HC Deb 02 March 1955 vol 537 cc2048-9
30. Mr. Proctor

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission to consider the future constitutional development of the colonial areas and this country, with a view to creating a federal organisation which shall deal with economic planning and defence of the areas referred to; and if he will arrange for a Colonial Conference with representatives from all the legislative bodies in the Colonies, together with Members of both Houses of Parliament, to have a free and open discussion upon the future of the Colonial Commonwealth.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I appreciate the hon. Member's concern about this matter and have studied his suggestion very carefully. The constitutional relationship of the Colonial Territories to this country and the degree of control exercised by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom over their affairs vary considerably from place to place and from time to time. The responsibility for any changes must always rest with the Government of the day, according to its judgment of the current political situation and in the light of discussion and negotiation with the government of the territory concerned.

For this reason, I cannot think that the machinery of a Royal Commission would be suitable for dealing with this subject. On the same principle, while I am always anxious to promote and to develop the very valuable contacts which already exist between members of this House and the representatives of legislative bodies in the territories, I do not consider that it would be helpful to convene a general conference such as the hon. Member suggests.

Mr. Proctor

Does not the Secretary of State consider that, viewing the results of the African Congress which was promoted by the Labour Government, a conference of all the territories would do a very great good, especially in the contacts which could be made between Members of this House and representatives of the territories concerned?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The conference convened after the war was called because it was the first opportunity after the war of re-establishing the contacts that had existed before. I am not by any means closing my mind to the hon. Member's suggestion, but I do not think at the moment that the time is quite opportune.

Mr. Awbery

Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that a reorganisation of our Colonial Government system is overdue? Will he keep that in mind and do something as quickly as possible to bring about a reorganisation?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I thoroughly disagree with that suggestion.