Skip to main content

United Nations (Namibia) Bill Hl

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 7 May 1986

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

7.44 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill concerns two issues linked inextricably—the issue of Namibia and the issue of the United Nations. In both cases Britain has a special responsibility on two counts. First, so far as Namibia is concerned, it was the 1890 Anglo-German agreement which handed over what was then South-West Africa to the Germans. What followed can only be described as robbery with violence. The Africans lost 50 million hectares. Their land holding under the Germans fell from 80 million hectares to 30 million hectares. When the Herero and the Nama communities protested and revolted against this, the Herero were reduced from 70,000 to 16,000 and the Nama from 50,000 to 20,000. This was an exercise in sheer genocide.

After the First World War when South-West Africa had been captured from the Germans it was mandated by the League of Nations through the British Government to South Africa but with ultimate responsibility in the hands of the British Government. It was the British Government who agreed to the mandate being held under the South African administration. During the following decade it was British-based mining companies and the Afrikaaner and German farmers who held sway in that territory and who largely controlled the actions of the administration.

After the Second World War, under the premiership of Dr. Malan the South African Government bluntly told the United Nations, which had replaced the League of Nations, that they had no intention of handing over the mandate to the trusteeship council. In fact, Namibia became de facto the fifth province of South Africa, electing six white MPs, elected by an all-white electorate, to the South African Parliament. It quickly became part of the policy of Bantustanisation of South Africa. It became a form of Bantustan in which in particular there was a clear policy of Balkanisation of the ethnic groups.

In reply to this 50 years of assault upon their rights the Africans first tried to use constitutional means through negotiation. Both the main African organisations of that time, SWAPO and SWANO, were pledged to peaceful reform and non-violence. They trusted that the United Nations would come to their aid because this issue clearly had an international dimension and the United Nations had been set up just for this purpose. But they soon found that the actions of the South African police and the South African defence forces made that stand of non-violence impossible, and from 1966 onwards there has been war in that territory.

Perhaps I may give just one example of the change that took place. I refer to the noted African leader, Toivo Ja Toivo, who can be compared with Nelson Mandela. He was firmly against the use of violence in opposition to the South African administration. The actions of the South African police and defence forces forced him against his will to accept the moral right of armed resistance to the attacks upon him and his fellow Africans. The consequence was that he spent 16 years on Robben Island.

The second special responsibility of Britain is as a member of the United Nations. That is indeed an international responsibility. It is an international responsibility de jure because of the original mandate. It is an international responsibility through morality, because here we have a people who have been tortured, killed and tormented for more than 50 years.

In 1970 the Security Council passed a set of resolutions declaring the South African administration of Namibia illegal. The following year, in 1971, the International Court of Justice declared that the South African occupation of Namibia was illegal. By 1977 it had been decided that the five major Western powers—Britain, France, West Germany, Canada and the United States—should set up a contact group to try to find the means by which the United Nations could put into application the resolutions that it had passed.

The answer of the South Africans was swift, deadly and brutal. This week sees the eighth anniversary of the massacre of Kassinga, when the South African defence forces raided a refugee camp in southern Angola, killed 750 Namibians, and captured 270 and took them back to Namibia for interrogation and torture. Very soon afterwards the South Africans showed clearly that they intended to outmanoeuvre the United Nations. In August of the same year—1978—they declared that internal elections would be held in December without United Nations supervision. It was nine days later before the Security Council passed its now famous Resolution 435, calling for a ceasefire and United Nations-supevised elections. The South African administration had out-manoeuvred the members of the United Nations who were planning to find a peaceful and democratic solution for that country.

That was followed by the abortive conferences in Geneva of 1979 and 1981, at both of which it was seen quite clearly that the South African policy was one of prevarication and of appearing to be willing to talk seriously but holding a gun behind the back.

That brings me to the present position. It has been the case that for much of the life of the contact group the other Western powers have left the initiative to the United States; over the last few years, almost entirely in the hands of Dr. Chester Cracker, whose phrase "constructive engagement" motivated United States' policy towards the problem. That policy is now totally discredited.

Since the Reagan administration took over it has become clear that that administration is interested only in the strategic materials of Namibia and in opposing what it sees as Soviet expansionism, particularly linked to the presence of Cuban forces in Angola. But let us be quite clear about this. The policy of the United States administration is not necessarily supported by all the citizens of the United States or by all the institutions of the United States. Many United States banks and many of its multinational companies, and above all Gulf Oil, have always been opposed to the policy of the Reagan administration. One is not surprised when one recalls that South African defence forces were discovered attempting to Sabotage the Gulf Oil installation at Cabinda.

The vacuum that has arisen in the contact group as a result of United States policy, or lack of policy, has left the South Africans with a free hand. How are they using it? We have heard of the Koevoet squads deliberately picking off leading members of SWAPO. That is state-supported terrorism; terrorism supported by the South African state. The South African policy has been to Support Jonas Savimbi and his organisation, Unita, both in Angola and in Namibia, in order to oppose the organisation of SWAPO; above all, to use that tactic in order to preserve in United States' minds the importance of the link between a solution to Namibia and the presence of Cubans in Angola. But there is no link. The Cubans who are in Angola were invited there by a sovereign government. That government has stated repeatedly that it will phase out those foreign forces as soon as it is secure against the constant invasions and bombings of the South Africans.

Over the past few weeks we have seen that the United States has been supplying the Stinger weapon—the hand-held, anti-aircraft gun—to Unita. Again, that is state-supported terrorism. It is a case of a terrorist organisation, Unita, being deliberately and openly supported by the United States Government. One might note also that Unita has taken British hostages, apparently without any action being taken by the British Government.

The South African tactic has been, and is, to manoeuvre a government of Namibia that will essentially be a South African satellite. In the meantime Namibia has become a military base for South Africa in its attacks against its surrounding territories. The Caprivi strip is an armed camp from which invasions are made on Angola, Zambia and Botswana. The whole of the South African policy is destroying any chance of the peaceful development of the entire southern African region.

South Africa has openly defied the international community for 20 years. She has undermined international law and international order. What the Bill suggests is that the British Government should now step into the breach and take an initiative because it is only the British Government who have, first, a special responsibility, as I have pointed out, and, secondly, influence in that part of the world. We have a responsibility to the 1½ million Namibians who we as British have left, first under the Germans and then under the South Africans. We also have a responsibility to participate in the United Nations in such a way that the United Nations becomes what it has always been intended to be: an alternative to the violent resolution of conflicts.

I remind your Lordships that it is very similar to the situation that was faced in Rhodesia in 1979 when the British Government took such an initiative with successful results at the Lancaster House conference. I remind your Lordships also that looking back to the days of Cyprus, Kenya and Malawi, we had then to take initiatives to talk to those who had often been condemned as terrorists because they were the representatives of their people, and they have since become their leaders. It is for the South African state as well as for the Namibians, because the South Africans are paying a heavy financial cost. Their young men are conscripted to go and fight in Namibia, now for six months instead of three months. There is also the loss of life among South Africans, and the future bitterness that must swell up unless the conflict is stopped, and stopped quickly.

I appeal to the British Government to take the opportunity of giving a lead to break the present deadlock. The Bill does not call for total sanctions; let me be quite clear about that. It gives powers to British ministers. What we are asking the British Government to do is to take a diplomatic initiative, but to add to that pressure, because we have been so long that diplomatic initiatives without pressure and without some kind of compulsion or threat behind them have no effect on South African policy. Resolutions are fine, admonitions are fine, but they do not change policy and they do not save lives.

It may be said that all the powers contained in the Bill already exist, and I would not dispute that. I would say that by passing the Bill this Parliament would be sending a signal to South Africa, a signal that we intend—as we have always said but not done—to bring into effect Security Council Resolution 435.

I suggest to Her Majesty's Government that here is an opportunity of using the United Nations as what it was originally intended to be, a negotiating body, to avoid violence and to end violence where violence is present. We in Britain have the chance to prove that we are sincere and practical believers in the United Nations as an alternative to violence.

There is only one clause, Clause 3, which introduces anything that it could be argued does not already exist. Taking these powers is in itself a signal that we are serious about our membership of the United Nations and our support for its resolutions. Clause 3 brings Parliament into the equation because Clause 3 takes at its face value what President Botha said at the beginning of the year—that he would start a move towards Resolution 435 by 1st August. We lay down in the Bill that the Government shall report to Parliament, we have said by 31st October, because of the recess, and thereafter every three months so that Government and Parliament are working together.

Last year an all-party—I stress, all-party—delegation from this country of which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, was a member, visited Namibia. I want to quote its conclusion. It says:
"If, as seems likely, the Crocker initiative fails. Her Majesty's Government, which has so far played a passive role in the Contact Group, should be ready to take a higher profile in pressing South Africa to withdraw".
It continues:
"The people of Namibia are oppressed, harassed, and exploited by a foreign military occupation which has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice, by the UN Security Council, and by the British Government, and is under a foreign administration which allows its executive to over-rule its judiciary".
It concludes:
"We urge the British Government to condemn even more clearly and openly the illegal South African occupation of Namibia, and to work by all means to bring about South Africa's unconditional withdrawal, in accordance with its Government's declared aims to abide in full by that resolution".
I suggest that the phrase "to work by all means" is the theme of the Bill. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—( Lord Hatch of Lusby.)

8.5 p.m.

My Lords, on 22nd October 1985 your Lordships' House denied the United Nations (Namibia) Bill a Second Reading on a vote of 56 to 32. The reason why the Second Reading of that Bill was negatived was twofold. I suggest that the prime reason was because this House properly resents the spirit of its procedures being abused by Members of this House. It was patently clear that the noble Lord who promoted that Bill was concerned only to initiate a debate upon the question of the United Kingdom's role and responsibilities with regard to the question of Namibia with no concern whatsoever as to whether such a subject was suitable for domestic legislation.

A second reason, I suggest, was that the Bill itself was hopelessly inadequate, indeed, incapable of achieving the strategy underlying it.

My Lords, nothing has changed in the six months that have passed. Some six months later the noble Lord has promoted a second Bill, different in form but similar in spirit to the first. My Lords, I will not weary your Lordships with the arguments that I deployed only six months ago save only to say that I deplore and hold in contempt this clumsy attempt to voice a concern in a way that is far better suited to a Motion for Papers, an Unstarred Question, or, indeed, a series of Questions for Written Answer or, better still, correspondence with the Minister of the Crown responsible for the executive decisions affecting our responsibilities in this part of the world. I do, of course, appreciate that the trouble with Questions for Written Answer and private correspondence is that one's voice cannot be heard.

