HC Deb 11 June 1964 vol 696 cc626-8
Q1. Mr. Brockway

asked the Prime Minister what replies he has now received from the Prime Ministers of Commonwealth countries regarding attendance by the Prime Ministers of Northern and Southern Rhodesia at: the Prime Ministers' Conference.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

I have been asked to reply.

Hon. Members


Mr. Shinwell

On a point of order. With great respect to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and there is nothing personal in the matter so far as he is concerned—of course there is not; and we have great respect for him—he has not used the proper formula in his reply. [Interruption.] I know the traditions of the House and am aware that he must ask for the permission of the House to answer; and if he does so I will oppose it.

Mr. Speaker

With respect to the right hon. Gentleman, he is mistaken. That is not the position.

Mr. Lipton

On a point of order. The Lord Privy Seal said that he had been asked to reply. May we know by whom he was asked and why?

Mr. Speaker

When a Minister replies for another that is the usual formula.

Mr. Lloyd

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is in fact addressing a meeting which will have a significant part to play in seeing that he is available for many years to come to answer Questions on these matters.

Mr. W. Hamilton

On a point of order. If the Minister is answering the Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), which is on the Commonwealth, is he allowed to preface his remarks by reference to a political propaganda speech apparently being made by the Prime Minister in the country? If he is, are we entitled to ask supplementary questions in the initial part of his Answer?

Mr. Speaker

I think that some degree of indulgence is permissible. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think so. The last monosyllable uttered before the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal started answering was, "Why?" The House might be sufficiently indulgent to allow him to answer that question.

Mr. Lloyd

I would refer the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) to what my right hon. Friend told the House on 9th June.

Mr. Brockway

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of our regret that the Prime Minister is not here to supplement the Answer which he [...] gave, because that Answer does not reply to the Question which is on the Order Paper? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that it made a reference to the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and it made no reference whatsoever to the Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia? Is it not the case that Northern Rhodesia is to receive its independence in October and would it not be desirable that the precedent set in the case of Uganda, when Mr. Milton Obote, the Prime Minister, was invited as an observer before the day of independence, should now be repeated in the case of Northern Rhodesia?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that the hon. Member can have it both ways. The opinion taken, to which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred earlier this week, was that the meeting should be confined to the heads of independent Governments.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that some of us would have been quite happy to have seen a package deal done and to see that both Northern and Southern Rhodesia were invited, but since it was not possible, may I ask whether that will not make it impossible to make different approaches to Northern Rhodesia and the other colonial countries waiting in the queue to become independent?

Mr. Lloyd

I said that what was done was in accordance with the majority view.

Mr. Bottomley

Is it not proper for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference to invite to the conference whom it wishes? In those circumstances, would the Prime Minister remind himself of the Question, which I put on the 9th, when it was suggested that Mr. Smith and the African leaders be invited and also Mr. Kenneth Kaunda, the Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia?

Mr. Lloyd

It is not for me to say what is within the competence of the conference. It will decide that for itself. It has been said again and again by my right hon. Friend that it has been the responsibility of the United Kingdom Government to arrange the conference in accordance with the views of other members, and that is what has happened.

Mr. Bottomley

Have not Her Majesty's Government a responsibility in this matter and the House of Commons the right to ask whether the Prime Minister himself will make this suggestion on behalf of the United Kingdom to the Prime Ministers' Conference?

Mr. Lloyd

The right hon. Gentleman has the right to ask it but I do not think that he has a right to an answer, and I do not think that I can give it.

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