HC Deb 23 March 1961 vol 637 cc572-4
40. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on his recent conversations with Sir Roy Welensky.

42. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his discussions during the past week with Sir Roy Welensky regarding the proposed Constitution for Northern Rhodesia.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

Sir Roy Welensky and I issued a joint statement before he left London last Monday. We said that we had had a valuable exchange of views about the Northern Rhodesia Constitution. But we made it clear that no attempt was made to carry out anything in the nature of negotiations. The House will, I am sure, welcome the agreement between us that detailed consultations with the various political groups should proceed at Lusaka.

Mr. Wyatt

While sympathising with the Prime Minister's difficulty in trying to control a party bitterly divided between the Colonial Secretary and Lord Salisbury—[Interruption.]—it is a very serious split, as hon. Members opposite know—could he say whether he has now decided to accede to Lord Salisbury's demand that the Colonial Secretary should go or that the concession is merely to be a watering down of the Colonial Secretary's proposals?

The Prime Minister


Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Prime Minister aware of the very great concern felt in Northern Rhodesia about the secret talks which took place last week and that the suspicions aroused are likely to undermine the success of the talks now to take place in Lusaka? When will he give details to the leaders of the political parties concerned in Northern Rhodesia of the actual results of discussions he had with Sir Roy Welensky?

The Prime Minister

The discussions were an exchange of views, as stated in the communiqué. Detailed discussions will continue as in the ordinary way after one of these conferences, with political groups all playing their rôle. What I fear is that there are some people who would like things to end in a row. I prefer them to end in agreement.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the Prime Minister give us an assurance that in his conversations with Sir Roy Welensky he gave no assurance that the British Government have changed their attitude in this matter and that he made no commitment to Sir Roy Welensky that any of his particular proposals would be discussed, let alone accepted?

The Prime Minister

As many proposals will, of course, be discussed as are put in by the leaders of the political groups. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the communiqué, he will see that it is very precise. It says: The United Kingdom Government confirmed that they are prepared to consider any proposals within the framework and general spirit of the White Paper and the statements by Ministers in the House of Commons, which may be put forward by the political groups in Northern Rhodesia. That is exactly what the Colonial Secretary said in this House.

Mr. M. Foot

In view of the potentially dangerous situation in Northern Rhodesia, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it would be helpful if he issued an absolutely clear statement that at least there would not be any retreat from the proposals which the Colonial Secretary presented to the House of Commons?

The Prime Minister

The communiqué is perfectly clear, the situation is clear, and I repeat that what I think most hon. Members hope is that these matters will be resolved with general agreement in order that they should command general support throughout the territory.

Mr. Grimond

Referring to the conference at Lusaka, are any proposals being put forward on behalf of Sir Roy Welensky? If not, is it clear that he cannot put proposals forward outside this conference which might affect it?

The Prime Minister

The proposals at Lusaka will be put forward by the leaders of the Northern Rhodesian groups. No doubt they will do so.