HC Deb 07 June 1951 vol 488 c1199
10. Brigadier Rayner

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what consultation takes place with members of the Commonwealth regarding any decision to establish self-government in a colony.

Mr. Gordon-Walker

Whilst the United Kingdom Government alone carry the responsibility for internal constitutional developments in Colonies dependent upon the United Kingdom, we recognise the interest of the Governments of other members of the Commonwealth, and it is our practice to keep them informed of major developments in that sphere. Were any question of admission to full and independent membership of the Commonwealth to arise, all existing members would, following past practice, be consulted.

Brigadier Rayner

In view of the alarm and despondency recently expressed by responsible Ministers in the Union of South Africa and in Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia, there cannot have been any great discussion. Can we expect to hold the Commonwealth together if we dish out self-government to primitive peoples without proper and previous discussion with the Dominions most concerned?

Mr. Gordon-Walker

We must make quite clear the distinction between the grant of responsible self-government within the Commonwealth, which is a matter for the United Kingdom Government and the territory concerned, and for them alone, and the question of becoming a full member of the Commonwealth, which is of course a matter for all members of the Commonwealth. All steps towards responsible self-government within the Commonwealth are a matter between us and the territory concerned, and we must make that distinction quite clear and abide by it.

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