HC Deb 26 January 1960 vol 616 cc27-30
45. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the results of his official visit to Africa.

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

I have been asked to reply.

I think it might be more satisfactory if we were to await my right hon. Friend's return.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are not entirely displeased with some of the things that the Prime Minister has said and done, but, as so many of the statements which he has made are subject to interpretation, they have led to some confusion? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, according to Answers given to Questions in the House on 1st and 15th December, the Prime Minister gave us to understand that it was very likely that he would be seeing Dr. Hastings Banda? Why has the Prime Minister gone back on that?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Member can be sure that I shall pass on his gracious message to my right hon. Friend. It will hearten him in a tour which already has been marked by great success. In answer to the hon. Member's second point, I do not accept at all that my right hon. Friend has gone back on anything that he has said, and I would repudiate that absolutely.

Mr. Callaghan

While we are all watching with fascinated attention the contortions of the Prime Minister in Accra, Lagos and Salisbury, would the Home Secretary pass on a message to him that he can avoid any further embarrassment by giving an answer to the very simple question whether the people of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia will have the right to choose whether they will continue in the Federation or not?

Mr. Butler

I do not think a clearer statement could have been made than my right hon. Friend's speech at Salisbury on 19th January. I would refer hon. Members to that speech.

Mr. Gaitskell

While the Leader of the House can make even more obscure statements than the Prime Minister, nevertheless can he say whether the Prime Minister means that people of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia can choose between Federation on the one hand and independence as independent States on the other?

Mr. Butler

I have nothing to add to the speech of my right hon. Friend in Salisbury, to which I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends. The more they read and study it the better.

Mr. Callaghan

While this matter is in some ways semi-humorous, is there not really a tragic side to it? Millions of Africans in the two territories are anxiously waiting to know the policy of the British Government with regard to their future. Should not a clear statement be made to these people so that we can know what their future is and so that they will not have to try to follow all these involved speeches of the Prime Minister?

Mr. Butler

I have with me a copy of my right hon. Friend's speech at Salisbury. The passage in which he refers to this matter and takes up what he said at Lagos is clear and should be read by the hon. Member and his hon. Friends. It would be a mistake to make any further additions to that speech at Question Time.

Mr. Wyatt

Would the Home Secretary say that the Prime Minister's pronouncement is the clearest statement that we have at the moment?

Mr. Butler

I would say that it was a clear statement of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government.

47. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister what study of prison conditions he made during his tour of Africa.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

None, Sir.

Mr. Hughes

Would not the Home Secretary agree that the Prime Minister is missing a unique opportunity for completing his political education? Could not he arrange to be taken into protective custody, where he might meet Dr. Banda and have the experience which a good many Prime Ministers who will attend the Commonwealth Conference already have had?

Mr. Butler

I have already promised my right hon. Friend that on the resumption of Parliament the first supplementary question put by the hon. Member would be immediately telegraphed to him for his delectation and amusement, and I shall certainly do that.