The talks started on 9th June, and are still proceeding. With regard to representation at the conference, I have already explained the position fully to the House.
Will the Secretary of State reconsider the question of consulting the representatives of the political parties from Aden? Further, as those representatives are not being consulted in any way, can an assurance be given that no elections will be held in Aden by the Federation except with the consent of this Government?
The Federation does not hold elections in Aden. With regard to the position of the other parties, the P.S.P. has stated recently that the British Government are well aware of its views already. That is perfectly correct. I had a long meeting with members of the P.S.P. when I was in Aden. I think that I can say to the House that most of the views held by the different political parties in Aden are represented in one way or the other at the conference—I do not say fully, but to a large extent. In so far as their views are not being advocated there, we are fully aware of them, and will, of course, take them into account.
Is it not utterly unrealistic to go ahead with a conference of this sort without any really representative element from the Aden Colony? Whilst the views of the P.S.P. may be known to the right hon. Gentleman, is it not quite unreal to hold a conference without these people being represented? Will he give an assurance that at the conference he will try to promote democratic advance in the Protectorate States?
Prior to the conference were there consultations with the leaders of the several parties in Aden? Further, can the right hon. Gentleman indicate the likely termination of the conference?
I cannot say. It would be very rash to try to say when these conferences will be likely to come to an end. We are making progress. It is difficult enough, I can assure the House, to get the agreement of representatives of 14 separate States, many of whom have quite different views from one another. As to prior consultation with the political parties in Aden, I myself went to Aden the other day. I received delegations from all the political groups in Aden but, in order to ensure that they had an additional opportunity to express their views, I arranged for my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to go out to Aden before the conference and make himself available to receive the views of any political parties that wished to add anything to what they had already told me.
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that in the development of Southern Arabia it is most important that Her Majesty's Government should avoid the errors which were committed at the time of the setting up of the Central African Federation when a large and important body of opinion was ignored? It is true that there are many different points of view, but is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that all important political points of view are being considered and taken into account in this development?