships might, during the negotiations, come under ANC control. I cannot imagine any Government in their right senses accepting such a condition.
I think that the eminent persons felt that on that point they were on weak ground. Instead of the eminent persons arguing that the dismantling of apartheid involved a transfer of power, they went on to a new line of argument. They warned that there would be a blood-bath unless the transfer of power took place. They tried to make British flesh creep by suggesting that unless we helped the process of the transfer of power, our interests would be seriously damaged. Mr. Malcolm Fraser developed the idea at a press conference in the United Kingdom.
I think that the eminent persons may have exaggerated the effectiveness of the ANC. It is perfectly true that there have been casualties, but nothing like the Lebanese, Ugandan, Sri Lankan and, as far as I can make out, the Punjab casualties. I would not underrate the danger that there could be further casualties in future, but I think that the eminent persons failed to understand the basic position in South Africa.
Over the past 15 years, a generation of black middle class intelligentsia has arisen. Some are lawyers, doctors, journalists, teachers, churchmen, shopkeepers, and business men. In the homelands, some are Ministers and Government officials. Others are skilled workmen and trade union leaders. Some are radicals and sympathise with the ANC and other radical movements. Many—although they are by no means supporters of Mr. Botha's Government—have no love for the ANC and no desire to see repeated in South Africa the kind of semi-Communist experiment that has taken place in Mozambique and Angola, or even the Socialist experiment still in the making in Zimbabwe.
Both the radical and the moderate blacks know that the whites must do a deal with the blacks. The question is, which blacks? Attachment to private enterprise, tribal structures—we have seen in Matabeleland how strong the tribal influence still is — and anti-communism, inculcated by the Churches, favours co-operation between the moderate blacks and the whites. It would be foolish to brush aside the moderate blacks. Chief Buthelezi probably commands the allegiance of some 6 million Zulus. His Inkatha organisation has bashed the ANC hard in some townships. The Church of Zion, which claims 2·5 million supporters, gave President Botha a tremendous welcome at Easter last year. Bishop Mokoena, who has visited Britain, claims the support of more than 4·5 million. Add up numbers and jot them down, and one will find that more than 10 million blacks are already in the, I would not say Botha camp, but anti-ANC camp.
The real confrontation is between not black and white, but between radical and moderate blacks. That is why I am interested in the analogy drawn by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Central—I am sorry that he is not present—with the resistance movement during the war. Those who have studied the movements—I lived through them—saw that, as the end of German domination became clear, they began to fight each other, even before the Germans had gone, to see who would be in charge. That is what is happening in South Africa. I would not underrate for a moment the radical forces of the ANC or the moderates. I believe that the white-moderates combination, if it comes off, is more likely to prevail than the radical revolution, and it is in our interests that it should. It is anti-Communist and pro-private enterprise. It would be, on the whole, more favourable to our way of thinking. I think that it will develop if South Africa is left to itself.
The real danger of the report of the Eminent Persons Group—tendentious, one-sided and emotional as it is—is that it will discourage the moderates and the whites from doing a deal. The moderates will feel that the outside world is going towards the ANC and will ask whether they should go with the tide. The whites will feel that they must batten down the hatches. That is why I deprecate the report and the tone of much of what has been said in the House today.
I urge my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to stand absolutely firm against economic sanctions. A great deal of progress has been made in South Africa, especially in the past 18 months. More is in the pipeline and more could be obtained by quiet diplomacy. I see no justification for punitive measures. Indeed, if progress is made on the Group Areas Act and on bringing the blacks into the political process, I think that that would justify lifting existing sanctions on oil and arms.
I urge my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to avoid what are called "measures". The setting up of the Eminent Persons Group was a measure, devised at the time to gain time. It has proved to be a Frankenstein monster. To yield any further and adopt measures to push the South African Government in the direction of the report of the Eminent Persons Group would be, in effect, to accept that the transfer of power to the ANC is our aim. It should not be our aim. Even to move towards it is to place ourselves on a slippery slope, and it will not be easy to find a sure foothold on which to draw a halt.
Great national interests are at stake. Great national interests are at stake for the Americans and the Germans. I agree that strong emotions are engaged, but not just on one side. There are 2 million people of British descent, or almost, living in South Africa. On my best estimate, that means that 8 million or 10 million of their relatives are over here. To embark on an anti-South African policy—my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary came close to it—would be to divide the nation and. I may add, my right hon. and learned Friend's own party.
I do not believe that I would be doing the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) an injustice if I said that he has always associated himself with the South African Government's point of view. He wants some changes in South Africa, and I would not wish to deny him that, but he wants no fundamental change. I remember one of the few conversations I have had with the right hon. Gentleman outside the Chamber. 16 years ago, when he put forward a view very similar to the view he advanced today. I said to him that history would prove him wrong. We shall see whether he is right or I am.
In the past 18 months, we have seen the increased determination of the black majority in South Africa to win their freedom. They have demonstrated that they are no longer willing to tolerate in silence a system of government that totally denies them any effective say in how their country is governed, simply because of the colour of their skin. It is an indictment of Western Governments, especially Britain and the United States, that so little has been done over the years to apply effective pressure to the South African authorities to change their ways.
I must make one point clear about the Conservative party, because we should he perfectly frank in debate. My view, which I am sure is shared by my hon. Friends, is that that party has always been extremely reluctant to take any action against the apartheid regime. Of course, as we have seen today with the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and other Conservative Members, they always tell us how much they oppose apartheid. I have not forgotten that, within days of the Tories returning to office in 1970, they reversed the Labour Government's policy and allowed arms to be sold to South Africa. It is just as well that, since 1977, there has been a United Nations Security Council arms embargo binding all member states or, I am sure, the Government would have been in favour of selling arms to South Africa. One Conservative Member has already told us today that arms should be sold to South Africa.
The Government constantly tell us that economic sanctions would be counter-productive and would only make the regime in South Africa more determined to resist change and be more self-reliant. If so, why are the South African Government so strenuously opposed to sanctions? Why are their defenders and apologists in the House and elsewhere so determined to prevent sanctions being applied?
It is interesting in this regard to read the letter of 24 April from the South African Foreign Minister to the two co-chairmen of the Eminent Persons Group. In that letter, which is in the report, the Foreign Minister expressed concern about what he called "punitive action" against South Africa. Clearly, the last thing that the South African Government want is action —sanctions or otherwise. Those who resist such measures are bound to be seen to be defending the South African regime.
I apologise for not being able to give way. but time is short.
The report of the Eminent Persons Group states that. South Africa consistently applies sanctions to its neighbours. That is certainly so, but obviously, as the report adds, the South African Government have no wish for the international community to follow suit against that regime.
One thing is clear: whatever the limited and mainly cosmetic changes which have occurred in South Africa —I agree with the right hon. Member for Pavilion that. changes have occurred— they come about only because of pressure, both internal and external. If it had been left to the South African authorities no such changes would have occurred. Surely that explains why it is unlikely that the changes, which are so essential and which many Conservative Members and Ministers agree should be applied in South Africa, will come about unless effective measures are taken by the international community. The report of the Eminent Persons Group concludes that if the South African Government believe that they will always remain protected from economic measures, the process of change is unlikely to increase.
The report also makes it clear that if the blacks believe that such international measures will not be applied by Britain or other Western countries they will come to the view that there is only one option left, that of increasing violence. I do not like some of the violence undertaken by the blacks in South Africa recently. I would not wish to defend or act as an apologist for such action in any way. However, if people are denied their legitimate rights and aspirations, see no possibility of change and are denied political and human rights and their representative organisations are outlawed, is it surprising that violence comes about? Is that not one of the most important lessons of history through the ages?
We know how the leaders of the South African blacks have been imprisoned. Nelson Mandela has been in prison now for well over 20 years and his only real crime is that he was the representative of his people. Mandela is by no means the only one. The African National Congress, undoubtedly the main representative organisation of the blacks in South Africa, has been outlawed. Therefore, it is understandable that there is the view there that only violence will shift the South African authorities. If we want to change that view we must ensure that the Western community, in particular, is determined to take effective action against South Africa.
I can understand the right hon. Member for Pavilion being disappointed by the report of the Eminent Persons Group. I am sure that many people came to the view, when the group was appointed, that it would report in a very different way. I am pleased by the report. I think it is an honest report because the people concerned, some of whom have not been so much involved in South African matters over the years, saw for themselves what was happening and they came to their conclusion, which I endorse.
In the past few days the repression in South Africa has got worse. When one sees what is happening in South Africa one can only come to the view that it is almost a police state. We know about the ban on reporting and the actions taken by South African authorities to hide the news, not only in South Africa but from the outside world. We know of all the measures of banning and arrest and of people being questioned for days on end and then being re-arrested and continuing in detention. That is an illustration of the determination of the South African authorities not to change their ways in any effective manner. It is an illustration of the way in which the South African authorities are telling the world that they will not be willing to undertake fundamental changes.
The Labour party wants to declare its solidarity today with all those people in South Africa, black, coloured and white, who are opposed to the system of repression in their country, many of whom are in prison, We declare our solidarity because we believe that they are right and that they are victims of repression. For so long Ministers have been telling us that they are opposed to apartheid and they recognise that change is important. However, at the end of the day, a choice has to be made. It is a simple choice. Are the Government on the side of the oppressed or the oppressors? They cannot remain neutral. They cannot give the impression that they are against apartheid and, at the same time, do whatever they can to prevent international measures, such as sanctions, being applied against the regime.
What has caused much understandable concern in this country is not only that the Government are opposed to effective measures being undertaken but they are trying their best to prevent other countries undertaking such measures. They are acting in a manner which can give only comfort to the apartheid regime. That is why we are so critical of the Government and the stand they have taken. It is Britain's misfortune that at this time we have a Government who refuse to take a lead over South Africa and are doing their best to deny effective measures against the regime.
Last year, after the Commonwealth meeting, the Prime Minister boasted about how little had been done about sanctions. We all saw her on television as she mocked the limited action being undertaken. She made her position clear. Labour Members want to make their position clear in this debate. We are in favour of sanctions.
In the past the House, perhaps after a long struggle, has always come out on the right side. My hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) referred to the debate over 150 years ago about slavery. It would not be too difficult to imagine some hon. Members, if they had been present, who would have been arguing for slavery.
That is probably so. Some years later the House declared itself on the side of the Government of the United States against the South, which was defending slavery in that country. Nearly 50 years ago the House decided, at long last, that a stand had to be taken against a monstrous racist tyranny, which was intending to enslave all Europe. The right hon. Member for Pavilion knows much about that and he played a distinguished role in that war. I believe that the same is true today over South Africa. As I have already said, one can no longer be neutral. One is either on the side of oppression or the oppressed. The Labour party is on the side of the majority of people in South Africa who want their freedom and who are sick and tired of being denied their basic human rights and are determined to win their freedom. We are on their side and we are proud to be so.
I remind the House that at the beginning of the debate I said that because of pressure I would operate the 10-minute limit on speeches between 7 o'clock and 8.50 pm. We are now in that period.
Three weeks ago my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) and myself paid a visit to South Africa and Zimbabwe at the behest of Christian friends. We went not as a parliamentary delegation but as brothers in Christ. We would like our speeches to be seen together and in breach of a convention in the House, we will refer to each other as hon. Friends. I hope that Hansard will take note and will understand why we would prefer to refer to each other in that way.
Each of us will describe a different part of the visit but we believe that together they form a rather different pattern and a different sort of trip from trips that the House has heard about for some time. Convinced as we are that our political activity is only one way in which the Lord wishes us to follow His will for the world, we went to see our friends in South Africa and learnt of their problems at first hand. It may embarrass others, but not us, to admit that mankind alone will not solve the world's problems. We proclaim that the love of Jesus Christ was never more necessary than it is in South Africa today.
I address my first remarks to those we met and left behind. There is a large group of people in South Africa whom many have ignored. They are those of all races who are working patiently for simple fellowship and reconciliation in pure human terms by meeting each other and sharing their lives and experiences. It was largely with those people that we spent our time, and through their friends across the political spectrum that we had contact with their politics.
Some of those with whom we stayed were white opponents of apartheid and had been so for decades, but all were people who realised that the abolition of the legislative structure of apartheid is almost secondary to the struggle to change hearts and minds. They should not be ignored, for if any group epitomises hope in South Africa, it is that group.
When Michael Cassidy began the National Initiative for Reconciliation last September, he lit the fuse for people to come together and then spread such a message throughout the country. But with so many political imperatives facing us, why should this one be so important? The fear and suspicion that apartheid represents and that so polarises communities in South Africa is built on the ignorance of one race for another. I do not say that from my own observations; eight days in South Africa would not give me the right. I simply repeat the comments that I heard there.
The reason for that ignorance is simple but chilling. The tragedy of South Africa is not that apartheid has failed but that it has succeeded all too well. It has prevented the ordinary human contact between people which allows one to know another, to learn his point of view, to evolve beliefs and to resolve fear of the unknown. Such separation is at the root of the South African tragedy. So to those whom we left behind we must say, "God bless you and your work in Cape Town, Mitchells Plain, Crossroads, Soweto, Alexandra, Johannesburg, Durban and Ulundi. We saw it, we shared it, and we shall not forget your fellowship and kindness nor your excitement and hope for a new South Africa amidst all your worry."
The task is how best to help South Africans to build a future for their country. I believe that it is self-evident that their political system is inadequate to meet the aspirations of those people. We should address ourselves to encouraging the process of reform which will allow all in South Africa to have a voice. The main political question is no longer apartheid but power. The question is not "whether change"? but "when". It is not good enough for the House to promote steps that will lead to change for the sake of change. We must look beyond, and not destroy the inheritance of South Africans even before it is claimed.
