HC Deb 25 June 1935 vol 303 cc943-5
53. Sir J. POWER

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any further statement to make on the recent riots of the copper-mine workers in Rhodesia?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

My predecessor announced to the House on 3rd June the personnel of a Commission which the Governor of Northern Rhodesia had appointed to inquire into the recent disturbances in the mining district of the Territory. Both the Governor and I myself are of the opinion that that Commission would have presented a satisfactory and impartial report, but local opinion, including that of the mining and the missionary communities, has expressed itself strongly in favour of reconstituting the Commission on a broader basis.

It is clear that the usefulness of the Commission depends to a large extent on close co-operation on the part of the local community, and it is most desirable that unsettlement amongst the native miners should not be kept alive by any widespread local criticism of the Commission. In view of these considerations, the Governor has recommended that a judicial officer from outside the Territory should be appointed Chairman of the Commission, and I have accepted his recommendation.

I am glad to say that I have been able to secure the services as Chairman of Sir Alison Russell, K.C., who has held the posts of King's Advocate, Cyprus, Chief Justice, Tanganyika, and Legal Adviser to the Governor of Malta.

The other members of the Commission will be Mr. Cartmel Robinson, who is the Provincial Commissioner of the Northern Province, Mr. Goodhart and Mr. Malcolm Moffat, a missionary whom the Governor has decided to appoint as a second unofficial member.

I am glad to say that conditions in the mining district are now normal again.


Has any representation been given to the workers—any direct representation—on this Commission?


The Commission has not been composed on the basis of representation of particular interests. These men have all been selected as men of impartial mind, who are fully capable of considering fairly every interest involved.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the criticisms levelled at the composition of this Commission are precisely that the workers concerned have no representation on it?


I believe this Commission will command the confidence of the local community, who have been offering some criticisms.


In view of the fact that the workers are directly concerned, would it not have been better to have commanded their confidence by appointing someone to represent them directly?


Why should not the workers be represented?