asked the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied that the existing consultative machinery of the Commonwealth is sufficient for keeping under review, with full consideration of the interests and alliances of Commonwealth nations, developments which might lead to the voluntary association of foreign States or territories with an expanding Commonwealth, having regard to the suddenness of the proposals for a Ghana-Guinea union; and if he will make a statement.
I have been asked to reply.
The well-established arrangements for consultation between Member countries of the Commonwealth will, I trust, prove equal to any developments such as my hon. Friend has in mind. As regards the relations between Ghana and Guinea, I have nothing to add to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's statement of 27th November.
Does not the surprise which Dr. Nkrumah's proposals caused suggest that the consultative machinery of the Commonwealth needs improvement? Will Her Majesty's Government take every possible initiative to this end?
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on 27th November that he was surprised, and that represents the situation. However, he received a full report from Dr. Nkrumah and it does not reflect upon the general Commonwealth machinery. In this case, Dr. Nkrumah kept us informed, although the actual incident was a surprise to us.
Her Majesty's Government attach the greatest importance to discussing with the French Government in general and General de Gaulle in particular all questions of common interest. The evolution of the Commonwealth is, of course, a matter for all Commonwealth countries and not merely for the United Kingdom Government. The many problems of Africa are very present to the United Kingdom Government, and there is already a close liaison with the Governments of the countries concerned, including not only the European Powers but also the Governments of the independent countries of Africa.
In view of the question put a moment ago by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), may I ask whether the Government's policy is now to revise the famous anthem and substitute for certain well known lines, the lines
Narrower still and narrower Shall thy bounds be set"?