HC Deb 22 July 1955 vol 544 cc717-22
The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)

With permission, I wish to make a statement on Uganda.

I have now reached agreement with representatives of the Buganda Lukiko on the draft of a new Buganda Agreement to supplement and where necessary amend the Agreement of 1900.

The draft Agreement, which the Buganda delegates have agreed to recommend to the Lukiko for acceptance as soon as it can be translated into Luganda, is based severally on the report of the Committee appointed by the Lukiko to examine the agreed recommendations of the Namirembe Conference.

The main problem in our discussions has been to reconcile the wish of the Baganda that the Kabaka should bring the new Agreement into force by signing it in Buganda with my statement of 16th November last that before Her Majesty's Government could agree to the Kabaka's return, a new situation must be created in which the new constitutional arrangements for Buganda were in full operation. We have found a solution.

The delegates, after consulting the Lukiko, have accepted my proposal that the new arrangements should be brought into force by a transitional Agreement which will run until the main Agreement is signed in Buganda by the Kabaka on his return. This transitional Agreement will be in the same terms as the main Agreement, apart from the transitional provisions, and after approval by the Lukiko will be signed by personal representatives of the Kabaka. Six weeks after the appointment of Buganda Ministers and the Buganda representative members of the Legislative Council under the new arrangements, I will authorise the Kabaka to return to Buganda, where he will sign the main Agreement and perform such inaugural ceremonies as may be wished or required.

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT the text of a statement, agreed between myself and the Buganda delegates, which sets out in full the arrangements proposed. They are, of course, contingent on the Lukiko's acceptance of the new Agreements.

I know that hon. Members will share my satisfaction that the way now seems clear for a new start in Buganda and that the reconstruction of the Protectorate Executive and Legislative Councils, approved last November, can now take place in the confident hope of early Buganda participation. The representatives of the Buganda Lukiko have put clearly before me the views of the Lukiko on the composition of the Executive Council and have maintained these views. I have taken these views into consideration but this is a matter affecting the whole Protectorate on which constitutionally the decision must rest with Her Majesty's Government alone. The Governor, who with his advisers has been closely associated with myself in all these negotiations, is now on his way back to the Protectorate and I have authorised him to bring the central reforms into effect on his return. Early next week, a dispatch which I have addressed to him on this subject will be published and a copy placed in the Library.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I express what I am sure is the feeling of hon. Members on both sides of the House—how very much we welcome the successful outcome of this new approach. I should like to express my appreciation of the efforts that have been made to bring about this happy result. I particularly express appreciation of the restraint and co-operation shown by His Excellency the Governor and his Highness the Kabaka in a very difficult situation and also particular appreciation of the work of Sir Keith Hancock. I was in East Africa when he was engaged on this task. He has done very great service to Buganda and to this country.

I note that the new Constitution, which marks a very big legislative advance, is to come into operation forthwith. I have noted the reference to the views of the delegates of the Lukiko on the composition of the Executive Council. I hope very much that they will be able to accept the new Constitution, for I believe that it marks an important step in the political advancement of Uganda as a whole.

Now that we are making this next important step, will the Secretary of State reaffirm that the ultimate objective of policy in Uganda remains as was affirmed by Her Majesty's Government some time ago? If the right hon. Gentleman does this—and I hope he will be glad to do it—it will assist in ensuring that the new settlement is accepted fully. I should like again to say how very much we welcome the success of this new approach, which we supported when it was made.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his generous words. I fully assure him and the House that the undertakings made by Her Majesty's Government remain absolutely unaltered, in particular the undertaking made by my predecessor in February, 1954, and repeated by His Excellency the Governor.

Mr. C. Davies

May I also add my congratulations, warm and sincere, to the right hon. Gentleman on the successful issue of these long negotiations? He has been patient, conciliatory and obviously genuinely desirous of arriving at an agreement satisfactory to all. But so also have the representatives of Buganda and the representatives of the Kabaka, and I should like also to congratulate them most warmly.

I hope that this agreement will lead to a closer understanding, having for its object the general welfare of all the people concerned. Might I also express the hope that this will have an effect far beyond Uganda and Kenya, that it will have an effect throughout Africa, and that it will be an earnest to those in Africa of our sincere desire to co-operate, to help and to assist and never to dominate?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am grateful also to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his equally generous words. I join with him in saying how much I appreciate the restraint and dignity shown by His Highness the Kabaka and the conciliatory way in which the delegations have met me and discussed these matters, and what a pleasure it has been to work with such people.

Mr. Fenner Brockway

While welcoming this Agreement and congratulating all those concerned in bringing it about, whilst particularly rejoicing that the Kabaka is to return within a comparatively short period, and whilst also appealing to the people of Buganda, who have felt this infringement of human rights very deeply, and assuring them that many of us have shared that feeling, may I ask the Secretary of State whether he will go further towards bringing about a better situation in Uganda by reconsidering the new Constitution which is proposed and which is so unpopular? I mean the Constitution at the centre; it has been postponed. Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the terms of that Constitution in order to get full cooperation and good will?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

No, Sir. The answer must remain as I have just given it.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Whilst adding my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman on the part he has played in all this, may I ask whether he appreciates how much the people of this country have appreciated the restraint of the people of Buganda during all this time? After all, they might have started and continued riots, but they did, in fact, go in for a lawsuit.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It has, of course, been the tranquility that has prevailed in Uganda and the spirit of conciliation and good sense which has been shown that has made it so much easier to come to an agreement.

