HC Deb 23 November 1937 vol 329 cc1023-5
41. Mr. David Grenfell

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is now in a position to make a statement regarding the question of closer relations between Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland?

Marquess of Hartington

I must apologise for the length of this answer. It will be recalled that in 1931 His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom had under consideration the question of the relationship between Southern and Northern Rhodesia. As announced in both Houses of Parliament on 2nd July of that year, by the Secretaries of State for Dominion Affairs and for the Colonies, the view of His Majesty's Government at that time was that for some time to come Northern Rhodesia should continue to work out its own destiny as a separate entity, observing the closest possible co-ordination with its neighbours, and especially with Southern Rhodesia. In the course of the last few months, His Majesty's Government have had the opportunity of discussing with the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, with the Governor and two unofficial members of the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia, and with the Governor of Nyasaland, the position as it has developed since the announcement of 1931 was made.

As the result of these discussions, His Majesty's Government have reached the conclusion that with due regard to their special responsibility for the interests of the native inhabitants consideration should be given in detail to the possibility of the further promotion of closer cooperation or association between Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Some of the subjects which suggest themselves immediately for examination are transport and communications, scientific and technical research and services, labour, especially the inter-territorial migration of labour, trade and economic policy, judicial arrangements, defence, and, so far as international obligations affecting the territories permit, customs duties.

In accordance with the wishes of the Government of Southern Rhodesia, and after consultation with the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom propose to advise His Majesty to appoint a Royal Commission to visit the territories concerned. The terms of reference of the Commission will be as follow: To inquire and report whether any, and if so what, form of closer co-operation or association between Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland is desirable and feasible, with due regard to the interests of all the inhabitants, irrespective of race, of the Territories concerned and to the special responsibility of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom for the interests of the native inhabitants. It is not yet possible to announce the names of the Commissioners, but it is expected that the Commission will leave this country in the early part of next year. I may add that, in accordance with the procedure adopted in 1931, my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the Secretary of State for the Colonies have been in consultation with the leaders of the Labour and Liberal parties and are glad to find that the procedure which His Majesty's Government have in contemplation commends itself to them.

Mr. Davidson

Can the Noble Lord say when we may expect a full report on this question?