§ 41. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been drawn to new restrictive Bills, namely, L.C.B. 47, 1959, and L.C.B. 48, 1959, which have just been gazetted in Northern Rhodesia; if he is aware that these two Bills are oppressive in character, and that he has power, to be exercised through the Governor of Northern Rhodesia to disallow them; and if he will exercise his power of disallowance accordingly.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
I have seen these Bills. The Protected Places and Areas Bill provides for the protection of essential installations from wanton damage or sabotage. The Preservation of Public Security Bill is designed to enable the Governor, when a recongisable threat to public security arises, to take such Rowers as the actual situation may necessitate with the object of preventing grave disorder. Both Bills have my general approval.
§ Mr. Hughes
Does the Minister realise that it is particularly unfortunate to persist with repressive legislation of this kind at the present time, when all people of good will are seeking to enlarge the liberties of Africans and to create an atmosphere of good will amongst the European and African people? Will the 227 right hon. Gentleman reconsider his decision upon this point? Does he realise that if he does not disallow these Bills, he must take the consequences?
§ Mr. Macleod
The hon. and learned Member must realise that, far from this being an attempt to introduce repressive legislation, its object at least is exactly the reverse, as we explained when discussing the similar type of Bill in Kenya. The position, briefly, is that at the moment a Governor can only take the full powers that are available to him by Order in Council for an emergency. The object of this is to make lesser powers available to him, which may save the situation from deteriorating to the point at which emergency has to be declared.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Is the Minister aware that these Bills were opposed in Northern Rhodesia by representatives of all the parties and of all the races? Although they were not defeated, there was substantial opposition to them. Can the Secretary of State tell the House, as this is an important matter, what were the grounds of the principal opposition?
§ Mr. Macleod
That may be so only in relation to one Bill. Concerning the first one, the Protected Places and Areas Bill, there was no division on Third Reading. Indeed, Sir John Moffat said in his speech that the Bill was acceptable to him. The second one was, no doubt, opposed on the ground that these were very wide powers indeed to put into the hands of a Governor. I entirely agree with that criticism so far as it goes, but I believe that both in Kenya and here, this form of legislation will be found to prevent, not to encourage, the situations that lead to emergency.