HC Deb 22 May 1958 vol 588 cc1488-9
35. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Undersecretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what agreements have been reached with the Government of the Union of South Africa with regard to defence establishments in the Protectorates of Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland.

Mr. Alport

As the hon. Member was informed on 30th October last, the United Kingdom Government, following discussions with the South African Minister of Defence in September, 1957, undertook to consider further requests by the Union Government for defence facilities in the High Commission Territories. Consequential discussions with the Union Government have still not reached a point at which a further statement can be made.

Mr. Stonehouse

May I ask that great care should be taken before any commitment is made with regard to defence establishments in the Protectorates? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the people there are most concerned that the establishment of defence bases might be the thin edge of the wedge for the Union taking over altogether?

Mr. Alport

It has always been made clear, and was made clear by the Minister of Defence in a reply to the hon. Member, that responsibility for the security of the Territories themselves rests exclusively with the United Kingdom Government.

Mr. Bottomley

Is not it a fact that we have not received the fullest co-operation from the Union Government, particularly bearing in mind our Atlantic coast defences and the Simonstown base? Before any agreement is reached, can we consider defence for South Africa as a whole and not the Union alone?

Mr. Dugdale

Will the hon. Gentleman assure us that any proposals will be brought before this House and that there will be no implementation of proposals before the House knows them and can discuss them?

Mr. Alport

I have already repeated the undertaking the Minister of Defence gave when he emphasised that responsibility for the security of the Territories themselves rests exclusively with the Government of the United Kingdom. I cannot go further than that.

Mr. J. Griffiths

In considering whether we shall allow these facilities for defence to the Union Government in these Protectorates, may I ask if Her Majesty's Government will take very carefully into account statements made and pledges given in election speeches recently that the Union proposes to make application for these facilities? Can we ask the Union Government to make a definite declaration that they accept the decision of this House that we will not transfer the Protectorates before they are given any of these defence facilities?

Mr. Alport

That is a totally different question from the one I have been endeavouring to answer.