HC Deb 22 January 1947 vol 432 cc193-6
13. Mr. Pritt

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been, or are being, taken to implement the pledge that all sections of opinion will be consulted before any final decisions are taken in relation to the constitution of the Singapore Municipal Council, to citizenship of the Malayan Union, and to the constitution of the Malayan Union; what organisations have in fact been consulted; and whether he will undertake that no final decisions shall be reached on these matters until Parliament has the opportunity to consider them.

15. Mr. Rees - Williams

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a further statement on the progress of the negotiations in relation to the constitutional issue in British Malaya.

Mr. Creech Jones

The few outstanding points to which I referred in the statement which I circulated with the OFFICIAL REPORT on nth of December were quickly settled, and the proposals for the revision of the Constitution of the Malayan Union were published in Malaya on 24th December. The Governor then appointed a Committee, consisting mainly of influential representatives of the non-Malay communities, which has invited, on the widest possible basis, the views of communities, interests and individuals throughout the Peninsula. The report of this Committee will be submitted to the Governor, for consideration in the Advisory Council. His Majesty's Government will then again consider the matter, and at that stage, as I promised on nth of December, the House will be given the opportunity of commenting on the proposals as a whole. Meanwhile, copies of the proposals as published in Malaya have been placed in the Library of the House and I am circulating with the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement setting out their main features.

As regards the Singapore Municipality, proposals have been formulated by a Committee appointed by the Governor after all interested bodies and individuals had had full opportunity to express their views. The Committee's proposals have been published in Singapore, but I have not yet received the Governor's recommendations upon them.

Mr. Pickthorn

Can the right hon. Gentleman more clearly particularise the opportunity which will be given to this House to express its views? Does he mean that there will be a full day's Debate, or what will happen?

Mr. Creech Jones

I am not in a position to say that, but it will be my desire that the House should have the fullest opportunity of discussing these proposals.

Following is the statement:

I. Constitution

  1. (a)The necessity for a strong Central Government is recognised, with authority in all matters of importance to the welfare and progress of the country as a whole, while the individuality of the component States and Settlements (which would retain certain functions, both in the field of administration and local legislation) is preserved. It is accordingly proposed that the present structure should be changed so that the nine Malay States and the British Settlements of Penang and Malacca may be grouped together under a representative central government and with certain powers retained in the States and Settlements, the association being called "The Federation of Malaya."
  2. (b) The title of "Governor" should be replaced by that of "High Commissioner." The High Commissioner should have an Executive Council with administrative functions throughout Malaya in Federal matters.
  3. (c) The central Legislative Council under the High Commissioner would have powers to legislate on all the most important subjects and would be composed of 14 officials, 11 unofficial representatives of the State and Settlement Councils (see (d)below) and 23 other unofficial who would in the early stages (i.e. until it becomes possible to establish a system of elections) to be nominated by the High Commissioner.
  4. (d) There should be Legislatures in each State (with the name of "Council of State") and in the Settlements of Malacca and Penang, which would legislate on all matters not reserved to the central authority.
  5. (e)In each State there should also be a State Executive Council presided over by His Highness the Ruler, with executive authority in a number of fields of local administration.
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  7. (f) There should be a conference of Rulers which would enable Their Highnesses the Rulers to be kept in touch with important problems affecting the Federation, to consult with each other, and to meet the High Commissioner at least three times a year.