HC Deb 30 June 1964 vol 697 cc1135-7
Q6. Mr. Bottomley

asked the Prime Minister if he will discuss with Commonwealth Prime Ministers the question of British Guiana; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

As the House knows, the agenda of a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference is always confidential. My right hon. Friend has made several statements on British Guiana recently, and I have nothing to add to them.

Mr. Bottomley

Is the Prime Minister aware that when my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made a proposal that it should be discussed the Foreign Secretary considered the matter sympathetically? Bearing in mind the fact that the Prime Minister of British Guiana has suggested a coalition Government, and would welcome Commonwealth co-operation, is not this a good reason for bringing the matter before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference?

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, it is a rule within the Commonwealth association that we do not discuss the internal affairs of each other's territories. On the other hand, the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference always provides occasions for informal discussions, and if it is thought wise to discuss this informally we can do so.

Mr. H. Wilson

I recognise the confidential nature of the agenda of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, but does the right hon. Gentleman recall the suggestion that we made in the foreign affairs debate, that in view of the very serious nature of affairs in British Guiana—which could go far beyond British Guiana—he should propose that a Commonwealth mission, representing, perhaps, Canada and one of two of the West Indian self-governing territories, India, and one of the West African States, should go to British Guiana with a view to trying to use its good offices to find some solution to this very difficult problem? If he cannot tell us about the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, will he say—now that he has had a week or two to think about it—what is the Government's reaction to that proposal?

The Prime Minister

It is a possible proposal, but before I have had time to consult the Commonwealth Prime Ministers I would not like to commit myself on it.