HC Deb 23 May 1958 vol 588 cc1714-31

2.2 p.m.

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

We turn from an important administrative problem in Cornwall to some important constitutional matters in a more distant place, in Uganda. It is not very often that we have an opportunity of discussing in this House the affairs of Uganda except in moments of crisis, but I think it is our duty in Parliament to keep in touch with developments in this extremely important Protectorate in East Africa and from time to time to remind ourselves of what is going on there and ask ourselves if there is anything that we as a Parliament with some residual responsibility can do to help.

I am grateful to the Under-Secretary of State for coming here this afternoon. I know that he has only recently returned from the Caribbean, and it must be very difficult to switch his mind from one part of the Commonwealth to another.

One of the reasons that I asked that we might have this short debate this afternoon was that I have been very interested to hear about the position in Uganda concerning the proposed elections later this year. I have in my hand a copy of the latest news bulletin which is published by the Department of Information in Kampala. This is dated 15th May. It reports that the registration of electors in those parts of Uganda which are to elect their members to the Legislative Council by direct vote has been quite remarkably high. No fewer than 625,000 Africans, estimated to be almost 80 per cent. of the eligible electorate, have taken the trouble to register as voters. This is an extremely encouraging figure because it shows that both the administration and the potential electorate have shown great interest in securing the exercise of the franchise.

It is, of course unfortunate—at least, many of us in the House regard it as unfortunate—that not all the elections to the Legislative Council will be direct. The position of Buganda is peculiar because it was originally at the insistence of the Buganda representatives at the conference which resulted in the agreement of 1955, that this matter of direct elections to the Legislative Council was first brought in. But for various reasons, into which I do not propose to go this afternoon, Buganda has decided not on this occasion, at any rate, to participate in direct elections. There has, therefore, been no registration of electors in Buganda and they are, therefore, not included in these figures.

For other reasons, or perhaps I might say in some cases for similar reasons, neither Ankole nor Bugisu is participating in direct elections, and Karamoja was never included in the proposals for direct elections at this stage, though presumably Karamoja may come in later on.

The situation has arisen in which the existing representative members in the Legislative Council have come together in their Representative Members Organisation and have tried to look at the picture of these forthcoming elections; and in doing so they have come firmly and unanimously to the conclusion that the number of proposed members in certain districts is inadequate properly to represent the people of those districts. They made representations earlier this year to the Governor and they have asked that the Secretary of State should himself reconsider the matter.

That request has been renewed. I understand, and I am not asking that the Under-Secretary should necessarily this afternoon give a definitive reply to the proposals put forward by the representative members. On the contrary, I think it might be better that he should not, because I think there is much to be said for their being allowed to make their representations direct to the Secretary of State.

This is an important matter in the Parliamentary development of Uganda, and I think that any hasty reply given perhaps after inadequate opportunity for consideration of the arguments would be a pity. Therefore, I am seeking this afternoon to emphasise and underline the points which are in the minds of the representative members in order to see that this matter secures the fullest consideration. We all know that the Secretary of State, who is perhaps one of the hardest working Ministers of Her Majesty's Government, has been very hard pressed in recent times. He has Singapore, Cyprus and other places on his mind. We cannot, therefore, expect him necessarily to find time to look at these matters in all their detail and complexity unless one takes such an opportunity as exists today to bring them to his notice.

What I am asking the Under-Secretary to do is to look again at the proposals of the representative members, because to my mind they are fully justified. What in effect they are asking for is that those districts, which with all their own local knowledge they believe would be inadequately represented, should be allowed to have an additional member. The present position in the Legislative Council is that there are 30 representative members, consisting of six Asians, six Europeans, and the remainder Africans.

They are divided in this way: Buganda has five, although there is one vacancy which at the moment remains unfilled; Ankole has two; Busoga has two, and the other districts have one each. Ankole and Busoga secured their extra representation, I think I am right in saying, in 1955 when Sir Andrew Cohen decided that they required some additional representation. But we have at least four other districts which seem to me to be inadequately represented. There may be questions about one or two others, but, as regards these four at any rate, an extremely strong case can be made out.

The four to which I am particularly referring are Teso, Kigezi, West Nile and Bukedi. By courtesy of the Colonial Office, I was supplied yesterday with some population figures. Unfortunately, these figures are based upon the 1948 census, and, presumably, the populations have risen considerably since then. However, these were the latest figures which the Colonial Office could give me. I do not know what adjustments are made for practical purposes, but I shall have to argue on such figures as I have been able to obtain. I have also the registration figures for voters in the four districts and all the other districts where registration took place.

