HC Deb 12 March 1964 vol 691 cc639-41
4 and 12. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (1) if Her Majesty's Government has placed a time limit in regard to majority rule in Southern Rhodesia; and if he will give an assurance that its independence will not be recognised whilst minority rule continues;

(2) if he will make a statement on the future of official discussions with the Government of Southern Rhodesia regarding the independence of that territory, in view of the policy of the Southern Rhodesian Government as stated on 25th February not to initiate further discussions.

Mr. Sandys

I have no further statement to make at present on this question.

Mr. Brockway

In regard to the first of these Questions, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether Her Majesty's Government still stand by the statement of the Prime Minister that independence would not be granted until there was majority rule and whether that statement or a later one—which suggested that there should be some increase in African representation but that majority rule might be deferred for five years—now represents the policy of the Government? In connection with the second Question, in view of the attitude of the Government of Southern Rhodesia, in effect, declaring themselves independent without consultation with Her Majesty's Government and saying that they will not even consult this Government, will the right hon. Gentleman now begin to take a course which insists that Southern Rhodesia is still responsible to this Government in relation to its Constitution?

Mr. Sandys

The hon. Member's last question is based on a misapprehension. I know of no declaration by Southern Rhodesia of its independence. With regard to the first question, there has been no change in the British Government's position. We are prepared to give independence to Southern Rhodesia on the same conditions as are regularly applied in the case of other territories.

Sir J. Lucas

Before my right hon. Friend makes any decision, will he remember the great help given by Southern Rhodesia during the war in the Empire Training Scheme in the large number of young men who came and volunteered for the Air Force and also the fact that they had to introduce conscription to stop people volunteering?

Mr. Sandys

I am well aware, and am glad of the opportunity to say so, of the outstanding services rendered by Southern Rhodesia and its people to the Commonwealth in peace and in war.

Mr. Bottomley

Would not the Secretary of State agree that, as to the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia, it is this Parliament which is sovereign? Is he further aware that the Constitutional Council, presided over by an ex-chief justice, has unanimously said that the Land Apportionment Act is an infringement of the Constitution? Will he say anything about this?

Mr. Sandys

The constitutional position is well known. I would hesitate to try to define it in reply to a supplementary question. As regards the statement of the Constitutional Council, again the right hon. Gentleman has correctly represented the position. That, however, is not a matter for action by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom.*