HC Deb 06 July 1949 vol 466 cc2133-4
28 Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) what developments have taken place in Mauritius in regard to providing houses for the labourers; and whether the desirability of building these near, instead of on, the sugar estates is being borne in mind;

(2) what consideration has been given to the necessity of providing a girls secondary school in Mauritius other than the existing denominational school; how many Indian, or coloured, girls are now receiving secondary school education; and what religious obligations such girls are expected to fulfil; and

(3) what progress is being made in regard to the compulsory purchase of land in Mauritius and a plan of land settlement to meet the needs of the population particularly in view of the possibility of increased unemployment.

Mr. Rees-Williams

All these are matters falling within the responsibility of the Government of Mauritius which, as my hon. Friend will be aware, now has a Legislative Council with an elected majority. My right hon. Friend is asking the Governor for information on these matters, and will communicate with my hon. Friend when this is received.

Mr. Sorensen

Does that mean that we cannot ask questions of this kind referring to Mauritius in future?

Mr. Rees-Williams

I assume that questions on all these matters can be asked, but there is a limit to the amount of detail which ought to be supplied by the Minister, as a number of these matters of detail are under the control of the local authority.

Mr. Sorensen

Could we have this matter cleared up, Mr. Speaker? I should like to know, for the guidance of other Members, whether we can put down questions of this nature, or if we are prevented from doing so because of the statement which has just been made by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Speaker

If the question is for me, I should like to have notice of it. One is entitled to put down questions, but it depends on how the Minister chooses to answer. He may disclaim responsibility because it is part of a Government which is autonomous, but, if the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) will write to me, I would rather give a considered reply.

Mr. R. A. Butler

We on this side of the House would obviously support the view that where a Government which has a degree of responsibility are involved, they must settle their own affairs. As this matter has been drawn to your attention, Sir, we might perhaps give our opinion later.