Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting

Oral Answers to Questions — Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th October 1966.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice 12:00 am, 18th October 1966

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Smethwick

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' replies to his proposals for resolving the Rhodesian rebellion.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I would refer hon. Members to the communiqué of the Meeting which is contained in a White Paper laid before the House on 12th October, a copy of which is in the Library.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

I congratulate the Prime Minister on his chairmanship. What action is proposed to prevent the emergence of racial cliques at any future conference? Would he say why there was reference to Portuguese territories, which are surely no concern of the Commonwealth?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman said. He will realise that this was one of the most difficult Commonwealth Conferences, in the circumstances, that there could possibly be. I do not accept his phrase "racial cliques", but concern was expressed by a number of the elder Prime Ministers there about what were described as "caucus meetings" in which provisional decisions were taken off the floor of the Conference. As to Portuguese territories, the hon. Gentleman will find that this was dealt with in the 1965 communiqué as well and, I think, in earlier communiqués—in 1964—although I may be wrong.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Smethwick

Does my right hon. Friend not realise that, in any settlement, unless a definite term is set to the period of minority government of the rebel regimé in Rhodesia, he might as well wrap up the Commonwealth and chuck it into limbo?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have no intention of taking any such action, but, with regard to any settlement in Rhodesia, as my colleagues at the Commonwealth Conference are well aware, we shall act within and only within the terms of the principles which have been laid down by this Government and, indeed, by our predecessors.