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Federation Of Rhodesia And Nyasaland

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 8 March 1962

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will now publish the assurances he gave in writing to Sir Roy Welensky regarding the British Government's support for the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

I do not know to what assurances the hon. Gentleman refers. No communication has been sent to Sir Roy Welensky which in any way conflicts with Her Majesty's Government's public statements of their aims in Central Africa.

I do not hold any brief for Sir Roy Welensky, but may I ask whether the Prime Minister is aware that there is a widespread feeling from the facts which are available that the British Government have betrayed him? At what point in time did the Government warn him of the prospect of his having to face the possibility of a black African majority in the Central African Federation?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is obligatory on us to consult the Federal Government about the constitutions of the local Governments. This was carried out perfectly properly, both by the High Commissioner—we have a very able and experienced High Commissioner there—and by prolonged discussions between the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Sir Roy Welensky only a few weeks ago.

Have not charges of bad faith and the dishonouring of assurances been levelled against Her Majesty's Government from Central Africa, and are not these damaging to Britain's reputation? Therefore, will the Prime Minister consider consulting Sir Roy Welensky about the possibility of the publication of White Papers in London and Salisbury to clear the air and to get us on to a better basis of understanding with this important Commonwealth country?

I should, of course, be ready to do that, but I do not think it would be right, and I do not think Sir Roy Welensky would wish, to destroy the long-established basis of confidential messages between Ministers.

While recognising the obligation of Her Majesty's Government to consult the Federal Government on constitutional changes, could the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that the ultimate right to decide what constitutional changes should be made rests unequivocally and exclusively with this House?

I thought that that was made clear by the Secretary of State for the Colonies a few days ago.