HC Deb 12 November 1968 vol 773 cc200-4
Q2. Dr. David Kerr

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he had on H.M.S. "Fearless" concerning the expenditure of an extra £10 million per annum on African education; and to what extent he reached agreement with the Rhodesian régime on the administration of the scheme.

Q6. Mr. Whitaker

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the visit of the Minister without Portfolio to Rhodesia.

Q8. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the progress of his discussions with Mr. Ian Smith.

Q11. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that in any proposed agreement with the illegal Smith régime a pre-requisite will be that all African Nationalist leaders and others who have been detained without trial in Rhodesia must be freed before any agreement is signed by Her Majesty's Government.

Q12. Mr. Winnick

asked the Prime Minister if he will now make a statement on the visit to Rhodesia by the Minister without Portfolio.

The Prime Minister

As the House knows, my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio has had discussions with the régime in Rhodesia covering the full range of the "Fearless" proposals and will resume them later this week. There remains a deep difference on some fundamental issues and important points of detail. I do not feel that it would be right to go into further detail of the discussions at present.

Dr. Kerr

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the generous grant to help African education was one of the main planks justifying the "Fearless" terms, but will he also confirm that all that this would do, even if implemented in the most generous way for the African population, would be to narrow the gap so that the per capita expenditure on African education would be one-quarter instead of only one-tenth of the expenditure on the education of white Rhodesians? Does not he agree that this merely slows up the rate at which the two populations are moving apart?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Questions must be reasonably brief.

The Prime Minister

I should want notice of the question about relative expenditures on European and African education. This was an important proposal that we made, directly related to the welfare of the Africans, and I have no reason to think that Mr. Smith and his colleagues would not be fully co-operative in what we have proposed in this connection.

Mr. Whitaker

Since any agreement with Rhodesia is quite valueless unless it is accepted by the majority of Rhodesians, why will not the Government refuse to negotiate with the Rhodesian minority leaders unless the majority leaders are present?

The Prime Minister

We have said many times that no agreement can be implemented in relation to Rhodesia unless, under the fifth principle, it is shown to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.

Mr. Johnson

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that Mr. Smith's action in pulling down the Union Jack this week has not only shocked local people but has disgusted many hon. Members? In view of this, does not he now feel that Mr. Smith is insincere in saying that he wishes to have a genuine settlement between his people and ours?

The Prime Minister

I think that this action—which has no more significance, in legal terms, than any other action taken by the illegal régime—has caused a great deal of feeling not only in this House and this country but in Rhodesia, even among many of Mr. Smith's supporters, but it should not be regarded as a test of sincerity. The progress of the negotiations should be regarded as the best test of that.

Mr. Lewis

Putting it no higher than that there are some who have doubts about Mr. Smith's sincerity in this matter, would it not show that he was really sincere if he adopted the suggestion contained in my Question and provided an opportunity for these people to be given their freedom?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend will be aware from what we stated, both in the "Fearless" document and in the debate thereafter, that one of the necessary conditions of an agreement relates to the release of detainees under approved procedures, which we discussed in H.M.S. "Fearless" and which are, of course, the subject of further discussions with my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Winnick

Can my right hon. Friend now state the reaction of the African Rhodesian leaders to the "Fearless" proposals? Does he not consider it peculiar that, while these somewhat delicate negotiations are proceeding, the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) should be planning to speak tomorrow night at the annual dinner of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society?

Mr. Faulds

Disgraceful. That is how little it matters to you people.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is about time that the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) learned to control himself.

The Prime Minister

With regard to the African leaders, none of whom, I believe, is a member of the Anglo-Rhodesian Society, my right hon. Friend had meetings last week with Mr. Nkomo and colleagues and Mr. Sithole and colleagues separately. He has also been able to sound out a wide range of African opinions in Rhodesia, though I do not think that it is appropriate at this stage to indicate the first results of his findings.

As to where the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) spends his evenings, that is, of course, entirely a matter for the right hon. Gentleman. If he speaks to the Anglo-Rhodesian Society in the terms in which he last addressed the House of Commons, it might do a great deal of good for people who need some guidance.

Sir G. Nabarro

Speaking of dinners, and the Prime Minister's speech last evening at the Mansion House—

Mr. Speaker

Order. These Questions are about Rhodesia.

Sir G. Nabarro

Yes, I am coming to it, Mr. Speaker—to which I listened with avidity, can he tell the House what instructions he has given to his envoy in Rhodesia about safeguarding British investment in Rhodesia and the resumption of full British trade with Rhodesia?

The Prime Minister

That does not seem to have much to do with dinners, or with my speech last night, which was at the Guildhall and not at Mansion House. If the hon. Gentleman not only listened but applied his mind to these problems, he would realise that it has been made clear, in the statement following the discussions on H.M.S. "Fearless" and in the debate that followed, that the question of trade with Rhodesia and of sanctions must follow on an agreement which is not only negotiated between ourselves and those in Rhodesia but which is also shown to be acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Not even the hon. Gentleman, I think, would wish to press for the winding up of sanctions before such an agreement.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

While many of us are very sad at the change of flag in Rhodesia—as sad as many Rhodesians are—was any concern expressed by hon. Members of the right hon. Gentleman's party when the Union Jack was hauled down anywhere else?

The Prime Minister

In every other case, as the hon. Gentleman will remember, the Union Jack has been hauled down at the end of a period of colonial rule, following agreements negotiated with the countries concerned on the basis of majority rule, either by the present Government or by our predecessors, and in all cases with full constitutional authority. The position in Rhodesia, as he will recognise, is entirely different.