HC Deb 23 January 1962 vol 652 cc19-21
31. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now make a statement on his proposed new Constitution for Northern Rhodesia; and on what principles it is to be based.

32. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement about the Northern Rhodesia Constitution.

34. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now give particulars of proposed constitutional changes in Northern Rhodesia; and when they are to be introduced.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Hugh Fraser)

I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend on 19th December.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Under-Secretary aware that there is great public dismay because this statement has been made as a result of a split between the Ministers responsible, which has now been revealed for the whole world to see? How long is this to be held up? How long are the interests of Rhodesians to be sacrificed because of a feud in the Tory ranks? Does the Under-Secretary know that it now appears that his right hon. Friends have lost control?

Mr. Fraser

No; that is absolutely untrue. I read everything which is written, including some of the speeches made by my noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton). Of course, I recognise the need for an early decision on this matter. I am sure that there will be one available to the House and the country soon.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Did not the Government make what we were given to understand and what Northern Rhodesia was given to understand was their final decision in the summer of 1961? Has not the result of the Government's shilly-shallying since then and their apparent reopening of that final decision been to lead extremists in Northern Rhodesia to believe that the Government can be blackmailed and to encourage them to resort to violence and terrorism?

Mr. Fraser

No, Sir; that simply is not true. What we said, and said quite correctly, in September was that we should review the situation, especially in certain sectors of what had been proposed by Her Majesty's Government. I believe that that is perfectly proper, and the review has been carried out.

Mr. Brockway

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that this crisis in Northern Rhodesia may be determined upon issues between African and European populations over a large part of the continent? Will he convey to his right hon. Friend the desire of many of us in the House that the Northern Rhodesia issue may soon be settled and that the great African majority in that community will feel that it has been dealt with justly by the Government?

Mr. Fraser

This will be settled, I believe, in the best interests of the communities as a whole and of the territory as a whole.

Viscount Lambton

Does my hon. Friend agree that the fact that knowledge of what is happening in Africa is confined to this side of the House illustrates the extraordinary paucity of the Opposition?