§ The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
With permission, I will now answer Question Nos. Q1, Q4 and Q5 together.
Hon. Members will no doubt already have seen the final communiqué issued last night at the end of this meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, but I think that it will be for the convenience of the House if, with permission, I circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Hon. Members will wish to study the text in detail, but it may be helpful at this stage if I make a few comments on this meeting.
I would like to say, first, that in the opinion of those who took part in it, the meeting was judged a success. For all those who have the interests of the Commonwealth at heart, this was a most encouraging meeting. I think that all my colleagues in the Commonwealth would agree that we express our real views freely and frankly to each other: and out of it came a degree of understanding which is remarkable when one considers the diversity of the interests and peoples and cultures represented round the table.
It is because the Commonwealth is a community of many different races that the statement at the outset of our communiqué about race relations is of such importance.
In our review of international affairs we welcomed the gradual relaxation of tension which is of benefit to the unaligned countries as much as it is to those who are members of military alli- 1424 ances. But, as old problems are resolved, new ones take their place. So we had to consider the problem of Malaysia, and all of us assured the Prime Minister of Malaysia of our sympathy and support in his efforts to preserve the sovereign independence and integrity of his country and to promote a peaceful and honourable settlement of current differences between Malaysia and neighbouring countries.
While we maintained the convention that we do not discuss among ourselves the substance of differences between members of the Commonwealth—unless Commonwealth countries ask that that should be done—we felt that we should note with satisfaction the friendly public statements which have been made by the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India; and we expressed our hope that the problems between their countries will be solved in the same friendly spirit. The House will understand, I am sure, that despite the interest which all of us have in this problem, it would be wrong for me to go beyond the words of the communiqué.
The House will expect me to say something about Southern Rhodesia. The first point to which I would like to draw attention is that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers saw this question in the context of the continuing progress of British colonial dependencies towards independence within the Commonwealth. The communiqué deals in some detail with this question, and I will not attempt to summarise it beyond saying that it recognises two essential facts: first, that responsibility for decisions on the progress of Southern Rhodesia towards independence rests with the British Government; and, secondly, that as the history of the progressive move towards independence within the Commonwealth illustrates, there are certain basic pre-requisites on which all of us agree before a territory moves towards full independence.
I have said that the problem of Southern Rhodesia is our responsibility and that all the Prime Ministers recognise that it is. On this basis, I promised to give full consideration to all the views that they expressed, because the final resolution of this problem must affect all of us and all of us will benefit when it is solved.
1425 I have kept to the order of the communiqué, but in many ways the most important part lies in the economic section and the proposals for increased Commonwealth co-operation in many fields.
Hon. Members will find these listed in the communiqué, and I hope that they will feel that they are all desirable in themselves and mark a collective will to increase our co-operation and contacts. In the long term the strengthening of the Commonwealth depends on such things as development projects, administrative training, educational assistance, the pooling of medical knowledge, and increased contacts between the professions, and here I would mention the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and other initiatives of this kind which are of real and direct benefit to the ordinary people in every Commonwealth country.
The proposal for a Commonwealth Secretariat is also significant. It is a symbol of the desire of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to maintain a continuing expression of the spirit of the Commonwealth and to continue to strengthen our association for the work which we shall do together in the years ahead.
In congratulating the Prime Minister, for my part, on the statement which he has made, may I refer to the statement in the communiqué that all the Commonwealth Prime Ministers have expressed their views on the advance of Southern Rhodesia to full independence? No doubt they expressed their support of that objective.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he proposes to follow up these discussions by taking a fresh initiative and whether he proposes to invite Mr. Ian Smith to come to London to have further discussions with him on this matter?
§ The Prime Minister
I think that the House knows that I have invited Mr. Smith. I hope that he will be able to announce his reply.
§ Mr. Wall
Is the Prime Minister aware that many faint hearts thought that this conference might be the end of the Commonwealth? Instead of that, it has increased in strength, due to his leadership, common sense and humanity.
1426 When setting up a Commonwealth Secretariat, will my right hon. Friend consider a regional structure, together with frequent regional meetings of Commonwealth Ministers?
May I ask my right hon. Friend to confirm that any calling of a constitutional conference on Southern Rhodesia without the prior agreement of the Southern Rhodesian Government would be an infringement of the Constitution and the convention?
