HC Deb 09 December 1941 vol 376 cc1379-80
38. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Undersecretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that the Southern Rhodesian Prime Minister has arranged a conference with members of the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia to discuss amalgamation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland and the shaping of a constitution; and whether he will take steps to cancel this conference, seeing that this action is an interference with the prerogatives of the British Government and British Parliament and calculated to create disaffection and disturbance in territories for which this House is responsible?

The Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Shakespeare)

I understand that the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia has invited unofficial members of the Legislative Councils of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to a conference to ascertain what constitutional, financial and administrative arrangements are likely to prove acceptable to the unofficial members, with a view to proposals relating to the amalgamation of, the three territories being formulated for submission to His Majesty's Government. As regards the second part of the Question, the hon. Member may rest assured that His Majesty's Government are as jealous of the prerogatives to which the Question refers as the hon. Member himself.

Mr. Creech Jones

Do the Government accept the view that the question of the constitution of Southern and Northern Rhodesias is a matter for the British Government, and do they not consider that this action is calculated to be subversive and create a great deal of trouble and disturbance in the areas concerned?

Mr. Shakespeare

The question of amalgamation has been discussed for very many years, and I am afraid I cannot add anything to the assurance I have given.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is there any precedent for this extraordinary action on the part of the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia?

Major Haden Guest

Does not the Under-Secretary consider that the method proposed is exceedingly anti-democratic, and that it is in flagrant contradiction to the democratic principles for which the Government are fighting? Will the Under-Secretary look into this matter and see whether there is any hanky panky going on behind the scenes?