§ 40. Mr. Parker
asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether, in view of the fact that the Southern Rhodesian Government proposes to sell the sections of railways from Vryburg to Ramathlabama and from Ramathlabama to Palapye, respectively, the consent of His Majesty's Government has been asked and given for either transaction.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)
No, Sir. I have no official information about the sale of any sections of the Rhodesia Railways; I have seen a Press report that the Southern Rhodesia Government is prepared to consider selling to the Union Government the section of the railway from Vryburg to Ramathlabama, which lies in Union territory. I have not seen any reports of a 519 proposal to sell the section in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. The question of His Majesty's Government's consent does not, therefore, arise.
§ Mr. Parker
If the Southern Rhodesian Government desired to sell would the consent of His Majesty's Government have to be obtained?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
If the Southern Rhodesian Government desired to sell, it would not be a question of exercising the Union's option, which can only be effected in 1970, and no formal consent would be required. In fact, the higher authority of the Rhodesian Railways includes two persons nominated by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom—the Governor of Northern Rhodesia and the High Commissioner for the High Commission Territories. Therefore, we should have a say, though no consent would be required.
§ Mr. Bramall
Could we be assured that if the Union Government did purchase this section of the railway in Bechuanaland it would not be treated by His Majesty's Government in this country as a reason for any change of status in Bechuanaland?