Quick change, based on violence and not constitutional reform, would be a dangerous road to follow, but only as dangerous as not responding to the urgent demands for reform now.
The experience of going to South Africa has changed my understanding of the situation, which is hardly surprising. All three parliamentarians revised their views whilst there, and I express my support for my two hon. Friends the Members for Southwark and Bermondsey and for Burnley, who may be saying slightly surprising things to their parties.
Why should Conservative Members consider a change in policy? The first reason for considering a change is the urgency of the matter. I say that not just because the security situation is dire but because the polarisation of views within the black community and the white community, and therefore between them both, is increasing frighteningly quickly: hence the breakdown between generations in the townships, the anarchy and the frightening necklaces. That undermines the work of reconciliation. It is vital that such polarisation is arrested quickly, for it contains the seed of an African Lebanon. It calls for prompt action internally and begs the question of action externally.
The second reason for considering a change in policy is that I must honestly report to my colleagues that, although our view on sanctions is understood intellectually by both blacks and whites in all sections of South African society, sometimes wholeheartedly and sometimes with reservations, there is genuine scepticism among black South Africans about whether we are doing all we can. Despite assurances of our position, that we oppose apartheid, seek the release of political prisoners, and support the unbanning of political groups, there is a feeling that that is not enough.
I report that feeling objectively, but I stress to colleagues the respect in which Britain is held, the need for Britain to be a leading part of the international community and the Commonwealth, and the crucial point that such a view of our position must not be lost. I firmly believe that the Government's position until now has been right. I suggest only that, in response to the EPG and other opinion, we should take note of the pace of change and of developments in South Africa.
Between full economic sanctions, which I do not support, and the measures that we have already taken, which I do, there is a fair gap. Moving into that gap, in concert with others—for it must be so—in a limited way should now be an option for the Government to consider. But there is another side. I return firmly convinced that the people of South Africa need more support, not less, more encouragement and persuasion and less isolation. Any effective reform process must be fuelled from inside and not outside South Africa. That is where the pressure now comes from.
The political imperatives for positive support must be obvious. Give those who are attempting reform nothing —and they include members of the white Government—give them no credit or support whatever, and what does one put in their hands with which to defeat the white Right wing? Even more obviously, we must put something in the hands of moderate black African leaders. They must have some fruits for their patience and non-violence —otherwise, why should their people follow them? I believe that the key to such positive action lies in identifying the priorities in South Africa for the development of black aspirations both outside and inside the political arena. The political agenda is already well developed, and I hope that I do not need to elaborate my support for a quick end to apartheid and for constitutional reform. But there is an urgent need for equality of health care, for improved housing and, above all, for education.
Those are areas in which the international community can assist further, and in which this Government are already working. By identifying non-governmental agencies through which to act, some of the basic problems of poverty and ignorance, which fuel political instability throughout the world, could be tackled. That must be coupled with, and be in step with, internal political reform. I believe that that represents the best hope for the development of a sound future for all races in South Africa. I commend it to those who seek only the negative road of sanctions, for this is a positive way of showing support for the black community, and I believe that it would do us much credit.
I shall develop just one of those points, that relating to education. The scale of the problem of education for black South Africans is immense. South Africa has huge rural areas, and townships where some blacks claim that there has not been effective black education for 10 years. Over generations the failure of black education has removed a generation of moderate, effective black African leaders who could, even now, join those who already exist to resist the radicals. Of course, educational reform is long-term. However, there is no time to lose. We might think seriously of supporting the calls to give black education back to the churches. That is how things were in the past, and it may ensure goodwill and success for the future.
I turn finally to those who believe that the bulk of the trouble is caused by Communist agents among the black South African people. Let me tell them that, if a western democracy is to be created in South Africa, if capitalism is to survive there, and if we are to remain friends with the South Africa of the future, some of the things in which we believe will have to work. One cannot lecture the black migrant worker who earns nothing and lives in a hostel in Alexandra about capitalism and tell him that it is good for him. One cannot lecture the disfranchised and tell them that Communist state control will take from them the wealth and power that they have never had. One cannot lecture those with no aspirations, or hope of advancement for themselves and their families in the present system, that something else will be worse, and genuinely expect to remain credible.
If we are to secure a commitment to ideals that we hold dear in democratic, social and economic terms, all South Africans must have the benefit of them now, and we must make sure that they system works. That is the best and only way—not repression — of reassuring those who propose alternative political and economic systems. We should have the courage to support reform in South Africa, to join those working for reconciliation and fellowship there, and to show that we are on the side of those who say no to oppression, no to fear, no to injustice, and no to revenge. They include all good black, white, coloured and Indian people working with the spirit of God in South Africa—truly the South Africans of the future. We have seen them; give them a chance.
I intend to be brief, as there is nothing new to say about this subject. All hon. Members seem to agree—that is, if they mean what they say—that apartheid is an evil and inhumane system that should go. There seems to be general agreement about the remarks of the EPG that the South African situation threatens the worst bloodshed to be seen since the second world war. Consequently, I wish merely to ask what hon. Members would do if they were black South Africans faced by that situation. What would they do in a situation where the normal democratic rights and processes do not exist? They do not have a vote or access to any of the normal democratic institutions to deal with the assault on their fundamental human dignity, nor do they have the right of peaceful protest. They are banned when they try it; they are shot and gassed.
In such circumstances is it not remarkable that there has not been a great deal more violence? Martin Luther King said of South African blacks 20 years ago that they had withstood abuse and persecution with a dignity and calmness of spirit seldom paralleled in human history. How much more is that tribute due to the South African blacks today? The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) listed many areas in which there had been massive violence and admitted that there had been a great deal less in South Africa. The question that Conservative Members have to ask themselves is, what would they do as blacks with no access to any peaceful method of redressing injustices?
What are the blacks doing? Those who see that violence brings its own evils are asking us for something moderate. They are asking Britain to do less than it did when its territorial rights were threatened in a small dispute in the South Atlantic affecting only 1,800 people. Then the British Government asked for international sanctions, which they backed up with great physical force. The blacks in South Africa are not asking for that. They are asking simply for international sanctions to help them create circumstances in which dialogue can begin between black and white about the creation of a non-racial democracy in South Africa. That is all they are asking.
In Tokyo some weeks ago the leaders of the most powerful industrial nations met, rightly, to discuss the threat of international terrorism and to take action to deal with it. I say "rightly" because it is a serious problem, but it is in no way as serious as the problem which, in the eyes of eminent world statesmen appointed by the leaders of the Commonwealth, threatens violence and bloodshed on the scale of the second world war. Mr. Shultz, the American Secretary of State, walked out of that Tokyo meeting and said. "Gaddafi, pal, you have had it; you are isolated." What is wrong with the same leaders meeting again to discuss the serious situation in South Africa and with Mr. Shultz, or anyone else, saying, "Botha, pal, you have had it; you are isolated."? What is wrong with taking the necessary steps to ensure that he is isolated?
Like the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) I recognise the horrors of the apartheid regime in South Africa. There has been virtually no disagreement in the House all day on that. The question is, how can we in this country help to change that regime? I want to make a vital distinction between general economic sanctions, which I do not favour, and particular measures about which I shall say more in a moment.
President Kaunda was quoted as calling for sanctions to shorten the agony of the front-line states. That remark reminded me of a statement by Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, then Prime Minister of this country, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Lagos in 1966, when he said that it was likely that the rebellion in Rhodesia would be over in weeks rather than months. Yet it lasted for another 15 years. I do not think that the duration of the Rhodesian UDI gives much guidance about how long the problem may last in South Africa before apartheid is removed. If anything, the chances are that it is likely to last longer than the problem in Rhodesia. That is what makes me nervous about any suggestion of all-out economic sanctions.
The ratio of the population in South Africa makes it more difficult for the blacks to achieve success. The ratio of black to white in South Africa is 5:1 against 22:1 in Rhodesia. The economy in South Africa is stronger and it is in the hands of the whites. There would be more incentive for outsiders to evade sanctions because the pickings of evasion would be richer and buccaneers from all over the world would be plunging in to take those pickings.
It would be easier than in Rhodesia for people to evade the sanctions because South Africa has thousands of miles of coastline. Rhodesia did not have a coastline, although it had an opening to South Africa. To the north of South Africa there are front-line states that could not be expected to impose full economic sanctions because they are so totally dependent on commerce with South Africa. For example, 94 per cent. of Zimbabwe's trade goes through South Africa.
Another factor that leads in the same direction is the history and nature of the Afrikaner. Very little has been said about that. The white population of Rhodesia was largely of British stock. We can be stubborn at times, but I do not think our stubbornness is a patch on the stubbornness of the Afrikaner. Those who call for full economic sanctions fail to take that into account.
The Afrikaners have been in South Africa since 1652. They believed from the beginning that they had a covenant with God to rule that country. That required them to be top race, and the black man, by God's ordinance, was inferior.
The Hottentots and others were there. The British arrived in South Africa only in 1805—many decades after the Afrikaners. The Afrikaners have only one passport. Unlike many people of British stock in South Africa, they do not have the option of going to another country.
The right hon. Member for Clydesdale (Dame J. Hart) said that influencing the economy was the key to solving the problem. I think that she is wrong. Influencing attitudes is the key to solving the problem. If we think that influencing the economy is the key, we are deluding ourselves dangerously. Influencing the economy may indirectly influence people's attitudes, but it is the attiudes that we have to consider, and the stubbornness of the Afrikaner should not be underestimated. The road through general economic sanctions would probably be long, hard and bloody. Indeed, general economic sanctions might arrest the processes of change in South Africa, such as they are at present.
I do not rule out more measures. Some are mentioned in the report of the Eminent Persons Group. My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary spelt out some of the criteria that we should apply in considering measures. I agree with the criteria that he stated. We have to choose them carefully and make sure that they stiffen white resistance as little as possible. We have to make sure that they will do the minimum harm to the blacks. They must be applied internationally. It is no good if just a small group of countries applies measures.
My next point echoes the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) who made an excellent and constructive speech. Incidentally, I have not found much constructive content in the speeches of Opposition Members. We must try to remove the fear of the Afrikaners and the whites in general so far as we can. We should he looking for non-confrontational ways to encourage the South African Government to release Nelson Mandela. From what I have heard of Nelson Mandela, that would be a positive and helpful move to achieve a dialogue. Those who have met Mr. Mandela speak highly of his moderation and good sense. His involvement in a dialogue would be a key to progress.
If there is to be a dialogue, there must be an agenda for dialogue. That is missing at present. It would be a mistake to imagine that we could impose an agenda. An obvious impression of interference from outside will not work. The agenda must be South African generated and there must be a South African solution. Many of those who call for drastic sanctions overlook the fact that the solution can only come from inside South Africa.
We should be assisting those who believe in peaceful change. I agree with earlier comments that we should support Chief Gatsha Buthelezi. The experiment in Kwazulu-Natal and the indaba there is enormously interesting. Under that experiment, 30 organisations are sitting down to thrash out how to achieve a common administration and a common assembly. As I understand it, the principle of a common administration has already been conceded by the Pretoria Government.
I was very interested in the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North about help for African education. That idea is worth following up.
Those who call for all-out economic sanctions may find that such a call makes them feel better —my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Thomas) made that point very well — but they will achieve very little else that is positive. Their policies might result in more bloodshed than is likely at present, and they certainly would not work for decades.
It is 11 years since I visited South Africa and Kwazulu and witnessed some of the things described by Conservative Members, but which Opposition Members have described more accurately. I visited the Legislative Assembly in 1975, and black after black went to the microphone and declared that they were not afraid to die for their freedom. It is now 1986 and little has changed. If the blacks were saying that 11 years ago, what can they be saying now?
Kwazulu was supposed to become one of the eight viable, independent states within South Africa, where the black man could enjoy separate development. An article in the Rand Daily Mail stated:
In practice, they will amount to little more than a chain of labour reservoirs to which white South Africa will send requisition orders for workers. There cannot be many who believe in the theory any more.
The Zulus do not believe it and to suggest that they do is a totally inaccurate portrayal of their feelings.
Having reluctantly agreed to implement the Government's policy of separate development, the Zulus are beginning to realise that the homelands policy is based on diverting the attention of the blacks away from clamouring for justice and equality in a common society.
Speaker after speaker in 1975 argued that agreement must be reached soon on a fair share for all in the considerable economic wealth of South Africa; anomalies in land, development, education and opportunity, and the long list of inequalities and discrimination had to be ended. That was said 11 years ago.
Many Conservative Members have quoted from Chief Buthelezi's speeches. I interviewed Chief Buthelezi 11 years ago while I was working as a journalist. He said:
We have been prepared to endure abuse in the hope that the Government's policy may he a road to real fulfilment for blacks. If this road is leading only to a cul-de-sac, then our only alternative is to seek fulfilment not in unreal separate freedoms, but in one South Africa and the only seat of power which is Parliament.
It is obviously a false premise to suggest that Chief Buthelezi has adduced the argument that some Conservative Members have put forward.
The speeches made in that assembly 11 years ago were very interesting. The guest of honour was the Minister for Bantu Administration and Education. Among his several platitudes was a remark which, taken in the context of South Africa's annual expenditure, completely gives the lie to Nationalist claims that their policy for the blacks is one not of separation, but of equality. He said:
I think that we are all agreed that a properly educated and trained people is the most essential prerequisite for a developing country and can perhaps be regarded as the cornerstone of the infrastructure to be provided.
A simple look at the Government's figures shows that they count defence and the maintenance of white privilege as their top priorities. In education, as some of my hon. Friends have said, the gap between the amount spent on whites and that on blacks has widened year by year. Six times as much is spent on white education as on black education.
How long must the blacks wait? Does the House recall the "Give us six months" speech of Mr. Vorster in 1975? That certainly raised expectations, but little has happened.
I address my next question to people who have not been to the homelands. How would they feel if they were black, living in the homelands and had to watch their children die from measles because they could not afford the vaccine to treat the measles? How would they feel if they were in hospital and the surgeon had to send the instruments 30 miles down the road to be sterilised? That is the reality of life in the homelands of South Africa. If anyone needs to confirm that evidence, they can speak to the Dutch doctors who are trying to provide medical services in some of the poor hospitals in the homelands.
To see children dying from measles and other dseases, which could be treated, simply because they are black, lays the lie to any arguments that equality is being sought in South Africa, which is one of the richest countries in the world. By choosing the publication day of the Eminent Persons Group report to declare a state of emergency and to gag the media, the South African Government have destroyed their last vestige of credibility—if they ever had any.
People have argued that there have been reforms. For the blacks, probably the most important reform since apartheid was first introduced has been the abolition of that document of repression—the pass—without which a black could not work in an urban area. Failure to produce that meant immediate arrest. Even its abolition has not give blacks a feeling of freedom, according to the Eminent Persons Group. The report stated:
The abolition of the 'pass'… has evoked at best scepticism, at worst indifference.
The idea that black people are to have a new form of mobility and will be able to move into urban areas is clearly nonsense when the housing shortage is acute in all urban areas. The system will continue under which men and women are separated and prostitution is encouraged by the South African Government. Men are herded into hostels; the women are left to scratch a living in the nonviable homelands and to raise their children in great poverty. That is the reality of life in South Africa today.
Surely, sanctions are the least and the most at the moment that the outside world can do to put pressure on South Africa. The Government's reluctance to make any credible suggestions today shows how deeply involved they are financially in propping up that abhorrent way of life in South Africa. The City of London and some Conservative Members have more than a passing interest in retaining the status quo. Otherwise, why not have a boycott on South African gold, which is so essential to its economy? That could be changed overnight—as soon as a policy that will do justice to the majority in that country is put into action.
Sanctions, even at this late stage in the history of South Africa, would represent an attempt to alter the course of history. Now is the time to stand up and be counted. The Government's feeble response to the tragedy that is now unfolding before our eyes in South Africa is an indictment of their refusal to face reality. I ask them tonight to change their mind on this issue, before they are indicted for more murders in South Africa.
The hard truth about South Africa is that the South African Government are determined to keep control of the country in the hands of the white community, come what may. We British, on our colonisation of Africa, never seriously pretended that we would be there permanently, because our ethos of government is and was democratic. We who worked in the African colonies know that we were working ourselves out of a job. We trained Africans to take over from us, and we taught them our values and our standards of government, many of which remain, despite outward appearances. We always believed in government by consent. That is why the empire developed into a Commonwealth.
However, the South Africans of the National party, the majority of the Afrikaners, reckon that they are there to stay, as an alien minority. They have nowhere else to go. They intend to buttress their position. In order to do so, they evolved a theory of racial superiority, which gave them a spurious moral justification to disregard democracy. That theory, when applied at ground level, person to person, is inevitably cruel and offensive. The South African regime, in its determination to retain power at all costs, is as vile and wicked as anything that we can see in the contemporary world, despite the outward trappings of civilised society.
I see no difficulty in supporting the Government's amendment. Indeed, I see no difficulty in supporting the Opposition's motion I would not vote against it. It is wrong for people to suggest that there is a split in the Conservative party or in the House as a whole. We are talking about the practical difficulties of securing fundamental change in South Africa, not about the principles of the matter.
It is clear that the Government wish to see an end to apartheid and a fundamental change in the political control of South Africa. The question is what sort of change and how to achieve it. We must not allow ourselves to be regarded as being on the side of South Africa simply because we do not know what to do to change that control. We have to do something, both as a moral duty in dissociating ourselves from what is going on there, and because, like it or not, inaction will surely bring greater disasters both for South Africa and for supposed friends such as ourselves.
We do not want to bring about changes by destroying the South African economy, nor do we want to take measures ourselves that will not be effective and supported by all the countries that matter. But action—real action — of some sort there has to be. Our need to defend South Africa's right to pursue its own domestic policies without outside interference, taking into account our investments there and its strategic position, has been like a millstone around our neck. If we do not cast it aside and insist on significant and fundamental changes, it will be our interests in Africa that will perish.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook), and particularly the hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt). I share his Christian faith, but, alas, I lack his strength to carry it out with the same commitment. I see the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) smiling again at the expression of someone's Christian faith, in the same way as he did when his hon. Friend was speaking. I do not know why he should be embarrassed by Christ. Many people in the world are not.
More so than any other hon. Member who spoke, the hon. Member for Bury, North reached the essence of the argument. Stripping away the economic, political and social arguments that can be put up, at the end of the day the debate is essentially about morals, as the hon. Member for Orpington said. Those two hon. Members should bear in mind the attitude of many of their hon. Friends. As has been said by my hon. Friends, the Tory party is a friend of apartheid. It is strange that Conservative Members preface all their remarks by saying, "We do not like apartheid. We deplore apartheid, but … We do not like it, but …"
The Tories think that the National party rule in South Africa is very good, and that President Botha should be given the benefit of the doubt. They welcomed him to Britain in 1984. They now welcome his reforms, calling them positive measures and denying that they are irrelevant. But only two out of the 317 apartheid laws have been removed, and Botha has made it clear that he is opposed to any removal of white minority rule.
The opposition of Tory Members of Parliament and the Tory party to apartheid is half-hearted for a particular reason. At least 34 Conservative Members have declared directorships and interests in companies with assets in South Africa. At least six Tory Members of Parliament have been on South African Government-sponsored visits since 1983. Indeed, with the hon. Members for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) and for Luton, North, we wonder whether they represent South Africa in this country as their paid lackeys.
The Liberals make tine remarks about apartheid, but they still have their sister party in South Africa — the white-led Progressive Federal party, which supports the notorious federal solution. The Social Democratic party talks of a confederal solution in southern Africa, but its economics adviser, the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Wrigglesworth), is a paid adviser of Barclays Bank, a key bank in South Africa.
The arguments against apartheid have been made on many of the levels that I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. but I should like to look at the role of Wales and the relationship of Welshmen to South Africa. I am not pleased to say it, but some of that relationship has been grossly shameful. It does not apply to all Welsh people. It is long ago that Dai Francis, the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, with Glyn Simon, Archibishop of Wales, held a vigil on the night when Nelson Mandela was sent to prison. He has since been incacerated for an obscene number of years. Many good Welsh people have struggled continually over the years in the fight for the anti-apartheid movement. But not all of them. To personal and national shame, many people have sought to forge cultural and sporting links with South Africa, giving succour and credence to the anti-Christian regime there.
On Friday 11 February 1983 The Guardian published an article entitled "How South African money is made to talk in Britain." I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Brigton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) has now left the Chamber because I wanted to ask him to explain his role as a council member of the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, which is a Right-wing publishing house and lobbying group with which the hon. Members for Luton, North and for Macclesfield and the noble Lord Chalfont are associated. The institute is funded by South African secret service money. The South African secret service also funds the Freedom of Sport Association, of which the noble Lord Chalfont is president.
The hon. Gentleman knows that what I have said is so. He knows the truth.
When Lord Chalfont was challenged as he got off the plane at London airport on his return from South Africa, he said, with a convenient lapse of memory, when he was asked who had paid for his ticket, "I have forgotten," or, "I do not know." One cannot imagine someone making a visit to South Africa and then not knowing who had paid for his ticket.
The record of people, as outlined in many publications during recent years, is shameful in their connection with the filthy money that is given out by the South African secret service.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice on whether it is in order for an hon. Member to cast aspersions on Members of this House and another place with an accusation that we are in receipt of money from a South African source?
Hon. Members should not cast doubt on the integrity and probity of Members of either Rouse. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) did not go quite that far, but I hope that he will bear in mind that, when the 10-minute rule applies, it is difficult for an hon. Member to seek redress by intervening.
It is indeed. That is why I went out of my way to mention the Foreign Affairs Research Institute and the Freedom of Sport Association and stated that those organisations receive their funding from the Bureau for State Security—BOSS—the South African Government and from the South African Rugby Board, which incidentally, got a quid pro quo grant from the South African Government equivalent to the amount of money that they gave to the Freedom of Sport Association.
Those are the links between Britain and South Africa that are funded by that money. We know why those people are associated with those links. I wish that they would be honest about it. If they wish to advocate their views for whatever political reason, it is up to them; but it is not for them then to come to the House and say that they are against apartheid and that they do not support the regime in South Africa when they have bent all their efforts for many years to be apologists for South Africa in the same shameful way that the House many years ago had apologists for Hitler and the Fascist regimes that were developing in Europe.
Opposition members have no problem. We have laid down our markers. We are against apartheid and we wish to do something about it. That is the essential difference between the two sides of the House.
It is extraordinary that the House should be subjected to such a corrosive flow of cynicism on the subject of South Africa. It is extraordinary that the view of the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) should be that no hon. Member—this is the conclusion that I am compelled to draw — can ever adopt any view based on genuine personal conviction; there must always be some rather nasty association. The hon. Gentleman can wave papers at me but that does not dispute my point.
It is important to note that the distinction that the hon. Gentleman and many like him fail to make about many Conservative Members is that we do not support apartheid. We do not support the South African Government, but we have a genuine interest in South Africa and all its people and we wish to see them improve their position, flourish and survive. That is an entirely genuine and legitimate aspiration for any hon. Member. Having that aspiration does not associate an hon. Member with any part of apartheid. That point must be made repeatedly.
The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. David Owen), the leader of the SDP said that there was not enough moral indignation. I am sorry that he is not in his seat. It seems to me, listening to the debate this evening, that so great has been the flow of moral indignation on the subject, year after year, decade after decade, that it could be described as the longest running political show in town.
Does it matter whether we show moral indignation at this time'? We are trying to do something effective; the word "effective" appears in both the motion and the amendments on the Order Paper. We should direct our attention to the word "effective". In that context I remind the hon. House of the warning given long ago by the great German poet Goethe who said:
Beware those in whom the urge to condemn is overpowering.
We see a lot of hon. Members tonight in whom the urge to condemn is overpowering. I should like to see the urge to help, to analyse, to assist and to find solutions coming forth from the House rather than the urge to condemn.
The wheel has turned full circle since we debated Rhodesia and sanctions on that country nearly 20 years ago. I shall not attempt to make any ritual condemnation of apartheid to make my purpose clear. My purpose is to define the objective and to examine, if time permits, the Eminent Persons Group report.
It is not difficult to define what is needed in South Africa. We all want a stable, prosperous, self-confident society in South Africa, which enjoys self and international respect. No one would dispute that. What are the conditions of recovery? First, they are partly a constitutional process, which as several right hon. and hon. Members said, only the South Africans themselves can devise, so complex is their position. Let us never forget that. It is without doubt the most complex political system on the face of the earth today.
Secondly, we want to see equality of opportunity and treatment. How do we get there? We want to see an acceptable and defensible structure of power. How do we get there? We want to see an acceptable amalgam —again that is something which is unique to South Africa —of racial relationships and attitudes, which will be not offensive but acceptable. How do we get there?
The problem is not so much to interpret the problems, each of which in itself is profoundly difficult, as to find the route to solving them. How do we get from the position in South Africa today to what will exist in perhaps three, five or ten years' time? I would be the first to concede that there is not much time left.
The best definition that I have ever heard of racial prejudice is
false fears leading to real sorrows.
South Africa has got beyond that. It has reached the point where those fears and sorrows have been fulfilled and extended. Real sorrows now lead to real fears and real fears to intransigence and intransigence to the entrenchment of prejudice, violence and destruction. That is the vicious circle that we must break. The political processes are increasingly frozen into immobility. The road back is difficult. The road back from any cauldron of hatred and suspicion—whether it be Beirut, Sri Lanka, the Punjab, Soweto, Uganda or even Ulster — is not known or signposted for political tourists, even those who go to those countries for visits of two or three weeks. There are no route maps. There is plenty of advice but few listen. We are deafened. They are deafened by the violence. The only criteria which the communities out there obey are the criteria of day-to-day survival.
Will sanctions break the cycle? No, they will compound the difficulties. They will entrench the attitudes. They will justify the "I told you so's". They will postpone the solutions. The choice has never been better put than it was put in the House nearly 200 years ago by Burke. It is a choice between "change by insensible degree" and
the unfixing of old interests at once.
Burke outlined the difficulties for us. Of the former, he said that it
has all the benefits which may be in change without any of the inconvenience of mutation".
Of the latter, he said that it
is a thing which is apt to breed a sullen discontent. A gradual course … will prevent men under long oppression from being intoxicated with a large new draught of new power, which they always abuse with a licentious insolence".
Burke was as correct then as he would be today.
Anything that aggravates the political or economic discontent in South Africa or anywhere else will stimulate insolence and enlarge license. But my main objection is much more fundamental. Sanctions are an indiscriminate method of attacking a particular objective. They are totally indiscriminate and undiscriminating in their consequences. They could be described, although I would not seek to press the anology too far, as a form of political terrorism.
