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Rhodesia

Volume 720: debated on Thursday 18 November 1965

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Q7.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will lay a White Paper setting forth his correspondence with Mr. Ian Smith and other documents relative to their efforts to achieve a settlement in Rhodesia.

I would refer the hon. Member to the White Paper (Command 2807) which was laid before the House on 12th November.

May I ask the Prime Minister why the last message in the Blue Book, for which we are grateful, was not given to the Prime Minister of Rhodesia in writing for the avoidance of dubiety, and whether the Prime Minister of Rhodesia knew that his telephone conversations were being monitored?

I think I have done something rather unusual in publishing every exchange by the right hon. Gentleman, with his agreement, and myself. It would be obvious that in 150 pages someone would find something to complain about. There were very good reasons for not putting that in writing on the last night, and it was clear that, if we had, they had already taken their decision and it would not have made very much difference. As to the telephone conversations being monitored, on anything as important as that it was obviously important that a full record should be kept, just as a full record had been kept at every stage by both sides of our joint meetings so that, to use the hon. Gentleman's phrase, there could be no dubiety about what each of us said afterwards.

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister if he will issue an invitation to representative senior back-bench Members of Parliament, preferably Privy Councillors, to form a mission to Rhodesia as an aid in assessing developments on the spot.

Does the Prime Minister agree that such action would be useful, especially at a time when it is likely to become increasingly difficult to assess development, and will he keep the idea open for possible use at a later stage if he decides it may be useful?

Yes, Sir. It is very much being kept open. I do not think that at this moment it would be right to take such action. I should remind the House that as long ago as last December I proposed to the then Rhodesian Government that there should be a mission of senior Members of all parties in the House for the purpose of trying to make progress with the outstanding difficulties, but he refused to have it at that time. But there may be a case for quite other reasons today and, at the right moment, I shall not be backward in putting the idea forward.

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made towards sending uncensored news to the people of Rhodesia; and if he will make a statement.

The number of British Broadcasting Corporation shortwave broadcasts has been increased and urgent steps are in hand to enable a strong medium-wave signal, carrying the B.B.C. programmes, to be made available to listeners in Rhodesia.