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Central African Federation

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 5 March 1952

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32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress he has made this year with the policy of closer association between Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland; what preparations he has made for the forthcoming conference on the subject; where and when it will be held; who will compose it; and what will be its agenda.

I have nothing to add to the information on these matters given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations and myself in yesterday's debate, except that the composition of the various delegations has not yet been decided.

As to the preparations for the forthcoming conference, is the Minister aware that the recent interviews in London, at which the Africans were not represented and at which an agenda was prepared behind their backs, have caused great suspicion on the part of Africans? What is he doing to reassure Africans on that point?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that closer association may have been dealt a disastrous blow last night by the decision of the Opposition to vote against it, a decision which will further encourage those people who are always trying to inflame the minds of a primitive people?

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will consider appointing a Parliamentary Commission to visit Central Africa and investigate African opinion upon the question of the Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

In view of the invitations to the two African representative bodies to come here shortly for consultation my answer is "No, Sir."

Would the Minister not agree, particularly in view of yesterday's debate, that such a mission would be at least helpful to him?

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will publish as a White Paper the criticisms and objections of the Governments of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland regarding the proposals for Central African Federation; and the conclusions reached in the recent discussions with the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

No, Sir. The hon. Member will have seen the communiqué published on the conclusion of the recent informal talks with the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. I will circulate a copy of it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

As I told the House yesterday some, but not all, of the criticisms of certain aspects of the proposals contained in the Officials' Report have now come in from the Central African Governments. They will be discussed with the African representatives and subsequently at the April Conference.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the phrase "criticisms and objections" is quoted from the official Government communiqué. Were these criticisms and objections actually discussed at the recent conference and are they to be published so that we and the African population may be aware of them before the April conference?

While I do not concede the criticisms, I am perfectly prepared to consider putting them in a White Paper.

Following is the communiqué:

Since the publication on the 21st November, 1951, of His Majesty's Government's statement on the subject of closer association of the three Central African territories of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland His Majesty's Government has received from or through the Governments of the three countries a number of criticisms of the federation proposals formulated by the London conference of officials in March, 1951.
The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Secretary of State for the Colonies have discussed with the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and with the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland the criticisms that have been expressed in the three countries. As the result of the discussions they are asking the Governments of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to inform His Majesty's Government and each other before the 1st March of any modifications to the officials' proposals that each of the Governments may consider desirable.
His Majesty's Government are suggesting to those Governments that a full conference should be held in London towards the end of April to consider any modifications suggested by any of the four Governments and to formulate a final draft scheme of federation. The intention is that this draft scheme should then be published as a White Paper and should be considered in the countries concerned. As soon as possible thereafter His Majesty's Government and the Governments of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland would decide whether or not to accept the scheme.