What are we attacking? We are attacking a detestable political perversion, not unlike the psychopathic behaviour of an individual. But for the individual we identify the symptoms, we give treatment that is specific, we isolate if all else fails and we do not starve and assault the patient.
Do sanctions differentiate between those who detest and those who support apartheid? Do they differentiate between those just born and those about to die? Do they differentiate between those who have the power of decision and those who have no power of decision? Do they differentiate between those — there are such in South Africa —who love freedom and those who have nothing but contempt for it? Do they differentiate between the poor and the rich? Do they differentiate between those who understand our motives in this House and those who have nothing but contempt for them? Do they differentiate between those who value western opinion and those who hold it in contempt? Do they differentiate between those whose fathers and grandfathers died in Flanders and at Alamein and those who sympathise with Hitler? Do they differentiate between those who nurture and nourish racism and those who are ashamed and disturbed by any lapse of human dignity and courtesy, whether it occurs in South Africa or anywhere else? Do they differentiate between those who have devoted their lives to bettering the conditions of Africans everywhere in southern Africa and those who, for whatever reason, have done nothing? Do they differentiate between those who have £1 million in their bank accounts and those who have very little in their bank accounts? Finally, do they differentiate between those who wish to negotiate change and those who are intransigent about change?
The answer, as the House well knows, to everyone of those questions is no. Sanctions do not differentiate. They are a blunt and ineffective weapon. I entirely support Her Majesty's Government in refusing to support sanctions.
Until three weeks ago my justification for speaking in the debate would have been my theoretical and political opposition to apartheid. But, as the House has already heard, three weeks ago my hon. Friends the Members for Bury, North ( Mr. Burt) and for Burnley (Mr. Pike) and I went to southern Africa. All of us would now say, as the Foreign Secretary implied about his visit to South Africa, that that experience has probably changed our lives more profoundly than any other experience to date.
To be in Crossroads a matter of a day or two after 20,000 to 30,000 people were made homeless from that squatter camp, where their homes had been only corrugated iron shacks; to be in Soweto talking to somebody who had survived necklacing, but only just, a matter of a few days before; and, on the other hand to be in Alexandra township in a church with people who are still prepared to keep faith and believe that it is possible for justice to be done; and to be with Christian politicians who are prepared to meet across political parties and colour boundaries to work for reconciliation, has left us all profoundly changed. We all share the words that the Eminent Persons Group used to begin the first chapter of its report:
None of us was prepared for the full reality of apartheid.
That visit was a privilege. It was a privilege to be invited by Christians in southern Africa as Christians from Britain. We came back more than ever convinced that the future of South Africa is the most important moral, spiritual, political and international issue today.
The United Kingdom has a uniquely important responsibility. As a former colonial power, as head of the Commonwealth in practical terms over the years, as a key European Community nation, as one of the seven economic Western powers and as the country with nearly 45 per cent. of direct and indirect investment in South Africa, we have probably the key international responsibility. What is more, in South Africa we are perceived as having probably the key international responsibility. I say in all honesty, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North said, that, whatever the words used by the Government and whatever their honesty, the other perception is that we are not committed to bringing about a change in time.
The goal is obvious. The House has enunciated it often. It is to dismantle apartheid. It is to achieve a just society. It is to bring about a prosperous non-racial South Africa. What are the realities? The realities are that there is a third world country for the black peoples of southern Africa and a first world country for the whites; that the inequalities are enormous; that the economic situation is declining with rising unemployment, a worsening financial situation and companies increasingly pulling out; and that the Government regime is on the defensive.
The Government have wanted reform but they have not yet committed themselves to the dismantling of apartheid. Reform, as the Eminent Persons Group has clearly said, is all that the Government are willing to support so far. Many are people who have prejudice and fears. Sonic have accepted the need for fundamental change. Many have moved out of their laager, which has been taken by the extreme Right. Many know that they cannot go back, but do not yet have the courage to go forward. They probably have all sorts of inhibitions about doing so.
There has been superficial desegregation. Some legislation has been repealed, but, as hon. Members have said, the two pillars of apartheid—the lack of political equality and the Group Areas and Registrations Act which underpin apartheid—are still there. Increasingly, in the white, Indian and coloured communities people are desperate for the Government to move in South Africa. But in the black communities there is a far more severe problem. Increasingly large numbers — thousands, probably millions, particularly of the younger peoples in townships—of black youngsters are losing patience and many are taking the law into their own hands because they have concluded that white capitalist Christianity has not shown them any solution.
I know that because they have told us and because we have seen that. It is because it is not in anybody's interests that that should continue that my right hon. Friends the Members for Bury, North and for Burnley and I, as three politicians from different parties, have a duty to say that to the House today. The black archdeacon whom we met in Johannesburg said:
You Europeans came here and preached your faith and European culture on the basis of Christian equality and then you rejected us as equals.
What can people feel like after that? That leads to violence.
South Africa will never be able to accommodate all people. There will always be extremists who will not be willing to accept any solution, but we must push them to the margins to reduce their numbers and we must not overplay the Right-wing backlash. Only 15,000 people turned up at a rally at which 60,000 were expected on republic day at the Voortrekker monument at the end of May. But many more people are willing to become extreme in the townships, and that is something that the international community cannot allow to continue.
What action can we take that would be in the interests of all the people of South Africa? Action is taking place internally and political pressure is mounting to end apartheid and to see the beginning of economic, social and political justice. We should judge other action by its effect on South Africa and on Africa and only then on the United Kingdom and the West. Events in South Africa are leading towards bloodshed and death and are reducing the prosperity of Africa as a whole. Events are alienating the United Kingdom from a future black South Africa and from the greater continent, and are leading to alienation of the West, which will prevent us from playing any key role in the future of that black continent.
How may we judge which action is effective? The test, as people have begun to enunciate, is what brings about a change of attitudes in South Africa. We may have differences of view, and so do people in South Africa. Increasingly, however, more people, black and white, are saying that economic sanctions are now the only course to follow. That is the only peaceful way of filling the vacuum between diplomatic sanctions, which are too meagre, and the military option, which is too severe. The South African Government know the effectiveness of sanctions as they periodically use them against their neighbours. Sanctions have proved effective on them.
It may not be in our short-term interests, but it will be in our mid and long-term interests to use sanctions, and we must base our decision on that and not on the interests of tomorrow or next week. The issues are not simple, but pressure has to include economic pressure on South Africa. If the House did not believe that before, it should believe it now after the Eminent Persons Group has made that very clear.
My party's policy on this issue has been clear for many years. In 1959 the Liberal party called for a national boycott of South African goods in Britain. In the same year, we condemned the Conservative Government for voting against a motion condemning apartheid at the General Assembly of the United Nations. In 1969 we called on the Labour Government to stop the South African cricket tour that was to take place in 1970. In 1974 we attacked the Labour Government for carrying out naval exercises with the South African navy, and in 1977 we called upon the Labour Government to implement effective economic sanctions against South Africa. People in South Africa have heard about those policies and they complimented me on the position which the Liberal party has been taking for many years.
As an example of bringing about reconciliation we ought to look at Zimbabwe. It has a non-racial society. It does not have a Westminster-style democracy but people are beginning successfully to live together. [HON. MEMBERS: "Zimbabwe is a tyranny."] No, it is not a tyranny. Black and white people believe that Zimbabwe can have a prosperous future, and I share that belief.
My party says that now is the time to tighten the screws on South Africa. The matter is urgent because we do not have much time. As a British newspaper recently commented, Britain has reached a watershed in its policies on South Africa. I know that, traditionally, the advice to the Foreign Secretary by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been that sanctions are not very effective, but increasingly the advice he is now getting is that they must be used and that we must take the initiative in those international organisations of which we are members.
We must not be seduced by arguments about constructive engagement. Lord Barber, of the Standard Chartered Bank Ltd., a former Conservative Chancellor, says that we must now take effective economic measures. Lord Barber is the Foreign Secretary's former Cabinet colleague and friend. The Foreign Secretary should listen to him and give our Government credibility. Our constituents require that we now begin to move. The timetable is urgent and a window of opportunity is still open. We must take that opportunity on behalf of all the citizens of South Africa. In large part, their hopes rest with this House.
I should like to start with a comment on some of the Opposition speeches. When they reflect on this debate tomorrow some of them will, or should, regret many of the things that they have said and especially the tone in which they were said.
Let me declare a personal interest because I was born in South Africa. My father's family emigrated there in the 1840s to farm sheep in the Karoo and many of them are still farming there in that strange arid landscape. I was educated in South Africa and came to Britain for the first time at the age of 18. I go back to South Africa frequently and I have a deep concern for the future of that beautiful, complex, and tragic land. It is against that background that I support further sanctions, not as an expression of moral outrage—because it is far too late in the day for that in Anglo-South African relations — but as an instrument of diplomacy: if I may use the expression, I support them in the spirit of continuing constructive engagement.
This diplomacy should be aimed in two directions: first at the internal situation in South Africa, and, second, at the shaping of international policy towards South Africa.
The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) analysed correctly the growing divisions among South African whites, between the verkrampt and the verligt within the Government, within the South African military — an important factor—and notably, as the right hon. Gentleman stressed, within the National party. There is a growing convergence between many nationalists and a majority of the English speakers, and I believe that this is a more important political change than the growth of the Afrikaner Right wing because it opens up the possibility of a return to the formula by which South Africa was governed between 1910 and 1948—as long a period as that since 1948. There is also growing pressure from South African business. Criticisms have come from that quarter in the past, but now they are becoming more anguished and more effective—and more and more it includes Afrikaner business.
British diplomacy and the diplomacy of the West as a whole should be directed to play on those divisions and to promote dialogue, negotiation and accommodation. I was hopeful that this could be done without sanctions and when I returned from South Africa in February I was optimistic about the noises we were picking up about the Eminent Persons Group. But as I should have probably foreseen, the verkrampt tendency has prevailed in the recent attacks on South Africa's neighbours and in the declaration of the state of emergency. The hard-liners have prevailed for the time being, but not necessarily for all time; and so we are inevitably in a new phase—the phase of sanctions.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, pavilion (Mr. Amery) made an excellent speech. He concluded that further pressures would be unnecessary and potentially counter-productive. That of course is a matter for judgment and, for what it is worth, I do not agree with my right hon. Friend. International pressures have already played a big part in bringing about those important measures of progress that have occurred in South Africa.
Moreover, I say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion that we need also to think in terms of influencing the trend of international policy towards South Africa. There is a worldwide drift towards sanctions against South Africa and this drift is now irresistible, whether in the EEC, or in the Commonwealth—where I think we now have an implicit commitment flowing from the Nassau accord—or in the United States where the pressure is coming from within the Congress, if not from the Administration.
Outside South Africa no country's interests are more deeply affected by this drift than Britain's, and it is crucial that we should be able to influence and, to the extent that we can, direct this irresistible international trend towards sanctions. But we can do this only by joining in that trend.
So we should commit ourselves to further measures against South Africa in order to be better able to promote constructive developments inside South Africa and a constructive international policy towards that country. That raises the rather basic question of what developments we should regard as constructive and especially that of the sort of sanctions that we want to encourage. I submit four criteria. The first is that we should avoid unnecessary hardship. I note an element of inconsistency in the speech of the right hon. Member for Devonport, who urged a ban on new investment because it would be less harmful than other forms of economic pressure, but then went on to talk about a ban on fruit and vegetable imports. As I pointed out in an intervention, that would be very damaging immediately to a lot of very poor people. Secondly, the sanctions we adopt should be such that everybody will operate them—and that must mean that they must be limited. Third, they should also be capable of being effectively monitored.
My fourth criterion is more controversial: our sanctions should be specifically targeted. Here I take up a hint from the speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) who spoke about a rolling programme of sanctions. Implicitly, he was saying that we should convey the threat that if nothing is done sanctions will be further increased. I would add the further thought that we should offer the prospect of some relief from those sanctions, if progress were made. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that this important point is another implication of his concept of a rolling programme of sanctions.
Finally, what sort of steps within South Africa should we regard as progress? Here I strike a note of dissent from my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion in that I believe we must get the South African Government to recognise that it is no longer merely a question of the reform of economic and social apartheid, where admittedly there has been some real progress. Now we must get the South African Government to recognise that the issue is not what they do for the blacks, but what they do with the blacks. It is a question not of economic and social apartheid being abolished, but of political apartheid being abolished.
On the political front, I agree with the right hon. Member for Devonport that we should not seek to dictate the future shape of the South African constitution. In particular, we should not prejudge the difficult, indeed the central, question of the balance between the ethnic principle and the principle of a common South African citizenship. Both elements are likely to be present in any settlement. Certainly a common South African citizenship is fundamental for us; but I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion that ethnicity also reflects a fundamental reality in South Africa which probably cannot be disregarded.
Those are, however, matters for the people of South Africa to work out for themselves. The basic objective of our policy should be, not so much to press a particular outcome but to promote a process — a dialogue which involves all parties, all personalities and all interests. Let that dialogue and those negotiations take place and then we may have to have a genuine debate in this House about the acceptability of its outcome. Meanwhile, the reality is that we are not much divided, so let us unite behind a policy which is designed to get that dialogue going.
I welcome the opportunity to speak in this important debate as I, together with my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) and my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), have recently returned from South Africa. My speech is slightly different from what it would have been if I had not visited South Africa. I have been a member of Anti-Apartheid for 26 years and the only reason why I visited South Africa was because we were invited as three Christian Members of Parliament, and were sponsored by Christians in this country and in South Africa. The arrangements for us were made by Anthony Cordle, who is following this debate closely, and who co-ordinated our Christian contacts in this country and in South Africa.