I suggested earlier that nothing had changed. My noble friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lady Young, said on 22nd October last,
"we believe that the adoption of this Bill would not help the process and could even be prejudicial to it."
I suggest that that applies in precisely the same way to this Bill. By "the process', my noble friend was, of course, referring to the United Kingdom's continuing and full commitment within the Commonwealth and, indeed, with the Commonwealth to the independence of Namibia.

If my noble friend will forgive me, I will quote what she said in your Lordships' House on 22nd October 1985:
"the Bill was presumably not to undermine the concerted and constructive pressure towards reform being brought to bear by ourselves and our partners either in the Commonwealth or in the European Community."
She continued:
"The importance of concerted action has been recognised by the Commonwealth heads of government through the discussions leading up to the accord that concludes by stating that:
"in pursuing this programme jointly, we enlarge the prospects of an orderly transition to social, economic and political justice in South Africa and peace and stability in the Southern African region as a whole."
"We cannot, therefore, countenance the adoption of measures outside the scope of those already agreed within the Commonwealth programme."—[Official Report, 22/10/85; col. 1058.]
My Lords, nothing has changed. These observations remain as true today as they were six months ago.

Turning to the Bill itself, your Lordships will be aware that there are two substantive clauses to the Bill, Clause 1 and Clause 2. Clause 1 gives the Secretary of State a permissive power only—namely, "The Secretary of State may" make provision to give effect to various United Nations Security Council resolutions and, as such, I suggest that it is useless. Clause 2 makes mandatory a duty that is placed presumably upon Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to give effect to a resolution which the United Nations itself has manifestly failed to give effect to since 1978. That clause is a farce. The United Kingdom has in no way denied its obligations in this part of the world and in no circumstances should a Bill in the United Kingdom Parliament be used as a vehicle to usurp the executive power of a Minister of the Crown to act in a way which he thinks best accords with the national interest.

I deplore this Bill and I sincerely hope that Members of your Lordships' House will deny it a Second Reading, as they did only six months ago.

8.10 p.m.

My Lords, because I am in this position on the list of speakers some noble Lords may think that I am speaking on behalf of my colleagues who usually sit on these Benches, but that is not the case. As a matter of fact, I have not had an opportunity of discussing the problem with them, I only hope that the few observations I want to make will not be violently disagreed with by any of them or by my noble allies in front of me.

I must first say a few words in response to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Morris. I did not know that he would take the view that he has taken. I understand the view but I am afraid that I disagree with it. If we reach a situation in which, in my view and I think in the view of many people, injustice is being done I do not think we should refuse to discuss it because of procedural agreements and arrangements in your Lordships' House. I readily admit that it might have been easier if the Government had thought fit to bring in a Bill themselves, but they were not showing any signs of doing so and I commend the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, for having brought the matter forward for discussion.

The noble Lord described in great detail the situation in Namibia today. I shall say nothing about that because I do not know anything about it. What I do know is that the United Nations, of which we were one of the founder members, has been snubbed and ignored for years and has found it impossible to get these resolutions implemented. I suppose that the United Nations has now been struggling for more than 15 years to deal with this issue by successive resolutions of the Security Council and still, as the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, said, there is virtually no progress whatever. Is that the fault of the United Nations? I do not think it is. The fault lies with the member nations. I humbly suggest that a certain share of responsibility must rest on the permanent members of the Security Council.

The United Nations may well be judged an imperfect organisation. Again and again we are painfully made aware of its limitations. The high hopes of its founders have not yet been realised. I say "not yet" advisedly because the nations of the world and their governments must find a way to overcome the difficulties and make this great, imaginative organisation, the United Nations, the effective instrument of peace and justice that it was meant to be. I hope that in this task our country and our government, whatever party is in power, will play a leading part.

As this is a Private Member's Bill it appears that the Government, according to the conventions of the House, are standing back. In the case of this Bill with such highly-charged political content—I do not mean party-political content, but obviously it is a deeply political Bill—I could wish that the Government might have decided to throw away the precedent and that the noble Baroness would have been inclined to intervene in our debate a little earlier so that we could hear the Government's ideas. For example, if the noble Baroness is able to say that the aims of the Bill are broadly acceptable but the methods proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, are thought to be inappropriate or unworkable, it would have been as well if we had known that earlier in the debate. I confess that for my part I do not feel very happy about the methods contained in the Bill, but in the absence of any others I find no alternative but to support the Bill.

I hope that when the noble Baroness speaks, and if, as I suspect, she criticises the methods suggested in the Bill, she will be in a position at least to outline some possible alternative methods of reaching the aims which lie behind the Bill. I do not doubt that there are still some people—and probably some in your Lordships' House—who genuinely and seriously doubt the wisdom of transferring political power to people who, through no fault of their own, have not been given the opportunity to exercise power even in a very small way. I am old enough to remember the closing phases of empire and I recall, in spite of all we hear about exploitation, the immense benefits brought to peoples then in an early stage of economic and political development by dedicated colonial servants. I believe that most of them considered themselves servants and not masters. Even 60 years ago time was marching on and there can be no going back—nor should there be.

Therefore I hope that when the noble Baroness speaks she will be able to tell us three things: first, that the Government are still enthusiastic supporters of the United Nations; secondly, that they still believe that self-government is the right of all peoples who feel themselves ready to take on that great responsibility; and, thirdly, that they will take immediate and effective steps to implement, so far as is in our power, the resolution of the Security Council, which for so long has been waiting to be done.

8.18 p.m.

My Lords, we have been reminded already that we last debated Namibia in the sanctions Bill in October last year. It was significant then that this was the 40th anniversary year of the United Nations. The sad part of that occasion was that we noted that Namibia and the tragedy of its continued illegal occupation has been on the United Nations agenda ever since its inception.

There may be a sense of weariness among some noble Lords that Namibia has come up again in the form of a Bill so soon after our previous debate. If that weariness is present in any of us I appeal to your Lordships to put it aside. After all, there have been many occasions in the life of the British parliamentary system when matters of great importance—many would say of moral importance—have arisen year after year and perhaps a sense of weariness has been apparent on some sides, but it has been necessary for great reforms to be put through. I am thinking particularly of Wilberforce coming to the House of Commons time after time on the issue of slavery. Of course, this is not as clear cut an issue as slavery so far as this country domestically is concerned, but seen from within Namibia itself what we are dealing with is an oppressed people who feel that they are in many cases little better than slaves.

I have no doubt that Government supporters present in the Chamber and those who are particularly concerned with Southern Africa are aware of these feelings among many of the peoples of Namibia; but I think we need also to be conscious of the fact that Namibia feels itself a forgotten people, not least because the very important and disturbing events now happening in South Africa have overshadowed news from Namibia itself. So I appeal to all Members of your Lordships' House to put aside any feelings of weariness and thoughts of "Not Namibia again", and to take this issue very seriously as we debate this subject tonight.

As we were thinking earlier on about education, my thoughts went back to the one visit that I paid to Namibia and the war-torn northern areas of the country. In particular, I remember a meeting at a Roman Catholic Mission Station when our delegation had been hearing accounts of the kind of pressures to which people were subjected. Just as we were leaving, one teacher took me aside and said, "I wanted to say to you that I have not been able to go to my house for two weeks. I do not know when I can go back to my house and family". Then he told me that some members of the South African defence forces had come to the school where he was teaching, which included girls, and he had been forced to take action to protect those girls. As a result, he had been threatened and he felt that if he went home he would be risking his life. That is one small personal illustration of something which is going on all the time.

I have no doubt that some of your Lordships read communications from Namibia, particularly perhaps the publications of the Namibia Communications Centre which is based here in London and which tries to help us to understand what is happening in that unhappy country. But I know that what is now passing through the minds of some of your Lordships is doubtless the major question: will this Bill really help? I support what the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, has said: that what the Bill does primarily is to bring United Nations resolutions into the governmental process here.

I appreciate that the noble Lord, Lord Morris, feels very strongly about this as an abuse of parliamentary procedures. I leave it to others who are more expert in those procedures than I am to make a judgment on that. Yet so far as I can see, it is a perfectly legitimate way of asking the Government a fundamental question about their attitude to United Nations resolutions and whether in fact more can be done in order to help those resolutions to be implemented. It is no use whatsoever—I say this with the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Morris—to say that the United Nations have failed to implement those resolutions themselves when, as has been pointed out, the United Nations Organisation consists of its member countries, of which Britain is one. Some of us would like to feel it is quite an important one in relation to Southern Africa.

The Bill gives us an opportunity to look at the United Nations with fresh eyes so far as concerns Southern Africa, and to realise how important is this organisation in a shrinking world. On the world stage recently we have been sharply reminded of how interdependent nations are at the present time, and of how none of us can go it alone, when we think of the nuclear disaster in the Ukraine and the emphasis that this puts on internationalism. I would wish to see my country taking a lead on emphasising the importance of the United Nations and doing everything that it possibly can to back that organisation in what it says about Southern Africa.

Reference has been made to the concluding speech of the noble Baroness the Minister of State who will be winding up tonight. I should like, if I may, to quote from her concluding speech in our last debate on the Hansard record, col. 1056:
"We shall continue to take every opportunity to urge the South African Government to put the United Nations plan into force without delay and without preconditions. We shall insist that it offers the only internationally acceptable solution, that there is no viable alternative to genuine independence for Namibia, and that any unilateral transfer of power that might take place now or in the future to bodies established by the South African Government would be totally unacceptable".
Those were very welcome words to many of us in this House and it was good to hear them.

It was also good to hear the noble Baroness point out that:
"the Cuban withdrawal from Angola is not part of the Security Council Resolution 435. Nor do we recognise it as a precondition for a Namibian settlement".—[Offidal Report, 22/10/85; col. 1056.]
With that strong statement from the Government, which will no doubt be repeated at the end of this debate, the noble Baroness the Minister will be entitled to say. "What more do you expect us to do?" I think that some of us would reply with the quotation from "My Fair Lady" where Eliza Dolittle in that famous song about words, words, words, sang. "Don't talk of love—show me".

