HC Deb 19 February 1941 vol 369 cc134-5
14. Mr. Parker

asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that there is wide feeling in Trinidad that the suggested new Constitution is not an approach towards democratic representation, such as was recommended by the West India Royal Commission, and that particular exception is taken to an increase in the number of elected representatives without broadening the franchise, which now only covers 6 per cent, of the population; and whether he will reconsider the proposals put forward on this subject?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. George Hall)

My information is that the announcement of the proposed changes in the Trinidad Constitution was widely welcomed, and that they received the practically unanimous support of the elected members of the Legislative Council, in consultation with whom they were framed. The proposals to which effect is being given include the appointment of a franchise committee as recommended by the West India Royal Commission. The results of the work of such a committee could not be available in the immediate future, and there appears to be no good reason to await them before introducing the agreed changes in the composition of the Legislative Council.

Mr. Parker

Is it not a fact that the proposed new Constitution does not meet the wishes of those who are outside the ranks of the existing electors, and in view of the fact that should it be accepted the new Constitution cannot be altered until 1948 ought not some action to be taken now to modify these proposals?

Mr. Hall

Action is being taken in so far as we are putting into operation certain of the recommendations of the Royal Commission and are appointing a franchise committee. I think the main point which my hon. Friend has in mind is the extension of the franchise, but that cannot be done until we get the report of the franchise committee, which has been set up.

Mr. Parker

In view of the importance of this matter, I beg to give notice that I shall raise it on the Adjournment