HC Deb 22 October 1953 vol 518 cc2135-6
24. Sir T. Moore

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he is in a position to make a statement in regard to the progress of the new Federation in Central Africa.

25. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how far the scheme for the setting up of African Federation has advanced up to the latest convenient date; and with what results.

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

Arrangements for the establishment of the Federation have progressed smoothly and well. Lord Llewellin assumed the office of Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Federation at Salisbury on 4th September.

On 7th September the Right Honourable Sir Godfrey Huggins was sworn in as Prime Minister and Sir Malcolm Barrow as Minister of Internal Affairs. On 29th September Sir Roy Welensky was sworn in as Minister of Transport and Development. These Ministers constitute for the time being the Governor-General's Executive Council.

The Interim Federal Public Service Commission was appointed on 7th September. The Apportionment Commission was appointed on the same day——

Mr. J. T. Price

On a point of order. I believe I am correct in saying, Mr. Speaker, that on a previous occasion you gave some advice to the House that where a Minister wished to make a long statement it would be more to the convenience of the House if it were held over till the end of Question time so that serious inroads might not be made on the time of hon. Members who take the trouble to attend in person. Is that so?

Mr. Speaker

The general principle is quite correctly stated. I was hoping that the statement was about to come to an end.

Mr. Foster

The remainder of the reply is as follows:

With officers drawn on secondment from the three Territories comprising the Federation, skeleton Federal Government departments are functioning.

The Governor-General has, by proclamation, appointed 23rd October as the date on which the remaining provisions of the Constitution will come into force. The Governor-General hopes shortly to publish electoral regulations governing the first General Election to the Federal Assembly and to arrange for the elections to be held in the middle of December.

Sir T. Moore

I welcome the very interesting progress report which my hon. and learned Friend has given, but may I ask him whether the Government are satisfied that the criticisms and objections which are still made in certain parts of the Press are not hampering the fulfilment of the Government's aims?

Mr. Foster

The progress has been very satisfactory.

Mr. Hughes

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman say, in particular, what steps have been taken to reassure the Africans who are opposed to Federation, and with what results, and in view of the stories of discontent referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) which have reached this country, will he appoint an all-party delegation to go out to investigate the situation?

Mr. Foster

That is another question.

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