HC Deb 16 June 1964 vol 696 cc1086-8
1. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies what reply he has now sent to the formal request from the Government of India that Her Majesty's Government should intervene to secure the release of Mr. Joshua Nkomo in Southern Rhodesia.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

Since the British Government are not responsible for the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia, we have suggested to the Government of India that they might consider approaching the Southern Rhodesia Government direct through the Indian Commissioner in Salisbury.

Mr. Stonehouse

Does not the Secretary of State agree that this country still has ultimate responsibility for the position in this Territory and that the influence that we can wield is greater, therefore, than that which can be exercised by India? Cannot he say what he is going to do to secure the release of Mr. Nkomo? Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there can be no real peace in this Territory until Mr. Nkomo and other political leaders now in gaol are allowed to return to political life?

Mr. Sandys

That raises a much wider question. The Question on the Order Paper, to which I have given a reply, related to a communication from the Indian Government.

Mr. Fell

As we are not responsible for the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia, may we have an explicit promise that none of the affairs of Southern Rhodesia will be discussed by the Prime Ministers at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference unless in front of the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia?

Mr. Sandys

I think that that supplementary question is as far removed from the Question on the Order Paper as the last supplementary question.

Mr. Bottomley

Bearing in mind that it is reported that 1,000 settlers are leaving Southern Rhodesia a week—there are now 200,000—and that there are 4 million Africans for whom we have responsibility, could not the Government join with the Government of India in making representations?

Mr. Sandys

As I have explained, we have no responsibility for the internal affair of Southern Rhodesia. I think that the House understands the position quite well.

Mr. Goodhew

Will my right hon. Friend remind the Indian Government that the trouble here is that Mr. Nkomo has refused to take the opportunities open to him to fight constitutionally and that that is why he is under detention?

Miss Lee

If the Minister agrees that he is giving good advice to the Indian Government in asking them to make direct representations to Southern Rhodesia, would he act on that good advice, and can he assure us that he will make direct representations to the Government of Southern Rhodesia? Can he also assure us that the British Government will take up the same enlightened attitude as the Indian Government?

Mr. Sandys

I think the House knows well that we are very anxious to see a peaceful and honourable settlement of the political problem in Southern Rhodesia, and we have made it quite clear that we are prepared to do anything we can to achieve that.

Mr. Longden

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since we have no responsibility for the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia, how is it that Questions such as this are allowed on the Order Paper?

Mr. Speaker

The Question relates to a formal communication from the Government of India, and for that reason the Question became in order.

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