Many of us feel that in recent years the British Government have not done enough to show South Africa and the world how determined we are on this matter. There is here a genuine and basic difference of opinion among us perhaps in this House tonight. Some would feel that the Government are doing all they can. Some of us believe that the Government should be doing much more. I wait in anticipation of hearing what the noble Baroness will say to us tonight and to hear whether in fact more will be done.

The United Nations resolutions, of which this Bill consists with its appendices or schedules in large part, lay great emphasis on the fact that Namibia is illegally occupied, that the Namibian peoples have the right to determine their own future under full and free elections with United Nations supervision, and that pressure should be applied in order to bring about this situation. I think it is on the point about pressure that we ourselves should like to press the Government and ask them to be prepared to do more and not simply to leave it at words.

On page 5 of the Bill, as printed, the United Nations resolution that was passed in 1970:
"Requests all States to refrain from any relations—diplomatic, consular or otherwise—with South Africa implying recognition of the authority of the Government of South Africa over the Territory of Namibia…
Calls upon all States to ensure that companies and other commercial and industrial enterprises owned by, or under direct control of, the State cease all dealings with respect to commercial or industrial enterprises or concessions in Namibia…
Calls upon all States to ensure that companies and other commercial enterprises owned by, or under direct control of, the State cease all further investment activities, including concessions in Namibia."
I am aware that the reply will be given that these resolutions and any calls for sanctions are not mandatory, and as the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, has pointed out, this Bill does not in fact call for sanctions in that form; it calls for a determined effort by the British Government to do all that they can to bring increasing pressure to bear on South Africa and to report regularly to the British Parliament on what is happening. For that reason I hope very much that this will not be brushed aside or treated with irritation but dealt with responsibly and seriously in the Government's reply this evening.

When we last debated South Africa itself, which was fairly recently, there was some discussion—and it was very sombre, as is appropriate—about what would happen if things changed dramatically in South Africa and majority rule applied. The same question might be asked in relation to Namibia. One thing is quite certain: the Namibian peoples will need all the help that they can get. They will need friends overseas as independence comes, as we hope and pray it will, in the years ahead. They will want to develop their country and its mineral resources in the best way they can, and they will need the expertise and support to do it. At the moment they feel that this is just exploitation from quite the wrong motives.

So, if we ask that question: "What will happen then?", I believe that we have to go forward in faith in this country and do what we can to get rid of a very great evil. Then, when we are faced with a new situation in which Namibians take control of their own future we can hold out to them a helping hand. I beg to support the Bill.

8.28 p.m.

My Lords, I am sure that everyone will very much welcome the excellent speech to which noble Lords have been privileged to listen. As the right reverend Prelate went through each stage of his argument, I felt that I was fully in agreement with him. I feel that he has given this House the right lead in our approach to the problem we are considering.

I merely wish to welcome the initiative taken by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, and to say how tremendously important this most neglected subject is. I remember that when I was at the United Nations 20 years ago the subject attracted great attention and concern. Many of us gave our minds to what might be done, remembering that action in the United Nations does not depend on the organisation itself, nor even on its secretary-general, though he may often give a useful lead. It depends on the actions of members of the Security Council. They have to take the initiative, to convince their fellows and to give the lead. It seems to me absolutely right that we, a leading member of the Security Council, should be prepared to take the lead, as is proposed.

When I first looked at the draft Bill I thought that it was not a matter for Great Britain alone. But then I stopped to think what Great Britain had done in the Security Council to bring the matter to effective consideration and to action. I had to admit to myself that we had done very little indeed. When the subject is raised from time to time we get an answer of good intention no doubt but one which means that there will be further postponement and delay.

It is the urgency of the question that should be uppermost in our minds. Something must be done right away, as we have the power to do it. The fact that for 20 years or more nothing effective has been done is a terrible criticism of everyone, and most of all of us, for we had the primary responsibility years ago and we still have the primary responsibility in Africa. We have failed to give a lead to the world.

We should no longer be prepared to take the soft answers. We must demand that effective action is taken without further deceitful delay. We have to work on our fellow members of the Security Council and to do a lot of work with them. There has been a failure on their part too. There is a tendency in the United States and elsewhere, but particularly in the United States, to refuse to face the problem. I do not think that we should be content with that. We must not be content to see the situation in which Angola is suffering too. It is suffering from massive terrorist attack on the established government.

We cannot allow the rhetoric that we have been hearing from the United States and elsewhere to go on when we see massive force being used against an established government in Angola on the excuse that it is required by the situation in Namibia. It is a serious matter. It is a matter of great importance and urgency. For that reason I warmly welcome the proposition put to us, particularly because it gives special weight to the decisions of the Security Council which we, the principal members, have refused to carry out.

I think of the situation in the Commonwealth. The members of the Commonwealth came together quite a long time ago and said that they would welcome Namibia as a member. All that had to be done was to give the people the right to elect their own representatives. We are failing the Commonwealth in an important act of freedom of subject peoples. It is for us to tell the Commonwealth what we propose to do and not for them to tell us. But we know that we have the support of everyone in the British Commonwealth. They met together and said that they would welcome a free Namibia, and we are not providing that possibility.

The time is most opportune for the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, to lead off with this proposition. It should attract widespread attention throughout the Commonwealth and the world. We should seek to impress upon the United States in particular that we are no longer prepared alone to be inactive. This is a matter which must be dealt with, and it is our responsibility to take the principal part.

This is the last of the great problems of Africa. There will be more to come no doubt. The other colonial problems—I have been associated with a good many—have been dealt with on the basis of a just response to the needs of the individual peoples concerned. We cannot fail on this final occasion; we cannot fail in a policy that has been carried through to success throughout the continent and elsewhere.

It is well that this question should have been raised and raised in this way. It is of the utmost importance that all of us should seek to convince the Security Council of the United Nations, the United Nations General Assembly and the world that we are on the side of positive action and positive initiative towards freedom.

8.38 p.m.

My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Simon, I am speaking as an individual and not on behalf of my party. I should like to make it clear that my noble friend and I have not put our heads together to evolve a common approach; yet in spite of that (which is perhaps one reason why the Alliance is strong), I find myself in complete agreement with all that he said. We have been fortunate this evening not only in having an admirable introductory speech by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, but also in being able to listen to the right reverend Prelate, with his wide knowledge and his personal experience of Namibia, and to the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, whose knowledge of both the United Nations and Namibia is unsurpassed not only in this House but I dare say throughout the word.

The right reverend Prelate was perfectly right when he said that Namibia was in danger of becoming a forgotten country. Those of us—and there are many—who took and still take an interest in southern Africa were rightly and naturally fully taken up for many years with the problems of Rhodesia. When UDI came to an end and Zimbabwe was established some of us thought it was time to turn our attention to Namibia as the next on the list of problems to be solved.

Namibia has, to a large extent, however, been overtaken by the problems of South Africa itself. One has to admit that these are of greater significance and of greater importance in the world-wide context. Many more people are suffering under oppression in South Africa than in Namibia. It is probably right therefore that South Africa should be top of the agenda. However, because we are concerned largely with South Africa this does not mean that we should ignore the problems of Namibia, so intimately bound up with those of South Africa itself.

It is a good many years since I was in Namibia. I do not believe that things have changed a great deal. I still have clearly in my mind the fact that 90 per cent. of the population of 1 million are Africans, almost all of them living in poverty, many of them under conditions of oppression, and a large number experiencing fear that none of us would tolerate in any country for which we had responsibility or influence. I spoke to a wide range of people when I was there—businessmen, bank managers, ex-patriots from this country, priests, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, school teachers, descendants of the original German settlers, one or two politicians of the Turnhalle persuasion and one senior, in fact, the most senior, official from Pretoria. With the exception of one politican and the gentleman from Pretoria, there was not a single person to whom I spoke who was not convinced that the future prosperity and happiness of Namibia lay in elections as free and as fair as could be arranged under the supervision of the United Nations. The sooner they came, the greater would be the opportunities for economic advance in the country, and thereby the prosperity of the people living there.

At that time—I am sure that it is still the case—investment was very naturally being held up because of uncertainty, because of the war raging on its northern border and because of the threat that the war could always escalate and come further south. There were also the inevitable tensions and frictions that we see, after many years of surprising quietness, now raising their frightening head in South Africa, and the fear that this sort of situation would arise sooner or later in Namibia itself.

What can we do about it? The noble Lord, Lord Morris—I am sorry that he is not in his place—says, so far as I can make out, that we can do nothing and that it is wrong, on purely procedural grounds, for us to attempt anything of this sort. Surely this subject is far too important to be gagged on procedural grounds, however genuine. I do not know very much about the procedure and proprieties within your Lordships' House, though I have been a Member for over 25 years. I would doubt whether there are strong grounds for saying that procedurally this type of action on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, is wrong. Even if it were, we are surely sufficiently concerned about what is right and about doing the good thing for people who are suffering and for whom we have some historic responsibility, and also sufficiently independent minded to disregard what may be procedural niceties and do something that may have some effect. I do not for a moment suggest—nor, I believe, would the noble Lord, Lord Hatch—that the Bill, if it receives, as I hope it does, a Second Reading, will immediately solve the problem; of course it will not do so. It will, however, be one modest step in the right direction. And if we are in a position to take that modest step, surely we should not hesitate to do so.

I welcome the Bill because it draws attention to a country that we are too inclined to forget. It gives us a chance to show real support for the United Nations—something that, at the present juncture, it is very important for us to do. The Bill enables the Secretary of State to take steps that will help to bring to an end the oppression of good people and that will help to bring to an end the flagrant flouting of international law and a threat to world peace. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, intends to pursue the Bill to a Division, assuming that it wore not to be accepted by the Government. If that is the case, I cannot say, because I have not heard all the arguments, how I shall vote. All that I can say is that, on the arguments that I have heard so far, I would undoubtedly support the Second Reading. Without prejudging the issue, I suspect that the arguments will not be strong enough to persuade me to change my mind.

8.48 p.m.

My Lords, I find it difficult to understand how your Lordships could fail t n give the Bill a Second Reading. The Bill says that the Secretary of State may by order carry out the decisions of the Security Council. The United Kingdom is one of the permanent members of the Security Council. It has a veto. Therefore, every decision of the Security Council is a decision to which the United Kingdom Government have agreed. All that the Bill does is to empower the Secretary of State—it does not even order him—to carry out decisions with which Her Majesty's Government have already agreed. I cannot see any reason therefore why the Bill should not be given a Second Reading.

