HC Deb 10 May 1938 vol 335 cc1387-8
5. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether any instructions have been issued to the representatives of the South African Protectorates on the recently created Joint Conference with the Union Government in South Africa to consider the well-being of these Territories; if so, what is their nature, and whether any consultations have been arranged with the natives concerned; and whether any methods have been worked out for ascertaining their wishes?

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

No special instructions of the nature referred to have been issued. It will naturally be the object of the Resident Commissioners, who represent the Territories on the Joint Advisory Conference, to promote the well-being of the Territories for the administration of which they are responsible. The Resident Commissioners will keep in close touch with the native chiefs in the Territories, with a view both to keeping them informed of progress in the Joint Advisory Conference's work and to discussing with them proposals which may come before the Conference.

Mr. Creech Jones

If the ultimate purpose of this policy is that the Protectorates should form some part of the Union of South Africa, is it not desirable that definite instructions should be given by the Government to the Commissioners who are serving on this Conference, and should not some more direct contact be kept with the natives concerned?

Mr. MacDonald

The Conference has nothing whatever to do with the question of transfer. The Conference is simply concerned with co-operation between the Administrations and the Union Government on schemes which may be for the economic well-being of the Territories, without prejudice to the question of transfer or the attitude of the natives towards it.

Mr. Riley

Will the Conference inquire as to what is the attitude of the natives towards the question of transfer, and the conditions in which transfer might be accepted by them?

Mr. MacDonald

The Conference has nothing to do with the question of transfer, or the attitude of the natives towards transfer. That question is being dealt with quite separately, in another way altogether.

Mr. Paling

Is not this Conference intended to pave the way towards transfer?

Mr. MacDonald

The Conference is purely concerned, as has been announced, with considering schemes which may help the economic development of the Territories.

Mr. Hannah

Is not this one of the rare cases where hurry is not desirable?