HL Deb 18 June 1963 vol 250 cc1195-6

3.41 p.m.


My Lords, it may be convenient to the House if I repeat a statement which is now being made by my right honourable friend the First Secretary of State in another place on the subject of Central Africa. I will use his own words. They are as follows:

"The House will be aware that since my statement on May 21 discussions have taken place in London with the Southern Rhodesia Government. There has also been a further exchange of letters. The position has not yet been reached which would enable Her Majesty's Government to arrive at a decision on the question of Southern Rhodesia's independence. Contact is being maintained with the Government of Southern Rhodesia.

I am, however, glad to be able to inform the House that the Federal Government and the Governments of Southern and Northern Rhodesia, have agreed to attend a Conference on the orderly dissolution of the Federation and the consequential problems involved. This will begin at Victoria Falls on June 28, and I will be leaving for Africa early next week.

For the convenience of the House I have arranged for the recent correspondence exchanged between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Southern Rhodesia to be published as a White Paper. Copies of this are now available in the Vote Office."

My Lords, that concludes my right honourable friend's statement. I should just add that copies of the White Paper are available, for your Lordships' convenience, in the Printed Paper Office.


My Lords, we are grateful to the Lord Chancellor for giving us this statement. We are glad to know that the Conference, composed as announced in the statement, is to be held. I do not think it is necessary to ask any particular questions to-day, but I should like to know whether the items that are likely to come before the Conference will include the future of the present Armed Forces controlled by the Central Federation.


My Lords, I can give a very short answer to that. The answer is, Yes.


My Lords, I should like to express my pleasure at the information which has been given to us to-day by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, that there is to be a Conference at which the three Governments will be represented, and that this Conference will be concerned with the future developments in Central Africa on the economic front. I am quite sure it is most important that Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of the three territories should come to some arrangement, and very quickly, about the continuing organisation of economic affairs in that area, because otherwise we shall find a complete breakdown in communications and, furthermore, a serious situation with reference to credit.


My Lords, the primary purpose of the Conference is to discuss in a practical way the problems involved in an orderly dissolution of the Federation; to reach the broad decisions which need to be taken at this stage; and to establish machinery through which detailed solutions to the various problems may be arrived at.


My Lords, arising out of the statement which my noble and learned friend has made, and which I am sure we were all most interested to hear, I take it that we can understand from what he has said that this particular Conference will be entirely concerned with the winding up of the Federation and that the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia will be neither raised nor discussed at its meetings.


My Lords, I think that is correct. I believe that this matter is dealt with in the correspondence which has passed and which is now included in the White Paper. I know that assurances were asked for about this aspect, and my right honourable friend, I know, has given some assurances on the matter. I have only just received a copy of the White Paper to refresh my memory, and I have not at the moment been able to look at the precise passage. But, in substance, I can give that assurance to the noble Marquess.