HC Deb 30 May 1963 vol 678 cc1507-8
1. Mr. Brockway

asked the First Secretary of State if, in view of the current uncertainty of Southern Rhodesian participation in the forthcoming conference at Victoria Falls to arrange for the dissolution of the Federation, he will now give an assurance to the Southern Rhodesian Government that Her Majesty's Government would recognise the independence of Southern Rhodesia on the adoption of a new constitution based on a wide franchise.

The First Secretary of State (Mr. R. A. Butler)

The Southern Rhodesia Government's request for an assurance on independence is the subject of discussions with Her Majesty's Government which have not yet been completed.

Mr. Brockway

Is 'it not increasingly clear that a solution of this problem will be reached only if the Government are allowed their independence on the condition of a wider franchise, and is it not much better to make this clear now rather than allow the dangerous situation in Southern Rhodesia to develop?

Mr. Butler

We are in process of discussing this and similar problems, and I cannot give a final answer.

Mr. Turton

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that had not the British Government in 1953 embarked upon the experiment of federation, Southern Rhodesia would have been independent many years ago? It is, therefore, quite unrealistic in my view for Her Majesty's Government to deny her independence when they are contemplating ending federation.

Mr. Butler

That raises rather a wider Question than the one on the Order Paper. We are discussing the matter of independence with the Southern Rhodesia Government now.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

In these discussions, will the right hon. Gentleman stick to the principle that we do not surrender our responsibility to any minority group in a Colonial Territory and that independence in Southern Rhodesia, as in Northern Rhodesia, must first depend on the achievement of a majority Government?

Mr. Butler

I do not think that the situation can be stated quite as simply as that.