HC Deb 10 July 1958 vol 591 c553
3. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what has been the outcome of the discussions by African provincial councils in Northern Rhodesia of the constitutional proposals for that territory.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As the reply is rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mrs. Castle

Will the Colonial Secretary confirm whether or not it is true that three of the seven African provincial councils in Northern Rhodesia have rejected the Government's proposals outright and the remaining four have severely criticised many details of them? In view of the fact that members of the Executive Council of Northern Rhodesia have also criticised the proposals, does not this show that there is a formidable body of hostility towards the proposals which the Minister ought to take into account?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We would have a more profitable interchange if the hon. Lady would read my Answer, from which she will see that dissatisfaction was expressed by four councils and that in the three others certain aspects of these proposals were welcomed.

Following is the reply: All seven African provincial councils met specially in the latter half of May or early in June to debate the Northern Rhodesia Government's proposals for constitutional changes. In formal debate all the motions carried reiterated the earlier demands of the African members of the Legislative Council for parity of representation between African and European unofficial members. The motions adopted by four of the Councils were in the form of a rejection of the proposals and contained no suggestions for their adaptation or improvement. The motions adopted by the other three welcomed certain aspects of the proposals whilst adversely criticising others, and two of these expressed agreement in principle. In six councils there were constructive discussions in committee before the debate. The discussions revealed a disposition to welcome such aspects of the proposals as the continued presence of the Governor in Executive Council; votes for British protected persons; the desire to get away from racial representation as soon as possible; the disappearance of European members nominated to represent African interests; the proposal that Africans should vote for European candidates as well as vice versa; and the special provisions for chiefs and headmen to be registered. A common feature of these discussions was a suggestion that the franchise qualifications should be lowered.