HC Deb 18 February 1965 vol 706 cc266-7W
84. Mr. Will Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement about his recent visit to British Guiana.

Mr. Greenwood

I arrived in British Guiana on the 12th and left on the 16th February. The purpose of my visit was to assess the situation there and to acquaint myself with the state of opinion. To this end I had discussions with the Governor, with the Premier, and with Mr. D'Aguiar and other Ministers of the coalition Government. I also had discussions with Dr. Jagan and his colleagues, and with as many representatives of other parties, interests and sections of opinion as time allowed.

I spent a day travelling through the rural areas east of Georgetown and visiting the Police at their Headquarters, the new Special Service Unit and units of the King's Own Border Regiment and the Lancashire Fusiliers. I should like to express my appreciation of their efficiency and their high morale.

My discussions covered a wide range of subjects including the political situation and the economic prospects of the country. I expressed the view that outside confidence would be strengthened if the House of Assembly operated as a consultative democratic body, with those members of the opposition who are now boycotting the House taking their seats and offering constructive criticism.

I also emphasised the importance H.M. Government attach to correcting any racial imbalance there may be in the police force and other relevant sectors of Guianese life. I sought to arrange a meeting between the Premier and Dr. Jagan on this restricted but nevertheless most important issue. Dr. Jagan declined the invitation on the grounds that H.M. Government's views were already well known and that further talk would serve no useful purpose. Mr. Burnham however made a number of suggestions and we are both considering our further action on this subject in the light of our discussions. Another matter which I discussed was the timing for a constitutional conference. Mr. Burnham and I will be exchanging further views on this.

I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude for the great courtesy and help I received from so many quarters during my brief stay in the country.

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