HC Deb 24 November 1959 vol 614 cc179-80
8. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now restore to Africans in Nyasaland the freedom of political association.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Africans in Nyasaland are already free to join any lawful political association.

Mr. Swingler

Is not that a very hypocritical Answer? How can the Minister claim that Africans have freedom of political association when hundreds of Africans are detained in Nyasaland on political charges but not brought to trial? Is not the basis of freedom of political association habeas corpus and the right of a man to be able to defend himself? Will not the Minister consider granting that immediately?

Mr. Macleod

My Answer was accurate, both in the letter and in the spirit. There are many associations in Nyasaland, as the hon. Member knows full well—the Malawi Congress Party, the Congress Liberation Party and a great number of others—which are wholly or primarily African. On the wider implications of the hon. Gentleman's statement, no one is more anxious than I am to return as soon as possible to a normal state of affairs in Nyasaland.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Is the Secretary of State aware that even lawful political organisations such as the Malawi Congress Party are forbidden by law to hold any political meetings and are pursued in their normal political activities by the political police of Nyasaland?

Mr. Macleod

This is covered by my Answer. I hope that as soon as the Governor is satisfied that we can do this we shall return to a completely normal state as far as these are concerned.