§ 8. Mr. G. M. Thomson
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reply has been given by the Government of Northern Rhodesia to the fifth petition from the Bemba Ilinga Council, representing a large proportion of the Bemba people, for the restoration of the powers of Paramount Chief Chitimukulu, which were suspended last year; whether he is aware that fifteen out of seventeen of the Bemba chiefs have supported this petition; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
It has not been possible to give a definite reply to the Bemba Ilinga Council, as discussions on the future powers of the chief are taking place in Bembaland between the Administration and the Bemba chiefs and councillors. Opinion amongst Bemba chiefs and councillors is by no means unanimous. I am not aware that fifteen chiefs have supported the petition.
§ Mr. Thomson
Is the Secretary of State aware that, if he were able to take some action on this matter quickly and to restore the powers of the Paramount Chief, that would go a long way towards creating that atmosphere of good will which would assist him in the Conference on the Territorial Constitution.
§ Mr. Macleod
As the hon. Member knows, there has been a good deal of discontent among the Bemba tribe on this matter and opinions vary on both sides. I have asked the Acting-Governor—the Governor himself is in this country, of course—for a reply on this matter and I will let the hon. Member know as soon as possible.