HC Deb 26 April 1949 vol 464 cc14-5
24. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if he will discuss with the Dominions Prime Ministers during their visit to this country the question of discrimination against coloured people.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Prime Minister aware that racial discrimination has become so bad in South Africa—

Earl Winterton

On a point of Order. It has been constantly laid down by your predecessors, Mr. Speaker, that no question may be asked reflecting on the policy of the Government of one of His Majesty's Dominions. May I call attention to the fact that the hon. Member is so doing by a supplementary question?

Mr. Scollan

Is it not the case that any question covering British subjects abroad can be asked in this House?

Mr. Speaker

A self-governing Dominion is a Dominion responsible to itself, and not to this House. The noble Lord is correct. One could not criticise the Government of a self-governing Dominion.

Mr. Hughes

May I be allowed to continue my question?

Hon. Members


Mr. Sydney Silverman

I was wondering whether you would assist in the interpretation of that Ruling, Mr. Speaker? Does it mean that it would not be proper to put down a Question to the Prime Minister, or other appropriate Minister, about the protection of the rights of British subjects in British Dominions?

Mr. Speaker

That is a purely hypothetical question and I would like to see it put down in writing at the Table before Riving an answer to it.

Mr. John Lewis

While appreciating the Prime Minister's difficulty in answering the Question on the Order Paper, might I ask if he will take the opportunity, if it arises, of making it known that the people of this country regard racial prejudice of any kind as abhorrent?

Mr. Gallacher

There is a young clergyman in this country who has been imprisoned in South Africa because of association with coloured people; is it in Order to ask the Prime Minister to raise that matter at the Dominion Conference?

Mr. Speaker

There is no responsibility on the Prime Minister for that and Questions must be devoted to matters for which Ministers are responsible.

Mr. S. Silverman

I understand that the Question on the Order paper addressed to the Prime Minister is a question about what he would discuss with Dominion Prime Ministers while they are in London and when my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) got an answer which he did not like, he put a supplementary question which was directed to elucidating the reasons why the answer was not as my hon. Friend would have liked it.

Mr. Speaker

I did not think the supplementary question was directed in that way.