Looking at the population figures, for a start, one observes that in Teso there is a population of 400,000 people, which compares with a population of approximately the same size in Ankole. Ankole, as I said, has two representatives, and Teso has one. Ankole is not participating in direct elections and, therefore, one cannot compare the registered electorate; to do that, one would have to look at the Busoga figures, which is the other district with two members at the present time, where one has a registered electorate of 101,000. Teso has a registered electorate of 152,000, so that in Teso there is a comparable population with the smaller of the two districts with two members and one-anda-half times the registered electorate of the other district which has two members. Looking at the matter purely statistically, so to speak, Teso obviously has an extremely strong case for equivalent representation with either of the other two which now have two members.

Kigezi has approximately 400,000 population, about the same as Ankole. Admittedly, registration in Kigezi is not so high. I do not know what the reasons for that are. Nevertheless, there are about 80,000 registered electors.

Turning now to West Nile, the population, I grant, is not so large, and the number of registered electors, approximately 60,000, is not quite so great, but I am told by those with local knowledge that there are particular difficulties in West Nile, inasmuch as there are virtually two sections to the population in the district. Neither section fully recognises the propriety of anyone from the other section representing it in the Legislature. There are, I understand, some ethnographic differences. West Nile and Madi are both in the West Nile district. I am told that there are distinct local differences and that a person trying to represent both finds himself in a real difficulty.

The present member for West Nile has stated publicly, as I understand it, that he finds it extremely difficult adequately to represent the whole of the district and he feels that it should be a two-member district. In fact, the previous member of the Legislative Council from this district came from the other section of the population. One really does not want to have alternative members every time in order to obtain fair representation. There is, therefore, a strong case for two members in West Nile.

For some reason or other, the Colonial Office was not able to give me separate population figures as between Bukedi and Bugisu, so that I cannot say what portion of the 600,000 population is Bukedi and what proportion is Bugisu. Bugisu is not participating in direct elections on this occasion, but Bukedi is, so that one can, at least, take the number of registered electors for Bukedi, which comes to just over 87,000. That is a considerable number. It is 87,000 compared with 101,000 in Busoga, which has two members. Again, on grounds of electoral strength, Bukedi also has a case to be fully considered.

I strongly support the claim for more adequate representation because I have very strongly felt, for a very long time, from such experience as I have had in different parts of Africa, that it is quite unreasonable to expect men properly to be able to represent so many constituents, many of whom are illiterate, in a country where, except in some parts, there is either no vernacular Press or a very inadequate vernacular Press, where communications are sadly inadequate, and where, very often, the Legislative Council member himself has some other occupation or office. It is not a full-time job by any means; the member has his own livelihood to earn, very often, apart from his duties as a Legislative Council member. The need for political education in every possible sense of the word is extreme. It really is a most foolish policy, in these circumstances, not to grant as adequate representation as one possibly can.

One cannot really expect people both to learn the job of being a legislator—after all, it is only in very recent times that modern legislative arrangements have come into being in Uganda—and, at the same time, to keep in touch in every way with their constituents. There is the ordinary day-to-day work the members must do in serving their constituents, and there is also the need to keep in touch with them in the political sense so that, as a result of the members regularly going round in their constituencies, the people concerned are made fully aware of what is happening and what the arguments are.

I do not want to give a geographical disquisition in addition to a statistical one, but I am assured that in all the districts there are considerable difficulties in communications and that it is really putting a quite unwarrantable strain on a man to expect him to represent these people and ask him to do the job which ought to be done at the present time if he has an entire area in these very large districts to cover.

The representative members have considerable local knowledge. They all got together, Europeans and Asians as well as Africans, and they have looked at the problem as a whole. They have considered carefully the districts they feel to have a claim. Though they have mentioned one or two other districts as well, I think I am right in saying that their strongest views are directed to the ones I have particularly mentioned. The representative members have made it clear that they are not—I emphasise this—by making their proposals, suggesting any alteration in the balance between the Government and the representative side; in other words, they are not suggesting a constitutional change. They have suggested that there should be equivalent members nominated on the Government side to keep the proportions as they are now.