§ The Prime Minister
My hon. Friend asked about the Secretariat and a regional structure. It was the unanimous wish and feeling of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers that the Secretariat should be located in London. What future developments there might be on a regional basis remains to be seen. We had better get it set up first in London.
My hon. Friend asked about the constitutional conference—if it takes place—on Southern Rhodesia. Of course, it cannot take place unless the parties in Southern Rhodesia are willing to come.
Mr. H. Wilson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the whole House will be gratified that in the event the conference did discuss Southern Rhodesia, despite the Prime Minister's repeated assurances that it would not do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] We welcome what the Prime Minister agreed to.
Is the Prime Minister aware that last September, and again in the debate on the Queen's Speech, we pressed for an early Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference to deal with the question of Southern Rhodesia? Does he not feel that if it had been called earlier the situation would not have worsened as much as it has in the past few months?
Secondly, would the Prime Minister tell the House how many of the Commonwealth countries expressed their support of his policy in respect of arms to South Africa? Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman was virtually isolated in the Commonwealth on this policy of arms to South Africa?
Thirdly, the right hon. Gentleman referred to development and aid in his statement this afternoon, but he did not refer to trade. Having regard to the fall in Commonwealth trade to this country 1427 since 1959, from 36 per cent. to 30 per cent., did he inform the Commonwealth Prime Ministers that it will be the policy of the Government to reverse that trend, or will he continue to let it fall as long as he remains in office?
§ The Prime Minister
I must thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he described as a warm welcome! Now I will reply to the detailed questions he asked.
The right hon. Gentleman said, first, that I had said that we should not discuss the affairs of Southern Rhodesia. What we discussed were not the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia or our responsibility. We discussed steps that might help towards the independence of Southern Rhodesia. That could include a number of things, one of which is the constitutional conference.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me, then, whether it would have helped to have had the conference earlier. I cannot see that it would have helped at all. I think that yesterday we came to sensible conclusions. I will, as I said, take into account all the points of view expressed by all members of the conference.
Then the right hon. Gentleman asked me how many Governments had expressed a view on sanctions and the export of arms to South Africa. I must tell the right hon. Gentleman—I thought that he knew this already—that we never say which Prime Ministers support this policy or turn down that policy. We never do that. We do not express individual views on any subject discussed by the Prime Ministers, and the right hon. Gentleman should know that.
§ Mr. Brockway rose—
§ The Prime Minister
In my statement I said that I thought that the economic section was perhaps the most important of the lot.
On the question of trade, the Prime Ministers felt that we, the United Kingdom, were in a very good position to follow up the Geneva Conference, at which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade took such a leading part. The Commonwealth Prime Ministers supported the lead my right hon. Friend took and our 1428 initiative. I was able to tell the House in answer to a Question, when, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman was not here, that we draw 40 per cent. of our imports from developing countries. That is not a bad record.
§ Mr. Brockway rose—
§ Mr. H. Wilson rose—
§ Mr. Brockway
Is the Prime Minister aware that many of us regard this communiqué as a charter of principle and practice for the Commonwealth in relation to racial equality, national freedom, and co-operation in economics, education and health?
Is the Prime Minister aware, however, that some of us are rather puzzled by his statement that there was no discussion about Southern Rhodesia? Does not the communiqué indicate that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers asked for a representative conference in Southern Rhodesia and the release of the prisoners there? Are not those matters dealing with Southern Rhodesia and not merely with the theory of independence? Why does the right hon. Gentleman attempt to mislead the House, the country and the Commonwealth by that kind of evasive reply?
§ The Prime Minister
I do not think that there is any question of misleading the House or anybody else. What we did was to assert from the start that the affairs of Southern Rhodesia and its progress towards independence were matters between Southern Rhodesia and the United Kingdom and nobody else. Therefore, we did not discuss the internal affairs of the country of Southern Rhodesia. What we thought was much the most sensible arrangement was that, having accepted the British responsibility, other Prime Ministers should be able to express such views as they liked about the progress of Southern Rhodesia to independence, because, if Southern Rhodesia asks for independence within the Commonwealth, that will be a matter of concern to other Prime Ministers.
