HC Deb 05 December 1968 vol 774 cc1829-31
Q2. Sir Knox Cunningham

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the progress towards agreement with Mi. Ian Smith about the independence of Rhodesia.

Q7. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister what plans he has for further meetings with representatives of the illegal régime in Rhodesia.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave on Tuesday to a Question by the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro).—[Vol. 774, c. 432.]

Sir Knox Cunningham

Does the Prime Minister intend to leave any further approach to Mr. Smith? If so, what is he going to say to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in January? May it not look like the Prime Minister sulking in his tent?

The Prime Minister

The hon. and learned Member will recognise that we have left the "Fearless" terms on the table for acceptance in Rhodesia. It is for Rhodesia to give an answer to what we have done. I think that most right hon. and hon. Members felt that what we had offered went at least as far as we should. Indeed, some thought that we should have gone less far. No one took the view that the cause of the breakdown lay on the side of Her Majesty's Government. The hon. and learned Member will, however, also realise that I have other things to turn my attention to, including affairs somewhat nearer home.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government have made no new proposals beyond those offered by the Minister without Portfolio recently to the illegal régime? Does my right hon. Friend think that the recent manifestations of new political alignments in Rhodesia underline and emphasise the effectiveness, and increasing effectiveness, of the sanctions policy?

The Prime Minister

The terms offered to Rhodesia were as set out in the "Fearless" document with the further proposals announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio when he returned from Salisbury. There has been no contact since his return and no changes have been made. Nor do we intend to make any changes in these proposals. As I have said, the matter is now for the Rhodesians. I have noted the constitutional and political developments in Rhodesia. These must be regarded as an internal matter.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does the Prime Minister recall that, on Tuesday, he sent me a Written Answer, as the Question was not reached orally, and referred to these proposals "lying on the table"? Is it his intention to allow them to lie on the table indefinitely, or at what point of time does he propose to withdraw the proposals and substitute more imaginative and forthcoming proposals?

The Prime Minister

Of course I recall that Answer which has just been immortalised by my reference to it in my original Answer. We have left this proposal lying on the table. It is an offer to Rhodesia and it is for Rhodesia to accept or reject it. So far it has indicated an intention to reject it, but there is certainly no obligation on Great Britain to go beyond these proposals, which have been available to Mr. Smith since long before U.D.I.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Has the Prime Minister been able to learn the views not only of the African chiefs who are in detention, but of ex-Prime Ministers like Mr. Edgar Whitehead, Mr. Garfield Todd and Sir Roy Welensky who have some understanding of how a multiracial society should be run and who could take over from Mr. Smith when sanctions have proved the final failure of his policy and of his egregious régime?

The Prime Minister

By a slip, my right hon. Friend referred to chiefs in detention, but, of course, it is African national leaders who are in detention. The chiefs are certainly not in detention. As for the views of the distinguished leaders of European opinion, including the former Prime Ministers mentioned, my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio made it his business when he was in Salisbury to talk to any leader of any section of opinion who had views to express, and he got the views of at least two previous Prime Ministers. Mr. Garfield Todd was in Britain at the time and made his views known publicly.

Sir Knox Cunningham

On a point of order. Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of those replies, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.