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Constitution

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made in the discussions on the new constitution for Northern Rhodesia.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) on 11th May.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any idea when he expects to be able to make a statement on the results of these discussions and will he confirm that, although the Federal Prime Minister will be advised of the progress made, there is now no question of Sir Roy Welensky having to be consulted about these discussions?

On the first point, I gave what can only be a very rough guess last week. I should think that we should be able to make an announcement on these matters in the early days of June, in other words, very shortly after the House reassembles. On the second point, the hon. Gentleman is wrong. The Federal Government and the Federal Prime Minister have every right to be consulted. Indeed, it is laid down that they will be consulted, but they do not themselves take part in the discussions.

Is it not a fact that now that we are on the threshold of reaching agreement between Great Britain and the people of Northern Rhodesia, represented through their various political parties, it would be most regrettable if an outside influence were brought to bear, possibly vetoing the successful outcome of these talks?

There never has been any question of that, and in his own words—I paraphrase them, though they are as near to what he said as makes no difference—Sir Roy Welensky said, "I recognise that I am not a party to these talks but that the Federal Government have a full right to be consulted." They always have been consulted, and, of course, they will be.

Does my right hon. Friend realise how welcome will be the end of his first supplementary answer? Does he not agree that there could be nothing more stupid than to continue this malicious vendetta against Sir Roy Welensky, who has every right to be consulted?