The Government may say that they do not particularly wish to extend the number of members in the Legislative Council before 1961, which is the date when the general review will be held in any case, but I suggest that what is being proposed now is not a constitutional change in the proper sense of the word, but a Parliamentary change, which is a slightly different thing. It is to keep the balance of forces equal, and to secure a much more effective representation of the people concerned. It would also have a subsidiary effect, which would apply equally to anyone appointed on the Government side as to the ones who came in on the representative side. It would give experience to a few more Africans in Uganda of what the Legislative Council stands for and what it means to be a member of a Legislature and part of the Government of the country.

I think that nothing but good could come from having a few more members on the Government side as well as on the representative side. At the moment there are on the Government back benches some very senior and most respected members of society in Uganda, but, after all, they will not be there for ever. It is important on that side, too, to give experience to additional people even if they never come back into the Legislative Council later on. They may not wish to stand as representative members, but they will at least know from firsthand experience what the Legislative Council involves.

In Uganda particularly, where there is in certain quarters a good deal of suspicion of the Legislative Council as well as ignorance of what its true function is, I think that the more people, within reason, who have experience of it and participate in it the better. The Administration is really going against its own best interests if it resists proposals which are put forward in reason and in good faith which would help, as I say, to familiarise the people in their own communities with the importance of the work of the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council is not all that popular in some parts of Uganda and this is a good opportunity to give people on both sides of their House a chance to extend their familiarity with and understanding of it. Therefore, I hope very much indeed that the Government will consider this matter favourably.

I want to touch on two other aspects, which I realise may present some difficulty. One is a purely administrative aspect. I think that it has been suggested to the representative members that to make any change now before the autumn elections would be difficult. I do not think that that is an acceptable argument. The change which is proposed, namely, to put in a small number of additional members if they were agreed, could be perfectly well dealt with administratively between now and October. The registration is not affected. What one has to do is to delimit two constituencies instead of taking the whole district. As the Under-Secretary knows very well, Uganda is divided in sazas and it would not be difficult to put so many sazas into one constituency and so many into another. Although there are some disadvantages in doing so, I observe that the Administration itself is suggesting that if need be polling may be staggered to allow staff to travel in their areas. If necessary, it could be staggered a couple of days longer. I cannot see any serious administrative argument for not having their additional members if they are agreed upon in principle.

Another difficulty which may be raised is one of perhaps greater substance, and that is the position of Buganda. Buganda is, of course, concerned with the number of representative members in the Legislative Council and the proportion allotted to Buganda. If the numbers from other parts of Uganda are increased beyond a certain point, then Buganda, under the agreement, as I understand it, has a fair claim to additional representation for itself. Although it is regrettably true that Buganda at the moment does not seem anxious to fill its full number of places in the Legislative Council, which we hope is only a temporary matter, in equity it might be necessary to suggest that, in addition to the seats I have proposed, there could be perhaps an additional one for Buganda if it was required to bring up the proportion. It is a fractional matter on the suggestions that we have made. Buganda has five members at the moment. Obviously, they cannot have five-and-a-half members. Therefore, it is a question of whether they should have six or not. I would not wish to prejudge that as it would be a question of interpretation of the agreement with Buganda.

However, I hope it will not be suggested that this is something to which Buganda ought in any way to object. Whether or not Buganda wishes to have extra representation for itself, it would be extremely unfortunate from every point of view if it were thought that Buganda in any way objected to other districts having what they believe to be adequate representation. I do not know whether there is in Buganda a proverb or fable which is equivalent to our "dog in the manger", but it would be a great pity if Buganda, which perhaps does not hold the Legislative Council in the highest regard, should object to other districts which wish to have adequate representation in the Legislative Council, because Buganda, at this moment at any rate, is not so enthusiastic. I hope that there will be no dog-in-the-manger attitude by Buganda. I think it is quite unnecessary that there should be.

I hope also that no suggestion will be made that this minor increase in representation, which, I emphasise, does not alter the constitutional balance in the Legislative Council provided that the Government appoint members on their own benches, too, should be considered to be a constitutional change in the sense envisaged in the 1955 agreement. I do not think it is. It is purely asking for adequate represention of heavily populated districts which are not as fully represented at the moment, particularly by comparison with Ankole or Busoga.

For all these reasons, I hope that further consideration will be given to this matter and that the views of the representative members will be taken seriously. After all, although they are not directly elected at present, they are in close touch with the different parts of Uganda. They have thought about this matter carefully. They have had experience of the Legislative Council. They are anxious to ensure that the Legislative Council takes its proper place in the political development of Uganda.

