HC Deb 20 November 1958 vol 595 cc1320-2
44. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what conclusions were reached in the official discussions with the Governor of Uganda regarding the appointment of a Committee to discuss constitutional developments in that territory.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)

With permission I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement which the Governor of Uganda made with my approval on 17th November setting out details and terms of reference of a Committee which is to be set up for this purpose in the near future.

Mr. Brockway

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of us have read reports about this? Is he also aware that we are concerned that he should give an assurance that there shall be no appeasement of the privileges of the Uganda feudal traditionalists which will conflict with the democratic rights of the people of the Protectorate?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I would rather that the hon. Gentleman read the actual statement than reports about the statement. The statement, when it appears tomorrow, will also include what the Governor said in regard to the position of the hereditary rulers.

The following is an extract from a statement made by the Governor of Uganda on 17th November:

"The Government, by a statement made by my predecessor in April, 1956, is committed to consideration, involving full public discussion in all parts of the country, of problems involved in proposed introduction of a common electoral roll in 1961. It is also clear from debates which have taken place in this Council, and from the Press, that there is a strong feeling throughout the country that there should be more Africans on the representative side of this Council. With the agreement of Her Majesty's Government I am now able to announce the appointment in the near future of a Committee with the following terms of reference:

'To consider and to recommend to the Governor the form of direct elections on a common roll for Representative Members of the Legislative Council to be introduced in 1961, the number of representative seats to be filled under the above system, their allocation among different areas of the Protectorate, and the method of ensuring that there will be adequate representation on Legislative Council for non-Africans.'

During the course of their work and hearing of evidence, this Committee will no doubt receive expressions of views regarding size and composition of the Legislature and also possibly of the Government. I must make it clear that these are matters on which a very special responsibility lies directly with Her Majesty's Government and cannot be settled here in Uganda; but nevertheless I should value on the spot advice which the Committee may wish to offer me on these subjects, although they are outside their strict terms of reference, as this will assist me in advising the Secretary of State not only on the Committee's recommendations arising from their terms of reference but also on any other related issues that may be brought before the Committee. After appropriate consultations I hope shortly to announce the composition of the Committee, which will be predominantly composed of members of the Legislative Council. The Committee will report to me.

I cannot conclude without referring to the position of traditional rulers in Uganda. When the Secretary of State was in Uganda in October, 1957, he made it clear that he, as I, believe strongly in maintaining the prestige and dignity of the rulers, and that it would be a continuing anxiety to the British Government to see how their standing and prestige could be preserved in any future constitutional changes. I myself have since said that this Government and Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom respect and support the reverence and esteem in which the people hold their hereditary rulers, and propose to ensure that whatever constitutional and democratic developments there may be in Uganda, the dignity and prestige of these rulers, which their people themselves so clearly desire, shall be preserved. These views of Her Majesty's Government, which are also the views of the Protectorate Government, remain unaltered. Although it is still too soon to say what the constitution of Uganda will be before or when self-government is eventually achieved, I wish to make it clear that it is the Government's firm intention to seek provision in all constitutional developments to secure hereditary rulers a position which will appropriately reflect their traditional status and prestige."

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