HC Deb 21 July 1955 vol 544 cc557-9
43. Mrs. White

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations the present position concerning constitutional discussions in Basutoland.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker)

After discussion in the district councils, the Moore Report was brought before the Basutoland National Council in March this year. The Council at that time showed unwillingness to consider the recommendations on their merits. There has since been some indication that the Basuto would favour re-examination of the Report. It is now being discussed again in the district councils and will probably be referred back to the National Council in September. When the considered opinion of the Basuto is known, Her Majesty's Government will decide what action to take on the recommendations in the Report.

Mrs. White

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that the action of the Resident Commissioner in dismissing the Council without consulting the Paramount Chief was not the best way to obtain its acquiescence in the matter under consideration? Will the Minister please place in the Library a copy of the reply sent by his noble Friend to the letter from the members of the Basutoland Council, drafted by them when meeting informally after they had been dismissed by the Resident Commissioner?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

The reply to the first part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question is that the Resident Commissioner was entirely within his rights in the action he took. I consider that what he did, after eight days of discussion, was perfectly proper. I will see, without any commitment, what can be done about the second part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question.

44 and 46. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (1) on how many occasions during his term of office, on what dates, and for what length of time, the late High Commissioner visited Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland, respectively;

(2) when the present High Commissioner expects to visit Basutoland and Swaziland.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

The previous High Commissioner, who assumed office in October, 1951, paid four visits to Bechuanaland, totalling thirty days, four visits to Basutoland, totalling twenty-two days, and six visits to Swaziland, totalling nineteen days. Since the details of these visits are lengthy I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The present High Commissioner visited Swaziland from 4th July to 9th July and expects to visit Northern Bechuanaland from 27th July to 4th August and Basutoland from 6th September to 12th September.

Mr. Dugdale

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that these visits are few and far between, considering the duties that this gentleman has to perform? Does he not think that it is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to be responsible for these three territories and to live at the same time in the capital of a country which is pursuing a racial policy diametrically opposed to that pursued by Her Majesty's Government in these three territories? Will the hon. Gentleman not consider separating the two offices so that there may be somebody responsible for running the territories separately?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

No, Sir. The right hon. Gentleman knows better than I do that the High Commissioner has

Visits to the High Commission territories by the present High Commissioner's predecessor
Year Dates Territory Length of visit
1951 2nd-7th November Swaziland 5 days
14th-18th December Basutoland 4 days
18th-21st December Bechuanaland Protectorate 3 days
27th-29th December Swaziland 2 days
1952 10th-13th December Swaziland 3 days
1953 6th-17th March Basutoland 11 days
19th-28th June Bechuanaland Protectorate 9 days
1954 21st-24th February Basutoland 3 days
26th February-2nd March Swaziland 4 days
19th June-2nd July Bechuanaland Protectorate 14 days
22nd-25th July Swaziland 3 days
10th-14th October Bechuanaland Protectorate 4 days
13th-17th November Basutoland 4 days
12th-14th December Swaziland 2 days