Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th July 1967.

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Photo of Mr Evelyn King Mr Evelyn King , South Dorset 12:00 am, 6th July 1967

asked the Prime Minister what representations were made to him by the Prime Minister of Australia on the matter of the Rhodsian problem in his recent conversations with him; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Evelyn King Mr Evelyn King , South Dorset

Would the Prime Minister accept that Australia, and almost every other country in the Commonwealth, has believed for a long time that the Rhodesian policy is now failing in its objective? Would he further accept that the mooted petrol rationing in Great Britain is making us look singularly ridiculous?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The hon. Gentleman is always ready to cash in on problems. He knows that the oil problem is due to the Middle East situation. I am not aware of any suggestion from the Opposition in the debate on the Middle East which would have created a situation any different. We were then urged to be tougher on the side of Israel, and I imagine that that would have made the situation the same, if not worse. The Australian Government is in full support of British policy over Rhodesia. It was fully discussed both by my right hon. Friend on his visit and when Mr. Holt came here, and the Australians are cooperating fully in the sanctions policy.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Did the Prime Minister discuss with Mr. Holt any possibility of the Australian Government playing a part in trying to solve the Rhodesian problem?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We have discussed this on a number of occasions. There is no specific rôle for the Australians except in acceptance—I think this is their view—of the decisions of the Commonwealth Conference and the decisions of the United Nations. Certainly Mr. Holt did not suggest any other rôle that they might play.

Photo of Mr Jeremy Thorpe Mr Jeremy Thorpe , North Devon

Can the Prime Minister say when the Secretary-General of the United Nations is likely to publish the reports which he has received from member nations on the effect of sanctions? When it is published, may we take it that the Commonwealth group will be meeting and concerting together at the United Nations?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Without notice I cannot answer that question. I do not know whether the Secretary-General has a timetable in mind. That matter was not raised in the representations made to me by the Prime Minister of Australia.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on Lord Alport's mission to Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

asked the Prime Minister whether, following the visit by Lord Alport to Rhodesia he will give an undertaking that the Government are still committed to No Independence Before Majority Rule.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

asked the Prime Minister what response he has had from Mr. Smith to Lord Alport's mission; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have at present nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 13th June to a Question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) and to my replies to subsequent Questions about Lord Alport's visit.—[Vol. 748, c. 305.]

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

Since Lord Alport apparently has been refused permission to visit the African Nationalist leaders, does this not show that the ruling clique of Salisbury is not willing to make any concessions? Would the Prime Minister not take too much notice of those people in Britain who sometimes act as if they were the fraternal delegates from the Rhodesian Front?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I do not know anything about that particular form of acting.

So far as Lord Alport's visit is concerned, it would be deplorable if his request to talk to leaders of the African Nationalists were refused by the ruling régime in that country. It was extremely deplorable when my right hon. Friend, who was there for some weeks last year seeking to talk to all sections of opinion, was firmly refused permission by Mr. Smith to visit Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Sithole. I thought it a deplorable decision. Hon. Members who sometimes regard us as a little slow to enter into talks should recognise that we entered into the talks on H.M.S. "Tiger" despite that very discourteous refusal to my right hon. Friend. I hope that Lord Alport will be treated differently.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that this is precisely the time at which the British public and the Rhodesian Government should be told firmly by the British Government that there are certain fundamental points of political morality at stake in the situation on which we are not prepared to compromise and that N.I.B.M.A.R. is one?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The fundamental points of political morality which are at stake, and which have been at stake throughout the lifetime of this Government and the lifetime of our predecessor's Government, are the six principles.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Has not the work of the Constitutional Commission in Salisbury and certain developments in Rhodesian Front politics made it urgently necessary to reopen talks if anything is to be saved of British trade and influence in Rhodesia? Will the Prime Minister seek urgently to talk again, to make peace, and to recognise the fact of Rhodesian independence on an honourable basis?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

There is no fact of Rhodesian independence. It is totally illegal. In December I offered Mr. Smith very honourable terms—some would feel too generous—to enable Rhodesia to have independence. It could have had it by now on honourable and legal terms. This was refused. The hon. Gentleman voted to support the rejection of this offer.

As for Lord Alport's visit, we were told by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that Mr. Smith was anxious for talks and had sent messages to that effect. I think it is deplorable that last week Mr. Smith should have denied that he had sent any messages. At least one right hon. Gentleman opposite knows the truth about that.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Would not the Prime Minister agree that if Lord Alport has any positive reactions he should report them immediately? Has my right hon. Friend received any information from Lord Alport or the Governor?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

No, Sir. I have nothing to add to what I said on Tuesday. It is still the position that we have had nothing from Lord Alport in the sense which enables him to form a judgment on the task that he went out to undertake. He is talking to a very wide section. and it is gratifying that people of all sections of opinion seem anxious to talk to him, though the question is how many of those he will be allowed to talk to.

Photo of Mr John Rodgers Mr John Rodgers , Sevenoaks

While adhering to the six principles, would the Prime Minister be prepared to drop the humiliating terms he proposed for the return to so-called legality?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have nothing to add to what was said in debate. These were not humiliating terms. It was an offer to a rebel Government to reconstitute that Government as a legal Government within 48 hours and to enable it to go through the whole of the procedures that have been discussed with it when it was a legal Government for being granted independence in four months if, and only if, the people of Rhodesia as a whole wanted that to happen. It was a very honourable offer. The suggestion to get rid of some of the extremist members of his Government, if that is the humiliating term, was a suggestion made to me by Mr. Smith.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

As the church leaders in Rhodesia estimate that 75 per cent. of the population owe allegiance to the Nationalist leaders, will the Prime Minister instruct Lord Alport that until he sees the leaders of 75 per cent. of the population he should no longer talk to the leaders of 13 per cent?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have, and I am sure that the House has, enough confidence in Lord Alport to know that in any report which he makes he will take account of how representative have been the people to whom he has been speaking. I think the house will also judge that if he is refused access to the leaders of African Nationalist opinion that in itself will be a reflection on the régime and on the amount of trust which the House would wish to hand over to people of that kind.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

Will the Prime Minister give us an assurance that he will make a statement to the House as soon as Lord Alport reports and that we shall have an opportunity of discussing this matter before the House rises for the Summer Recess?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

It would certainly be my intention to report to the House after Lord Alport has returned and after there has been a chance of discussing the situation with him, and on present timetables I would certainly hope that that would be before the House rises. A discussion of the situation in the light of such a statement is, of course, a matter for the Leader of the House.

Several Hon. Members: