HC Deb 17 November 1966 vol 736 cc632-3
Q8. Mr. Elystan Morgan

asked the Prime Minister if he will now amend the six principles named by him on the basis of a possible settlement of the Rhodesian question so as to make the granting of majority rule to the peoples of that Colony a condition precedent to a settlement.

The Prime Minister

Our position on majority rule is made clear in the communiqué issued after the recent meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers.

Mr. Morgan

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is by now very clear that the white minority in Rhodesia will do everything in its power to frustrate the achievement of majority rule? Did not this House delude itself in 1909 on the British South Africa Act into believing that the colour bar would be removed very soon, and is it not certain that the only guarantee of majority rule is majority rule itself?

The Prime Minister

I was not around in 1909, although I have studied what happened. As regards majority rule in Rhodesia, successive Governments have laid down that there must be absolute guarantees of unimpeded progress to majority rule. This is one of the big issues. I am not at this moment in a position to answer the rest of my hon. Friend's question in which he asked whether I am now clear about the attitude of certain people in Rhodesia. I hope to be clearer in a few days and to make a statement to the House.

Mrs. Biggs-Davison

Is not the suggestion made in the hon. Gentleman's Question entirely in line with the right hon. Gentleman's own letter to Dr. Mutasa? In order to remove some of the mistrust which has bedevilled relations between London and Salisbury, will the right hon. Gentleman now make clear where he stands on the question whether or not there must be majority rule before independence?

The Prime Minister

I have fully answered questions about the letter to Dr. Mutasa on several occasions in the House. The Rhodesian Government, with whom we were negotiating, were in no doubt about the position. I discussed it with them. As regards distrust, as the hon. Gentleman knows from the exchanges, the Rhodesian Government made their position very clear, and, when Mr. Smith was on the telephone on the last morning before U.D.I., he said that he placed no responsibility on my shoulders for the breakdown. He said over a long period that it was distrust about statements made earlier, before this Government came to office, that caused the difficulty, which I have always said was a little unfair to our predecessors.