HC Deb 01 December 1949 vol 470 cc1304-5
26. Mr. Platts-Mills

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he is aware that Mrs. Ruth Khama was the only white person in the district who was not invited to attend the official reception given by the Resident Commissioner at Serowe; if he proposes to countenance this discrimination against a subject of His Majesty; and what action he is proposing to take in this matter.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

With respect, I think the hon. Member must have received an incomplete account of the facts. No official reception has been held at Serowe since the arrival there of Mrs. Ruth Khama. A small private cocktail party was given by the District Commissioner at Serowe for the Chairman and members of the Judicial Inquiry. Many white persons in the district were not invited; and there was, therefore, no discrimination of the kind which the hon. Member suggests. As, however, the purpose of the party was to meet members of the Inquiry, it would in any case have been inappropriate to invite Mrs. Ruth Khama, whose" husband was the subject of the Inquiry. In view of what I have said the hon. Member will, I am sure, agree that no action is required.

Mr. Platts-Mills

While I am bound to accept the Tight hon. Gentleman's explanation, may I ask him if he is aware that the "Daily Herald" published an account which was a complete contradiction of what he has just said? Will he agree that, in spite of the assurance given by the Under-Secretary on 3rd November, this decent young Chief and his white wife have been exposed to most serious racial persecution, in particular by the fact—

Mr. Marlowe

On a point of Order, is not all this matter sub judice?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) must put a question, and not an argument.

Mr. Platts-Mills

Is the Minister aware that the neighbouring State declared these young people to be undesirable immigrants, and took some steps—

Mr. Speaker

This is an argument and not a question. The hon. Member is very bad at asking supplementary questions; I have had to stop him several times lately.

Mr. Platts-Mills

Is it not the fact that the Government are seeking on the whole of this issue, to appease the Government of South Africa?

Earl Winterton

On a point of Order. As this matter is the subject of a judicial inquiry—

Mr. Gallacher

Be quiet.

Earl Winterton

I am putting a point of Order, and I intend to put it. As this matter is the subject of a judicial inquiry is not the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills), by his preliminary to his supplementary question, attempting to interfere with the course of that judicial inquiry?

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Noel-Baker

As this matter is the subject of a judicial inquiry it is evidently improper for me to make any comments, beyond saying that I repudiate virtually every word that the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) has said.