HC Deb 26 October 1955 vol 545 cc173-4
5. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on his official visit to Colonial Territories in Asia, particularly regarding the situation in Singapore and Malaya.

58. Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on his recent visit to Singapore and Malaya, with special reference to his talks with the leaders with a view to bringing about an end to the emergency by political means.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

My recent visit to the Far Eastern Territories occupied six weeks, in the course of which I visited Hong Kong, North Borneo, Sarawak, Brunei, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya. In view of the length of the reply, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Brockway

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, in anticipation, may I ask him whether he will bear two points in mind: whether he will realise that very many hon. Members hope that the forthcoming discussions with Mr. David Marshall will lead to an agreement about the advance of Singapore to self-government; and, secondly, whether he will use his influence to try to secure a successful conclusion of the discussions now beginning with the terrorist leaders with a view to ending fighting in Malaya?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Replying to the second part of the question, I think the hon. Gentleman had better await the answer to a Question which follows on the Order Paper. Replying to the first part of the question, I would say to the hon. Gentleman that it would be wise if he would first read my very long statement.

Following is the reply: The purpose of my tour was, by travelling as widely as time permitted and meeting as many people as possible, to renew my firsthand acquaintance with those territories which I had visited before and to establish it with the others. It so happened that at the time of my visit there was a constitutional problem in Singapore. This arose from the Chief Minister's request that in future the Governor should accept his advice on all matters on which he was required by the constitution to consult the Chief Minister. These matters related to the appointment and dismissal of Appointed Ministers and Assistant Ministers and the granting of leave to them and also to the prorogation and dissolution of the Legislative Assembly. In my view, which was shared by the Governor, it seemed that provided the Governor continued to retain his discretion as regards the power of prorogation and dissolution it was only reasonable that he should accept the advice of the Chief Minister on the other matters which would normally be decided primarily on personal and political grounds. An agreement was therefore reached on these lines. I also stated that Her Majesty's Government would welcome a visit to London by a representative delegation from Singapore at a suitable date next year to consider the situation in the light of a year's working of the constitution. I regret that I cannot in the space of this reply go into greater detail about the many people and problems I met, or about the great progress being made in so many spheres. I would of course be glad to answer questions on any individual matters which hen. Members may wish to address to me. In Hong Kong I was impressed by the success achieved in tackling the formidable difficulties resulting from an immense increase in population and from the restrictions on international trade. In the territories in Borneo I saw convincing evidence of soundly based social and economic development.
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