There are one or two other points that I should like to mention. I believe that we have a little more time, because I think that the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Llewellyn) does not propose to take his Adjournment debate which was to follow this one. Although on this occasion, having put this special plea forward, I do not wish to go into the whole question of the possible future constitutional development of Uganda, we all recognise that there are some extremely difficult constitutional problems which must be settled within the next three years or so. We know that a great deal of discussion is going on among those who are interested in these matters in all communities in Uganda.

There is the whole question of the common roll and of what is meant by safeguards for minorities, a very contentious matter altogether. Discussions are still proceeding as to whether the official policy of the unitary State in the complete sense of that word is feasible and, if not, what variation of federalism would be practical and would produce a viable State. There is the difficulty that the non-African peoples live mostly in the towns and that the Africans live mostly outside the towns. This makes a town-country division which is in effect on racial lines. There are a number of other problems also which have to be considered.

There are people in Uganda who are looking at other parts of the world. I believe that some have been looking at the Constitution in Malaya, for example. They are looking, naturally, at developments in other parts of Africa and questions of franchise and of a second Chamber. Almost every constitutional problem which one could imagine is relevant in one way or another to the problems of Uganda. Therefore, I make the plea that one should not wait until the moment arrives for a formal negotiating conference, but that steps should be taken to see that as much discussion as possible takes place informally before people have to commit themselves.

I do not know what would be the best way of doing this, but there is something to be said for suggesting that possibly somebody with considerable constitutional knowledge and experience might be asked to go on a fairly prolonged visit in an informal way to Uganda to discuss all these matters and to help people to make up their own minds, so that when the time comes in 1960–61, when these things must be looked at in a more formal way, people will have had some opportunity to inform themselves of the pros and cons of the different possible combinations and permutations of constitutional arrangements.

Things are in a ferment in Uganda. There is every kind of complexity and difficulty between the different parts of Uganda. It is most important for the healthy development of the Constitution that as much friendly and informed discussion as possible can take place before we reach the point of decision, when things will have to be decided, rightly or wrongly, for a long time to come. It is partly because I think that as a useful preliminary to all this, more adequate representation in the Legis- lative Council is extremely desirable, that I hope we shall have a helpful reply from the Under-Secretary of State this afternoon.

2.33 p.m.

Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)

I am glad to have this opportunity of following my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), who has chosen an important subject for this debate. She has made a powerful case for an increase in the number of elected members in the Legislative Council in Uganda and I hope that the Colonial Secretary will pay heed to her submissions.

Quite apart from the actual numerical points which have been raised, there is also the important question of the relationships between the traditionalist groups, which are still very powerful in Uganda, and the developing political parties, who believe in a broader based democracy.

I believe that the Colonial Secretary must allow the increase in the number of elected members of the Legislative Council to come so that the prestige and power of the Council in the eyes of the Uganda people can be increased and so that the Legislative Council can be the proper basis for the achievement of self-government in Uganda.

I am not one of those who believes in independence for a Colony at any price. It would be a mistake to hand over power simply to any group of people in a Colony. Power must be handed over to a democracy where there are representative institutions on the basis of universal adult suffrage. At the moment, because of the tremendous increase in the activities of the political parties in Uganda and of the growing following that the ideas of democracy are having there, the traditionalist groups, particularly in Buganda, are fighting desperately hard, using all the weapons that they can command—intrigue, threats and manipulation within the Buganda area itself.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. John Profumo)indicated dissent.

Mr. Stonehouse

The Under-Secretary protests, but the events of the last few weeks and months, involving several prominent Buganda politicians, prove beyond any doubt that the clique in the Buganda Lukiko, which is anxious to maintain its power, has been doing its best to intimidate the prominent Buganda politicians, with the result that there is now an alliance between three of the leading Buganda political parties. They have just made a statement in Kampala asking that the Buganda Lukiko should have proper elections and that the present Buganda Government should be dissolved.

It is an amazing development that the three political parties in Buganda can come together in this way. The only reason for them coming together is the reactionary methods that the Buganda Lukiko has adopted in trying to deal with its political opponents.

Recently, the Buganda Lukiko accepted the recommendations of its constitutional committee, but I understand that tomorrow the Minister of Health and Works in the Buganda Administration is arriving in this country to put these demands to the Colonial Secretary. I hope very much that the Colonial Secretary will resist these demands. They include independence for Buganda, separate from the rest of Uganda, and the Kabaka to be proclaimed the king of the whole of Uganda, which is a fantastic demand. It would be quite wrong for the Colonial Secretary to pay any particular attention to these demands irrespective of the other submissions which have been made by the other sections of the country.