Of course it may be argued that the Secretary of State is not the right person to carry this out. But every one of the Bill's schedules are decisions of the Security Council, and the United Kingdom is a permanent member of the Security Council. I know that I am repeating myself but I want to underline the point. Because the United Kingdom is a permanent member of the Security Council, it can veto any resolution of the Security Council with which it disagrees. If these resolutions have been passed by the Security Council they have been accepted by the United Kingdom. Therefore the United Kingdom is obliged to carry them out. What has happened so far is that the United Kingdom has done very little about carrying out these decisons with which it agreed. All the Bill says is that the Secretary of State may do what he ought to be doing anyway.

I do not feel that I need to go into details about any of these matters because the details will have been argued at the Security Council. Her Majesty's Government's representative will have been at the Security Council and could have argued, and even voted, against this. The fact that it became a Security Council resolution meant that the United Kingdom did not vote against it. That being so, I shall be very interested to hear what the Minister says in reply to this debate. I cannot believe that we are going to be double dealers—that we are going to say one thing at the Security Council and then do something else. Therefore there must be good, sound reasons why we should not do it and I wait to hear them.

My own view is that we ought now to be doing all that is in the schedule because we voted to agree that they be done. We should not abstain if we did not agree. There are matters with which we have agreed and they are therefore things that we should do. Your Lordships may say that they may not have the desired effect. That is not the point. The time to say that was at the Security Council meeting, not after they have been accepted. Therefore unless we want to make the United Nations a farce or, alternatively, we want to be known in the international community as people whose words cannot be trusted, as I see it we are obliged to carry out these decisions because they are decisions with which we agree. I see that my noble friend Lord Morris wishes to ask me something.

My Lords, I am so grateful to (if I may so call him) my noble friend Lord Pitt for allowing me to interrupt him. However, he must surely know the difference between declaratory law and substantive law. The only way that these resolutions can be given any teeth is if action is taken, if real power is brought to the fore. Is the noble Lord seriously asking the United Kingdom on its own in effect to declare war upon South Africa, which is against one of the fundamental charters of the United Nations? How can we act on our own? Of course we agree with the principles underlying that resolution. We were joint authors of that Resolution 435, as your Lordships well know. But we cannot on our own act unless the other permanent members of the Security Council join with us.

My Lords, what you agreed to do is that you urged member states—because you were one of those urging member states of the United Nations who have not done so—to consider taking appropriate voluntary measures against South Africa, which could include the stopping of new investments and the application of disincentives to this end. You do not need everybody to do it. You can do it as a voluntary act. There is the re-examination of maritime and aerial relations with South Africa. You do not need everyone to do it. You can do it, and you agreed to do it when you accepted the Security Council resolution. It urges the prohibition of the sale of krugerrands and all other coins minted in South Africa. They are all there. They are part of the resolution. Yet when Bermuda—which has no obligation because it is not a member of the Security Council, or even a member of the United Nations—wanted to stop the sale of krugerrands, Her Majesty's Government stopped it, using the United Kingdom's power because it is in Charge of foreign affairs.

It is very difficult for a simple-minded man such as me to understand how in effect Her Majesty's Government could support that resolution at the United Nations and then say to John Swan when he tried to do it, "You cannot; we do not want you to". If that was your attitude you should have vetoed the resolution. This is what I am repeating: that if the United Kingdom felt that these things could not be done, should not be done, and can only be done if everybody does so, it should not have allowed these resolutions to pass. It should have used its veto. If the resolutions were passed merely for propaganda effect, I would regard that as immoral. We should pass resolutions that we intend to respect. We should not pass resolutions that we do not intend to respect. That is my view.

I can see nothing in this Bill that one can reject. The Bill is merely empowering—it is not commanding; it is not an instruction—the Secretary of State to carry out the decisions of the Security Council, of which the United Kingdom is a member. Frankly, I want to sit and wait to hear what the Minister has to say.

8.57 p.m.

My Lords, most of us would surely agree that what we ought to have in the forefront of our minds this evening is not the amour propre of the United Nations (or the constituent parts of that organisation or even of the member states of that organisation) but rather the long term well-being of those whose interests we are meant to be discussing, of those for whom, at several removes, we are in a sense trustees.

It is claimed that the previous trustees have failed in their duties. Perhaps they have, until fairly recently at any rate. But in any sphere of life a trustee who steps into the shoes of a departing trustee still has the normal trustee's obligations such as the obligation to maintain a balance between the interests of the life tenants and the remaindermen, and, above all, the obligation not to show favouritism or bias for or against any particular member of a family or class of persons.

By this criterion, the United Nations, by declaring SWAPO to be "the sole authentic representative of the people of Namibia", and by extension elevating one ethnic/tribal group above all the others, has forfeited any claim to be regarded as an impartial or fair-minded trustee.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Is the noble Lord aware that SWAPO has support not simply from one tribe but from many tribes, ethnic groups, in Namibia?

My Lords, I am coming to that point in a moment. The point I was making is that SWAPO cannot be the sole authentic representative of the Namibian people, any more than the Sinn Fein is the sole authentic representative of the people of Ireland. There are perhaps millions of people in the United States who believe that to be the case, but it is not the case.

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord realises that that particular resolution was a resolution of the General Assembly and not the Security Council. We are talking about the Security Council.

My Lords, I am talking about both the Security Council and the General Assembly in this context. Most people's supposedly objective assessment of any given situation is inevitably coloured by their personal experiences, and I am certainly no exception to that rule. My first visit to Namibia, or South West Africa as it was then called, was in March 1965. I landed in Windhoek, having travelled by way of Luanda and Sa da Bandeira, in southern Angola. The Portuguese Government of Dr. Caetano then controlled Angola, and the overall atmosphere in that country was then extremely good.

People of all races and backgrounds mingled together unselfconsciously in a totally relaxed manner, and one noticed, for example, white waiters cheerfully serving black customers in hotels and restaurants. So it came as a considerable shock to arrive in South West Africa where apartheid was almost total and where blacks were servile to the point of being obsequious—with the exception of the Hereros, who never kowtow to anybody. I was later to learn that apartheid had become, if possible, even stricter in the late 1960s, with unequal pay for equal work being extended even to the professions.

It therefore came as an extremely pleasant surprise to return to Namibia last year and see the enormous improvements that had been made. Apartheid had been virtually abolished and the streets were full of selfconfident black people who looked one straight in the eye, many of them evidently prosperous and some having achieved a high status in government service as well as in private industry and commerce. My Lords, 98·8 per cent. of the 4,200 civil servants in Namibia are themselves Namibians, only 1·2 per cent. coming from South Africa.

It was possible for a stranger like myself to walk through the streets late at night without any feeling of insecurity or tension. It is rather as if one were to go to Saudi Arabia in 10 years' time and find the average Saudi Arabian family sitting down to lunch in front of a plateful of ham sandwiches, washed down with a bottle of wine. Such is the measure of the change that has occurred in Namibia in less than 10 years.

It is true that there are still separate schools for the different ethnic groups, but then so there were in Malawi after independence. Dr. Hastings Banda—a sensible, pragmatic and non-doctrinaire statesman—took the sensible, pragmatic and non-doctrinaire view that if separate schools made people happy, then so be it. Having said this, it appears that the current interim Government, which is so looked down upon by people like the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, is in fact now in the process of integrating the education system.

What does disappoint one in Namibia is the relative poverty of the poorer blacks, together with a few of the coloureds, compared to their counterparts in South Africa. This stems, I think, from four causes. The first is the world recession; the second the drought which has plagued southern Africa for five years now, and which receives very little attention in the press over here; the third is politically-motivated dis-investment; and the fourth and perhaps most important is the lack of investment that might otherwise have taken place, arising solely from political uncertainty.

I shall return to this point shortly. But first, now that we have established that so many of the old, legitimate grievances have at last been removed—I do not think anybody could seriously deny that—I should like to deal with the political fears of the numerous minorities in Namibia. I know a South African who has lived in Namibia for many years. He is certainly not a supporter of the verkrampte wing of the National Party. Nor is he even a supporter of the verligte wing of that party—that is to say, the enlightened wing. On the contrary, he is a strong opponent of the present South African Government and is an active supporter of the PFP—the Progressive Federal Party; the opposition party in South Africa.

Nevertheless, despite these liberal credentials, my friend is adamant that the minorities in Namibia are terrified at the thought of a SWAPO government coming into power, notwithstanding the fart that SWAPO, as the right reverend Prelate says, contains a few token members of each of the minorities. They are terrified because the minority ethnic groups living in the centre and the south of the country fear total domination by the larger ethnic group living m the north, or rather part of the north, because the people of the Caprivi strip in the north east are certainly no friends of SWAPO.

Any noble Lord who is tempted lightly to dismiss the idea of domination of smaller tribes by larger ones should read the article on Zimbabwe in yesterday's Times on the suppression of the Matabele by the Shona. This was written by an individual with impeccably left-wing credentials, Oppression of minorities on the African continent is by no means confined to Zimbabwe: I could give several other examples had I the time to do so.

The other reason for minority apprehension is that the more educated among the minority groups abhor the Marxist character of SWAPO, Africans being no more inherently suited to Communism than any other group of people anywhere in the world. The Dean of Peterhouse, the Reverend—and I stress the word "Reverend"—Dr. Edward Norman, described the leadership of SWAPO as,
"sophisticated ideologues … [whose] object is the creation in Namibia of a unitary Marxist state.".
Some will doubtless allege that any talk of the need to protect minorities is inspired by the South African Government, partly as a delaying tactic and partly with a view to protecting Namibian whites. Whatever may have been the case a few years ago, such an allegation would now be mistaken: of that I am certain. South Africa's only interest in Namibia now is to prevent it being used as a base for attack or subversion. As for Namibian whites, they have come to realise with considerable bitterness that the South Africans consider them at this late stage to be well outside the laager. A certain fraternal feeling still exists, but basically the South Africans are far more preoccupied with their own problems.

