HC Deb 28 November 1961 vol 650 cc233-4
Q3. Mr. Chapman

asked the Prime Minister whether in view of protests from the Commonwealth, the danger of retaliatory action by Commonwealth Governments and confusion as to how the proposals can be worked in practice, he will postpone further proceedings on the Bill to restrict Commonwealth immigration, pending direct personal consultation between himself and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers mainly concerned.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

No, Sir. I do not accept the implications of the hon. Member's Question and I believe that the normal consultations which are at present being conducted with Commonwealth Governments are the most appropriate in the circumstances.

Mr. Chapman

Has not enough damage been done to the Commonwealth by this Bill already? With every reputable newspaper in the country now condemning it, has not the time for stubbornness and face-saving gone by? If, as we understand from public statements being made in the Commonwealth, approaches are being considered for consultation on the principles and content of the Bill, as well as on its operation, will the Prime Minister say whether he will meet these requests and whether he will be willing to sit down with other Commonwealth leaders to discuss the principles and content of the Bill?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. As I have explained, we have been in consultation and are still in consultation as regards the operation of the Bill.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Surely the Prime Minister could simply say that, if any Commonwealth Prime Minister asks for personal consultations, he will at once accede to the request?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. Of course.