HC Deb 21 May 1968 vol 765 cc278-9
16. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether a date has yet been fixed for the next Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

Mr. George Thomson

I have as yet nothing to add to the Answer which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave on 2nd May to a Question by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). —[Vol. 763, c. 1285.]

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Have we not waited a long time for a reply? If the Government intend to hold a constructive Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference had they not better first negotiate a settlement with Rhodesia, bearing in mind that the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was largely vitiated by the disproportionate amount of time allotted to discussion of Rhodesia, which is a United Kingdom matter and not a matter for the Commonwealth as a whole?

Mr. Thomson

I think we have waited a long time for this to come to the point of an announcement. The hon. Member is perhaps under a misapprehension in believing that this is a responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. The calling of a conference is a matter for the Commonwealth Secretariat. It is still taking soundings about this, although it is being done now with a great sense of urgency and I hope that an announcement will be made soon. I echo the hon. Member's hope that when the conference takes place, while Rhodesia will certainly have to be discussed, it will take its proper place among many other matters which will properly be debated.