§ Mr. Turton
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the majority of people in the country think that the results of the conference are far more important 1429 than small party politics? Would my right hon. Friend enlighten us on how he envisages that the proposed Commonwealth Secretariat will work? How will it work in with the Commonwealth Economic Committee and a Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council? Was the proposal for a Commonwealth Economic Development Council studied by the Prime Ministers? Does the communiqué allow such a Council to proceed if the Commonwealth Secretariat so recommends?
§ The Prime Minister
The Prime Ministers asked their senior officials to advise us on just this kind of question. We shall have a recommendation from them on the job of the Secretariat and the way in which the Secretariat will co-ordinate with other bodies of this kind.
§ Mr. Grimond
While welcoming the communiqué, may I ask the Prime Minister two questions about our future relationship with Southern Rhodesia in the light of the communiqué? First, the right hon. Gentleman has informed the House that he has asked the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia to come to London for conversations, but the communiqué suggests that this invitation ought to be extended to the leaders of all parties in Southern Rhodesia. May I ask the Prime Minister whether he intends to invite all parties and whether, if he is not prepared to answer that question now, he will ensure that the House is given an answer before we rise?
Secondly, the communiqué also suggests that there should be an amnesty for political prisoners in Southern Rhodesia. May I ask the Prime Minister whether this recommendation has been conveyed to the Government of Southern Rhodesia and whether the House may be informed of the reply when it is sent?
§ The Prime Minister
One first deals with Governments. Therefore, I have asked Mr. Smith to come here. After seeing Mr. Smith, I shall have to consider what further steps are possible. As the communiqué says, an amnesty for prisoners is a matter for the Southern Rhodesian Government. I remind the 1430 right hon. Gentleman that, in the case of one prisoner, an appeal is pending next week. Therefore, I think that I had better say no more on this.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, although such matters as trying to resolve differences in the Commonwealth are obviously important, the most outstanding result of the conference was, in fact, the prospect of increasing co-operation at all levels in the Commonwealth?
My right hon. Friend mentioned Malaysia in his statement. Can my right hon. Friend confirm, without any breach of confidence, that support for Malaysia and its continuing independence was unanimous throughout the Commonwealth?
§ The Prime Minister
I think that my statement contained the phrase "the Prime Ministers". Whenever that phrase is used, it means unanimity. Therefore, the answer is, "Yes". Various countries support Malaysia in different ways. We, the Australians and the New Zealanders support her in a military capacity. Others may be able to give diplomatic or moral support. Each country must judge.
Mr. H. Wilson
Will the Prime Minister now return to the question of trade, which used to be regarded as important in the House in Commonwealth matters? Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether he and his colleagues analysed the reasons why Commonwealth trade to this country, since 1959, has fallen from 36 per cent. to 30 per cent.? Does he still agree with the views expressed by his colleagues that Commonwealth trade must inevitably decline? Did he make any concrete proposals within the Commonwealth for increasing Commonwealth trade?
Did the right hon. Gentleman, as was suggested to him, give an undertaking that no future Government in this country would enter into negotiations to enter the Common Market without—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The Government nearly wrecked the Commonwealth in 1962 on this issue. Did the Prime Minister give an assurance that there would be no such entry without a prior Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference before negotiations were begun?
§ The Prime Minister
We were not asked for any assurances and no assurances were, therefore, necessary to be given. We were concerned with increasing trade in future and with the follow up of the Geneva Conference. Commonwealth trade is increasing absolutely and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers were interested in increasing the trade between the Commonwealth countries, particularly for the developing countries.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
While warmly welcoming the constructive proposals for economic and social co-operation in the Commonwealth, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that there will be disappointment at the absence of any reference in the communiqué to the possibility of a Commonwealth court of appeal? Is he further aware that that disappointment will not be confined to lawyers, but will extend to many others who wish to extend the formal links of the Commonwealth and promote its contribution to the rule of law?
§ The Prime Minister
I have often been attracted by this idea. It is a matter which we shall pursue in correspondence, but it was not a matter which we discussed at the conference.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Hon. Members cannot pursue this further without there being a Question before the House. We have too much to do.