Following is the text of the statement: The Secretary of State for the Colonies has now completed his talks with the Delegation appointed by the Buganda Lukiko, under the chairmanship of the Omuwanika, to discuss with him the return of His Highness the Kabaka. He has also completed his discussions with the Drafting Committee appointed by the Lukiko to take part in the preparation of a new Buganda Agreement, the Legal Advisers to the Lukiko (Mr. Kenneth Diplock, Q.C., and Mr. R. L. McEwen) and for questions affecting His Highness the Kabaka personally, His Highness's Legal Advisers (Mr. Dingle Foot, Q.C., and Mr. Flegg). The Governor of Uganda, with the Attorney-General of Uganda and the Resident, Buganda, took part in both sets of talks.

2. The discussions with the Buganda Drafting Committee have produced the draft of a new Buganda Agreement in a form acceptable to the Secretary of State, and the Drafting Committee have agreed to recommend the draft for acceptance to the Lukiko. The draft is based generally on the report of the Kintu Committee appointed by the Lukiko to examine the agreed recommendations of the Namirembe Conference. The draft Agreement supplements and, where necessary, amends the 1900 Agreement. It lays down a Constitution for Buganda, sets out the functions of the Kabaka, the Buganda Ministers and the Lukiko and defines the relationship between the Protectorate Government and the Kabaka's Government. The Agreement also provides for the participation of Buganda in the Legislative Council of the Protectorate at all times when provision has been made (as is proposed) for half the members of the Legislative Council, other than the President, to be Africans, three-fifths of the representative members being Africans of whom one-quarter will represent Buganda.

3. The draft Agreement will be presented to the Lukiko and published as soon as the Luganda translation is ready.

4. The arrangements for the timing of His Highness the Kabaka's return to Buganda have been fully considered at meetings between the Secretary of State and the Delegation under the chairmanship of the Amuwanika and the arrangements for signing and bringing the Agreement into force at meetings between the Secretary of State and the Buganda Drafting Committee.

It has been necessary to reconcile the wish of the Baganda that the Kabaka should return as soon as possible and bring the new Agreement into force by signing it in Buganda with the view of Her Majesty's Government that the new situation envisaged in the Secretary of State's statement to the House of Commons on 16h November, 1954 must be created, by bringing the new constitutional arrangements for Buganda into full operation, before Her Majesty's Government can agree to the Kabaka's return. Subject to that, the Secretary of State informed the Buganda representatives of the desire of Her Majesty's Government that the Kabaka should return to Buganda at the earliest possible date, and the arrange- ments set out below go as far as is possible to speed up the Kabaka's return consistently with Her Majesty's Government's announcement of last November.

5. There will be a mail, Agreement which will be brought into force by its formal and ceremonial signature in Buganda on the Kabaka's return, by the Governor on behalf of Her Majesty and by the Kabaka on behalf of Buganda. In order to enable the constitutional arrangements to come into force without delay there will also be a transitional Agreement, in the same terms as the main Agreement, but with transitional provisions. Provided that the main Agreement and the transitional Agreement are accepted by the Lukiko when presented to it. the following arrangements will be made:

  1. (1) His Highness the Kabake will appoint personal representatives who will immediately sign this transitional Agreement on his behalf. This transitional Agreement will remain in force until the main Agreement is signed on the Kabaka's return to Buganda.
  2. (2) During the period when the transitional Agreement is in force the personal representatives to be appointed by the Kabaka will be Regents; the transitional Agreement provides for their appointment by the Kabaka as Regents.
  3. (3) As soon as the transitional Agreement has come into force, new Buganda Ministers will be elected by the Lukiko and appointed in the manner provided in the new Constitution, the appointments being made by these Regents on behalf of the Kabaka; but, until the appointments have been completed by the Kabaka with the traditional formalities after his return, the Ministers will have acting status only.
  4. (4) The Secretary of State will authorise the Kabaka to return to Buganda six weeks after (i) the Buganda Ministers have been appointed with acting status in this way and (ii) the members representing Buganda on the Protectorate Legislative Council have been appointed as members of that Council—and the Governor will appoint them as soon as they have been elected in accordance with the agreed electoral arrangements.
  5. (5) On his return to Buganda His Highness the Kabaka will make a declaration in the manner provided for in the Constitution and will sign the main Agreement as explained above. He will also perform such inaugural ceremonies as may be wished or required.

6. The Delegation under the chairmanship of the Omuwanika and the Buganda Drafting Committee, having consulted the Lukiko at its meeting on 16th July, through delegates sent for the purpose, have informed the Secretary of State that the arrangements set out in paragraph 5 are acceptable to them. The Secretary of State has also accepted these arrangements on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.