HC Deb 24 July 1958 vol 592 cc659-60
24. Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what measures of self-rule similar to other British territories in Africa will be introduced into the three High Commission Territories as a result of his recent tour; to what extent the Union of South Africa Government was consulted about these measures; and when the proposals will be implemented.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)

Certain changes have been under consideration for some time, but I am not able at present to give details of their nature or to forecast when it may be possible to implement them.

Mr. Mallalieu

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of any territory in Africa where constitutional political advance has been so slow as in the Protectorates in South Africa, particularly in Bechuanaland? Would not he agree that having regard to the good will towards this country which still exists there, it is necessary to press on with this matter?

Mr. Alport

I had an opportunity when I was there recently of hearing the views in Bechuanaland arising from the consideration which has been given to this subject in the Joint Advisory Council, and later in the African Advisory Council, but the views are not fully formulated yet. As to the report to the Basuto Council, this is not being presented until tomorrow, and therefore I am not in a position to comment on it.

Mr. Wade

Have any steps been taken in Bechuanaland in response to the request by the Council for legislative powers?

Mr. Alport

As I said in reply to the previous supplementary question, the full nature of the proposals has not yet been formulated, but we are waiting for the High Commissioner's comments on the debate which took place at the end of May in the African Advisory Committee.

Mr. Bottomley

Is it possible for a statement to be made before the House rises?

Mr. Alport

I do not think there is any likelihood of our being able to make any statement on the Report to the Basuto Council, because consideration by the Council will not be completed until after the House rises.

Mr. Bottomley

And in the case of Bechuanaland?

Mr. Alport

With regard to Bechuanaland, I think we must give time in order to get more detailed views from the High Commissioner. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman and the House that we keep these subjects affecting both these Territories very firmly in mind.