HC Deb 09 February 1960 vol 617 cc229-31
45. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister what protests he has received from the Federal Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and the Government of the Colony of Southern Rhodesia regarding the rejection of the terms of reference of the Monckton Commission by Lord Shawcross, a member appointed by him.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I have been asked to reply.

I cannot accept the implications of the hon. Gentleman's Question and cannot add anything on the subject of the terms of reference. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that our object should be to assist the Commission in its work.

Mr. Stonehouse

Even if the Home Secretary cannot accept the implications has he seen a report of the speech made by Sir Roy Welensky on 13th January, in which he said that he and Sir Edgar Whitehead found it deplorable that Lord Shawcross should have seen fit to publicise his views before the Commission had begun its work and to have done so in a matter which seems to us at complete variance with the terms of reference—"? of the Commission. In view of that statement and in view of the fact that since that statement was made the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia has said that he wishes—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] In view of the fact that the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia has indicated that he would not accept the terms of reference, is it not important that, if the Commission is to be successful, its terms of reference should be amended before it starts its work?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. I am not prepared to add to or to subtract from the terms of reference or to put any gloss upon them. I have read all the statements concerned.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is this not an extraordinary situation. The Prime Minister of the Federation has said that the remarks of Lord Shawcross are deplorable and at variance with the terms of reference. Are we not to be told Her Majesty's Government's views on these terms of reference? Do they agree with Sir Roy Welensky on this point or not? Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that Sir Roy Welensky said that he intended to take up this matter as one of the first things to be discussed with the Prime Minister? Can the right hon Gentleman tell us the outcome of those discussions?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir, I cannot give the detailed discussions which my right hon. Friend had with the Prime Minister of the Federation, although all relevant questions were discussed and I do not doubt that discussions took place on this subject also.