HC Deb 20 March 1958 vol 584 cc1420-1
42. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he proposes to make a statement regarding constitutional advance in Northern Rhodesia.

43. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what decision he has reached about the future composition of the Executive Council in Northern Rhodesia.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As regards a statement, I have nothing to add to the reply I gave on 6th March to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). As regards Executive Council, the answer is "None, Sir." Although I have had some discussion about the Northern Rhodesian constitution with the Governor and with some others concerned, I am not in a position to reach decisions about the future composition of Executive Council, or any other aspect of the constitution, until I have received the firm recommendations of the Northern Rhodesian Government.

Mr. Johnson

While accepting that reply, may I ask the Colonial Secretary to bear in mind that the African people are in a difficult mood, following on the objectionable action of the Federal Government in the last Constitutional Amendment Bill? Will he also bear in mind that any liberal action he may take, such as, for example, parity between the white-elected and the African-elected members, would be helpful to the Congress leaders in steadying their followers in this matter?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

If I do not follow up the hon. Gentleman's remarks, I must not be taken to agree with the words he has used in regard to the Federal Government.

Mr. Wall

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask if he will think of the difficulty facing a single African representative, and, Possibly, consider withdrawing the European representative of African interests so that there might be two African representatives?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

From my experience elsewhere, I am very well aware of the difficulties in which a single representative, bound by a solemn oath, might find himself in the various Commonwealth Territories.

Mr. Callaghan

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the special position of strain created in this Territory by the decision of the Government to over-rule the recommendation of the African Affairs Board, and that it is therefore doubly incumbent on him to consult African opinion on this before reaching a conclusion, and can he assure the House that he will do so?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I had two interviews last week—one, very long—with Mr. Sokota, who came over for that express purpose.