HC Deb 28 January 1960 vol 616 cc370-1
47. Mr. Grimond

asked the Prime Minister whether, as a result of his recent visit to West and Central Africa, he is in a position to make a further statement on the terms of reference of the Monckton Commission.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

I have nothing to add to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in this House on 24th November.

Mr. Grimond

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, first, has he noticed this disagreement between Sir Roy Welensky and a certain member of the Commission over the meaning of the terms of reference? Secondly, may I ask what answer is being sent to Mr. Chirwa who is also concerned about the terms of reference? Thirdly, is it not apparent from what the Prime Minister said that now there is no question of an independent federation, owing to our responsibility for the protection of the two Northern Territories, and that any consideration of such an independent federation will, apparently, be outside the terms of the Commission?

Mr. Butler

I think that the hon. Member's generalisations go a little too far. The question of the future of an independent federation was defined in the Prime Minister's speech on 19th January at Salisbury; and, provided those conditions are fulfilled, there is no reason why there should not be such a federation. Regarding the terms of reference and the statements made by Mr. Chirwa, I have nothing to add to the composite reply given on 24th November by the Prime Minister.

Mr. Callaghan

May I ask the Leader of the House if he remembers what the Prime Minister said in a debate on 22nd July, that an important point was whether the Commission will command the assent of the African peoples? That, of course, is an important point. It is a vital point. May I ask the acting Leader of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "The Leader of the House."]—well, the best Leader of the House we have—whether he thinks in the light of events since the debate took place that this vital point is satisfied and the Monckton Commission's terms of reference had the assent of the African people. If not, is he prepared to reconsider the matter?

Mr. Butler

No. I do not propose that there should be any reconsideration of the terms of reference of the Monckton Commission, but it also would be wrong to suggest that there is complete satisfaction in every quarter. I consider that the tour of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has greatly improved the atmosphere and made it easier for the Monckton Commission to operate.

Mr. Callaghan

May I ask the acting Prime Minister when a vital point ceases to be vital?

Mr. Butler

When we all recognise it as such.