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Northern Rhodesia

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 11 May 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is yet in a position to announce the revised proposals for the Northern Rhodesian constitution.

Not yet, Sir. The discussions to which I referred in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) on 4th May are still continuing.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his constitutional proposals are now universally unpopular in Northern Rhodesia and regarded as being a departure from the non-racial principles of the 1958 constitution, being in conflict with the Treadgold Report on the franchise? Does he realise that delay over the announcement of their revision is undermining confidence in the Federation and playing into the hands of extremists on both sides?

I certainly do not agree with the first part of my right hon. Friend's statement, which is in entire contraction to the reports which I have had from the Governor and from other people. There has certainly been no delay in the announcement of these proposals. Regarding the reference to Southern Rhodesia, although the date of the referendum has not been announced, I can assure my right hon. Friend that the Northern Rhodesian discussions will be announced shortly.

Can the Secretary of State say what stage has been reached? Has every party accepted the Governor's proposals and has he put counter-proposals to them?

It is not quite in that sense. The Governor issued a memorandum explaining how the White Paper proposals would work out and possible ways in which they could be implemented. He has had meetings with the four political parties and chiefs and independents, and various meetings with people of different communities and so on, some of whom have put counterproposals. That is the situation.

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that it is one thing to ensure the assent of the various parties in Northern Rhodesia to his proposals but quite another thing, in the interests of a continued Federation, to secure the assent of appropriate and smaller groups in Southern Rhodesia? Will he frame his proposals for Northern Rhodesia in such a manner as to keep the Federation in being?

The view of Her Majesty's Government has always been—as I am sure my noble Friend knows very well—that federation is the best and the right form of association for these parties. But, frankly, I do not think it possible to put it in the way in which my noble Friend puts it. This is a Northern Rhodesian constitution discussion and must be directed in the first instance to that territory.

Can my right hon. Friend say when he will be able to make some announcement as a result of the discussions now going on?

It is very difficult to give a precise time, but I should think something like three weeks.

Moscow Radio Broadcasts


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the subversive and untrue statements which have been broadcast recently by Moscow radio about conditions in Northern Rhodesia in connection with the constitutional talks; and what steps are being taken to counteract this propaganda.

Yes, Sir. The best positive answer to these grossly distorted statements is the effective dissemination of the true facts about conditions in Northern Rhodesia, and the constitutional talks and Her Majesty's Government's part in them. This has been and is being done by the B.B.C., the United Kingdom Information Services and local information services in United Kingdom territories.

While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply and apologising for not being present to ask Question No. 30, may I ask if my hon. Friend will say what steps have been taken to increase the information services in Rhodesia to dispel some of this propaganda?

In the current Budget, expenditure on information services will rise from£97,000 to£157,000.

Will the hon. Gentleman agree that the most effective way to meet this kind of distorted propaganda is to ensure the speediest possible constitutional progress towards self-government in Northern Rhodesia?

Political Meetings


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what conditions political meetings of Africans are now permitted in Northern Rhodesia.

Permits are required for meetings in public places and may be withheld only if there is reason to apprehend a breach of the peace. Such conditions may be attached as are considered necessary to maintain public order.

Can the Colonial Secretary now say whether he has investigated the allegations and charges made by Mr. Kaunda, leader of the United National Independence Party, about intimidation and interference with his supporters in the Northern Province? Can he give information to the House on that matter?

I am in communication with the Governor of Northern Rhodesia on some of the matters raised with me by Mr. Kaunda when he was in this country. The position is that permits can be withheld only if there is reason to apprehend a breach of the peace.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no one, certainly not myself, is alleging that the Administration in Lusaka is withholding permits unnecessarily, but what some of us are worried about is the local administration in the Northern Province? On that particular point I should like him specially to take up the matter with the Governor.

I was aware that that was the particular point to which earlier inquiries had been directed.