Indeed, it goes rather further than that. Many right-wingers in South Africa would be secretly delighted if a SWAPO government swept into power, leading to a panic exodus of minorities, these minorities including not only whites but many people of mixed race and southern tribes such as the Namas, with most of them pouring into the northern Cape Province of South Africa. What wonderful propaganda for an international television audience film coverage of such an exodus would make. And for their internal audience, the right-wingers would be able to say, "We told you so. Look what happens when you bow to international pressure."

There are three reaons why the West, and indeed moderate opinion not only in the West but everywhere, should pay more attention to minority rights in an independent Namibia than it has done so far. The first and most important reason is that it is morally right to do so. The second reason is economic. Here I revert to the analogy of the good trustee, who should always think of the beneficiary's long-term interest even when the beneficiary (human nature being what it is) is eagerly seeking short-term benefit. The fruits of politics may seem tempting, but in an overpopulated and ever more competitive world economics are actually far more vital. Banks and international companies will not invest or expand in a country dominated by a rigid Marxist ideology, nor in one plagued by obstruction and sabotage undertaken by disaffected minorities, nor following an exodus of many of its most skilled and talented workers, managers and professional people.

The third reason is that a settlement which leaves minorities feeling secure and justly treated will set the scene for a much more peaceful political evolution in South Africa itself than would otherwise be the case. Surely that cannot be denied.

For all the above reasons it seems clear that Resolution 434, which never exactly had the status of Holy Writ, is now totally out of date. What is needed is a constitution drawn up by first-ranking constitutional lawyers (possibly incorporating a comprehensive bill of rights and provisions for a second chamber with weighted voting for the various minorities: this is not the moment to go into the precise details) before an election, not afterwards. After an election, SWAPO, by virtue of the Ovambo's numerical dominance would be able totally to call the tune and would be able to draw up a constitution to suit its own purposes and in its own Marxist, winner-takes-all, image. For that reason I cannot support this Bill tonight. I hope your Lordships will feel the same way.

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I did not wish to interrupt his speech, but he spoke glowingly of Dr. Hastings Banda, the president of Malawi. Does he realise that all the things he has been saying about SWAPO and its leaders were said in the late 1950s about Dr. Hastings Banda, who I myself visited when he was in prison without trial in Gwelo gaol? He was imprisoned as a dangerous Marxist agitator who was leading terrorists in his own country and therefore had to be removed from his own country of Malawi to Gwelo prison in what was then Southern Rhodesia.

My Lords, I do not think Dr. Hastings Banda ever claimed to be a Marxist and obviously he was not a Marxist. SWAPO, it is well documented, is indeed Marxist or has a strong Marxist element in its party.

9.10 p.m.

My Lords, after a somewhat ingenuous debate I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Monson. So far as my somewhat failing hearing goes, I think I agree with and corroborate almost every word he said. That is a real picture of what we are dealing with.

This basically has been a debate for political illiterates. We are presented with a Bill which proposes to give to a government powers that they do not want and obligations which no sane government would accept. We do not have to bother to vote against it, because within our procedure the Government Whip will steer it very properly and very quietly to where it belongs: that is, to the wastepaper basket. But beyond the procedural nonsense of this Bill we are dealing with a political nonsense which is the independence of what used to be Africa South-West, which is now sometimes called Namibia.

Over that area the South African Government at the end of World War I, when perhaps we were a little more realistic in our politics, was given a Class III mandate. A Class III mandate is for an area which for geographical, population and ethnic reasons can never look forward to independence. The undertaking of mandatory power is to bring that area forward to the point where it can be incorporated in the mandatory nation as a province. I would say that that precisely applies here.

Namibia is a vast territory, as big as England and France put together, as big as France and West Germany put together. It has a population of doubtful numbers, but probably very little over a million. In that area it has a rateable value about equal to that of Brighton without Hove and a taxable capacity just a little less than Brighton and Hove. Anybody who does not imagine that one can make countries by drawing a square on a map and saying, "That is a nation" knows that this is a political impossibility.

Nations have certain obligations. They have to secure frontiers, and that is an obligation to their neighbours. They also have an obligation to their people. They have to provide services. Namibia has no taxable basis upon which it could ever possibly fulfil those obligations. It requires—as, at more sensible times, we realised after the 1914–18 war—a protecting state. That protecting state was South Africa, and she did a wonderful Job. Notwithstanding whatever else South Africa has been criticised for in many places, her job as a protector of Namibia has been really splendid. She has provided, without any reward at all, as a free gift and supplementation, very nearly half of Namibia's budget.

She has paid the necessary deficit on her railways. In a time when all Africa, nation after nation, has been starving—and there was no more vulnerable area than the desert land of Namibia—Namibia alone has passed through these seven years of drought, the seven years of lean cattle, without famine, and without injury, solely because of a service rendered to her by her protector; and our attitude at this point is a marvellously ungrateful one. She has been defended on her northern boundaries by South African troops and Namibia's own troops, including the Bushmen battalions, at the expense of South Africa. And she has been provided with internal self-government which, among other things, has left her completely free to abolish apartheid which disappeared over seven years ago in this territory. Like the noble Lord, I have been there, I have seen it, and I know it.

What is the alternative we are offered? We are offered SWAPO. SWAPO has been declared by the United Nations, in a moment of marvellous irresponsibility, as the only representative of the Namibian people. Now it is suggested that the United Nations having totally put itself in one corner should take on the job of referee and conduct an election. The proposal is totally absurd. Let us see how this happened. There were contestants there, Russia and China, for the voice of Africa. SWAPO was Russia and SWANU was China. There was a considerable battle and the Russians won and in the United Nations they succeeded in pushing out SWANU and getting SWAPO appointed as the sole representative. SWAPO is not the sole representative. It would give the Hereros a fit if you told them that this Ovambo tribe, or tribal organisation, was the sole representation of their country.

There are many parties there. The only thing which SWAPO had the monopoly of was terrorism as a policy. It set out from the start to use terror as a means of achieving government and of holding its position, threatening local chiefs, threatening anybody in authority with murder if they did their jobs. They planted mines on the roads, killing quite indiscriminately, to destroy order. As to that, if I may refer it to the right reverend Prelate, the record of the Church is simply lamentable. Perhaps I may read him this extract from the report of the British Council of Churches:
"Many of the SWAPO leaders are Christians. It is true that they place mines. It is true that they kill people, normally informers, but only after warnings—sometimes several warnings".
They are not given even a kangaroo trial—and this has Christian support! I hope the right reverend Prelate is blushing—

My Lords, if the noble Lord will give way, I do not really want to prolong this but I must ask him whether he knows of any independent struggle in history which has not been accompanied by tragic acts of violence on both sides. What is happening in Namibia, as we know well, is a struggle for independence and freedom. Inevitably there are some atrocities committed under SWAPO auspices; yet it was the testimony of people I met there that the overwhelming majority of such incidents were coming from the South African defence forces.

My Lords, I do not expect Ministers of Christ to support murders on either side, and may I remind the right reverend Prelate of perhaps one of the most important commands of his Master:

"Render therefore unto Ceasar the things which are Ceasar's"?
The destruction of order is among the greatest of crimes.

The question concerns the alternative which seems to be being offered. South West Africa has escaped famine. In figures for hospital beds, literacy—right through the list—it is among the very top in Africa. It has done this thanks to the South African service, and now it is proposed to abolish that. The bill is £500 million a year—and who is going to pay it? None of these saviours of Namibia, so far as I can see, is producing a penny. South Africa pays the bill. It is proposed to leave the bill and to leave Namibia to starve. The whole thing is basically a disgraceful proposal.

9.23 p.m.

My Lords, I find it very difficult, after that violent speech, to enter into debate. I can only conclude that the noble Lord does not support the efforts of the Government, which have been considerable, in trying to bring Namibia to independence. In this respect I think he is probaby a lone voice in your Lordships' House.

Several points have been made which I should like to deal with very quickly before I go on to the main purpose of my speech. First, we can all argue as to whether procedurally this is the right way to go: namely, by means of a Bill. But if it were carried (and we know that Bills of this kind never get into law, at least not for many years) it would impose an effective obligation on the Government to report. That would meet the point of, I think, the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Manchester, that there is a danger that Namibia may be forgotten. However, I do not want to waste time on this.

Secondly, I noticed that my noble friend Lord Caradon, who knows more about colonial administration and indeed decolonisation than practically anyone, certainly in this House, said that this was the last great problem in Africa. Would that it were! The significance of this particular problem is that it is a soluble one.

Thirdly, I should just like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, that it is a strange fact that if the Government vote for a resolution they do not necessarily carry it through in all its implications. But, unless there is a Chapter 7 resolution of the Security Council, there is no obligation in law to enforce all the aspects.

I must first declare an interest. For the last nearly 15 years I have been involved with RTZ. I have been a senior director there and I am now practically out; I am a pensioner. But at no time have I ever been under pressure from my company to put their point of view in any respect in Parliament. Indeed, if I have been at fault it has been in abstaining from saying something when I thought I had a contribution to make.

I think I must intervene in this debate, because I believe that my company runs one of the most forward-looking multi-racial undertakings. We have a very large Investment, a great deal of money is created and we have a view on the future independence of Namibia. What I am going to express are my own views, but I should be surprised if my senior colleagues in RTZ, particularly in Namibia, did not agree with them. I say this having heard a very eloquent speech from the noble Lord, Lord Monson, but I do not come to the same conclusion as he does.

As he pointed out, there has been a rapid development of multi-racialism in Namibia, and it is very striking to go to a place like Arandis, which is a company town, and to find that the clubs are multiracial and that there has been real progress in that respect. But it is a very poor territory. We have got rid of the race system and, to some extent, owing to the lack of education, it has been replaced almost inevitably—and I say this not at all in an aggressive way—by a class system, because the management was not there and the education was not there. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, who is a friend of Sir Val Duncan, will appreciate the idealism that he brought to seeking to create a business ethos which would inherently play a major role in the company.

It is worth pointing out in relation to Zimbabwe, that as a company we do not make contributions to political parties under what is a very left-wing Marxist Government. I also read that article in The Times, but I am bound to say that Mugabe is perhaps the best thing that could have happened.

That brings me to a political point that I want to take up with regard to the arrival of independence, why counsels of what seem to be moderation do not always work and why this problem of pressing forward to independence in Namibia is so important. In 1968, I was sent out to Aden on the spur of the moment in order to seek to bring the British army home and to create a successor government. We started off seeking to provide some backing to the sultans, the Federales, some of whom were moderate and sensible. But it soon became apparent that, as in any major battle for independence, there would be forces called terrorist forces which would ultimately, as has happened in many countries, form the government of the day.

