HC Deb 30 July 1953 vol 518 cc1532-3
43. Mr. George Craddock

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will now review the imprisonment of Chief P. Sekgoma and the imprisonment of others in Bechuanaland arrested at the same time in order to create a better psychological atmosphere under Rasebolai's appointment as Native Authority.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)

No, Sir. These persons, of whom none are chiefs, were found guilty of most serious criminal charges, namely, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and public violence, arising out of grave disorders in which three policemen, unfortunately, lost their lives.

Mr. Craddock

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman continue to keep this matter under review? Does he not think that if a little less harsh treatment is meted out we might get a better atmosphere?

Mr. Foster

I do not believe that a better psychological atmosphere would be brought about at this stage by releasing these men, who were guilty of very serious offences.

Mr. Beresford Craddock

Is not it a fact that conditions in Bechuanaland have much improved since the appointment of Rasebolai?

Mr. Foster

Yes, Sir. That is so.

Mr. Brockway

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman remember saying, when the announcement of the new Native Authority was made, that it was intended that the administration should be on broad and tolerant lines? Would not one of the first steps towards this be the release of these prisoners?

Mr. Foster

I do not agree with the hon. Member. The administration is on broad and tolerant lines, but it would not be an example of such breadth and tolerance to reprieve these men.

Mr. George Craddock

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I shall exercise my prerogative and raise the matter on the Adjournment as soon as possible.