HC Deb 01 December 1960 vol 631 cc558-9
2. Miss Vickers

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether, in the new Constitution for the Bechuanaland Protectorate, he proposes to have a representative on the Legislative Council who will have the special responsibility of representing Bushmen.

Mr. Sandys

The Bechuanaland Protectorate Government will continue to be directly responsible for the welfare of Bushmen; and the official members of the Legislative Council will have the duty to watch their interests.

Miss Vickers

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in view of the fact that these are a small group of people, about 11,000 in all, who are practically illiterate, it would not be very much better to have a protector for the Bushmen representing them on the Legislative Council as, he may remember, was previously done in Malaya?

Mr. Sandys

As my hon. Friend knows, these people are not in themselves sufficiently advanced to be directly represented on the Legislature, and the method that she has suggested is one method of securing representation. We feel that the duty which is placed upon the Government themselves is probably the most effective safeguard for the Bushmen, but, as an additional safeguard, the new Constitution does provide that when necessary outside persons may be invited to attend and speak at meetings of the Legislative and Executive Councils.

Mr. Brockway

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would consider that one of the official representatives should have a special responsibility for these Bushmen who have no representation and who, as the right hon. Gentleman says, are probably incapable of voicing their own needs? Could not one of the official representatives be given this special responsibility?

Mr. Sandys

I will look at that possibility, but, on the whole, I prefer to feel that the whole Government regard themselves as having responsibility for looking after these people.