§ Following is the text of the final communiqué:
§ The meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers ended to-day. Pakistan, Ghana and Tanganyika and Zanzibar were represented by their Presidents. Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Kenya and Malawi were represented by their Prime Ministers. India was represented by the Minister of Finance; Cyprus by the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Jamaica by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
§ This was the first meeting at which Uganda and Kenya were represented as independent Members; and the other Commonwealth Heads of Government were glad to greet their Prime Ministers. They expressed their satisfaction at the establishment of Malaysia which they had welcomed at their last meeting in 1962 and they greeted Tunku Abdul Rahman as Prime Minister of Malaysia.
§ They also welcomed the attainment of independence by Malawi on 6th July, 1964, and agreed that Malawi should be admitted to 1432 membership of the Commonwealth. They invited the Prime Minister of Malawi, Dr. Banda, to join their meeting; and Dr. Banda took his seat on 9th July. They noted that Northern Rhodesia would become independent on 24th October, 1964, as the Republic of Zambia; and they looked forward to welcoming Zambia as a member of the Commonwealth on the completion of the necessary constitutional processes.
§ In the course of their discussion, the Presidents and Prime Ministers reviewed the major issues of the day.
§ They agreed that one of the most important of these is race relations. It was agreed that the Commonwealth has a particular rôle to play in the search for solutions to the interracial problems which are threatening the orderly development of mankind in general and of many particular areas in the world today. As a community of many different races, the Commonwealth is itself an almost unique experiment in international co-operation among peoples of several races and continents. Within their own borders many of its members have faced and are facing issues raised by the co-existence of differing cultures within a democratic society.
§ The Prime Ministers affirmed their belief that, for all Commonwealth Governments, it should be an objective of policy to build in each country a structure of society which offers equal opportunity and non-discrimination for all its people, irrespective of race, colour or creed. The Commonwealth should be able to exercise constructive leadership in the application of democratic principles in a manner which will enable the people of each country of different racial and cultural groups to exist and develop as free and equal citizens.
§ The Prime Ministers recalled the critical international situation which had developed after their last meeting in the autumn of 1962 and the grave threat to peace which it had implied. They believed that the fact that it was successfully resolved may have been in some sense a turning point in the relations between the major Powers and may have marked the beginning of a new period in international affairs in which the world may hope for a gradual relaxation of tension. This will not be a short or simple process; but the Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the further steps which had already been taken to reduce the causes of friction, particularly the conclusion of the Tests Ban Treaty and the subsequent agreements between the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union not to place nuclear weapons in outer space. They also welcomed the reduction in the output of fissile material for military purposes which these Governments have made.
§ Against this background, the Prime Ministers expressed their hope that these steps would lead progressively to general and complete disarmament. They reaffirmed their support for the work of the Geneva Disarmament Conference and their determination to seek to extend the scope of disarmament in accordance with the principles expressed in their statement 1433 of 17th March, 1961, particularly by endeavouring to promote an agreement to prohibit the further dissemination of nuclear weapons and of knowledge relating to their manufacture and use. They will maintain their efforts to reduce the areas of international disagreement by all the means within their power, while maintaining both the strength and the resolution to resist aggression from without or subversion from within.
§ In this connection, they assured the Prime Minister of Malaysia of their sympathy and support in his efforts to preserve the sovereign independence and integrity of his country and to promote a peaceful and honourable settlement of current differences between Malaysia and neighbouring countries.
§ They discussed the great significance of China for South and South-East Asia. They also discussed the question of relations with China and of her membership of the United Nations. They expressed anxiety about the continuing tension in South-East Asia and affirmed their support for all measures which might promote a just and peaceful settlement and help to re-establish stability in the area.
§ The Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the friendly public statements by the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India and expressed their hopes that the problems between their countries will be solved in the same friendly spirit.
§ While recognising that it was not a function of the Commonwealth to act as an arbiter in disputes between member nations, the Prime Ministers agreed that Commonwealth countries could play a rôle of conciliation and, where possible, consider using their good offices to help towards the settlement of disputes between member nations provided the parties concerned accepted such mediation.
§ The Prime Ministers renewed their support for the United Nations in its efforts to resolve disputes in various parts of the world. They reaffirmed their adherence to the principles of the Charter and emphasised the importance of reinforcing the strength and capacity of the United Nations to respond to the demands which it must meet if the Charter is to be fulfilled.