We had a busy time in South Africa at 39 meetings. We met well over 90 people in formal settings and many people in informal settings. Obviously, our visit to Crossroads, Soweto and Alexandra in Johannesburg had a drastic impact on us. While one may be aware of the position in South Africa from newspaper and television reports, one cannot judge it until one sees it at first hand.
The basis of our visit enabled us to meet people and speak frankly and openly with them, something that would not otherwise have been possible. We met people across the political spectrum of South Africa—from the extreme white Right-wing Members of the Herstigte Nasionale party and Conservative party to the younger Left-wing black extremists in Soweto. It was interesting to meet them and to discuss matters with them.
It is important that the House recognises the importance of the Church in South Africa. Seventy-eight per cent. of the population profess and practise a Christian faith, as is evidenced by church attendances and the way in which people lead their lives. It became clear that whatever legislative decisions are taken by the South African Parliament—they are important and essential— apartheid will not be ended by a parliamentary decision. Only a change in people's hearts and minds will finally resolve the policy of apartheid.
At times when we spoke to members of the HNP and Conservative party I was tempted to wonder why we were wasting our time speaking to people with extreme views who not only believe that no further concessions should be made, but that far too many concessions have already been made. I am in no doubt that we were right to speak to them because it put the issues and difficulties into perspective.
Whether we like it or not, we must accept that, under the tricameral system, the white Parliament has supremacy over the other two Chambers and can take the final decision. The white Parliament and State President Botha have the power. I have grave doubts about whether President Botha genuinely wants to make changes. One of our hosts, who knows the President well, said that 20 years ago President Botha would have been the person least likely to want to make changes. He now believes that President Botha genuinely wishes to make changes but is trapped by the Right-wing extremists in his party. He believes that President Botha needs support and encouragement to make the type of changes that he wishes to make. I do not know whether that is correct.
I listened to the television coverage of Pik Botha's comments at the Pietersburg meeting at the weekend. He is said to be a potential leader of the National party and a more liberal member of that party. I do not know how to judge him from those comments and I wonder how much pressure he was under to make that type of speech.
The clear message from all sections of the community was the urgency of resolving the matter, as there was not much time to resolve it without major bloodshed. We all wish to avoid that. If we fail to negotiate a settlement peacefully the white extremist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging will grow in strength and there will be a further white backlash.
If the South African Government do not recognise the African National Congress and release Nelson Mandela, in a few years' time they may not have to deal with the ANC and certainly not with the ANC as it is at present. More people want to take more extreme measures to achieve their desired solution. Can one blame them when for 40 years they have tried to negotiate an end to apartheid around a table? How would we feel if we were blacks in that position? Without the power to vote and elect representatives, they have few options.
There is a narrow borderline between the French Resistance movement in France during the second world war, who are celebrated as heroes, and the ANC, whose violence is condemned without question. I am totally opposed to violence and hope that we can achieve a settlement in a negotiated and sensible way. One must remember that that country has been occupied by colonial powers for many years. I do not dispute that the colonial powers developed the country but the country is occupied —[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members may say no, but the people have a right to speak.
I believe there is time to negotiate a settlement to achieve a solution but that opportunity must be seized before it is too late; otherwise the non-violent option will cease to exist. I believe that the majority of ordinary white people in South Africa share that view and the blacks and coloureds also believe that there should be a negotiated settlement rather than a bloody settlement.
Within the next few months there will be a key conference of the National party followed by a special session of the South African Parliament. Those opportunities should be positively seized if the right solution is to be achieved. It is absolutely essential that we should end the Act which requires people to be classified and registered by their race. That Act is fundamental to the apartheid system and once it is ended it will remove a fundamental plank of apartheid. It is also essential to abolish the Group Areas Act.
There must be positive change. Many people have argued that some of the changes that have already taken place are not positive and genuine. Although, in theory, a black can now marry a white the question arises where that couple may live because they are restricted as to the areas in which they can reside.
It is no good saying that apartheid has ended on the trains and that there are two mixed carriages on trains when there are still three white carriages at the front. The positive changes are essential because time is fast running out for South Africa. The Dutch Reform Church has its synod within the next few months and it must take a decision to end apartheid within its Church.
If the opportunities are seized a peaceful solution is possible. I hope that that is the case because that is what this House wants, as do the blacks, whites, coloureds and Indians in South Africa.
Time does not allow me to comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) or to refute fully the allegations made by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers). The disgraceful attack made by the hon. Member for Rhondda upon Lord Chalfont and myself will be remembered by the House. He devalued his own argument, if indeed it had any value. His speech was a disgrace to his party, to himself and certainly to the good name of the House.
Apart from that speech and the belligerent attitude of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey)—his speech was characteristic, if not, as per usual, ignorant —the debate has been sensible with rational argument from both sides. It is clear that there is an absolute determination on the Labour Benches that revenge should be sought on P. W. Botha and his Government on the basis of sanctions and any measures which can be imposed upon South Africa.
It is appalling that those in South Africa who are now desperately seeking some form of reform are to be visited with the sins of their fathers. There are people in South Africa of all colours and races who genuinely want to see peaceful change. On the whole, this debate has been a useful contribution towards that change. If Opposition Members continue to wear their consciences on their sleeves and to try to parade various untruths, the argument is lost.
In the short time available to me, I wish to explode one or two myths which have been advanced both inside and outside the House. The first and obvious myth—it was put forward by Opposition Members — is that the African National Congress represents all black opinion in South Africa. That is blatantly untrue and the figures prove it. It is not representative of all the blacks, although it is representative of a section, be it a minority. It is apt at catching media coverage, and one cannot deny that.
The ANC is the perpetrator of many of the murders which have been committed in South Africa in the past few months. It is the perpetrator of the intimidation which has occurred. That was obvious yesterday in Soweto when it kept people from work. It is the perpetrator of the horrific necklace murders supported by Winnie Mandela. It is the perpetrator of the bombings in black and white areas, and the perpetrator of the campaign to undermine the South African Government and those who are moving towards some form of change.
I am pleased to see that my hon. Friend the Minister is here, but I must disagree with her assertion in the House the other day that she was worried that the ANC would fall into Communist hands. The ANC has always been in Communist hands.
The South African Communist party has always had members in the ANC, and I believe that their influence has grown. The greatest threat that faces South Africa is the onslaught of Communism and the fact that it has given some respectability to the ANC. The Government have no business to be talking with the ANC unless it totally refutes the violence which it has perpetrated.
The South African Government are right to assert that, if Nelson Mandela is to be released—I hope that that will happen in the short run—it must be on the basis that he and the ANC renounce all violence and the policy of violence.
The other common myth is that, because the Eminent Persons Group report has failed, there will be bloodshed. The report said that. I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr. Jackson) that the tragedy of the situation is that many of us held out great hope of the report. We believe that there was a genuine dialogue between the members of the Eminent Persons Group and members of the South African Government. The fact that that dialogue has broken down and that the group has produced a one-sided report must be regretted. Many of us on this side of the House, knowing the nature of the Commonwealth secretariat in London and its continued opposition to anything to do with South Africa, will not be surprised that that type of report has been produced.
One must criticise the report because of its lack of evidence. I do not deny that many people were seen, but unfortunately many people were missed out. There is virtually no account or condemnation of the black versus black violence which has now taken over from the violence which previously occurred. I totally condemn the violence which has been perpetrated by some people in South Africa.
There is scant regard in the report for the position of Chief Buthelezi and the 7 million Zulus whom he represents. The report states that there are virtually no reforms in South Africa, but that is nonsense. Many substantial reforms have taken place. Although the reforms may appear to be inadequate to us, we must acknowledge that the situation in South Africa has changed and we should encourage the South African Government to make further changes.
The report has gone wrong and appears to be a failure when one considers its various recommendations. The first
recommendation is that the South African Government should terminate the state of emergency. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that if that were to be done and the security forces were withdrawn there would be terrible bloodshed within the townships. That would not only make them no-go areas: they would be under the total control of the violent section of the ANC. The report declares:
the system of apartheid will be dismantled and specific and meaningful action taken in fulfilment of that intent.
The South Africans are on the road and still have some way to go. The report also recommends establishing
political freedom and specifically lift the existing ban on the African National Congress and other political parties.
The South African Government would be quite willing to lift that ban if only the ANC would abandon its violent policies.
Perhaps the greatest myth which has been espoused by Opposition Members and, to some extent, by some of my right hon. and hon. Friends is that sanctions would help. The report almost argues that, if there were sanctions, the violence would cease immediately. That is nonsense. Everybody admits that sanctions would mean more unemployment. I am rather amused by Opposition Members, who blamed the recent inner-city riots in Britain on unemployment and bad conditions, who now advocate measures against the South Africans which would have exactly the same effect. How can they believe that there will be change against a background of violence and unemployment?
Sanctions would stifle the aspirations of the black middle class, much of which has been encouraged by British companies. The tragedy is that the Opposition's criticism of British companies is quite unfounded. Some of our great companies such as BP and Barclays bank have done an enormous amount of good in South Africa. They have lifted black employees into much better conditions than they would otherwise have enjoyed.
I intend to support the Government on the basis that the effective measures of which the amendment speaks can be positive rather than negative. The Government should be encouraging British companies to invest more in South Africa to help the blacks in their employment and social problems and to raise their wages.
I must tell my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary that, if they take one step towards the escalation of sanctions, they will alienate a large section of the Conservative party inside and outside the House. We are very encouraged so far by the unique stance that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has taken. She is held in respect throughout the world and many look to her for a solution of the problem. There should be no more punitive measures. Rather there should be encouragement, dialogue and participation.
It is always a distasteful task to speak after the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) when he is acting out his role in the House as an apologist for apartheid and racism. I should like to remind him of something that he wrote in a pamphlet entitled, "South Africa and the West:"
The myth that the Republic is a police state and the non-whites an oppressed race should have been buried long ago.
So should the views of the hon. Member. They are not fit to be heard in the House.
The Government's attitude to South Africa and apartheid is one of breathtaking hypocrisy. The Eminent Persons Group, of which we have heard so much today, was originally a device designed by the Prime Minister to try to delay taking any action. She expected it to come back saying, "Do nothing," or, "Do very little." She certainly did not expect it to come back saying that economic sanctions should be imposed. We had evidence to suggest that from the hon. Member for Luton, North, who clearly expected the group to come back with just such a judgment.
Lord Barber is alleged to have said that he would not have become a member of the Eminent Persons Group if he had known at the outset that it would recommend sanctions. In my opinion, it is clear that he was colluding with the Prime Minister in thinking that the group would be a means of delaying definitive action.
We have heard today from the Government the ritual denunciation of apartheid, but they revealed themselves to be steadfastly opposed to any effective measures to end it. The Government are apartheid's greatest friend outside South Africa. They are as much a mainstay of apartheid as the whips and guns of Botha's police. Whatever twisted justification the Prime Minister can now devise to prevent effective sanctions, the world knows the truth—when it comes to South Africa, the present British Government are unprincipled, hypocritical and racist. They will take no effective action against South Africa because of the profits that British companies are making out of apartheid. That applies especially in regard to the profits being made by their Tory friends in the City. Why can the Government not be honest and admit that? They would not get any credit from the Opposition for saying so, but at least we would be able to understand their honesty.
This is a moral issue, not a narrow economic one, although there is an economic perspective. Britain's long-term economic interest also demands effective sanctions now. If South Africa eventually goes up in flames, all British investments now in South Africa will be lost. It will be pointless for a future British Government to go to the new majority black Government and ask, "Please can we have compensation for all the British interests that we lost in the civil war which followed our failure to do anything to prevent it?" We will not be able to do that—we will just be laughed at.
I should like to pick up three arguments which I have heard Conservative Members advance — I have sat through the whole debate. It is argued that what happens in South Africa is not our business and that anyway, we do not impose sanctions on the Soviet Union. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) dealt with that argument at the beginning when he said that we must be involved if South Africa is involved with attacks on Commonwealth states.
So is Russia, but Britain owns half of all foreign investment in South Africa. I was not aware of our owning a large slice of foreign investment in the Soviet Union. That makes a difference. Britain's direct investments in South Africa are worth about £3 billion. I heard the Foreign Secretary say that South Africa is part of the free world. That also should make what happens there our responsibility. I do not accept, however, that South Africa is part of the free world. The hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn) should try to tell that to the 24 million blacks who are denied the right to vote or organise. Living in the free world is a pretty sick joke for them.
We also hear that sanctions will seriously damage the interests of blacks in South Africa and the front-line states. That concern comes ill from Conservative Members. They have never before shown any interest in the blacks in South Africa. Where have they suddenly discovered it now? I prefer to listen to the genuine representatives of black South Africans such as the ANC and representatives of front-line states such as Kaunda and Nyerere. I should also like to know what damages the interests of blacks most, sanctions or apartheid. It is not surprising that, although they know that they will suffer from sanctions, many blacks and their representatives are prepared to say that they want sanctions now because the evils of apartheid are so much worse.
The third argument is that South Africa has made some progress in dismantling apartheid and that, if we impose sanctions, we will imperil that progress. Whatever miserable concessions have been made have been made only because of domestic unrest and external pressure. The people who tell us now not to impose sanctions are the very people who resisted earlier pressure, even the Gleneagles agreement on sporting sanctions.