My problem was to make contact with them and I remember—it is part of history which has never been published—sending Tom Driberg, who was out there, on a very wearisome and difficult journey to try to make contact with the leaders of FLOSY and to try to decide which of the terrorists was likely to win the battle. The establishment terrorist organisation, FLOSY, which was backed by the Egyptians, had a more radical opposition, the National Liberation Front. At the moment when we got to the point of hoping to talk to the National Liberation Front, the United Nations spoiled it by saying "No". They refused to acknowledge that the NLF was shooting the British down even more effectively than the other body and they thought it was a stooge organisation.

We have to form judgments as to what is likely to be the most effective government. I have referred to my experience in Aden because it is no use trying to find a moderate and perfect government. One has to find an effective government. If I have (dare I call it?) a Shackleton's Law in these matters, it is, "Don't try always to create what seems the most sensible government, create the government or help to create the government that is likely to be effective".

I have come to the view that a government in which SWAPO did not play a leading part would be unlikely to last. I do not know whether other noble Lords here know some of the SWAPO leaders as I do, people such as Sam Nujoma and Kachivivi and others who, whatever may be said in violent terms because they believe they are engaged in a war, are perfectly capable in my judgment of providing a reasonable government. There is always a danger of a government going wrong. It went wrong in Aden because we failed to support the successor government we should have supported. The people with whom I made a deal were swept away, not by more extreme people but by people who just did not like them.

My noble friend Lord Hatch made a moderate speech. Unfortunately, he has never been to Namibia because he has never been allowed into South Africa so far as I know. I should like more people to go there. Indeed, I wish that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester had visited because he and I have argued on some of these issues and I do not think he believed in the sincerity of what I was saying about the need for progress in this matter. It is important that we should bring maximum pressure.

No one thinks that this Bill by itself will solve the problem but the Contact Group has been trying hard. The British Government have quite rightly rejected the linkage with the Cuban question. I do not propose to go into the arguments about Angola. Savimbi is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. I do not believe that the presence of the Cubans is crucial to the independence of Namibia. There are good people—one whose name I have forgotten who used to be one of the SWAPO leaders and now leads SWAPO D in the Government. He was locked up and when he returned he tried to move back into politics. One would hope to see an election carried out in the way that the United Nations has suggested and in the way SWAPO has agreed. If at the end of the day there is a SWAPO majority, one has to accept that.

We deceive ourselves if we think that in this world there are easy solutions which will be more effective than the one that will come out of the carrying out of the resoluton of the United Nations. The one that is in a sense mandatory to the Government and one on which they have to report is the easiest one for the Government to deal with. I do not expect the Government to accept this Bill, but I think there are good grounds for giving it a Second Reading. I hope that the Government will let this go, but if they do not it will be my intention to vote for it for the reasons I have explained. I do not expect that those of my colleagues who I know best in Namibia would be particularly surprised or would object to what I was doing, but I have not consulted them.

There is just a possible moment in time now when something might be achieved. The Commonwealth Group which is in South Africa is perhaps making more progress than any of us suspect. We are coming up to a date, 1st August, and this is a time for maximum pressure. Therefore I hope that the Bill will be given a Second Reading. My noble friend, who made a very moderate speech, has explained that it is very largely permissive. It does not impose any serious obligations other than for the Government to report under Clause 3. Although it will not pass into law—I know that my noble friend knows that—nonetheless it is a further indication of a degree of realism which is important at a time when, if we go on deceiving ourselves that there is an ideal solution, we shall merely land ourselves in greater trouble. I therefore support my noble friend.

9.35 p.m.

My Lords, I beg your Lordships' pardon for speaking when I have not put down my name to do so. I informed later speakers of my wish to contribute and they were kind enough not to discourage me.

Early last year, I was, as the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, said in his opening speech, a member of an all-party parliamentary delegation to Namibia. I wish to take up just two minor points that have arisen in the debate because of what we saw there. We visited the Rössing mine belonging to RTZ, which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has rightly described—indeed, somewhat under-described—as a model of benign employment. It was truly amazing to come across that vast mine, which is one of the biggest uranium mines in the world, in the middle of the desert, employing thousands of people without any racial discrimination whatsoever; without any wage discrimination within comparable brackets of work; with housing up to a standard that would be outstanding even to a millionaire in the desert; with clubs, and transport, and all the rest of it.

The only fly in the ointment, which is in no way the fault of RTZ, is that they are not allowed to say what they are doing. Everybody knows that they are mining uranium, but the South African occupying administration holds it to be a state secret how much their turnover is every year, and what the grade of uranium mined is. Therefore, nobody can get a fair picture of what they are up to, which is greatly to the discredit of the South African administration and does nothing, unfortunately, to help the reputation of RTZ. I have the impression that if it were known what they were up to, liberal opinion throughout the world would approve.

The noble Lord, Lord Paget, I am sure inadvertently, may have given the impression that Resolution 435 of the United Nations, proclaiming independence, and the other resolution declaring SWAPO the only true representatives of the Namibian people, were on the same footing. They were not. Resolution 435 was a Security Council resolution and is binding, whereas the other was a General Assembly resolution and is therefore not binding upon the world. It may be regarded as one wishes to regard it. For myself, I would regard that resolution with derision rather than anything else, because one cannot say who represents anybody else unless one has an election. The absence of a fair election is precisely what we are all complaining about.

This debate has been—with the single exception, I think, of the noble Lord, Lord Paget—among those who want Namibian independence, among those who support the Security Council resolution calling for it, and among those who deplore the continued brutal and illegal South African occupation of that territory. In the visit that we paid last year, we saw nothing good except, as the noble Lord, Lord Paget, has rightly reminded the House, the payment of a large part of the bill by South Africa. We saw nothing else that was good in that illegal occupation.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, quoted from the report of that all-party delegation words of round condemnation. I am glad that he did. I stand by them. The Namibian situation is one of the most unjust and most unjustifiable in the entire world at the moment. At the risk of being misunderstood, because outside this House and outside this Parliament—although not, I think, inside—there are many people who do not understand the difference between a Bill, a Motion, and a debate, I must say that I do not think that the Bill is a wise Bill. It has already had a good effect in making possible a beneficial, if not always highly informed, debate; and no doubt news of this debate will reach those who want to know what the House of Lords thinks.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, himself correctly stated that all the powers that the Bill would permit the Government to use they have already, without its permission, and that the Bill would lay only one new duty upon the Government: to submit a quarterly report on progress towards Namibian independence to this Parliament. We have to ask ourselves whether we want to pass all the United Nations resolutions that are passed from now on into law, on the precedent of this Bill: or whether we want even to pass them retrospectively into law, now that we have begun to pass UN resolutions into law. Do we want to pass only those resolutions that we agree with, as we almost all do agree with Resolution 435, or do we want to pass all of them into British law whether we agree or not? Obviously not, my Lords. Any of these courses would be onerous in the extreme on parliamentary time and would of course not affect the law of the land.

Namibia, although a grave matter, is not the only trouble spot in the world. Do we want to tell the Government to submit quarterly reports on all of them, and if not how can we require the Government to submit quarterly reports on one? Here in this place if we pass a Bill we are not just writing a collective editorial; we are changing the law of the land. The ability of the British Government to do what they can to bring Resolution 435 into effect does not require any change in British law. It does not require the permission of this House. The Government already have that permission. It does not require any change, even in detail, to do what even the most extreme friends of the Bill would like to see done, and which I join them in wishing to see done.

This is a United States-type Bill. In the United States a Bill can be passed for the sheer purpose of exhortation without laying a single duty upon the Government and without changing the law in any respect. In some Scandinavian countries one can do the same. So far in this country we have kept legislation for the purpose of changing the law. If we think that there is something wrong with the law, we change it. If we think there is some law that ought to be there but is not, we introduce it. If we think there is some law which ought not to be there but is, we repeal it. That is the purpose of Statute law; not exhortation.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, in my opinion, by introducing the Bill has already done a great deal towards the independence of Namibia, towards showing the way this Parliament believes the world should go and towards expressing the voice of this Parliament to its own Government in urging them to do more. I believe he is right that the Government have not done all that they could. I share his view; but it was a great mistake for this country to stand back from the old Contact Group procedure and allow the United States to pursue constructive engagement for five years now, and above all to continue to stand back when Washington had the bright idea of including the expulsion of the Cubans from Angola as a de facto condition for Namibian independence. That simply held things up. It was an American mistake and a mistake with which we, Germany and other countries, have gone along. It is now time that we cease to go along with it.

There is no need for a Bill to cease going along with it. There is no need for a Bill for any change in British policy towards Namibia. I will stand beside the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, in all he may think of in future to urge this Government to do more towards those ends.

If there is a division tonight then, like my noble friend Lord Walston, I do not know what I shall do because I have not yet heard the spokesman of the Labour Opposition, let alone the Minister. However, I hope that it may be possible to ensure—and I believe we already have—the greatest possible echo for our overwhelming majority view in the House, the country and abroad, while yet avoiding taking up the time of parliament with something that is not going to become law and which, if it did, would be a poor precedent.

My Lords, did the visit of the noble Lord to this part of the world take three days? Did he then issue a report on it, and has he read the reply to that report—I will give it to him—by Mr. Kozonguizi, who has spent a lifetime as a nationalist in that area, in which he demonstrates that every single figure used by the noble Lord in his report was wrong, as were most of the facts?

My Lords, our visit lasted seven days and we published a report which had the agreement of all three parties. It was much attacked. I do not think I have seen the paper to which the noble Lord, Lord Paget, refers and I should be glad if he would send it to me.

9.45 p.m.

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby, who has considerable knowledge of southern Africa, has again performed a service in introducing another Bill seeking to ensure that Her Majesty's Government do all within their power to secure the independence of Namibia. I think that has merged throughout this debate from all sides; that it is desirable that Her Majesty's Government should do everything within their power to secure the independence of that territory.

Namibia is, indeed, a country subjected to illegal occupation by South Africa and to government by a body installed by South Africa in what can only be described as blatant defiance of resolutions of the United Nations. I hope that the House, in its approach to the Bill, will prove to be sympathetic to the plight of what is, after all, a beleaguered and suffering people. I think that that, too, has emerged almost universally in the debate tonight.

