HC Deb 21 October 1953 vol 518 cc1943-4
1. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reply Her Majesty's Government have made to the request of the Legislative Assembly in the Gold Coast for authorisation by the method of an Order in Council of an Amendment of the Constitution providing that all the Members of the Legislative Assembly shall be directly elected and that the Government shall be entirely composed of such Members, as a preliminary to the recognition of the independence of the Gold Coast.

19. Mr. Braine

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement concerning the Gold Coast Government's proposals for constitutional reform.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Oliver Lyttelton)

Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have now received and are studying the proposals of the Gold Coast Government for constitutional reform contained in the White Paper approved by the Legislative Assembly in July. The core of these proposals concerns the creation of a cabinet consisting wholly of African Representative Ministers, drawn from a Legislature chosen by direct elections throughout the country.

Except for the suggestion that the affairs of the Gold Coast should be dealt with by the Commonwealth Relations Office, the proposals of the Gold Coast Government taken as a whole are, in broad principle, acceptable to Her Majesty's Government, although there are a few points which may not prove acceptable or require clarification. Detailed exchanges on the proposals are now proceeding and I will inform the House when a settlement is reached.

Mr. Brockway

While expressing my very warm appreciation of the acceptance of these proposals in principle, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to continue to deal with these Ministers with sympathy in order to prevent in the Gold Coast the deplorable circumstances which are now occurring in British Guiana?

Mr. Lyttelton

That seems to be tacking on another Question. I think that the hon. Member has had some pretty recent proofs of the sympathetic manner in which I conduct negotiations with Ministers in all Colonies.

Mr. Braine

Is not this decision clear evidence of the good faith of the Government's policy of helping Colonial Territories on the road to self-government within the Commonwealth?

Sir R. Acland

Will the right hon. Gentleman send a copy of his answer to the Assistant Postmaster-General, and remind him of the article which he wrote in the "Daily Telegraph" just before the present Constitution came into force?