The truth is that Botha and his Government understand only force. They are terrified of that force and look to the Tory Government to protect them from it. In his speech, the Foreign Secretary made no positive suggestions. He referred only to the need to negotiate. I believe that he deceives himself, and that he deceives himself willingly. President Botha will not negotiate apartheid out of existence. He has said as much, and the Eminent Persons Group verifies it. He will concede only when he is faced by force.
The Government's amendment to the Opposition motion calls for an end to violence on all sides. Apartheid is institutionalised violence. The black majority is denied a part in the political process of South Africa, it is denied the right to form its own organisations, and it is not allowed to vote. We know that Botha will not negotiate, so what is the black majority to do? Is it to sit and wait for the Conservative Government to introduce a few mild sanctions that will not work and that are designed not to work? What options does the black majority have, other than armed resistance?
The fuse in South Africa has almost burned down. Total economic and political sanctions might—but only just—bring about fundamental change. I feel that South Africa is now firmly set on a course for civil war. The cause of the coming bloodbath relates entirely to the brutal system of apartheid. That system has been supported for years by the British and American Governments. We have surrendered any moral influence that once we might have been able to exercise. We are now effectively isolated from the rest of the world. We are in the laager, with the racists of South Africa, and it will remain an eternal stain on the reputation of our country.
I shall not attempt to follow either the tone or the manner of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). In the few minutes that are available to me, I want to make what I hope will be a civilised contribution to a very complicated problem.
In case any hon. Member does not understand the frightfulness of apartheid, let me remind him that it was thought up by the British in order to try to give to the Dutch whites a share in the wealth of South Africa. It is equivalent to me, as a Scottish Member of Parliament, coming to London and being forced to live on the Broadwater Farm estate. That is an absurd and offensive concept, but it is illustrative of the idiocy and frightfulness of apartheid.
When I was in South Africa in October, I said to the South African Government that apartheid cannot be dismantled letter by letter. One cannot take off the "a" and make it "partheid". One cannot take off the "p" and make it "artheid". Apartheid must go, and it must go at once. That is a fundamental concept, whose difficulties I comprehend. Nevertheless, its removal is an essential condition for progress in South Africa. Apartheid must go. It must not go with reluctance. It must be given away — destroyed — with celebration. I tried to leave that message with the South African Government, and I believe that that message should go forth from this House.
However, compared with the last time that I was in South Africa, which was about 18 months previously, I found that there had been a fundamental and huge change. Everybody I met — Indians, blacks, Chief Buthelezi's family, with the exception of a few freaks among the whites and a few freaks among the members of the African National Congress — agreed that we must strike at apartheid and its legislation and work for a constitutional form of government, which will not be and which cannot be the Westminster form of government but which must accommodate what we are all trying to preserve the prosperity that could be the prosperity of any other African country that had had the benefit of European genius for 300 years. Mozambique could have it and Angola could have it; so could Zambia and Malawi. We must try to preserve South African prosperity for the African so that he can share in it. That prosperity must not be destroyed because of a fictional desire to create what are called democratic rights. That is only the right to share in poverty.
The danger in South Africa is that the whites look to the states to the north for their lesson. They say, "Look at what has happened in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique." They are entitled to look with fear at what has happened in those countries. But the blacks do not say to themselves, "Ah, yes, we have better education and better hospitals in Soweto than they have in Malawi or Zambia." They look to the white areas of South Africa and make different comparisons.
Let us remember that there is apartheid in Russia against the Jews, that there is apartheid in the middle east against the Palestinians and that there is apartheid in Zambia against those who are not party members, as there is in Poland and in a dozen other countries. When we say that we are against apartheid and that we are for human equality, let us remember that although apartheid is a word that emanated, thanks to the British, in South Africa, it is not a word that applies only to South Africa and that the concept of apartheid is practised in many other countries.
What do we want to achieve in South Africa? Do we want South Africa to have a Government similar to that in Zimbabwe? There is active, tribal persecution in Matabeleland. Do we want to let loose the terrible conflicts of religion and race that South Africa prospectively is undergoing? I watched the funerals of some of those who were the victims of necklace killings. I saw the fear. Is that what we want to let loose?
Let us not imagine that this is a simple problem. South Africa is not a colonial territory. The blacks, as they are condescendingly called in South Africa, did not live there before the Europeans came. When the Europeans arrived, the Hottentots were there. The Europeans removed the Hottentots. South Africa has a problem that is even bigger than apartheid. It is migration. Blacks are consistently migrating from Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola in order to participate in the wealth that is created by the Europeans.
There is no point in us saying, "Should they not equally share in it?" if we are not willing to think of an intelligent change that will enable the wealth-creating system to continue. There is no point in ruling over a society in which only those who happen to be in power have any wealth, as in Zambia. Let us not be so aesthetic as to say, "Forget these Zambians, Malawians and Mozambicans and sacrifice them all for sanctions." What I noticed most in my recent visit was the vast change by those who are Afrikaans-speaking and previously immoderate to a path of moderation and acceptability. We must not alienate them.
We could do one thing. Knowing that the Afrikaners have "tendencies of contrasuggestibility", and that they have many weapons that they could use not only against us but against the world and their neighbours, we could adopt the policy of what I call "positive sanctions". 'We could offer a Marshall plan for Southern Africa, to the constellation of states around South Africa, from which it will be excluded until the weight of moderate opinion has been able to use its force in South Africa. The weight of moderate opinion in South Africa is now overwhelming, but if it is driven away from that moderation, to which it has only so recently come, we shall have created the reverse of our intention.
Therefore, I hope that the industrial countries will create what southern Africa could be—a place where dignity, prosperity, the inheritance of the European tradition, the Christian Church, the African characteristic and the Indian contribution shall thrive and survive with all the area's great benefits and natural resources. However, South Africa will be cut out of that for ever if it does not, now and forever, strike out the obscenity of apartheid.
Talking to an hon. Friend a few weeks ago at 9 o'clock, I forecast that the Shops Bill would sail through and that we would not be so stupid as to allow the Americans to use our bases to bomb Libya. Any hon. Members who doubts my forecasts on South Africa is in an understandable position.
Although the media give the impression that apartheid is about to disappear and that the Government of President Botha is about to be struck off the map, I would say, to the contrary, that they have great strength. Small boys throwing rocks against Casspir armoured cars will not bring down the Government. The army has hardly been used to any effect. When the Botha Government do collapse, there is every chance that they will be replaced not by a nice moderate black Government but by a nasty immoderate white Fascist Government, who will use the police and the well-equipped army with far greater vigour than President Botha has. We should brace ourselves not for a clear-cut reform in that great country but for seeing another Lebanon in the south of Africa, and the country disintegrating into a conflict of black against black and white against white, with much further bitterness and bloodshed.
In 1977 I spoke in favour of sanctions against Idi Amin's regime in Uganda. That tyrant might have come straight from the pages of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", as he was responsible for the deaths of 100,000 people. In his prisons, a prisoner was told to smash the skull of the man in front of him and then the same thing happened to him. Rightly, the Labour Government of the day did not back sanctions against Idi Amin's Uganda, on the grounds that if one knocks down a regime one does not know who or what will replace that regime. Secondly, there must be some respect for the principle of sovereignty, which is a strong principle in the United Nations.
On 25 May 1979, I had an Adjournment debate on trade with South Africa. It was noticeable that the Minister replying had been given a draft speech, I suspect prepared for a Labour Minister, as he was ad libbing and changing as he went along. The comments that I made in that debate are still valid. If one is backing full-blooded economic sanctions, one must consider military means to enforce those sanctions. If South Africa runs short of a crucial ingredient, perhaps oil, it will be prepared to use its navy to run the gauntlet. Who will supply that gauntlet? Will it be the Soviet Union, the United States or the Royal Navy?
I remember the words of Lord Salisbury when he was Prime Minister, about not hanging around the carcases of dead policies. Times have changed. We must move on and face reality. I beg the Government to notice the new mood in this country, and the Commonwealth, and to notice the events that have taken place in South Africa since I was there a year ago.
I am convinced that our friends in the Commonwealth do not expect us to throw away our principles. They do not suggest that we should destroy our economy. They are saying to us—I believe that they are entitled to do so—"Your country has a unique historic responsibility for South Africa. Your country is in a position to give a lead. We trust that you will do so."
I thought that the setting up of the Eminent Persons Group was a most remarkable event. I cannot think of a similar mission, representing as it did some 49 Commonwealth countries which in turn represent over a billion people.
We are told by the South African Government that the three raids into the three Commonwealth countries were coincidental. If one considers the military effectiveness of those raids, how can one believe that? Surely we must draw the conclusion that those three raids were launched for the purpose of destroying the Eminent Persons Group.
I believe that the Government are right in seeking to move from their previous position and policies on full-blooded economic sanctions. They are right to look for ways of bringing pressure on the South African Government. I would be the first to admit that the state President has made important moves, but I doubt whether he has been fully supported by all Members of his Cabinet, let alone the white community in South Africa.
It is appropriate for us to re-examine our policy. I conclude by saying—I hope that the Foreign Secretary, who has just entered the Chamber, will consider my remarks—that Britain's role is not to frustrate, thwart and deny the mood in the international community. Rather, it is to participate and co-operate and to make a strong British contribution inside an international framework for action.
This historic and remarkable debate is timely because it takes place at the time of the 10th anniversary of Soweto when hundreds of Africans were shot. The debate has matched the seriousness of the occasion. The matter is of considerable importance for us in the West. That importance was underlined at the beginning of this month by United State's Secretary of State George Shultz, who said:
South Africa imposes an intolerable moral, strategic, economic and political burden on Western interests.
How much greater a burden does it impose on the black Africans in the front line who have been humiliated and repressed, especially over recent days, in the new detentions, the new gagging of newspapers, and so on? That repression was graphically described in the first 39 paragraphs of the report of the Emminent Persons Group. I witnessed that humiliation and repression when I stayed in Soweto and saw the institutionalised evil that is aparthied.
How should we in the West, especially in Britain, react to such a minority Government who claim to base their system on the same values as ours? In particular, how should we in Britain respond to the call by the Eminent Persons Group for concerted action, which may offer, in its view, the last opportunity to avert what could be the worst bloodbath since the second world war? How can we influence attitudes and bring effective pressure to bear on South Africa? I was immensely impressed, as, I am sure, were all hon. Members, by the spiritual dimension which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) and the hon. Members for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) and for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) following their visits to South Africa.
On some matters, of course, the Government and the Opposition agree. We agree that South Africa is in crisis, that the pace of change has increased, and that there is not likely to be the lull which occurred after Sharpeville in 1960 and after Soweto in 1976. A new dynamic is now endemic and is developing in South Africa which the most reasonable men may not be able to stop. At one stage, it appeared that the Eminent Persons Group had provided a "god out of a machine" — some form of external mediation which might have prevented the ultimate tragedy. There may still be some hope, as the Foreign Secretary said, but it was probably blasted by the raids on 19 May on the front-line states. As the Foreign Secretary will surely acknowledge, those raids must have been planned by the South African authorities some time in advance. They must have been made in the sure knowledge that they would torpedo those talks at a sensitive stage. The intention must have been to do precisely that. That was the clear message.
We acknowledge that the current period is one of intense anxiety for all in South Africa, whatever their colour, and that there have been substantial changes in the Afrikaner Volk. Some of that overweening self-confidence has gone. Hon. Members may point out the increasing moderation that they see, but I point out the new extreme ultra-grouping, the AWB, to which President Botha clearly reacted in his raids on the front-line states.
When we read Security Council resolution 560 of March last year and the Nassau communiqué, both agreed by the Government, we acknowledge that the Government go at least part of the way with our analysis of the situation. The Government and the Opposition recognise that there is a substantial British stake in South Africa —in financial, commercial and human terms—but we draw different conclusions. The Government argue that that immense stake should make us more cautious in our response to the South African tragedy. On the contrary, we conclude that the stake that we in Britain undoubtedly have imposes an even greater responsibility on us because of our unique position. We have that position by being members of all the relevant alliances. We are members of the EEC and assume the Presidency on 1 July. We are members of the Commonwealth, we have close links with the United States and Japan in the Group of Seven, and we are a permanent member of the Security Council. We are uniquely well placed to play a positive role, if we are prepared to play such a role.
The Opposition begin to differ from the Government in the assessment of the capacity of the South African Government to adapt and as to whether they have the capacity to take the giant steps necessary to reach an accommodation with their own majority. The Government are tempted to trumpet every change, however cosmetic, as something of seismic proportions. However, 26 years after the Sharpeville massacre, and 10 years after the Soweto uprising, the black majority in South Africa is still totally excluded from the national political process. The British Government still appear to cling to the view that President Botha is not intransigent and that the system is capable of being reformed without outside pressure, as if the business interests and those building bridges within South Africa can persuade President Botha to negotiate with his majority and take those necessary giant steps. The Government still cling to the doctrine of constructive engagement.
We are interested not in the reform of apartheid but in its abolition. Constructive engagement should be not just with the white minority but with the black majority. As an indication to the Government on the bona fides of the Botha Government, we point out that nine years after Security Council resolution 435 on Namibia, in spite of all the promises made by the South African Government, Namibia still seems as far from independence as it was in 1978. We point to the mala fides of the Nkomati accord, the clear breaches by South Africa and the attacks on and continued destabilisation of the front-line states — conservatively estimated to have cost the front-line states £10 billion since the formation of the South African Development Co-ordination Conference in 1980.
The Eminent Persons Group concluded that the South African Government are not yet prepared to negotiate fundamental change. The report is a damning indictment. Do the Government concur with that indictment and, if so, what are they prepared to do about it?
