HC Deb 09 December 1953 vol 521 cc1970-2
33. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the declaration on 26th October of Her Majesty's Government's delegate to the Fourth Committee of the United Nations that if the political situation in Central Africa were made a subject of debate, the British delegation would have to consider its future co-operation in the work of the Committee

Mr. Lyttelton

Under Article 73 (e) of the Charter, Her Majesty's Government undertook to transmit regularly to the United Nations, for information, technical material on economic, social and educational conditions in dependent territories. This we have done. We have also been ready to join in general discussions based on these transmissions, although no provision is made for such discussion in the Charter; but there is no obligation under Article 73 (e) to transmit political information

Moreover, we believe that to expose the domestic politics of our Territories to discussion would be harmful to their peoples Since Article 2 (7) precludes the United Nations from intervening in the domestic affairs of any State, Her Majesty's Government, like their predecessors, are not prepared to allow discussion of the political affairs of any of our Territories, either in general or in particular. They will oppose all attempts to extend the Charter by such discussion and, if it were to occur, they would find it difficult to co-operate further with the Fourth Committee, except in regard to Trust Territories.

Mr. Thomson

How do Her Majesty's Government distinguish between political matters and educational, social and economic matters? Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is the duty of the Government to give an international lead on these matters and to accept the decisions of a United Nations Committee, even on subjects which are very unpalatable to Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Lyttelton

It should not be beyond the bounds of ordinary people to decide what is political and what is social and economic. If the hon. Gentleman wants a very succinct account of our attitude, he might get it by reading either a statement made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) or statements by other Members of his own party, which have dealt in exactly the same way with similar questions.

34. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to continue providing information concerning Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to the appropriate Committee of the United Nations.

Mr. Lyttelton

In existing circumstances it is Her Majesty's Government's intention in agreement with the Government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland to transmit information on social, economic and educational conditions in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as in the past.

Mr. Nicholson

If a new member of the Commonwealth is created by the Central African Federation, how does it come about that we are entitled to transmit information?

Mr. Lyttelton

My hon. Friend will no doubt remember that in a large number of these matters the Protectorate status of Rhodesia and Nyasaland has been preserved and authority flows directly from the Colonial Office and not from the Federation.