HC Deb 24 October 1956 vol 558 cc631-2
28. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement regarding the introduction of a Ministerial system for the Executive Council of Mauritius.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, that this is another long Answer.

I had hoped that development of the present liaison officer system in Mauritius into a Ministerial system could be carried through this autumn when the three-year tenure of office of existing Unofficial Members of Executive Council came to an end. A Ministerial system would give Unofficial Members of Executive Council an opportunity of demonstrating their ability to co-operate with their fellow Mauritians in shouldering the greater responsibilities which are now before them and would, at the same time, provide Mauritius with the administrative machinery necessary if the territory is to make a success of internal self-government, a most important practical consideration.

The Mauritius Labour Party, however, refused to take part in the election of new members of Executive Council on 25th September, and informed the Governor that they were not prepared to co-operate in the introduction of a Ministerial system on the basis proposed. The Governor has informed me of the views expressed by the leaders of the Labour Party and has communicated my views to them, but I have not yet received a report on the outcome of these talks.

Mr. Brockway

Would it be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to inform the House of his views on this matter? Is it not extraordinary that a proposal should be made that the Executive of a Parliament should be elected on the basis of proportional representation of its members? What would Her Majesty's Government be like if it were appointed on a proportional representation basis?

Hon. Members

Much better.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I think that the hon. Gentleman will recognise that, with one or two exceptions, we all come from the same racial stock in the United Kingdom, which is slightly different from the situation in Mauritius.

Mr. Bevan

Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House of what views he expressed about this?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I think it would be much more profitable if I waited until I have received a report on the outcome of the talks. [HON. MEMBERS : "Why?"] If the right hon. Gentleman will read my answer, he will see that the Governor has informed me of the views that have been expressed by the leaders of the Labour Party. However, I have not yet received a report on the outcome of the talks that have taken place. I am anxious to see a settlement arrived at, and it is much more likely to be brought about if I wait until I have that information.

Mr. Bevan

But the right hon. Gentleman has just intimated that he has informed them of his views. Cannot we learn what they are?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Despite that rather winning smile, I think the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that I am myself in favour of a proportional representation system in Mauritius. I believe it best suited to the circumstances there, but as I want to see a happy solution reached, I think I had better wait until I have received those further comments.

Forward to