§ The Prime Ministers expressed concern about the situation with regard to Cyprus. They reaffirmed their full support for the United Nations Security Council Resolutions of 4th March, 13th March and 20th June, 1964. The Prime Ministers asserted that the Cyprus problem should be solved within the framework of the United Nations and in accordance with the principles of democracy and justice.
§ They appealed to all countries concerned to refrain from any action which might undermine the task of the United Nations peace-keeping force, to which a number of Commonwealth countries are contributing, or might prejudice the endeavours of the United Nations to find a lasting solution in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
§ The Prime Ministers undertook to consider practical measures to strengthen the peacekeeping machinery of the United Nations and to reduce the degree of improvisation required 1434 in an emergency. They agreed that consultation and co-operation among interested governments in this matter could be of great value in contributing to the improvement of the peacekeeping effectiveness of the United Nations.
§ The Prime Ministers expressed their concern at the possible effect on United Nations operations in all fields of a prolongation of the United Nations financial crisis. They expressed a common desire to work towards a long-term equitable solution of the problem of financing large-scale United Nations peacekeeping operations and agreed that any such solution should be based on the principles of collective financial responsibility and relative capacity to pay.
§ Britain made the following statement to the meeting about the progress of British colonial dependencies towards independence.
§ Already more than 20 countries—with a total population of some 700 million—had achieved sovereign independence under British guidance. This process was continuing all the time. Northern Rhodesia would be independent in October and the Gambia very soon after. Basutoland had been promised that she could have independence in about 18 months' time; Bechuanaland would be free to follow when she wished; and Swaziland's new constitution had now set her on the same course. In addition, it had been agreed that the Federation of South Arabia should become independent within the next 3½ years. British Guiana would become independent as soon as she was able to assure internal peace. Southern Rhodesia would attain full sovereignty as soon as her governmental institutions were sufficiently representative.
§ There were a number of other Colonies which already enjoyed a wide measure of self-government. These included the Bahamas, Barbados, British Honduras and Mauritius. In addition there were some 20 other Colonies and Protectorates with a combined population of about 5 million. Of these, over 3 million were in Hong Kong where the circumstances were exceptional. Of the remainder only two territories had a population of more than 100,000. Several had less than 10,000. The smallest, Pitcairn, in the Pacific had only 90 inhabitants. It was clear that no uniform pattern would fit all these very different territories. Some might feel strong enough to proceed to independence on their own. Some might join with others to form larger and more viable units. Some might wish to couple independence with a treaty of friendship such as Western Samoa concluded with New Zealand. Some would for the present prefer to remain as they were.
§ The Prime Ministers of the other Commonwealth countries welcomed the progress of British territories to independent membership of the Commonwealth. They recognised that the authority and responsibility for leading her remaining Colonies to independence must continue to rest with Britain.
§ At the same time, Prime Ministers of other Commonwealth countries expressed their views to the Prime Minister of Britain on the question of the progress of Southern Rhodesia towards independence within the Commonwealth. They welcomed the decision already 1435 announced by the British Government that, as in the case of other territories, the existence of sufficiently representative institutions would be a condition of the grant of independence to Southern Rhodesia. They also noted with approval the statement already made by the British Government that they would not recognise any unilateral declaration of independence; and the other Prime Ministers made it clear that they would be unable to recognise any such declaration. The view was also expressed that an Independence Conference should be convened which the leaders of all parties in Southern Rhodesia should be free to attend. The object would be to seek agreement on the steps by which Southern Rhodesia might proceed to independence within the Commonwealth at the earliest practicable time on the basis of majority rule. With a view to diminishing tensions and preparing the way for such a conference, an appeal was made for the release of all the detained African leaders. The Prime Ministers called upon all leaders and their supporters to exercise moderation and to abstain from violence; and they affirmed their belief that the best interest of all sections of the population lay in developing confidence and co-operation, on the basis of tolerance, mutual understanding and justice. In this connection, they recognised the necessity for giving confidence to the minority community in Southern Rhodesia that their interests would be protected.
§ The Prime Minister of Britain said that he would give careful consideration to all the views expressed by other Commonwealth Prime Ministers. At the same time he emphasised that the Government of Southern Rhodesia was constitutionally responsible for the internal affairs of that territory and that the question of the granting of independence was a matter for decision by the British Parliament.
