HC Deb 13 July 1937 vol 326 cc1050-3
44. Mr. Arthur Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware of the recent announcement of General Hertzog in reference to the British-African protectorates; and whether he will make a statement?

55 and 56. Mr. Riley

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (1) whether he is aware of the announcement by the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa on 6th July in which General Hertzog stated that, unless the British Government took steps to transfer the native Protectorates of Bechuanaland, Swaziland, and Basutoland to the Union Government, he would appeal to the King in Council; and whether he has any statement to make on the matter referred to;

(2) whether he is aware of the statement by General Hertzog at Capetown, on 6th July, that the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. J. H. Thomas, in 1935 gave General Hertzog a written assurance, which was later made public, that the transfer of the Protectorates, or at least one or two of the territories concerned, would probably take place in a few years; whether any such assurance was given; and, if so, was it given with the authority of the Government?

57. Mr. Lunn

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he was consulted by General Hertzog as to the statement which he proposed to make on his return to South Africa on the subject of the Protectorates?

58. Mr. Paling

asked the Secretary of State for Dominions Affairs whether he accepts the view expressed in the recent speech of General Hertzog that it is the duty of Great Britain to see to it that everything be done to advance the transfer of the Protectorates?

60 and 61. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (1) whether the pledge to the Native populations of the South African Protectorates that they will be consulted before transfer to the Union of South Africa implies that should they express themselves as hostile to transfer it will not take place; and whether his recent conversations with General Hertzog in London on this question were embodied in a memorandum and agreed by General Hertzog;

(2) whether he has studied recent pronouncements by members of the Government of the Union of South Africa on the subject of treatment of natives in South Africa, and also recent legislation by the same Government on this subject; and, where such legislation and pronouncements do not accord with the British Government's principle of trusteeship for native races, will such discrepancies be taken into account when considering the question of transfer of the South African Protectorates?

62. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has any further statement to make respecting the recent statements of General Hertzog and the relationship of the Union of South Africa to Great Britain?

Mr. M. MacDonald

I was not consulted by General Hertzog as to the statements regarding the High Commission Territories which he made on his return to South Africa, nor were my conversations with him when he was in London embodied in an agreed memorandum. The arrangement was, as I explained in reply to questions last Friday, that I should communicate with him on his return concerning the general position and as to possible further practical steps for carrying out the policy agreed upon in 1935.

With regard to the reference to the Native legislation recently passed in the Union of South Africa, it would not, of course, be proper for me to discuss Native policy in the Union. So far as the High Commission Territories are concerned, I would remind the House that the conditions on which it was contemplated that transfer could be effected are laid down in the Schedule to the South Africa Act, 1909. I have no reason to think that the Union Government would not be ready to maintain the general scheme of the Schedule.

The other points raised in the questions are covered by the replies which I gave in the House last Friday, and I have no further general statement to make.

Mr. A. Henderson

In view of the urgency of this matter. may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has communicated with the Union Government of South Africa with regard to the complaint of General Hertzog at the beginning of last week, and, if so, has any reply been received?

Mr. MacDonald

I made a statement in regard to General Hertzog's interview with the Press on Friday, and that statement was communicated as soon as possible to the people in South Africa. With regard to future policy, the communication which I promised to send to General Hertzog is being prepared at the present moment and will he sent as soon as possible.

Mr. Lunn

In view of the fact that the Dominion Premiers were here for a very long time during this year, would it not have been better that this matter should have been discussed with General Hertzog when he w as in this country rather than leave him to make such a statement when he got back to South Africa?

Mr. MacDonald

I made it clear in my statement that I had a long conversation with General Hertzog when he was in this country.

Mr. Maxton

Why did you not make the position clear?

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the discrepancy between his own statement that consultation with the natives is required before transfer, and the statement of the Government spokesman in another place that the acquiescence of the natives is necessary before transfer can take place? Will he state which of these two Government statements is authoritative, namely, that consultation only is necessary, which does not involve the consent of the natives, or that acquiescence is necessary, which does involve the consent of the natives?

Mr. MacDonald

If the hon. and gallant Member will study the records of the discussion in the House of Lords I think he will find that there is no discrepancy between what was said in that place and what was said here. His Majesty's Government stand by the pledges regarding consultation with the natives and the Europeans in the Territories, which have often been repeated in this House.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Is it not the case that the Government spokesman in another place directly said that acquiescence was necessary?

Mr. Speaker

We cannot go into that. The Minister in this House has given the answer to the question.