HC Deb 01 December 1949 vol 470 cc1305-6
28. Mr. Dumpleton

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether the policy of the Government in regard to the possible transfer of the High Commission territories to the Union of South Africa, is still that stated by the then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in the House of Lords on 9th June, 1937, namely, that such transfer could only be effected with the full acquiescence of the populations of the territories concerned.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

I would ask my hon. Friend to read again the statement made in another place on 9th June, 1937, by the noble Lord who was then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. As I have often said, the policy of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is still, and will remain, that which was set out in the aide-memoire handed to the Prime Minister of South Africa in 1935 (Command Paper 4948).

Mr. Dumpleton

Can my right hon. Friend say why it is not possible for him to go beyond that and, in accordance with the statement made on 9th June, give a pledge of consent as well as consultation?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I would ask my hon. Friend to read it again. Some would deny that the statement of 1937 went beyond the statement of 1935. It might be read in a sense that would not at all be desired by my hon. Friend. I think it much better to stand on the other policy, which is plain.

Mr. Rankin

Would my right hon. Friend say what commitments, if any, we have in regard to the defence of these territories, and also the Union of South Africa?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That is quite a different question. My hon. Friend had better put it down; it is not easy to answer questions on defence in this way.

Mr. Rankin

I put the supplementary question because I could not get it past the Table as a main question.

Mr. Speaker

Quite obviously, the supplementary was out of Order, too.