HC Deb 08 July 1946 vol 425 cc33-5
68. Mr. Skinnard

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether in view of the importance to Bechuanaland of the Union of South Africa's demand for the incorporation of South-West Africa, permission will be given for Chief Tshekedi to visit Great Britain and express his views.

69. Younger

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs upon what grounds permission was refused to Chief Tshekedi, of Bechuanaland, to come to Britain to put forward his views on the future of South-West Africa.

The Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Bottomley)

A memorandum has been received from the chiefs of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, including Chief Tshekedi, expressing their views on this subject, and the High Commissioner has also had a personal discussion with Tshekedi. A reply to this memorandum is being prepared in consultation with the High Commissioner. My right hon. Friend does not consider that the interests of the Bechuanaland Protectorate are in fact involved in the question of the future status of South-West Africa, and he has, therefore, felt unable to authorise the grant of special facilities to Tshekedi to visit this country for a discussion with him of this issue.

Mr. Skinnard

Since Britain is the recognised protector of the High Commission territories in South Africa, should not the principal spokesmen of the Bechuana people be afforded every facility to consult the Secretary of State for the Dominions at the highest level here in England, first hand, when they feel that their future is menaced by possible developments?

Mr. Bottomley

I think it would be unwise to assume that their future is threatened. It is much better that we should allow the High Commissioner, with the Secretary of State, to consider the memorandum and in due course provide a reply.

Mr. Younger

Does not my hon. Friend think it obvious that the population of any territory adjacent to a country which may be put under trusteeship must be directly concerned? As the Charter allows consultation with States directly concerned, does not he think it reasonable that the protecting Power should allow the people to express their views to the United Nations through the protecting Power?

Mr. Byers

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that the Secretary of State for the Dominions stated that this passage is to be refused because of the unfortunate repercussions which would arise if a Bechuana chief were to undertake a campaign of opposition to the proposals being made by the Government of the Union of South Africa through U.N.O., and is this really the way to protect the rights of a minority?

Mr. Bottomley

I would say this, that this proposal is the very way in which the interests of the natives might be damaged. I believe that my right hon. Friend is as much concerned with looking after the interests of the natives as any hon. Member present in the House.

Mr. Skinnard

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will endeavour to raise the matter at the earliest opportunity on the Adjournment.