I fully agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East that the number of members in the Legislative Council must be immediately increased, but I also feel that within a very short time, possibly shortly after the direct elections are held at the end of this year, there should be a constitutional conference so that these manifold problems can be adequately discussed.

When a country is reaching independence, it is not easy to get the proper balance between the traditionalist groups and the developing political parties. It would be a great mistake if the Colonial Secretary and the Governor of Uganda were to pay too much heed to the traditionalist groups at this time. They must try to establish a proper basis for democratic independence in Uganda and this may mean dealing strongly with the traditionalist groups, particularly those in the Buganda Lukiko, who, by their statements over the past few weeks, have shown that they do not believe in democracy.

2.40 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. John Profumo)

I would start by saying how grateful I am to the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) for having taken this opportunity of affording us a chance of discussing the important constitutional problems in Uganda. Whenever the hon. Lady proceeds to initiate this sort of debate in this House, I have found from my short experience, she is always motivated by sincerity and the desire to take every opportunity of bringing in front of hon. Members the affairs not only of Uganda but also of other areas of which she has great experience, and also the desire to be quite sure that everybody is doing his job properly and that no opportunity is lost of seeing that development is going forward in the territories in which she is interested.

To that extent my right hon. Friend and I always listen or read with the greatest interest what she has to say, and we wish to be as helpful and forthcoming as we are able to be. I do not know that on this occasion I shall be able to please the hon. Lady or that I can go all the way with her, but I would assure her at the outset that I have listened with the greatest interest to what she has had to say.

As the House is aware, in 1954 the Uganda Legislative Council was enlarged from 32 members to 56, of whom 28 were representative members. This change meant an increase in African membership of from eight to 20. In 1955 the Ministerial system was introduced, under which five Ministers were drawn from the public of whom three were Africans. In addition, two African Parliamentary Secretaries were appointed. Changes were also made in the composition of the Legislative Council and on the representative side the number of representative members from Buganda was raised from three to five, and the number of representative members from Busoga and Ankole was raised from one to two each. The effect of these changes was to bring the number of African representative members in the Legislative Council up to 18, or three-fifths of the total representative members, the number of European and Asian representative members being reduced from seven to six in each case. On the Government side the number of official members was reduced from 17 to 10, the balance being made up of unofficial members and Parliamentary Secretaries. The number of back bench members, formerly known as cross-bench members, was increased from 11 to 13. At this stage the Legislative Council comprised 60 members equally apportioned between the Government and the representative sides, of whom 30 were Africans.

Hon. Members will recall that when agreeing to these constitutional changes my right hon. Friend said, I think with some considerable measure of agreement, that no major changes in the Constitution should be introduced for a period of six years from 1955, after which time the position would again be reviewed.

In January this year further minor changes were made and a Speaker was appointed. I speak with great deference when I say "minor changes". I mean within the orbit of what is going on there. I should not like to be misunderstood. A Speaker was appointed to preside over the Legislative Council in place of the Governor, and in order to compensate for the loss of the Governor's original and casting votes two additional African back bench members were appointed. Another change in the Government back bench membership occurred in January when an African was appointed to take the place of the Resident of Buganda, who asked to be allowed to leave the Legislative Council.

The effect of these changes was to bring the total membership of the Legislative Council to 62, in addition to the Speaker, of whom 33 are African. One African representative seat, as the hon. Lady said, remains vacant following the resignation of an African representative member from Buganda who resigned last year.

Hon. Members are aware that Uganda will be taking an important constitutional step forward in October of this year when the direct election of African representative members to the Legislative Council will take place. This is what will happen, despite what was said by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse), who tends to suggest that what he calls the traditional attitude is always trying to resist any step forward. I want to make it plain that there are certain things which have already been arranged and which will happen. The hon. Lady was asking whether we could take certain steps in advance of what has been already arranged. It is that to which I want to direct my attention.

Mr. Stonehouse

Then how does the hon. Gentleman explain this position in Buganda over the African representation?

Mr. Profumo

That is a parochial problem and representations will be made in due course, and I do not want to overshadow them. When the hon. Member speaks he sometimes tends to overstress the power of the traditionalists who, according to his view, try to resist advance. What I was trying to say was that a considerable advance has already been agreed and it will be a great step forward in Uganda and that this will happen anyway.

