HC Deb 22 May 1958 vol 588 cc1486-7
26. Mr. Brockway

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what action Her Majesty's Government proposes to take arising from the motion, carried with both European and African support at the recent meeting of the Joint Advisory Council of Bechuanaland, that a Legislative Council for the Territory should be established immediately.

Mr. Alport

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply on 8th May to Questions by the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) and the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade).

Mr. Brockway

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for this reply, may I ask whether it would not be suitable for Her Majesty's Government to welcome the fact that in Bechuanaland the leader of the white settlers' community and Mr. Tshekedi Khama, representing the Africans, were united in making the demand for a Legislative Council? In view of that very agreeable unity of two races, cannot the hon. Gentleman do something to encourage its realisation?

Mr. Alport

It is important—because, as the hon. Gentleman will recognise, this is a very important subject, particularly in relation to the future of Bechuanaland—that the African Advisory Council should hold its meeting and have a full opportunity to consider this matter before any pronouncement is made here. I recognise the significance of the fact that, in the debate which took place at the Joint Advisory Council meeting, spokesmen of both the European and African communities contributed their views.

Mr. Bottomley

Cannot the hon. Gentleman go a little further than that? Having in mind an earlier Question and Answer, and the commitments of this House to do everything possible to see that the independence of these Territories remains, cannot the Government do something to encourage the development of a Legislative Council, particularly as the white settlers and the Africans are agreed?

Mr. Alport

I have always made clear the basis upon which we think this development should take place. I do not in any way deny the interest and importance of the episode at the meeting of the Council to which the hon. Gentleman referred.