HC Deb 04 February 1960 vol 616 cc1196-7
2. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations what constitutional changes are taking place in Basutoland; and what proportion of the members of the new assembly will be directly elected.

Mr. Alport

Constitutional instruments have been approved which give effect to the proposals agreed with the Basutoland delegation at the end of 1958 and laid before Parliament in Cmnd. No.637. The elected members of the Basutoland National Council will number forty and will constitute one half of the membership. They will be elected by the disstrict councils, which will serve as electoral colleges for this purpose. The remainder will consist of 22 chiefs, 14 persons nominated by the Paramount Chief, and 4 officials.

Mr. de Freitas

Since this by any standard represents an important constitutional advance in the part of Africa where there is very little political advance a[...] all, what do the Government propose to do to draw public attention to the fact that in Basutoland there is this small but highly important development?

Mr. Alport

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his reference to what is an important constitutional advance in one of the High Commission Territories. We have already published the full details of the constitutional proposals and the decisions which were made and the Order in Council and other instruments relative to this. Of course, when the time comes for the Basutoland National Council to have its first meeting, that would be an appropriate time to draw attention to this significant advance in the political development of a High Commission Territory.