HC Deb 28 June 1962 vol 661 cc1331-3
8. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Central African Office) if he will make a statement on his talks with Dr. Banda.

13. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Central African Office) if he will make a statement on his talks in London with Dr. Kamuzu Banda.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Dr. Banda has called on me since his arrival in London, but as arranged our main talks will take place next week.

Mr. Healey

Since the Home Secretary has conceded that Dr. Banda has received an overwhelming popular mandate for secession from the Rhodesian Federation and while accepting the desirability of the principle that there should be some economic co-operation between an independent Nyasaland and the neighbouring territories, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind when the formal discussions start that commitments accepted voluntarily by a sovereign Nyasaland, undertaken after independence, are more likely to endure than commitments imposed on the Nyasaland leaders as the price of independence before it takes place?

Mr. Butler

The first problem that arises, as I expressed in the debate on 8th May, is the statement by the Malawi leaders that they were in favour of secession. I cannot give any answers in the House before our negotiations start, but all these matters will be borne in mind during our talks.

Mr. Stonehouse

Will the right hon. Gentleman consult Dr. Banda on his experiences in Nyasaland in establishing stability and good administration as a result of democratic elections? Surely he can learn something from this to apply in Rhodesia itself.

Mr. Butler

Certainly during my talks with Dr. Banda in Nyasaland itself, and this week, I have borne in mind the record of the Malawi leaders and administration.

Mr. Fisher

In considering this difficult problem, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the fact that by a really overwhelming majority, in a record poll, the people of Nyasaland expressed their wish about leaving the Federation in its present form? Would he agree that it is rather difficult for us to allow Jamaica to leave the West Indies Federation by a much smaller majority in a much smaller poll and yet deny the same right to the Colony of Nyasaland in the Central African Federation?

Mr. Butler

Yes, but there is no question of denying anything at the present stage. All I have agreed with Dr. Banda at present is that my advisers who will shortly be leaving for Nyasaland and Rhodesia generally will have to look into the consequences of withdrawal before we can come to a final decision. That is what I have told the House and Dr. Banda and that is the policy we are pursuing before a final decision is taken.

Mr. Healey

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the lesson borne out by the repeated experiences of this country and others in Africa and elsewhere that in these matters issues of political significance are of overwhelming importance to the people concerned compared with economic considerations?

Mr. Butler

I certainly appreciate that, and that is what I stated myself at a Press conference which I held in Zomba. The economic considerations are considerable, but I agree that one notices the tendency on occasion to put the political ones first.