HC Deb 27 January 1960 vol 616 cc169-70
Mr. Dugdale

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the riot which took place at Blantyre yesterday.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. lain Macleod)

I have already asked the Governor for a report and I will make a further statement or circulate the reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT when it is received.

Mr. Dugdale

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that many people think it is most unfortunate that—according to Press reports—certain police officers behaved with truculence and stupidity? Is he aware that last night the Prime Minister himself said that the people who eventually rioted were extremely courteous gentlemen? Those were the Prime Minister's words. The people concerned were protesting against the imprisonment of Dr. Banda and the Government's apparent determination to include Nyasaland in the Federation. Does not the Minister agree that this further strengthens the Labour Party's decision not to take part in the work of the Monckton Commission, which refuses to discuss the secession of Nyasaland?

Mr. Macleod

I am sure that every hon. Member will regret what happened in Blantyre yesterday, whatever its causes may have been. I am equally sure that we would be wise not to try to judge the matter until we have a full report.

Mr. Grimond

I accept what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, but is it not extremely disquieting that these reports should appear in newspapers which by no stretch of the imagination could be said to be prejudiced against the Government of Nyasaland? Can he confirm that the police are in the control of the Government of Nyasaland and not of the Government of the Federation? Having received these reports, will he most seriously consider holding an impartial inquiry into this incident?

Mr. Macleod

I will consider whether it is appropriate to hold an inquiry as soon as I have the report. I am sure that the hon. Member has read the main Press reports and will notice that they vary very much. The Guardian does not treat the matter in anything like as dramatic a way as do some other newspapers. I cannot tell exactly how matters stand until I have the report.

Mr. Gaitskell

I agree that we must refrain from further comment until we have the report, but will the right hon Gentleman make a statement on the report as soon as he has had the opportunity of studying it, on his own initiative?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, if that is the wish of the House.