HL Deb 21 April 1964 vol 257 cc674-6

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for allowing me to interrupt his speech. I think he knows the reason why I have to go away. I should like to repeat to your Lordships two statements which are being made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place. For the convenience of the House I will use his own words. The first statement is as follows:

" Last week I undertook to inform the House when agreement had been reached on the dates for the forthcoming Prime Ministers' Meeting. I am glad to say that I have now received replies from all Commonwealth Heads of Government agreeing to a Meeting from the 8th of July to the 15th of July, except in the case of Zanzibar whose President has not yet replied to my initial invitation."


My Lords, we are very grateful to the Leader of the House for repeating that statement here. We are glad to have the information that the plans for the Conference are going ahead and that the dates have been settled. There is one question that I should like to put to the noble Lord the Leader of the House. I think that before the Central African Federation was set up Southern Rhodesia did attend these Conferences, but by invitation. Southern Rhodesia has no automatic right to be invited, and I am wondering whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government and the other Commonwealth Governments to invite Southern Rhodesia to the forthcoming Conference. I take it that if an invitation is issued, it will not be on the single decision of Her Majesty's Government but in consultation with the other Commonwealth countries. I should like to know whether the Leader of the House has anything to say on that particular point.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for what he said. I have seen, as he has, reports that the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia expects an invitation to this Conference, though, so far as I am aware, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has received no personal message from him on this matter. But I believe that the High Commissioner for Southern Rhodesia will be returning to London very shortly, and it may be that he has a message for my right honourable friend. That being so, I think that it would, perhaps, be better to wait until then before any comment is made.


My Lords, perhaps the Leader of the House would be good enough to let us know when such an approach is received from the Southern Rhodesian Government.


My Lords, we are quite prepared to wait until the Leader of the House is prepared to tell us what the situation is. But, as a matter of clarification, could the noble Lord explain this point? I think he said that the Prime Minister had received replies from all the Commonwealth Heads of Government. Does that in fact exclude the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia?


Yes, my Lords.


My Lords, could the noble Lord explain whether there is a possibility of States which are shortly to become independent—Malta for instance—receiving an invitation as a matter of courtesy?


I do not think so, my Lords. I think that this is a Meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers of fully independent sovereign States.