§ The Meeting expressed concern at the political rivalries in British Guiana which had led to disorder and inter-racial strife and had prejudiced the attainment of independence. While several different views were expressed on the methods to be employed, a number of Prime Ministers expressed the hope that the political leaders of British Guiana would seek urgently a basis for collaboration in the interest of their fellow countrymen of all races in order to restore mutual confidence among the races and to strengthen a spirit of national purpose and unity. Only in these circumstances could British Guiana hope to sustain true independence.
§ The question of the progress of the smaller dependent territories in the Caribbean to independence was raised. It was emphasised that the problem for the territories was mainly one of viability: and the hope was expressed that every practicable effort would be made to help them to strengthen their economies and so enable them to sustain the obligations of independence whether in a federation or in some other form of association.
§ The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their condemnation of the policy of apartheid practised by the Government of the Republic of South Africa. Some Commonwealth Prime Ministers felt very strongly that the only effective means of dealing with the problem of apartheid was the application of economic sanctions and an 1436 arms embargo. It was recognised however that there was a difference of opinion among Commonwealth countries as to the effectiveness of economic sanctions and as to the extent to which they regarded it as right or practicable to seek to secure the abandonment of apartheid by coercive action, of whatever kind. But the Prime Ministers were unanimous in calling upon South Africa to bring to an end the practice of apartheid, which had been repeatedly condemned by the United Nations and was deplored by public opinion throughout the world.
§ The Prime Ministers expressed their regret that Portugal had not so far given recognition to the principle of self-determination for her territories in Africa.
§ The Prime Ministers agreed that the issues of Commonwealth and international relations which confront them in the political field, however complex and contentious, must be seen in perspective in relation to the many factors which bring together the peoples of the Commonwealth and enable them to make a unique contribution to the promotion of peaceful development. The Commonwealth now consists of 18 independent Member countries, widely distributed over the globe and accounting for nearly a quarter of the population of the world. It is, indeed, a cross-section of the world itself; and its citizens have an unparalleled opportunity to prove that, by mutual co-operation, men and women of many different races and national cultures can live in peace and work together for the common good.
§ The Prime Ministers reviewed the world economic situation as it affects their countries and reaffirmed the resolve of their Governments to promote the economic development of their countries. To this end, they emphasised the need of developing countries for improved and more remunerative outlets for their trade and for increased financial aid on easier terms and on a continuing basis. They took note of the problems presented to developing countries by the conditions and terms often attached by donor Governments to their aid, of the desirability of the encouragement of private investment in developing countries and also of the upward trend in the level of financial aid extended by the more developed countries in the Commonwealth and of the easier terms on which it is offered.
§ There was agreement on the importance for all Commonwealth countries of following up the work of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, in particular with regard to expanding international trade in primary products through freer access to markets and, in appropriate cases, through commodity agreements and stabilised prices at equitable levels; working out arrangements for increasing access by preferences or otherwise to markets in developed countries for manufactured goods from developing countries; and elaborating proposals for supplementary finance to assist countries whose development might be threatened by adverse movements in their export earnings. The Prime Ministers affirmed their intention of working for a solution of these and other problems of the 1437 developing countries through the new institutions resulting from the Conference as well as through existing international bodies such as the G.A.T.T.
§ The Prime Ministers reaffirmed the resolve of the Member countries of the Commonwealth to promote the economic and social progress of developing countries. They wished to maintain their support of the work of the United Nations, its specialised agencies, the Colombo Plan and other similar arrangements in this field. At the same time, they wished to establish how best the members of the Commonwealth could make a further distinctive contribution of their own to the development of its Member countries. They conceived that the purpose of any new initiative in this respect should be not merely to increase the economic strength and material well-being of the recipients, vital though these considerations are, but also to strengthen the links between the countries of the Commonwealth by encouraging their peoples to work more closely together in a variety of practical ways. For this purpose they selected for further examination several fields of action in which they believed the practice of Commonwealth co-operation might be extended; and they agreed that these schemes should not be in substitution for existing arrangements but supplementary to them.
