HC Deb 26 January 1967 vol 739 cc1772-4

Q4. Mr. Wall asked the Prime Minister what communications he has received from the President of Zambia; what further assistance has been requested; and what reply he has sent.

The Prime Minister

Exchanges between myself and other Heads of Government are confidential.

Mr. Wall

Would the Prime Minister confirm that £14 million has been offered to Zambia? Does he regard this as aid or compensation? Can the Prime Minister say whether it has been tied to the purchase of British goods and how much the British taxpayer is being expected to pay during the coming year to underwrite the Zambian economy?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member will be aware of the discussions and negotiations which my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Commonwealth Affairs had in Zambia last summer and that agreement was reached in principle, which I hope is now being activated, to enable us to make arrangements for a sum of money of this order to help Zambia maintain her economy due to the extremely serious effect on her economy of the actions taken in Rhodesia, supported by the hon. Member.

I believe that we in this House have a real obligation to Zambia while—[Interruption.] I have just said "of this order"—£14 million. Much of it is help in personnel and equipment and a great part of it is being spent in this country. This is essential to enable British interests to be maintained.

Mr. Hooley

Can my right hon. Friend say what discussions are going on in United Nations Agencies to encourage the international community to underwrite the financial problems that are arising from the Central African conflict?

The Prime Minister

There have been discussions among a number of United Nations members and this also played a leading part in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, when we made an appeal to some of our Commonwealth colleagues, which some of them have indeed taken up, to give all the help they could to Zambia. At one point I suggested to my Commonwealth Prime Ministerial colleagues that if the length of speeches at that conference were proportionate to the aid given to Zambia, we might finish the conference somewhat earlier. As to actual help, how- ever, some countries have helped and some have not so far done so.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Has any recent communication from the Government of Zambia to the Prime Minister referred to the unilateral abrogation by that country of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964? If so, what representations has the Prime Minister made in reply?

The Prime Minister

I have said that communications with Commonwealth Heads of Government are normally confidential, but I can safely say that this is not a question which has recently been discussed between us. If, however, the hon. Member will put down a Question to my right hon. Friend, he will, no doubt satisfy him with his Answer.