HC Deb 19 October 1971 vol 823 cc544-6
Q8. Mr. Wall

asked the Prime Minister how many recent communications he has received from Mr. Ian Smith; and if he will make a statement.

Q12. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Prime Minister if he will now make arrangements to meet Mr. Ian Smith in the light of the recent discussions conducted by Lord Goodman.

The Prime Minister

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary told the House yesterday, as a result of Lord Goodman's latest visit to Rhodesia further useful progress has been made, and exporatory discussions are continuing. I have received no communication from Mr. Smith, and we have no plans for a meeting.

Mr. Wall

Appreciating that my right hon. Friend would not wish to follow the unfortunate precedents set by his predecessors as far as Prime Ministerial meetings are concerned, may I ask him to say whether he expects intergovernmental talks at Ministerial level to take place in the near future to settle this outstanding and unfortunate dispute?

The Prime Minister

I am afraid that I cannot give my hon. Friend any indication about that. We must wait and see how these official discussions proceed.

Sir G. Nabarro

Bearing in mind that many millions of people are deeply interested in what interpretation may be attached to his use of the word "progress", could not the House of Commons be made privy to what has occurred in the Goodman talks and be told whether the Foreign Secretary is going to Rhodesia at an early date, which has been widely speculated?

The Prime Minister

I think we are most likely to achieve the objectives we have if these discussions are carried on privately to see whether we can make progress. The Foreign Secretary has always told the House that if the position is reached when a full statement can be made, he will make one. As for his own visit, that must await a situation in which progress is made.

Mr. Michael Foot

Why should anyone in the country or anywhere else expect that the Prime Minister will stand by his declared principles on the question of Rhodesia when he has shown himself such an easy push-over on the question of the Common Market? Does he now stand by the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about 48 hours ago that the vote on 28th October would be an issue of confidence, or does he stand by his statement in July that—[HON. MEMBERS: "The Question is about Rhodesia."] Does the Prime Minister stand by the statement he made in July that those with whom he was negotiating on the question of the Common Market believed that he would use his majority to try to carry the matter through? Why has he run away so easily?

The Prime Minister

On Questions concerning Europe, I think that the hon. Gentleman had better consult his leader. On questions of Parliamentary procedure on which he has need of knowledge, he had better consult his own Chief Whip. I have answered the question about Rhodesia.

Mr. Harold Wilson

On the question of Rhodesia, does the right hon. Gentleman still stand by the five principles, which he supported from this Opposition Front Bench when they were enunciated. although he did not follow the principles through with the means to the principles in the matter of sanctions? Will he make clear now that there will he no settlement—that he will put his hand to no settlement—which does not fully honour the five principles, including unimpeded progress to majority rule, and this to be in a reasonable period of time, not spread over a large period of years?

The Prime Minister

As regards the five principles, the answer is "Yes". Our position remains the same. As regards the period of time, the right hon. Gentleman must wait and see what it is possible to negotiate, if it is possible to reach a conclusion. As far as I recall, the right hon. Gentleman never gave any indication of time for the provisional settlements which he himself negotiated.