HC Deb 22 December 1964 vol 704 cc1046-8
Q2. Mr. Wall

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a further statement on the constitutional position of Southern Rhodesia.

The Prime Minister

The constitutional position of Southern Rhodesia was set out by my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary in a written reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) on 17th November.

Mr. Wall

Would the Prime Minister confirm that the British Government recognise and will adhere to the convention by which they do not legislate for Rhodesia except at the request of the Rhodesian Government?

The Prime Minister

I think the whole question of the convention and the security issues were very excellently expressed in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué signed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. We fully adhere to it.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the recent protest given to the High Commissioner by the African nationals in regard to the recruitment of both Africans and German recruits into the Rhodesian Air Force, in the light of the recent dismissal of the commander-in-chief? Would my right hon. Friend care to make a statement?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of that protest, but I do not think there is anything I could say helpfully about that particular protest at this stage. I am, however, on the general question on which I have previously reported to the House, in further communication with the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, and, indeed, sent him a message today.

Mr. Goodhew

Is the Prime Minister aware that what is necessary in Rhodesia is not only that Europeans should be prepared to act properly according to a constitution but that the African nationalist extremists should also be so prepared? I asked his right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary about this recently. Would not the Prime Minister agree that it is time the Government made some noises about the Africans and what they should do if they are to show that they are worthy of fighting constitutionally rather than resorting to violence and intimidation?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure what noises the hon. Gentleman wants to hear. We have reiterated the statement made by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in their communiqué, and by this we stand.

With regard to the possible consequences of an illegal declaration of independence, we made a full and frank statement, which was discussed by a number of hon. Members during the debate on the Address.