HC Deb 17 November 1964 vol 702 cc193-5
Q3. Mr. Wall

asked the Prime Minister what reply he has had from the Prime Minister of Rhodesia to his invitation to visit London for talks.

The Prime Minister

Mr. Smith said on 24th October that he would be pleased to visit London for discussions after the referendum which took place on 5th November. Since then he has made no further mention of such a visit, but on 6th November in a message he made public, he invited my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary to visit Salisbury. Nevertheless the invitation to Mr. Smith to come to London remains open, as I again made clear in my published message to him of 7th November.

Mr. Wall

Now that Mr. Nkomo is no longer in prison, will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider sending the Secretary of State to Rhodesia? Would not he agree that a meeting of Prime Ministers might be dangerous until such time as the Rhodesian electorate is convinced that the policy of Her Majesty's Government is not to impose an African majority in the next two or three years?

The Prime Minister

It is partly a question of what is meant by "Rhodesian electorate". Apart from that, I think it would be extremely valuable if there could be discussions with Mr. Smith, because the right hon. Gentleman my predecessor had very frank discussions with him and I had a brief meeting with him in September. I think it would be helpful if Mr. Smith could come over on the basis I indicated in my speech of 3rd November, when the whole thing could be discussed very frankly between us.

Mr. Turton

In order to remove ambiguity both here and in Central Africa, could the right hon. Gentleman state quite clearly the terms and conditions under which Her Majesty's Government would grant independence to Rhodesia?

The Prime Minister

I thought that that was very clearly stated without ambiguity in the communiqué of the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. As I said on 3rd November, that statement in the communiqué was the basis of our approach to this problem.

Sir G. Nicholson

Is it not most undesirable that communiqués between two Government should constantly be in public? Should we not get back to confidential negotiations and communications?

The Prime Minister

I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman about that. I am glad to say that in the latest messages which we have had both ways, Mr. Smith has said that they should be treated confidentially, and we are both doing that. But I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that it was important that full publicity should have been given to the statement, which was put out and which was not meant as a confidential communication between Governments, warning everyone concerned of the consequences of a unilateral declaration of independence.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

When my right hon. Friend speaks of the invitation to Mr. Smith remaining open, is it the position that the Prime Minister has intimated to Mr. Smith that he desires him to come to this country for conversations, or has that been left as a matter of inference and implication from Questions and Answers in the House?

The Prime Minister

This is not a question of inference. It has been stated quite categorically and communicated to Mr. Smith.