The Government's faulty analysis of South African willingness to change has led to mistakes and to their own isolation over the past two years. We should examine some of the milestones in Government policy over that period. Two years ago, in June 1984, the Prime Minister welcomed President Botha to Chequers on the eve of the establishment of the tricameral legislature, that apartheid cul de sac into which South Africa then moved. In September last year at Luxembourg the Government entered "a reservation" at a time when the EEC was agreeing a weak package of measures. The right hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) had the humiliation of rushing back to this country saying that he could not agree even to the withdrawal of military attaches from South Africa because, he claimed, they gave us some forewarning of possible South African manoeuvres against the front-line states. We did not withdraw our military attachés until the end of the year. We still have South African military attachés in London.
At Nassau, in October last, we agreed on a strict and rigorously controlled embargo on the import of arms, ammunition, military and paramilitary equipment from South Africa and on an embargo on all military cooperation with South Africa, yet last Saturday's edition of The Guardian contained clear evidence that our own Department of Trade and Industry allows a large South African defence electronics corporation to license a company in the United Kingdom as a front for its own military products. I refer to Grinaker Electronics. Does the Minister seriously suggest that that decision by the Department of Trade and Industry is in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Government agreement at Nassau or with the EEC?
We were, of course, isolated at Nassau. The Prime Minister insulted the Commonwealth thereafter by talking about the "teeny weeny" measures that she had agreed. Subsequently, we prevented the colony of Bermuda from imposing its own sanctions.
We agreed at Nassau to impose a ban on the import of krugerrands. That was in October 1985. But we did not then impose that ban on krugerrands. Tardily and reluctantly, we were dragged into that, but we did not impose the ban until May 1986, after pressure, and after the attack on the front line states on 19 May.
At the Tokyo summit, the world leaders vetoed a move by the Prime Minister to voice concern for the safety of South Africa whites. The majority of blacks identify with the ANC, yet the Government are still not prepared to meet it at ministerial level. Thus, the meeting with President Botha, the Commonwealth Nassau summit, the Tokyo summit and relations with the EEC all represent negative signals. The Government are sending those signals out to the world and thus clearly showing their attitude towards change in South Africa.
Throughout those two years, the Government have consistently given the wrong signals, and identified with the white minority Government. It is hardly surprising that the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle), as he stated tonight, should find the Prime Minister's attitude "encouraging".
Even if the Government criticise South Africa, the South African Government know that they can still ultimately always depend on a British veto at the Security
Council. The Government's massive failure has been that they have not grasped the scale of the human tragedy in South Africa or the urgency of the situation. As several hon. Members have said, and in particular the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook), it is not just a question of apartheid. After all, apartheid is just a means by which the elite can impose its power and privileges on the majority. Some months ago, at one of his party conferences, President Botha quoted with approval what President Kruger said in 1898 to the Uitlanders. He said:
You do not want the vote. You want my country.
That is the signal that President Botha gave to his party faithful, and it shows the measure of the willingness of the South African Government to compromise and negotiate.
Any changes are designed to retain power in safe, civilised white hands, whether they involve a confederal solution redrawing of boundaries or toy with solutions based on ethnicity. Throughout, the purpose is to retain power and privileges in the hands of that elite.
Time is indeed running out. We ignore the inexorable dynamic of developments at our peril. When we talk about the importance of our investments, have we seriously considered what value those investments will be if there is a bloodbath? Already, as a result of the private sanctions that have been so effective since last August, the value of the commercial rand has fallen to less than $0·40. As the Minister of State will probably know, today's definition of a patriotic South African is someone who is unable to sell his house. The EPG concluded that all the changes had left the structure of apartheid intact and that the absence of concerted external pressures would only defer change.
How shall we respond? I concede that sanctions as such are a form of negative pressure. They have to be coupled with positive pressures such as those that were included in the EEC statement at Luxembourg on 9 September last.
What will be the response of the Prime Minister? Has it not been this: "How little can I get away with in response to world pressure? How can I continue to put a brake on Commonwealth and EEC pressures? How can I play for time? Let us delay a decision in the hope that the problem will go away so that we can have business as usual with the apartheid regime. Since the Palace has become tiresome, let us see if we can do something teeny weeny to placate it."?
The Foreign Secretary gives the impression of seeking a reasonable solution and of wanting a civilised chat about the future of South Africa, as if he were in an Oxford common room with congenial colleagues, while the flames are licking around the windows and while the Prime Minister, like a latter-day Canuta, stands vainly against the tide, and that for an inglorious cause.
That response is not good enough. We have to show that we are against apartheid not just in word but for real. We should be interested to find out what objection the Government have to our motion, as we have no particular objection to their motion. They claim that they are against ecomomic measures. What is the ban on krugerrands that was agreed at the Commonwealth summit if not an economic measure? We believe that sanctions or measures —call them what we will—are supported by the blacks. We refer the Government to the surveys that were reported in yesterday's Financial Times. We know that sanctions or measures are supported by the majority of people in South Africa and in the front-line states.
I exclude Chief Buthelezi from that majority. He appears to be the only black who finds favour on the Conservative Benches.
Sanctions on their own will not bring the walls of Pretoria down. They can only reinforce and interact with the internal pressures that are by far the most important. Those pressures come from COSATU—the trade union movement—the UDF and all those forces within South Africa that are seeking fundamental change and that rely on us from the outside to assist them in their cause.
We accept the importance of the private sanctions which have already had such an effect on South Africa. The purpose is not to punish; it is to bring pressure to bear on the minority to seek an accommodation with its majority, and to have a dialogue with the majority. Our task is not to prescribe an agenda or to set out the constitution of a new South Africa. Our job is to give assistance to the progressive forces in South Africa and to force the South African Government to talk to their majority and not to exclude them, as they do at present, completely from the national political process.
The British Government should begin by picking up the package that was left on the shelf at Nassau when they persuaded their colleagues in their isolation to go forward with the Eminent Persons Group, which has now failed. The spotlight is again on our Government. They may not respond, but I remind them and the South African Government that there will be a general election in this country within the next two years, and there is a more than reasonable chance of a change of Government.
The Labour party is pledged to isolate South Africa until it changes its policy and to promote effective external pressure. Under a Labour Government, South Africa will not longer be protected by the British Government in the United Nations Security Council and elsewhere. The South African Government and their friends should be left in no doubt that there will be a fundamental change of attitude under a Labour Government. We will not be a brake on developments within the EEC and the Commonwealth. Rather we will take the lead and go as far and as fast as our colleagues will go. We will make the embargo on arms and military material complete. We will support the enforcement of United Nations mandatory comprehensive sanctions. We will end economic and military collaboration with South Africa.
In short, the next Labour Government will not make ritual condemnations of South Africa but will be passionately determined to take concerted effective action as recommended in the Eminent Persons Group report. The next Labour Government will, by word and action, identify themselves with the South Africa of the future.
The hon. Member for Swansea, East, (Mr. Anderson) was right to say that the debate was taking place at a historic time. There cannot be a more tragic time in the affairs of southern Africa.
Tonight's debate has forcibly underlined — more forcibly than ever before—the utter repugnance felt by this House and by the nation towards the system of apartheid and our deep concern at its consequences. Many right hon. and hon. Menmbers have shown real understanding of the details of the complicated problem. We have heard thoughtful speech after thoughtful speech tonight and I would like to mention especially the hon. Members who were sponsored by the Churches to visit South Africa recently.
In the debate, hon. Members have referred several times to similarities between the Government's amendment and the Opposition motion. There is a difference. The aim of both sides is to bring an end to apartheid. In that we do not differ, but the difference is that the means to achieve that objective vary. That is what we are discussing tonight.
As the right hon. Member for Clydesdale (Dame J. Hart) said, we believe that the measures taken must be effective. They may not be limited to economic measures alone. There is no point in simply penalising South Africa. We need real results, which will bring an end to apartheid. We are pressing for the change through genuine dialogue, to be conducted in an atmosphere that is free from violence on both sides. Violence will not solve the problem.
In saying that we totally reject apartheid, we condemn utterly the sheer waste of a system that attempts to keep power and privilege in the hands of the few at the expense of the majority. We condemn, too, the waste of human resources and endeavour. It is particularly tragic that that should have happened in a part of the world that is so well endowed with resources. South Africa is a country that could offer all its people, regardless of colour or creed, a good life and make an enormous contribution to the economic health of the whole region.
I am pressed for time. I hope that my right hon. Friend will forgive me.
We are aware, especially this week, of the legacy of violence and death that apartheid has left to all South Africans.
But despite what has happened, there must be further effort. We must not turn our backs on the countless numbers of South Africans, black and white, who continue to work towards the goal of a non-racial, democratic system of government. We must redouble our efforts—
—and do whatever we can to ensure that South Africa can be rescued from the brink. I give way to my right hon. Friend.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. I am sorry to have pressed her. Does she agree that what we reprehend and condemn in apartheid is the existence of laws that discriminate against any section of the population, particularly against the majority section of the population, but if those laws are repealed, it is no part of our war against apartheid to insist on majority rule?
My right hon. Friend has long experience of South Africa. Of course we reprehend the laws of apartheid, but the actions that go with the laws are what we find repugnant. They discriminate between persons of different coloured skin or those of different creeds, effectively those from different tribes with different beliefs. That is what we in this country, and, I believe, those throughout the free world, are not prepared to see continue. With regard to majority rule, we cannot support a society that does not give a democratic vote to each and every one of its people.
We have not seen much in the news over the past few days because there has been a state of emergency. We were glad when the original state of emergency was lifted in March. Now it has been reimposed. The House knows more than anyone that muzzling the press will never break the spirit of all those seeking to end discrimination, whether it be in South Africa or elsewhere. A state of emergency has never produced a solution, and will not do so now. The unrest in South Africa underlines the urgent need for genuine debate and a suspension of violence on both sides.
Everybody has been impressed by the immense hard work and dedication of the Eminent Persons Group. We may not agree with all that it has written, but I wish to pay a deep tribute to its efforts. I am sure that it fully shares our regret that in the end, despite its incredible efforts, it was unable to bridge the gap between the South African Government and others who want to be involved in the future government of South Africa. In the end, it certainly achieved much more than some thought might be possible at the outset. Its work will help us to find a way in future to obtain a negotiated outcome.
However, I must refute the bitter speech and downright misrepresentations of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), especially in respect of Lord Barber. Lord Barber is an open and fair-minded person. If I may say so, without giving offence in any way, he is almost a second Lord Soames and that is how he will be remembered for his efforts.
The Eminent Persons Group called for concerted and effective Commonwealth action if South Africa is not to slide into even worse violence and bloodshed. We shall not ignore that call, but, as the report recognises, it is for the Heads of Government to decide on the nature of that action, and, clearly, if that action is to be effective it must involve the countries of the European Community and the seven members of the economic summit as well as the Commonwealth.
Let us hope that, although the Eminent Persons Group's work has come to an end for the time being. it will in time help to chart the way to a peaceful settlement in South Africa. That is what we all seek.
The Eminent Persons Group was particularly impressed by Nelson Mandela and what it believed was his commitment to a negotiated settlement. That strengthens our view that his immediate and unconditional release would constitute an important step towards the reconciliation that is most urgently needed. His unconditional release could play a key role in binding the wounds of bitterness and distrust.
The Eminent Persons Group concluded that there could be no settlement in South Africa without the ANC. The ANC is by no means the only voice in South African black opinion but we do not doubt that it has considerable support. We know that members of the ANC have a wide range of views, but they are united in their determination to bring about the elimination of apartheid. We know that there are Communists in the ANC but they are not in a majority and Communism will only thrive on the lack of dialogue and progress towards a non-racial democracy.
We established official contact with the ANC to make clear our total commitment to the search for a peaceful solution in South Africa.
Let me finish what I am saying.
That does not lessen our condemnation of violence or terrorism to attain political objectives. Nor does it lessen our attempts to persuade all those involved to cease that violence. Those who resort to the violence of the gun and the bomb, on whichever side they may be, are only delaying the day when a peaceful settlement might be secured. Violence encourages those who hope to profit from a South Africa torn apart by a hideous racial war. It does nothing to solve the problems.
I am most grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. Many of my hon. Friends will be delighted by what she said about the ANC. I rise only to ask, in view of the clear approval of the hon. Member and the Government of the ANC and the part that it is playing in South Africa, what practical help the Government hope to be able to give to the ANC in the position in which it finds itself?
The hon. Gentleman is taking what I said a good deal further. In the officials' dialogue with the ANC there has always been a call by the Government for a suspension of violence. In discussing the aspirations of black people in South Africa we listened not only to members of the ANC but to other black groups who have made contact with our officials and, indeed, with Members of Parliament.
The most important change has been the change in the role of business. The Eminent Persons Group report recognised the potential of the business community in South Africa for bringing pressure to bear on the Government. We have always firmly believed that the business community is an important element in that irresistible force for change that the economic development of black South Africans represents. Some 13 years ago we pioneered the code of conduct for British firms, and at that time such ideas were extremely unfashionable. We have made it clear to British companies that we expect them to live up to that code which, since 1977, has applied to all European companies. It has been strengthened in important areas by the recognition of trade unions, in education and training, and by community projects. Because we introduced that code, we see more strength being exhibited by the business community to promote change.
I am glad to say that British companies have responded to the code and have set example after example. Most have either recognised independent black trade unions or are willing to do so. Some 92 per cent. have minimum wage levels at or above the level required by the code and many are becoming actively involved in projects to benefit the wider community. No less than £6·5 million was spent by just 10 companies last year on such community projects.