Commonwealth Development Projects
In particular they considered a proposal that development projects might be launched in individual Commonwealth countries, which would be implemented by various Members acting in close collaboration and contributing whatever resources—in men, money, materials and technical expertise—they could most appropriately provide. Such projects, which would be additional to the support which Commonwealth countries already provide to the United Nations Special Fund and Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance could be directed to a number of different purposes—the improvement of agricultural production and the development of natural resources through extension services, training and research; the enlargement of professional and technical training; the development of new industries; and so forth. But they would all be inspired by the common purpose of promoting the development of the Commonwealth by a co-ordinated programme of joint or bilateral projects. The British Government said that they would be prepared to make a substantial contribution to projects of this kind within their expanding programme of development aid. The other Member governments expressed support for the objective of the proposal and agreed that further consideration should be given to the basis on which such a programme might be established.
Development projects of this kind would need to be planned, carefully and thoroughly, at all stages in their execution; and the Prime Ministers therefore considered that it might be valuable to supplement the existing arrangements for promoting the study of the techniques of administration and development planning throughout the Commonwealth. They
considered that there might be advantage in making arrangements, which could include the formation of a new Institute, to provide facilities for specialised training and research for senior administrators concerned with administrative and development problems in relation to the needs of new countries. They agreed that further consideration should be given to the most appropriate form for arrangements for additional training, including the strengthening of existing institutions.
The Prime Ministers took note of the scope which exists for co-operation between the Government and peoples of the Commonwealth in social, as well as economic, development. They noted with satisfaction that the Third Commonwealth Education Conference will be held in Ottawa in August; and they expressed warm wishes for its success, together with appreciation of the British Government's offer to increase to an average of £5 million a year, over the five years starting in 1965–66, the capital assistance which they already provide for higher education in developing Commonwealth countries, both independent and dependent.
They decided in principle that an initiative similar to that which was launched in the field of education by the first of the Commonwealth Education Conferences several years ago should now be taken in the field of medicine and that for this purpose consideration should be given to the convening of a Commonwealth Medical Conference during the course of 1965. Such a Conference would enable the members of the Commonwealth to discuss mutual assistance in medical education including links between institutions; the provision of ancillary staffs, the development and planning of health services; and the supply of medical equipment and facilities for research.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
The links between the countries of the Commonwealth are strengthened not only by co-operation between their Governments in initiatives of this kind, but, even more, by frequent personal contacts between individuals who share common professional interests.
The Prime Ministers recorded their support for the valuable work which the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association performs in bringing together members of the Parliaments of all Commonwealth countries. The British Government stated that they would be prepared, if other Commonwealth Governments would do the same, to increase their contribution to the Association.
The Prime Ministers considered that further steps should be taken to promote contacts in other fields and that it might be desirable to establish a Commonwealth Foundation to administer a fund for increasing interchanges between Commonwealth organisations in professional fields. This Foundation could be administered by an independent Board; and, while it could be financed by contributions from Commonwealth Governments, it would
also welcome support from all quarters, whether public or private.
The Prime Ministers also took note of the current international discussions on the establishment of a global system of satellite communications. They endorsed the desirability of establishing such a system and considered how Commonwealth countries could best co-operate with each other and with other countries in its development. They discussed the provision of technical assistance to the developing countries in this field, particularly as regards the establishment of ground stations and inter-connections in Commonwealth countries. They agreed that further consideration should be given to the feasibility of such a plan and the basis on which it might best be implemented.
The Prime Ministers directed that the Commonwealth Liaison Committee with the assistance of special representatives should now give more detailed consideration to all aspects of these new initiatives in the hope that they could be launched and carried forward at an early date. They noted that thereafter further opportunities to review many of these projects would be afforded by the third Commonwealth Education Conference in Ottawa in August and by the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur in September.
Finally, they were anxious that some permanent expression should be given to the desire, which had been evident through their deliberations, for closer and more informed understanding between their Governments on the many issues which engage their attention and for some continuing machinery for this purpose. They therefore instructed officials to consider the best basis for establishing a Commonwealth Secretariat, which would be available inter alia to disseminate factual information to all Member countries on matters of common concern; to assist existing agencies, both official and unofficial, in the promotion of Commonwealth links in all fields; and to help to co-ordinate, in co-operation with the host country, the preparations for future meetings of Commonwealth Heads of Government and, where appropriate, for meetings of other Commonwealth Ministers. This secretariat, being recruited from Member countries and financed by their contributions, would be at the service of all Commonwealth Governments and would be a visible symbol of the spirit of co-operation which animates the Commonwealth.
Marlborough House, S.W.1.