misses the whole point of what the ferment in Africa is about.
What we must try to do in Southern Rhodesia now is to get the races together again. We have to see that the African nationalists in Southern Rhodesia have a sufficient belief that the constitution will not be rigged to persuade them to contest the elections. We have to try to see that in a period of four or five years in Southern Rhodesia we can move rapidly from parity to majority rule, and to do so by stages in which co-operation between the races becomes a necessity, not a luxury.
I therefore think there rests now on my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State possibly the most difficult task which he has ever had to undertake. It is a task in which all his qualities of skill, integrity and leadership will be required. When he talked to us about Northern Rhodesia he said he felt that if the constitution there was to be altered—and he agreed it would have to be—the Opposition must be brought in. I hope he will remember that in Southern Rhodesia there is a sizeable Opposition, which is not represented in Parliament at all. It is quite essential that the African nationalists should be brought into any discussions involving a future constitution in Southern Rhodesia.
The last time that we debated this subject my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) told us that unless we granted Southern Rhodesia independence on her own terms she would take it, and he said that as though this were the biggest tragedy which could occur in Central Africa. I do not believe that Southern Rhodesia is in a position to take it. I believe that we have far greater strength in our hands than either some of the Southern Rhodesians or many of my hon. Friends realise. But if independence is to come on the present constitution, I would rather that it were taken through an act of defiance and revolution on the part of the Southern Rhodesian Government than through the passage through this Parliament of a dishonourable and disgraceful Act. We should, therefore, at least be clear what our feelings are on that score, for this will perhaps serve to clear our minds about the future.
I am not without hope that much can be achieved. We rely very greatly on my right hon. Friend the First Secretary, and, now that he has come back to the Chamber, I should like to repeat my comment that he has achieved a great personal triumph. He has pulled something off which few of us thought he would be able to do, and we hope that it will give him the inspiration to complete the task in the full knowledge that in so doing he will have the good wishes and support of the majority of Members of this House.
- 8.37 p.m.
Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury) This has been an unusual debate, with a number of compliments flying around the Chamber, and I should like to add to them by saying that the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley) deserves to be congratulated not only on the wisdom of his speech but on being in advance of his party on this question over many years.
The Conservative Party has learned a great deal, and I and all my hon. Friends are grateful for this, because it now seems possible that we shall be able to extricate ourselves and to extricate Rhodesia and Nyasaland from a most dangerous position without civil strife, which seemed all too likely a few years ago, when the Conservative Party and the Ministers who are now doing their best to dissolve the Federation were forth right in their determination to impose it against the majority of the population and at all costs. I am grateful to them for learning, but it is just as well to remember the terrible mistakes which they have made.
Although I add to the congratulations which the First Secretary has received for his success at Victoria Falls—this was a diplomatic success and he deserves to be congratulated—I am sorry that he made such a pedantic and uninspired speech this afternoon in introducing the debate. It would have been, I think, more appropriate to have had a little more philosophy from him, a little deeper understanding of the problems involved and perhaps some remorse for the mistakes of the Conservative Party over the last 10 years. We had not a word of apology for 10 years of false promises made by the Conservatives, and I think that there are probably many who would agree with Sir Roy Welensky that the