The Minister spoke about the development of the code of conduct. The recent report on ethical investment spoke about underpayment by British firms in South Africa. How can the Government expect to be taken seriously when they say they will not impose sanctions because of the economic harm they would cause the blacks in south Africa, when many of the largest recruting sergeants for poverty are British firms who underpay their South African workers? Will the Minister follow up that report and call in those firms that are clearly underpaying and not abiding by the code of conduct?
I shall certainly look into what the hon. member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) said, but there is no way in which Governments should interfere in an internal matter. Through the British Industry Committee on South Africa we bring the code of conduct to the notice of all British firms in South Africa. I shall look again at the point raised by the hon. Gentleman.
My hon. Friend is strong on diplomacy. I admire that in view of her position. Since the feeling of the House is clearly against apartheid, when will she respond to that opposition with some teeth that will destroy that system?
My hon. Friend anticipates my speech. I should not have given way to him and that would have enabled me to get to the point much quicker. It is not just that which we are pressing companies to do, because foreign companies can and do exert increasing pressure. I would not wish to bring all that to an end by cutting links and blocking our influence. It is not just business that is involved in promoting change. We, too, are giving special shcolarships to black South Africans and looking for ways in which they can be assisted. As my hon. Friend the member for York is tempting me to say, we already have in action restrictive measures against South Africa. I shall not list them all because we have been through the large number of measures implemented by the Government, and they number far more than any other country on its own has begun to implement.
The hon. Member for Swansea, East asked about The Guardian evidence. I think he said it appeared on Saturday. I am aware of the recent suggestions, but we are looking into the allegations in the first report. I have heard nothing to suggest that the Government are in any way in breach of their obligations under the United Nations arms embargo. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman when I have finished the investigation.
Hon. Members have been asking what can be done to end apartheid. Many have made proposals tonight and the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) said that this was a good time to have a debate to collect ideas. Obviously, there are many measures that individual hon. Members would like to see introduced and they will all be studied because it will be through some further action that we shall take with our partners that we shall increase the pressure on the South African Government to end apartheid.
I well understand the suggestions for a ban on air links, on new investment, and on the import of agricultural produce, and I share the feelings that caused hon. Members to make those suggestions. I am in no way seeking to duck the possible help which they may bring, but as the right hon. Member for Clydesdale said, we must examine exactly what the impact would be. What would be the impact on black workers in South Africa and on South Africa's neighbours, such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana? Most important, would they have an effective impact on the South African Government? There is no point in introducing measures unless they have a significant effect on the South African Government.
We must not forget that the objectives are to promote dialogue and to suspend all violence. We all agree that that is crucial. There is a necessity to send clear, effective signals, not to make gestures that would do more harm than good. That is why we have said that we must assess the effect of each and every measure, not only on South African people, but on all peoples in southern Africa, particularly in the front-line states.
My hon. Friend said that she would consider "further action" in consultation with our Community partners. She owes it to the House and certainly to some Conservative Members to explain a little more fully exactly what she envisages by "further action".
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said in his opening remarks, and as I have said, we shall consider the report of the Eminent Persons Group, the suggestions made in the House and all measures— [Interruption.] — because if we do not, we cannot be judged to have come to a reasonable conclusion on what it would be best to do, in order to bring an end to apartheid, which even my hon. Friend said he wanted to see.
For all those reasons, the Government are not prepared to make hasty decisions or to comment in detail on all the many ideas put forward. However, we shall consider all the policy options in consultation with our partners in the Commonwealth and the European Community, and with other countries. Our objective must be to find the most effective way to hasten that real change.
The House is united in praying that all South Africans, black and white, will find a way to emerge together and in peace from the present crisis. We must not contemplate any alternative. We must lead all our potential partners in the EC, the Commonwealth and the seven members of the economic summit to an effective solution which will persuade the South African Government —[Interruption.]—not to erect further barriers against the people of their country but to break them down. That is what everyone seeks to achieve. That can be done only be ensuring that the methods we adopt will have an effect on the South African Government.
The ideas that have been promulgated tonight lead one to consider how the business community will react. These ideas cannot be implemented by Government alone; they can only be carried through in consultation with the business community. That is why I will not respond as hon. Members are seeking to tempt me.
Violence and civil unrest, wherever they occur, will lead only to further violence and to deeper human misery. In South Africa, the current tragedy is a direct consequence of the evil of apartheid and the repression that is used to enforce it. These are sombre times for the people of South Africa. If apartheid is not rooted out and destroyed we shall achieve no settlement and the catastrophe perceived by the Eminent Persons Group will become a reality.
What we need to do is to persuade the South African Government to take an axe to the main limbs of this poisonous plant and to do it now. Nothing else will do. It is the South African Government who must take that axe to the poisonous plant.
Even the noisy hon. Member below the Gangway on the Opposition side has given no hint, except in his shouts, of what he sees as an end to the matter. Negotiations between all the interested parties on a new non-racial constitution must take place and that cannot wait.
Hon. Members are anxious to know the details. I have already said that the challenge to the international community is to assist that process, but it is a tense and dangerous situation. That is why I have said, and I repeat, that it would be foolhardy to rush into any decision and that is why Her Majesty's Government are looking at all the suggestions that have been made.
We seek the destruction of apartheid. We do not seek the destruction of South Africa and its economy. The emergence of a non-racial democracy needs to be in an economically healthy South Africa which can grow. To destroy everything in South Africa for the simple and, perhaps to some, totally desirable reason, of ending a Government, but then to leave black people in South Africa with nothing on which to build, would be just as much of a tragedy as some of the things we are witnessing today.
If we are to make a real impression, the United Kingdom cannot act alone. This has become clearer and clearer. That is why we are discussing the issues fully with our partners.
That is why we must find an effective way of responding to the call for effective action—
Order. There are three minutes left. The hon. Lady is not giving way and I ask the House to give her a fair hearing.
Our sole aim is to work for the best interests of the people of South Africa.
No, I will not give way, especially not to a Member who has not been in the Chamber for any of the debate.
Our sole aim is to work for the best interests of all the people of South Africa. We have to help them emerge from the present nightmare, free from apartheid and able to take a place in the community of nations. We are not daunted by the enormity of the challenge but we are conscious of the dangers. We cannot, we must not and we will not lose sight of our goal, which is to seek peaceful transition to a system of government in South Africa under which all can live and prosper in freedom and justice.
I believe it was in the book "Cry, The Beloved Country" that Alan Paton wrote of slavery, fear and freedom. What we have to do is overcome the problem of fear. We have to give all the people in South Africa that freedom. I urge right hon. and hon. Members to support the Prime Minister's amendment.
|Division No. 226]||[10 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Faulds, Andrew|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Alton, David||Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)|
|Anderson, Donald||Flannery, Martin|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Forrester, John|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Foster, Derek|
|Ashton, Joe||Foulkes, George|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Fraser, J. (Norwood)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Freud, Clement|
|Barnett, Guy||George, Bruce|
|Barron, Kevin||Golding, John|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Gould, Bryan|
|Beith, A. J.||Gourlay, Harry|
|Bell, Stuart||Hamilton, James (M'well N)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Hancock, Michael|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Hardy, Peter|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Blair, Anthony||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith|
|Boyes, Roland||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Haynes, Frank|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Home Robertson, John|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Howells, Geraint|
|Buchan, Norman||Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham)|
|Caborn, Richard||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Campbell, Ian||Hume, John|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Canavan, Dennis||Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)||John, Brynmor|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Johnston, Sir Russell|
|Cartwright, John||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Kennedy, Charles|
|Clarke, Thomas||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Clay, Robert||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Clelland, David Gordon||Lamond, James|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S)||Leighton, Ronald|
|Cohen, Harry||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Coleman, Donald||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Livsey, Richard|
|Conlan, Bernard||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||McCartney, Hugh|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Craigen, J. M.||McGuire, Michael|
|Crowther, Stan||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||McKelvey, William|
|Cunningham, Dr John||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Dalyell, Tam||Maclennan, Robert|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||McNamara, Kevin|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||McTaggart, Robert|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||McWilliam, John|
|Deakins, Eric||Madden, Max|
|Dewar, Donald||Mallon, Seamus|
|Dixon, Donald||Marek, Dr John|
|Dobson, Frank||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Dormand, Jack||Martin, Michael|
|Douglas, Dick||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Dubs, Alfred||Maxton, John|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Eastham, Ken||Meacher, Michael|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Michie, William|
|Mikardo, Ian||Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Nellist, David||Skinner, Dennis|
|O'Brien, William||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Snape, Peter|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Soley, Clive|
|Park, George||Spearing, Nigel|
|Parry, Robert||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Patchett, Terry||Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Stott, Roger|
|Penhaligon, David||Strang, Gavin|
|Pike, Peter||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Prescott, John||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Radice, Giles||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Randall, Stuart||Tinn, James|
|Raynsford, Nick||Torney, Tom|
|Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)||Wainwright, R.|
|Richardson, Ms Jo||Wallace, James|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Wareing, Robert|
|Robertson, George||Weetch, Ken|
|Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)||Welsh, Michael|
|Rogers, Allan||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Rooker, J. W.||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)||Wilson, Gordon|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Winnick, David|
|Rowlands, Ted||Woodall, Alec|
|Ryman, John||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Shields, Mrs Elizabeth||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Mr. Chris Smith and|
|Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)||Mr. Mark Fisher.|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Butterfill, John|
|Alexander, Richard||Carlisle, John (Luton N)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Carttiss, Michael|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Cash, William|
|Ancram, Michael||Chalker, Mrs Lynda|
|Arnold, Tom||Chapman, Sydney|
|Ashby, David||Chope, Christopher|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Churchill, W. S.|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Clegg, Sir Walter|
|Baldry, Tony||Conway, Derek|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Coombs, Simon|
|Bellingham, Henry||Cope, John|
|Bendall, Vivian||Corrie, John|
|Benyon, William||Couchman, James|
|Best, Keith||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Critchley, Julian|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Blackburn, John||Dicks, Terry|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Dover, Den|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Dunn, Robert|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Durant, Tony|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)|
|Bright, Graham||Evennett, David|
|Brinton, Tim||Eyre, Sir Reginald|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Fallon, Michael|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Farr, Sir John|
|Browne, John||Favell, Anthony|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.||Fletcher, Alexander|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Budgen, Nick||Forman, Nigel|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Burt, Alistair||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam||Fox, Sir Marcus|
|Franks, Cecil||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Freeman, Roger||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Galley, Roy||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Lightbown, David|
|Gorst, John||Lilley, Peter|
|Gow, Ian||Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Grant, Sir Anthony||Lord, Michael|
|Greenway, Harry||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Gregory, Conal||McCrindle, Robert|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Grist, Ian||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Ground, Patrick||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Grylls, Michael||MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John S||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Maclean, David John|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)|
|Hanley, Jeremy||McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)|
|Hannam, John||Madel, David|
|Hargreaves, Kenneth||Major, John|
|Harris, David||Malins, Humfrey|
|Harvey, Robert||Malone, Gerald|
|Hawkins, C. (High Peak)||Maples, John|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)||Marland, Paul|
|Hawksley, Warren||Marlow, Antony|
|Hayes, J.||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney||Mates, Michael|
|Hayward, Robert||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Henderson, Barry||Mayhew, Sir Patrick|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Merchant, Piers|
|Hickmet, Richard||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Hicks, Robert||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Hill, James||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Hind, Kenneth||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Hirst, Michael||Mitchell, David (Hants NW)|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Moate, Roger|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Moore, Rt Hon John|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)||Morris, M. (N'hampton S)|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)||Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)|
|Hubbard-Miles, Peter||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral W)||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Hunter, Andrew||Mudd, David|
|Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas||Murphy, Christopher|
|Irving, Charles||Neale, Gerrard|
|Jackson, Robert||Needham, Richard|
|Jessel, Toby||Nelson, Anthony|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Neubert, Michael|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Newton, Tony|
|Jones, Robert (Herts W)||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Normanton, Tom|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Norris, Steven|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Onslow, Cranley|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Key, Robert||Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'field)||Osborn, Sir John|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Ottaway, Richard|
|Knowles, Michael||Page, Sir John (Harrow W)|
|Knox, David||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Lamont, Rt Hon Norman||Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil|
|Lang, Ian||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Latham, Michael||Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Stern, Michael|
|Pawsey, James||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)|
|Pollock, Alexander||Sumberg, David|
|Porter, Barry||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Portillo, Michael||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Powley, John||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Price, Sir David||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Prior, Rt Hon James||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Raffan, Keith||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Renton, Tim||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Tracey, Richard|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Trippier, David|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Trotter, Neville|
|Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)||Waddington, David|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Rowe, Andrew||Walden, George|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)|
|Ryder, Richard||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Waller, Gary|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Walters, Dennis|
|St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.||Ward, John|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Watson, John|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Watts, John|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Wheeler, John|
|Shersby, Michael||Whitfield, John|
|Silvester, Fred||Whitney, Raymond|
|Sims, Roger||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Wolfson, Mark|
|Speed, Keith||Wood, Timothy|
|Speller, Tony||Woodcock, Michael|
|Spencer, Derek||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Squire, Robin||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Stanley, Rt Hon John||Mr. Carol Mather and|
|Steen, Anthony||Mr. Robert Boscawen.|
That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government, in view of the worsening situation in the Republic of South Africa and in the light of the Report of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, to work actively with the Europeen Community, the Commonwealth, and the Economic Summit Seven countries for effective measures which will help achieve a peaceful solution in South Africa based on negotiations and a suspension of violence on all sides.