HC Deb 15 April 1969 vol 781 cc984-5
Q3. Mr. Henig

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his recent official visit to Nigeria.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to what I said in the House on 2nd and 3rd April.—[Vol. 781, c. 485–500, 651–4.]

Mr. Henig

First, as General Gowon and Colonel Ojukwu have both now said that they are prepared for negotiations without any preconditions, has my right hon. Friend any idea of how those negotiations might start, and why they have not so far started? Second, does my right hon. Friend have any further plans for stepping up the flow of economic and food aid which is going direct to the area presently within Biafra?

The Prime Minister

On the first question, my hon. Friend will remember that one of the clear assurances that I brought back to the House from my talks with General Gowon was his willingness for unconditional talks. The answer to the question about how these should best be pursued must lie in the O.A.U. Consultative Committee now gathering at Monrovia. I discussed these matters with the Emperor of Ethiopia, who plays such an important part here.

On the question of economic aid, again I reported to the House on this and not only on my own discussions with relief agencies, but on the work of Lord Hunt who accompanied me on this visit.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that well-intentioned visits are no substitute for a right policy? Can the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to the House whether this unconditional offer of negotiations by the Nigerians is subject to the acceptance by Biafra of a unitary state?

The Prime Minister

Well-intentioned visits in support of the right policy are very different from what the hon. Gentleman was seeking to criticise, and that is what it was.

With regard to the statement by General Gowon and his Government about this, it was an unconditional willingness to sit down in talks to settle this problem. He made it clear to me, as I reported to the House, that at the end of the day, before a settlement was reached, there would be insistence on a unified Nigeria, but he was unconditionally willing to sit down for the talks.