HC Deb 16 April 1964 vol 693 cc592-4
Q4. Mr. Brockway

asked the Prime Minister when the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference will now meet: and what will be its agenda.

Q8. Mr. Bottomley

asked the Prime Minister how many Prime Ministers of other Commonwealth countries have now agreed to the holding of a Prime Ministers' conference in July.

The Prime Minister

I am glad to say that, as the result of my consultations with other Commonwealth Heads of Government, there is general agreement that our next meeting should take place in the first half of July. I will inform the House as soon as precise dates have been settled. We shall shortly be discussing the agenda with other Commonwealth Governments. But, as hon. Members will know, it has never been our custom to reveal details of this.

Mr. Brockway

Is the Prime Minister aware that the whole House, I believe, will welcome that announcement? Could he say whether the Governments of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, which will soon become independent, will be invited to send representatives to the Prime Ministers' conference? Could he say whether the increasingly unrepresentative Government of Southern Rhodesia will be invited to send a representative? Could he confirm that Southern Rhodesia will be one of the subjects discussed and, if so, whether the crisis in British Guiana will also be on the agenda?

The Prime Minister

As far as the last two parts of that question are concerned, as I have said, we never discuss our agenda in public. As to the question of Southern Rhodesia, the new Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia has not so far asked to be present. As far as Nyasaland is concerned, it will achieve independence, I think, on almost the day before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting is due to meet. A formal invitation to attend cannot be issued with after independence. I need not underline the word "formal", I think.

Mr. Bottomley

Is it not a fact that in the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia provision is made for ultimate African majority rule? Bearing this in mind, will the Prime Minister consult the other Prime Ministers with a view to inviting to London the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and the African national leaders to discuss the problem so that peace might reign?

The Prime Minister

This is a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting which discusses world affairs, the economic development of the Commonwealth and other broad questions. How far detailed questions of the Commonwealth and matters of that kind will be discussed I cannot say.

Mr. Goodhew

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that it is in the interests of Commonwealth unity that the utmost tolerance towards the internal policies of one member of the Commonwealth by another should be allowed? Will my right hon. Friend impress upon other members of the Commonwealth that it is far better that there should be no discussion of any internal or domestic policies if there is to be Commonwealth unity?

The Prime Minister

In Commonwealth conferences we do not discuss internal problems and matters concerning Commonwealth Governments. That is quite understood.