HC Deb 25 March 1963 vol 674 cc946-7
45. Mr. Wall

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement about the rupture of diplomatic relations between Her Majesty's Government and the Somali Republic.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)

Yes, Sir. On 18th March the Somali Prime Minister handed to our Ambassador a note informing him that the Somali Government had decided to break off diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom because of the recent decision to create a Seventh Region in Kenya consisting of the Eastern part of the Northern Frontier District. This was designed to give the Kenya Somalis greater opportunity for the expression of their racial and religious identity. The Somali Government apparently take the view that this decision is final. The Somali Government have been informed that the decision is not a final determination. As my right honourable Friend the Commonwealth Secretary pointed out in his statement of 12th March, Her Majesty's Government, while not wishing to exclude future consideration of any method of settling this problem, did not think that at this juncture a more radical solution would be justified.

Mr. Wall

I share my right hon. Friend's regret, but would not he agree that it is equally regrettable that we have been put in the position of having to deny self-determination to the Somali areas of Kenya? While the final decision must be made by the Kenya Government, is it not clear that it will be impossible to keep those areas inside Kenya against the wishes of the inhabitants?

Mr. Heath

As I said in my Answer, we do not wish to exclude future consideration of any method of settling this problem. Naturally, we greatly regret that the Somali Government should have broken off relations with Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Kershaw

By not grasping this nettle now, are not we leaving a built-in cause of war between Kenya and the Somali Republic?

Mr. Heath

We shall do our utmost to find a solution to the problem together with the Kenya Government. That is a quite separate question from the specific Question with which I am dealing, namely, the question of our relations with Somalia.

Mr. Harold Davies

Is the Minister aware that one of the problems of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century was that political frontiers were drawn through tribes and other organisations in Africa completely contrary to the natural and native life of these people? Is it not time that European Powers looked at this problem as in the present case?

Mr. Heath

We are well aware of the difficulties involved in this type of problem. It is, however, difficult to find a solution because of the many different factors involved. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations explained to the House that he did not think that a more radical solution was possible at this juncture.