As we have heard from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, and others, there was the debate last October on another Bill of my noble friend. I think it is worth emphasising that that Bill was very different from the present Bill. As we know, too, that particular Bill failed to gain a Second Reading despite strongly supporting speeches from some noble Lords. One is bound to ask: what were the reasons for the Government's disappointing response to that Bill? It certainly was not that the Government disagreed with the main aim of the Bill; that is, the independence of Namibia through the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 435. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Young, confirmed the Government's commitment to that resolution when she said that,
"the United Kingdom has long been involved in international efforts to end South Africa's unlawful occupation of Namibia. Through our membership of the Western Contact Group we helped to draw up and to negotiate the United Nations plan for Namibian independence. This plan, which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 435, represents the only basis for independence which has the support of all parties concerned and the international Community."—[Official Report, 22/10/85; col. 1056.]
Again, at the end of her speech, the noble Baroness said that,
"we remain fully committed to the achievement of internationally recognised independence for Namibia under the United Nations plan."—[col. 1058.]
What I think the noble Baroness was objecting to in the last Bill was not the end sought by the Bill but the means of securing that end. That Bill insisted on far-reaching financial and travel restrictions and specific provisions about the United Nations Council for Namibia Decree No. 1 which seeks to prevent exploitation of Namibia's natural resources. I know that the Government had difficulties about that because of their view that the General Assembly acted beyond its power in setting up the council; and one understands that view.

In the October debate a clear point of political harmony emerged almost entirely throughout the House; namely, support for Resolution 435. Today we have a Bill which embodies a distillation of that first Bill on Namibia. It is a distillation which should prove, I hope, irresistible to the Minister if the Government's admirable words about Resolution 435 mean what they say. I am sure that those words are an accurate presentation of the Government's intentions on Namibia. Therefore, in obedience to the demands of consistency I feel sure that the Government can support this Bill. As I have emphasised, it is indeed significantly different from the previous one, for the Bill says quite simply, as we have heard from other noble Lords tonight, that the Secretary of State shall have powers, subject to parliamentary approval, to implement measures which would assist in the promotion of certain United Nations decisions and resolutions connected with Namibian independence; that those powers will be used to secure the implementation of Resolution 435; and that the Secretary of State shall make positive use of these powers if there is no evidence of progress toward its implementation by 1st August this year.

This Bill is really a framework. It provides the essential part of any discussions about the future of Namibia and the part about which there cannot be any negotiation, which is the importance of securing Resolution 435 itself. Within what I believe to be that politically neutral framework the Secretary of State is free to do as he thinks best, subject to the requirements of Clause 2 that he do something rather than nothing if the August deadline is not met, and subject to Clause 4, that any orders made under the Act shall be supported by an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament.

Unlike the last Bill, the means are not specified here. In fact, this Bill gives the Secretary of State vast latitude for action. So control is exercised by Parliament by the affirmative resolution procedure, and by the duty imposed on the Secretary of State by Clause 3 which requires regular reports to Parliament, as we have heard, about the progress toward implementing Resolution 435. I think—and here I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Kennet—that that provision is more than mere words; it is indeed an important provision. This is a practical duty involving no question of principle or policy, except perhaps the principle that Parliament has a right to be kept informed of the activities of the executive in exercising powers given by Parliament.

As indeed has emerged from this debate tonight, this matter is not only about Namibian independence. It raises the whole question of the international standing of the United Nations. By creating a framework based solely on United Nations resolutions and other United Nations decisions we are debating today in the context of Namibian independence the credibility and status of the United Nations itself. The Bill, as we know, is called "The United Nations … Bill", with "Namibia" placed in parenthesis. As my noble friend Lord Hatch has indicated, the Bill is as much about the United Nations as it is about Namibia.

Of the various alternatives for securing Namibian independence, this Bill suggests that the best way is the process selected by the United Nations. If we support the United Nations and the proposal embodied in Resolution 435, we must surely support measures which place such reliance on resolutions made by the United Nations. It has to be faced that it is an ailing institution at the moment. It is suffering financially and from attacks on its credibility as an effective institution, and I believe that we should take this opportunity to indicate what amounts to our respect for its decision making.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, in his persuasive speech, referred to this point, as indeed did the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, and my noble friend Lord Caradon, who has had a great deal of experience at the United Nations on colonial matters. Why is this Bill justified? There are still the reasons by which the last Bill was justified: the political need for freedom and democracy for a people who have been subjugated for so long by a nation which has subjugated the majority of its own people; the economic needs of a sparsely populated country which is rich in diamonds, silver, copper, lead, zinc and uranium, but which is ravaged by political upheaval. A country ravaged by continual conflict clearly cannot thrive. Civilisation will wither and the people there will continue to suffer as they have done in the past.

We have heard about the all-party delegation which included the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and which visited Namibia last year. It is worth recalling the passage quoted last October by my noble friend Lord Cledwyn from the report of that delegation:
"Namibia is a tragedy and one to which the British Government and the West as a whole should now give a much greater priority. It is, above all, a human tragedy … about people, mainly entirely innocently involved in a wider conflict, not of their own making and longing for an end to their nightmare".
Recent political events have intensified the need for action. My noble friend Lord Shackleton in his eloquent contribution urged the need for maximum pressure to be exerted at this time.

On 4th March this year President Botha proposed that Resolution 435 should be put into effect from 1st August 1986; hence the date in the Bill. Unfortunately any hopes raised by that proposed timetable were dashed by his insistence on linkage of the resolution with the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola. The presence of the Cubans was, Mr. Botha said, "the last remaining obstacle" to Namibian independence. But Resolution 435 contains no reference to linkage, as we know.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, has said that,
"the Cuban withdrawal from Angola is not part of the Security Council Resolution 435. Nor do we recognise it as a precondition for a Namibian settlement".—[Official Report, 22/10/85; col. 1056.]
Perhaps the Minister can confirm that view, for there have been disturbing signs of ambivalence in the Government's attitude. For example, the Prime Minister indicated after the visit of President Botha in June 1984 that, although linkage was not a part of Resolution 435, she did not believe that its implementation could occur without the agreed withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola. I hope tonight that the noble Baroness can confirm the view that she put forward to this House in that earlier debate.

My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the people who also need to be persuaded are the Americans, and in the early days it was more American influence than Mr. Botha which insisted on the Cubans going?

My Lords, I agree with what my noble friend said. Indeed, I was about to come to that point. Linkage, it has to be said, is very convenient for South Africa in some ways and some would say too for the United States. It enables South Africa to delay the independence of Namibia on the grounds of national security; it enables the United States to protect against feared Soviet incursion into Africa. It is convenient because South Africa, and again it could be said the United States, are able to manipulate the duration of this remaining obstacle by their support of Mr. Savimbi and his Unita followers.

It is disturbing to learn that the United States, long the mainstay of the Western Contact Group, which has sought a solution to the Namibian problem, has come out so strongly in support of Unita and South Africa on this matter, Chester Cracker, speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that,
"certain decisions have been made to provide both moral and material assistance"
to Unita. This would include anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles specifically requested by Mr. Savimbi during a recent visit to the United States.

Perhaps the noble Baroness can say whether the Government disassociate themselves from those activities of the United States which would inevitably delay the implementation of Resolution 435 and indeed undermine the ability of the United States to play a facilitating role in resolving the problems of Namibia. I have mentioned in your Lordships' House in other contexts the fact that although we have our differences from time to time, the United States remains our closest ally. I believe that it is all the more incumbent upon us as a close friend of that country to make our views known when we feel that something is wrong or is not quite right.

We have all heard that there are changes happening in South Africa. Today it is reported that there are discussions about the peace plan proposed by the Eminent Persons Group—something to which reference has been made already tonight—that would involve lifting the ban on the ANC and instigating talks between the South African Government and the ANC. But I think too that we must not be misled by what could be false hopes. Apartheid still exists and there is no prospect that one can see of its being abandoned completely. There may be fine tuning going on, but that is certainly not enough. The prospects for Namibia are no better, one is bound to feel, for the announcement in March by President Botha. Again, it is reported today that Mr. Savimbi has returned from Cape Town secure in the knowledge that South African withdrawal from Namibia remained contingent upon Cuban withdrawal from Angola. Linkage is indeed flourishing in the eyes of South Africa and needs to be stopped.

Those of us who have been involved in any way in work at the United Nations feel that this problem has been going on interminably. It is time to make clear that in our view delay can be accepted no longer. This Bill gives the Government the chance to make absolutely plain their commitment to Resolution 435 with no preconditions. It is a small but practical Step, and though I cannot commit my noble friends I hope very much that your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading tonight.

10.1 p.m.

My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Morris reminded your Lordships some time ago, we had a debate on the first Namibia Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, as recently as last October. This evening, six months later, we have before your Lordships a second Bill. It is in fact different. It gives me an opportunity to set out once again the Government's policy on Namibia.

Before doing so, I should like to answer a question of fact stated by both the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, and the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, that Britain has a primary responsibility for Namibia. This is not in fact the case. Britain did not have any special responsibility for the League of Nations mandate on Namibia. In 1920 this was accepted by Britain,
"for and on behalf of the Government of the Union of South Africa".
As South Africa was, in practice, an independent and sovereign state by 1920, recognised formally as such in 1926, the United Kingdom did not, even at its inception, have any responsibility for the mandate. It is important to know and to establish that fact.

On a quite different issue, but one raised by several of your Lordships, it is, I believe, valuable to have a debate on Namibia. I do not, however, believe that we require a Bill to do so. There are many other ways in your Lordships' House in which one can do just that.

I was asked by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester about the Government's policy. I can confirm to the right reverend Prelate that what I said six months ago I will indeed repeat again tonight because it is where the Government stand on the matter. Successive British Governments have been involved in international efforts to end South Africa's unlawful occupation of Namibia. As a member of the Western Contact Group, we helped to draw up and to negotiate the United Nations plan for Namibian independence. This plan, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 435, remains the only basis for independence that has the support of all parties concerned and of the international Community. We remain fully committed to it.

