HC Deb 26 October 1955 vol 545 cc187-8
7. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what decisions he has reached, following conversations with the Governor and representatives of the Legislative Council, regarding constitutional developments in Mauritius.

30. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement regarding further constitutional advance for Mauritius following the discussions he had in July last with the official delegation from the Legislative Assembly of that Colony.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am in consultation with the Governor about these proposals and am not yet ready to add to the reply given to the hon. Member on 27th July.

Mr. Brockway

In considering these proposals will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the educational standards in Mauritius stand very high among those of British Colonies, and that there is a strong demand for adult suffrage and responsible government? Will he be careful not to make proposals which are likely to intensify communal antagonism in the island?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As the hon. Member knows, I recently had the pleasure of a visit from representatives of all parties in Mauritius and of the Governor. I am conscious of their views, and also of the problems and difficulties in a multiracial and religious society of this kind. I will certainly bear all those points of view in mind.

Mr. Johnson

Without anticipating the final conclusion of the talks, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the moderate and well-balanced arguments of the Mauritius' Labour Party delegation in July against changing the present electoral system?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

All the arguments made to me by those delegations were moderate and sensible.

Mr. Hay

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this subject of electoral reform in Mauritius is by no means uncontentious? Will he also bear in mind the strong Communist bias which exists in the Mauritius Labour Party?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am certainly aware that in the last election in Mauritius the people who had the most votes had the fewest seats, and that there is, therefore, a feeling of frustration.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I ask the Secretary of State if he will correct the statement made in the last supplementary question about the Mauritius Labour Party? He had an opportunity of meeting its members and knows that they are responsible persons, and the imputation of the statement was that this is a Communist organisation.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I did not understand my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Hay) to mean that the Labour Party in Mauritius was Communist-inspired. I have already said that all the representations made by the delegations who came to me, including that of the Mauritius Labour Party, were sensible and balanced.