HC Deb 11 April 1961 vol 638 cc9-11
12. Mr. Turton

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he intends to communicate to the political parties in Northern Rhodesia amended constitutional proposals for Northern Rhodesia before the date of the referendum on the Southern Rhodesian constitutional proposals.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The first step is for the Governor to proceed with his consultations in Lusaka. His own suggestions illustrating how the outline plan in the White Paper might be put into effect were set out in a memorandum sent to the political groups on the 16th March; and he is ready to consider any proposals within the framework and general spirit of the White Paper which those groups may put forward. I cannot at present forecast when he may be able to report the outcome of his consultations and make his recommendations, or, consequently, when Her Majesty's Government may be able to reach decisions.

Mr. Turton

Will my right hon. Friend take cognisance of the danger that the Southern Rhodesia referendum, based on the Lennox-Boyd proposals in 1958, may be lost through uncertainty and delay about what is to happen in Northern Rhodesia?

Mr. Macleod

I am aware of that complication. I believe that in a speech a day or two ago Sir Edgar Whitehead indicated that the date of the referendum in Southern Rhodesia might be postponed. Things seem to be going slower in both Northern and Southern Rhodesia than we had hoped. I am conscious of the position.

Mr. Turton

Is my right hon. Friend conscious of the point that it would be a mistake to delay the referendum too long, because the Southern Rhodesian constitution is a welcome advance to multi-racial partnership, and if it is to be destroyed through the abandonment of constitutional development in Northern Rhodesia it will be a great misfortune?

Mr. Macleod

I am sure that there is no desire to delay the referendum in Southern Rhodesia. As Sir Edgar Whitehead's speech made clear, the postponement was purely for an examination of further White Paper matters.

Mr. Callaghan

Will the Minister also take into account the fact that in Northern Rhodesia economic activity is proceeding very slowly indeed, and it is vitally important that we should get a constitutional settlement there?

Mr. Macleod

That is equally true. There is a great deal going on in this field. Tomorrow morning I am starting talks with the Paramount Chief of Barotseland, who is now in this country. This is part of the pattern that we must get filled in.

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