HC Deb 14 December 1955 vol 547 cc1182-3
3. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the present policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding the recognition of the independence of the Gold Coast.

48. Mr. N. Pannell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the refusal of the National Liberation Movement in the Ashanti to discuss constitutional issues with Sir Frederick Bourne, he will urge on the Gold Coast Government the desirability of holding a general election to ascertain the wishes of the people in this regard.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

There has been no change of policy. It is still the intention of Her Majesty's Government that the Gold Coast should achieve full self-government at the earliest practicable date, but, as I said in reply to a question by the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) last week, they must first be satisfied that the form of constitution will be generally acceptable throughout the Gold Coast.

The two principal parties in the Gold Coast appear at present to hold different views on this matter, and, as I said last week, whatever the exact result of a General Election, there would remain a substantial body of opinion behind each of these views. It is the more important, therefore, that the National Liberation Movement should co-operate with Sir Frederick Bourne forthwith to work out a plan that is generally acceptable. Their continued refusal to do so may needlessly delay the achievement of full self-government.

Mr. Brockway

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply and ask him whether, if a general election takes place and the Government win a decisive and well spread victory, he would be prepared to give an undertaking regarding the date of independence, particularly in view of the plebiscite in British Togo-land in the spring and the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministers in the summer?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

If the hon. Gentleman seriously expects me to answer a hypothetical question of that sort he can have no expectation of succeeding me in my present office.

Mr. N. Pannell

Will my right hon. Friend take into account that the police and the military forces are largely recruited from the northern regions and that it is essential to have the co-operation of those regions in regard to any constitutional development?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I have that point very much in mind.

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