HC Deb 16 April 1959 vol 603 cc1129-32
35. Mr. Brockway

asked the Under-Secretary of state for Commonwealth Relations what conclusions were reached in the recent official discussions between the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Prime Minister of the Federation of Nyasaland and the Rhodesias.

40. Mr. Wade

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will now make a statement on the official discussions between the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Prime Minister of the Federation of Nyasaland and Rhodesia.

Mr. Alport

My noble Friend was glad to take the opportunity of the Easter Recess to visit Salisbury for informal discussions with the Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and also the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. A useful exchange of views took place.

Mr. Brockway

In view of the practical certainty that there will be another Government on the opposite benches by October, 1960, is it not very desirable that these discussions should not be of a private nature and that the public should know what is their nature and any undertakings given?

Mr. Alport

It would not be right for me to comment on the purely hypothetical consideration which the hon. Member put forward.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the hon. Member aware that there is considerable concern throughout the Scottish Church about the rather indifferent way in which the Colonial Secretary has treated the evidence which has been received from the missionaries in Nyasaland? When he was out there did the Colonial Secretary take an opportunity to inform himself more accurately of what has been happening in Nyasaland?

Mr. Alport

I think that the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. His hon. Friend is referring to a visit by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will wish to put his question to the Colonial Secretary in due course.

Mr. Bottomley

Can the Under-Secretary tell us whether there will be any report to the House as a result of the mission of the Secretary of State to the Federation? We ought to have some report.

Mr. Alport

My noble Friend said on his return that he wished to discuss the matter first with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and his colleagues.

Mr. Boftomley

Are we to assume, then, that there is a conflict of opinion, that it is taking a long time to resolve and that when it has been resolved we shall have the report?

Mr. Alport

I think that both sides of the House agree that the whole problem of the future of the Federation of Central Africa is a very difficult one and that it would be proper, therefore, to give all the relevant consideration; due thought before any decisions are made.

Mr. Wade

Will the Under-Secretary ask his noble Friend to inform the Prime Minister of the Federation that much of the concern felt in this country about the demands or even suggestions that Dominion status should be granted in 1960 arises not from prejudice or bias against the white settlers in the Federation, but from the fact that Britain has a clear duty as trustee to the African inhabitants of the Protectorates and under no circumstances should consent or he a party to any breach of that trust?

Mr. Alport

The Prime Minister of the Federation appears to follow very closely the proceedings of this House. No doubt he will take note of what the hon. Member has said.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the Under-Secretary of State say whether the discussions between the Secretary of State and the two Prime Ministers were concerned with the 1960 Conference and any preliminaries which may lead up to it?

Mr. Alport

On his departure from this country my noble Friend said that the object of his visit was to discuss with Sir Roy Welensky and his Government the preliminaries to the 1960 constitutional review talks.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can we assume that when these discussions within the Government have been concluded a state- ment will be made either by the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary of State?

Mr. Alport

The right hon. Gentleman is aware that when it is proper for any announcement on this subject to be made that announcement will be made.

Mr. Dugdale

Will the hon. Gentleman give a definite assurance that no specific undertakings have been made as a result of this conference?

Mr. Alport

Discussions that take place between Commonwealth Prime Ministers are always confidential, as the right hon. Gentleman knows.

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