HC Deb 30 November 1949 vol 470 cc1124-6
13. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether he is aware that from January, 1949, the British Administration in Eritrea has ceased to allow the import of wheat from Ethiopia; to what extent this prohibition refers purely to wheat consumed in Eritrea itself; and whether he will review this regulation in view of the fact that it is causing serious distress among the farmers of the adjacent Ethiopian province.

Mr. Mayhew

No imports of wheat for consumption in Eritrea were required in January and February of this year because adequate stocks were available. Imports started again in March and are continuing. The movement of wheat in transit through Eritrea was not affected.

Mr. Freeman

Can my hon. Friend assure the House that there is now no prohibition on the importation of wheat from Ethiopia into Eritrea?

Mr. Mayhew

No, Sir. Imports have started again.

14. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether, having regard to the fact that the United Nations' Political Committee has proposed the sending of another commission of inquiry to Eritrea, and the postponement of the decision on the future of this former colony for a further year, he will give an assurance that His Majesty's Government will uphold in the General Assembly of the United Nations the policy of the reunion of Ethiopia and Eritrea sponsored by Britain at the last Assembly and urge an immediate decision.

Mr. Mayhew

His Majesty's Government have not changed their views in regard to the best solution of the problem of the disposal of Eritrea, but they have accepted the resolution of the General Assembly providing for postponement of a decision, and consider that the only attitude which they can properly adopt is one of strict neutrality pending the findings of the Commission of Inquiry and subsequent decision by the General Assembly.

Mr. Freeman

In view of the fact that prior to the Italian aggression and domination Eritrea was politically united with Ethiopia, will His Majesty's Government continue to urge upon the United Nations the desirability of a reunion along similar lines?

Mr. Mayhew

I think that is now a matter for the Commission who will, no doubt, take into consideration the factor which my hon. Friend mentions.

15. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the United Nations proposes to send a further commission of inquiry to Eritrea, and in the interests of democratic government, he will instruct the British Administration of Eritrea to prepare an electoral roll for the capital of that territory, in order that the opinion of the population of the capital may be adequately expressed on the question of the future disposal of the colony, and any other matter of importance which may arise, with proper safeguards against personation, intimidation and corrupt practice and to preserve the inviolability of the ballot.

Mr. Maybew

No, Sir. The General Assembly of the United Nations has decided to establish the Commission to which my hon. Friend refers and it is for the Commission itself to decide how it should carry out the instructions it has been given by the General Assembly.

Mr. Freeman

If Eritrea is to be consulted on the matter of her own future, is it not desirable that proper facilities be provided for her along the lines indicated, so that she can express her own desires in a democratic manner?

Mr. Mayhew

It is the principal task of the Commission to discover the views of the inhabitants. I do not think that action such as that is called for by His Majesty's Government.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Can the hon. Gentleman assure the House that when this Commission appears in Eritrea there will be no diminution in the control by the British of Eritrea during that period?

Mr. Mayhew

No, we shall carry on the administration as usual.

Mr. Somerville Hastings

Is it not already quite clear what are the wishes of the people of Eritrea?