We shall continue, through the representations of our embassy in South Africa and in our public Statements, to urge the South African Government to put the United Nations plan into force without delay and without preconditions. We shall insist that it offers the only internationally accepted solution, that there is no viable alternative to genuine independence for Namibia and that any unilateral transfer of power that might take place now or in the future to bodies established by the South African Government would be totally unacceptable. In our view, the establishment of the so-called Transitional Government of National Unity in Windhoek by the South African Government last year in no way changes the fact that South Africa has given to the international community a formal commitment to implement the United Nations plan and to bring Namibia to internationally recognised independence. We shall continue to remind the South African Government of that commitment and to put its good faith to the test.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, suggested that we might initiate a Lancaster House-style conference. But in fact we are not the administering authority for Nambia and we therefore have no Standing to initiate such a Rhodesia-style conference at all. Contrary to what the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, said, and, if I understood him correctly, the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, this Government do not accept that Cuban withdrawal from Angola should be made a precondition for the implementation of the United Nations plan—a point which I think the noble Lord, Lord Boston, accepted—as the South Africans are now insisting. But we consider that a settlement resulting in the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the region—that is, Cuban forces from Angola and South African forces from Angola and Namibia—would greatly improve the stability of Southern Africa and would create the best possible conditions for Namibia's independence. We have accordingly supported, and shall continue to support, the mediating efforts of the United States aimed at achieving a regional settlement which would include implementation of the United Nations plan and the staged withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola.

The noble Lord, Lord Boston, asked me about United States aid to Unita. The United States is aware of our view that Western interests would be best served by peaceful negotiation of a regional settlement leading to the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the region. But there can be no doubt that the United States is in the best position to secure a regional settlement which would be in the interests of both Western countries and the countries of Southern Africa. It is essential that there is an end to the military conflict inside Angola and that negotiations between the parties are intensified as a matter of urgency. In our view there is no military solution to either the situation in Angola or that in Namibia. I have set out the Government's position, I hope as plainly as I can, so that there will be no misunderstanding on these matters.

I now turn to the Bill before the House. We believe that this second Bill, like the first, would not help to achieve our objectives and could even put at risk the implementation of the United Nations plan.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and the noble Lord, Lord Walston, both asked whether the objections to the Bill were just procedural objections. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, referred quite particularly to Clause 3, which calls for a report at intervals.

We are being asked in this Bill once again to enact domestic legislation which seeks to govern international affairs. It would impose on the Secretary of State an obligation to act in relation to matters which are not within British jurisdiction. Not only is this an attempt to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction, but it is also impractical. Progress towards the implementation of Security Council Resolution 435 depends upon the actions of those parties who have accepted the United Nations plan, not upon domestic legislation in the United Kingdom.

I now turn to look at the Bill in more detail. In Clause 1 the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, seeks to embody in British law a whole series of United Nations Security Council resolutions on all of which the United Kingdom abstained. I do not propose to go through the content of these resolutions in detail, but I wish to Highlight two elements which illustrate the many anomalies and far-reaching repercussions of this draft Bill.

First, Resolution 276 of 1970 (Schedule 1 of the Bill) reaffirms Resolution 2145 (XXI) of 1966 of the United Nations General Assembly in which the United Nations decided that the mandate for South-West Africa was terminated and assumed direct responsibility for the territory until its independence. The United Kingdom abstained on this resolution because of doubts as to its validity. These doubts were confirmed by the then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Callaghan, in 1974 when he stated in the House of Commons that we could not accept the validity of the resolution. This view has been accepted and followed by successive British governments. Acceptance of this Bill would call in doubt the position of those governments.

Secondly, a number of the resolutions referred to in the Bill call for the imposition of sanctions against South Africa and Namibia. As our Permanent Representative has explained in the Security Council, we are unable to support,
"the adoption of resolutions which are ineffective or inoperable",
and which cannot serve the interests of the Namibian people. We believe that this Bill, if adopted, would not only be ineffective and inoperable, but would also undermine the concerted and constructive pressure towards reform in South Africa and independence for Namibia being brought to bear by ourselves and our partners both in the Commonwealth and in the European Community.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester asked whether the Government, besides stating their case and support for Resolution 435, could not put further pressure on South Africa. This point was also made by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt.

Noble Lords will recall that my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary announced on 25th September last year that we would join with our European Community partners in endorsing a number of restrictive and positive measures towards South Africa. These measures, drawn up in Luxembourg on 10th September 1985, represented a legitimate and necessary political signal to the South African Government. At the same time care was taken to ensure that the measures adopted did not destabilise the South African economy or harm those in Southern Africa whom we were seeking to help.

This balanced approach was echoed by the agreement reached at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Nassau on 20th October 1985. Like the European Community package, the measures agreed at Nassau were designed to send an important signal to the South African Government and impress upon them the urgent need for fundamental changes. But they were designed to do this without so damaging the South Africa economy and so affecting the living standards of black workers in South Africa that peaceful reform was made less rather than more likely.

This Government remain firmly of the view that economic pressure in the form of comprehensive economic and trade boycotts would not act as an effective lever of change in Southern Africa; indeed, it would be unrealistic to expect anything other than a polarisation of attitudes in both South Africa and Namibia in response to such a move. We in the West have nothing to gain by promoting confrontation in South Africa or Namibia. We have everything to gain by promoting genuine reform and dialogue in South Africa and genuine independence for Namibia by peaceful means.

In the course of the debate that we had on South Africa this time last week I was able to tell the House something about the Eminent Persons Group to which the noble Lord, Lord Boston, referred this evening, as did the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. Perhaps I may confirm this evening what I said last week—that the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Nassau established a Group of Eminent Persons with the object of facilitating a dialogue in South Africa in the context of a suspension of violence on all sides. The British nominee to the group, which acts quite independently of governments, is the noble Lord, Lord Barber, whose great ability and experience are well known to your Lordships. The whole group visited South Africa in March and met a broad spectrum of South African opinion in its search for ways of getting the dialogue started, and the group met again in London last week to assess the progress that it has made.

In place of the considered and balanced approach which I have described and which we have concerted with our partners, this Bill offers only a confused assortment of United Nations resolutions for the United Kingdom to incorporate unilaterally into its domestic legislation. Legislation of this kind would offer neither a coherent nor a practical solution to the problems of Southern Africa.

In conclusion, I must again emphasise that we remain fully committed to the achievement of internationally recognised independence for Namibia under the United Nations plan. For the reasons that I have outlined we believe that the adoption of this Bill would not help that process and could even be prejudicial to it. While we shall therefore continue to take whatever action we judge to be effective in bringing about the early realisation of Namibian independence, we are unable to support the adoption of this latest version of the United Nations (Namibia) Bill.

10.15 p.m.

My Lords, my first pleasant duty is to thank everyone who has taken part in the debate so far, even my noble friend Lord Paget. A number of points have been raised and I shall not attempt to deal with all of them because the hour is too late. However, I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Morris, who spoke immediately after me, that this Bill is totally different from the Bill of last October. Last October's Bill was designed specifically for debate here during the Commonwealth Conference. In fact the debate took place on the last day of the Commonwealth Conference. This Bill—as has been noted on all sides, particularly by my honourable friend Lord Pitt—is based completely on United Nations resolutions that have been passed and that have not been vetoed, Security Council resolutions, as my noble friend has pointed out, are binding on the members of the Security Council and particularly on the permanent members. Nothing in this Bill in any way infringes the proposals made at the Commonwealth Conference last October. In fact most, if not all, the members of the Commonwealth would support everything in the Bill.

May I also say in reply to the noble Baroness that I do not want to get into a constitutional argument, but I believe my noble friend Lord Caradon and I are correct in our interpretation of British responsibility for the institution of the mandate in 1920. In 1920 South Africa was not a sovereign state. South Africa did not become a sovereign state until 1931 when the statute of Westminster came into effect. Therefore the mandate was passed through the United Kingdom Government to South Africa. But that is a matter of detail which does not directly concern the Bill itself.

I was not suggesting that we should hold a Lancaster House conference on the model of the Rhodesia-Zimbabwe conference. I was simply citing that as an example of what Her Majesty's Government had done and that with the same kind of approach and the same kind of attitude Her Majesty's Government could now take a lead in bringing together, although not as an administering power, the people who are confronting each other in Namibia and the surrounding area.

There is nothing in the Bill which concerns extra territorial legislation. Indeed, already most if not all the measures proposed in the Bill have been put into effect unilaterally by each of the Nordic countries. All that the supporters of the Bill are suggesting is that Britain now takes a leading role. Of course, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, said, this will not become the law, but the gesture of giving this Bill a Second Reading would assist Her Majesty's Government in my view in their efforts—I acknowledge their efforts—to implement Resolution 435, which has been their policy and remains their policy. We all support them in that. That resolution was passed eight years ago. The people of Namibia have been suffering; the people of Angola have been suffering; and the people of Zambia and Botswana have been suffering during those eight years.

What we are suggesting is that by passing the Second Reading of this Bill, Her Majesty's Government will be strengthened in their efforts to bring what is already a confrontation to an end. It is no good saying that it might promote confrontation. The confrontation is there; the deaths are there. People are crying out to us. The Churches are crying out to us. I am asking this House to support the policy enunciated by the noble Baroness in pursuing Resolution 435 of the Security Council in getting a ceasefire and in getting United Nations supervised elections in Namibia which can be the key to future peace in that whole area.

The noble Baroness talks about Her Majesty's Government preferring a peaceful solution; but how? She has not told us anything that suggests that the Government have any ideas as to how they are going to promote a peaceful solution. I believe that this Bill would help them to do so and I ask the House to give it a Second Reading.

10.21 p.m.

On Question, Whether the Bill shall be now read a second time?

Their Lordships divided:

DIVISION NO. 1

CONTENTS

Ardwick, L.Manchester, Bp.
Blease, L.Nicol, B.
Boston of Faversham, L.Pitt of Hampstead, L. [Teller.]
Caradon, L.Rea, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.Shackleton, L.
David, B.Simon, V.
Elwyn-Jones, L.Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Falkland, V.Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. [Teller.]Walston, L.
Kilbracken, L.Winstanley, L.
Liverpool, Bp.

NOT-CONTENTS

Morris, L. [Teller.]Swinfen, L. [Teller.]

10.30 p.m.

My Lords, there have voted: Contents, 21; Not-Contents, 2. As it appears that fewer than 30 Lords have voted, in accordance with Standing Order No. 55, I declare that the Question is not decided, and the debate thereon therefore stands adjourned.