HC Deb 25 February 1952 vol 496 cc707-8
54. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps are being taken to implement the policy of the Government to recognise the right of the people of the Sudan to self-determination, and to establish self-government within the Sudan before the end of the present year.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The report by the Chairman of the Constitution Amendment Commission set up by the Governor-General on 31st March, 1951, has been published in Khartoum, and two White Papers prepared by the Sudan Government have been laid before the Sudan Legislative Assembly. When the Assembly's views on the main provisions of the report are known, a draft amendment to the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Ordinance of 1948 will probably be prepared for its consideration.

While, naturally, I cannot predict how long it will take to frame a Constitution fully acceptable to the Sudanese people, I am confident that the Sudan Government are taking the necessary measures as rapidly as it lies in their power to do so. Her Majesty's Government, for their part, will give the Sudan Government every encouragement to complete this process by the end of the year. Thereafter, it will be open to the Sudanese to decide on the status of their own country.

Mr. Brockway

While appreciating that answer may I ask, first, whether those White Papers will be made available to the House, and when; secondly, whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman is aware that the limitations on self-government proposed by the Egyptian Government have caused discontent, even in pro-Egyptian circles in the Sudan? Is it not, therefore, necessary that the British Government should speed self-determination as soon as possible?

Mr. Lloyd

So far as the first supplementary question is concerned, I will consider that matter. So far as the second is concerned, we have made it perfectly clear that it is our desire to secure as rapidly as possible in the Sudan representative institutions. As soon as those have been instituted it will be for the Sudanese to decide their own future.

Mr. T. Driberg

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give us an assurance that the Foreign Secretary's very welcome statement on this subject in his last speech in this House was an unqualified one, and that no further consideration will be given to even a formal gesture of recognition of the Egyptian claim to sovereignty over the Sudan, which would obviously prejudice the right to self-determination?

Mr. Lloyd

The position of H.M. Government was made perfectly clear in the statement which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made on, I think, 15th November in this House. He referred to it again on 5th February, and I have nothing to add to or detract from that statement.