The system of direct elections followed recommendations which had been agreed to by representatives of the Kabaka's Government and the Protectorate Government in 1957. It was not originally intended that direct elections should be extended to other provinces before 1961, but in view of a widespread desire in the Protectorate that any system of direct elections introduced for the African representative members from Buganda should be applicable to all alike, arrangements were made for direct elections to be extended to those districts in the Eastern, Western and Northern Provinces which wanted them, with the exception of Karamoja, where political awareness is as yet little developed.

It was, therefore, I agree with the hon. Lady, really very astonishing and most disappointing that earlier this year the Buganda Lukiko decided by resolution that Buganda would not wish to take part in the elections to be held in October. The reasons they gave for this change of front seemed to me largely irrelevant to the issue of direct elections, but the Governor decided to suspend the arrangements for such elections in Buganda after making every effort to give effect to the agreed recommendations of the Protectorate Government and the Kabaka's Government.

Elsewhere in the Protectorate, with the exception of Karamoja and the districts of Bugisu and Ankole, which have decided not to participate in the next elections at all, the registration of voters has been completed, and more than three-quarters of the people who were on a rough estimate considered to be qualified to vote have registered. The hon. Lady made a point of this. I think it is very encouraging indeed.

To come to what I think was the central point in her speech, she suggested that the number of African representative members ought to be increased by four. If I divine her aright, I think she might like to up that figure a little. She suggested they should be increased by four before the forthcoming elections, but she recognised that if the African representative membership were to be increased by that number a corresponding increase in the number of back bench members would be necessary to maintain the Government majority. This would mean increasing the total membership of the Legislative Council from 62 to at any rate 70, probably more; that is, if we adopted the hon. Lady's scheme.

I think the House would agree that that could not be regarded as a minor change. It is a pretty big change, and my right hon. Friend would not want this to happen. Apart from anything else, it would involve a considerable alteration of the balance of interests in the Council, a subject which must come up as an important factor to be considered in considering the overall constitutional development of the Protectorate. The satisfaction of some interests would leave others dissatisfied and provoke some others at present quiescent to urge some other changes before the general constitutional problem can be dispassionately considered as a whole. We do not want to tinker with some isolated feature of the constitutional scene at this time and make even more complicated the task of mounting the first direct elections to be held in the Protectorate.

It was in the light of this sort of consideration that my right hon. Friend, after consulting the Governor, reached the conclusion that the increase in membership suggested is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.

Mrs. White

I really want to reinforce the arguments I have already made. One cannot ask for a very large number at this time, for that would be a major change, but an increase only for the districts mentioned, which have the strongest claim on grounds of population, or for other reasons which I have already adduced. I think it would be perfectly within the competence of the Government, if they so wished, to reach agreement on that on the basis of the present number of representative members.

Mr. Profumo

Once one starts this kind of thing it might be difficult to avoid major changes before the time is ripe.

Of course, I am aware that the Representative Members Organisation has requested my right hon. Friend to receive a delegation to ask him to reconsider this decision. The hon. Lady kindly said that she did not want me to give an answer this afternoon, and hinted that we should think it over more carefully. I am grateful to her for making it possible for me not to have to give a substantive answer today, but my right hon. Friend will certainly act on this request when he has been able to consider is against the background of advice from the Governor. However busy he may be with other matters, my right hon. Friend is never too busy to study carefully all these problems as they arise from any territory. Incidentally, I was delighted to hear that Mrs. Saben has been honoured by being elected Chairman of the Representative Members Organisation. This is a fitting tribute to the confidence and regard in which she is held by people of all communities in Uganda.

The next major objective is to proceed to direct elections on a common roll for the representative members of the Legislative Council from all parts of the Protectorate. This will be an important step and before it can be taken many practical problems will have to be solved. It is proposed that these complicated issues should be discussed during the life of the next Legislative Council, when it is intended that there will be full public discussion in all parts of the Protectorate so that public opinion will have every opportunity to make itself known. In these discussions consideration will be given to the extent to which representative membership can be enlarged within the framework of a common roll system, with due regard to the representation of minority communities.

To consider making a major change in the racial and numerical composition of the Legislative Council would prejudice future constitutional discussions during the life of the next Legislative Council, which must devote its attention to a complexity of problems, including the size and balance of the Legislature. I assure the hon. Lady that it is the intention of the Protectorate Government to initiate such discussions early in the life of the next Legislature and to ensure wide discussion and careful consideration of the difficult problems involved.

The hon. Lady raised one or two other points which I will study with care and interest, and although I may not have gone as far as she wanted me to go, I hope she will appreciate that this matter is being looked into carefully and that my right hon. Friend has it well in hand.