HC Deb 09 April 1959 vol 603 cc364-5
27. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the declaration made by the Federal Prime Minister on 4th April to the effect that the Federation could declare itself an independent State, if he will issue a White Paper clarifying the status of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in order to assure British protected persons in the protectorates that their rights under the preamble of the Federal Constitution will be safeguarded.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

There is no need. The undertakings regarding the Protectorate status of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland stated in the Preamble of the Federal Constitution are clear and unambiguous.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at this stage a clear statement is needed in view of the wild statements which are being made by the Federal Prime Minister which are causing great concern in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, among Europeans as well as the mass of the population? Will he make it clear that on no account will the two northern territories be swallowed up in the Federation until the majority of the people of those two territories agree to that?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

That is almost, but not quite, a quotation —it was accurate in all that matters —from the Preamble by which Her Majesty's Government firmly stand.

Mr. Bottomley

In view of the views expressed by many leading Federal citizens, including an ex-Prime Minister, that it is not clear in the Preamble, will the Secretary of State reconsider his decision not to produce a White Paper to make it clear?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I do not think that the production of a White Paper is necessary to make it clear that the Preamble to the Constitution —which is in the original document of which the House is aware —is regarded by Her Majesty's Government as being as binding legally and morally as any other part of the Constitution itself.

Mr. Callaghan

Does that mean, as I assume it does, that it would not he possible for the Federal Government to declare the Federation independent?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Yes, Sir. It also means that declaring any constituent part of the Federation independent —a suggestion which was also made —would be equally ultra vires.