HC Deb 28 July 1960 vol 627 cc1838-9
21. Mr. Emery

asked the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he can yet make a statement about constitutional advancement in the Bechuanaland Protectorate.

Mr. Alport

The Secretary of State has received proposals from the High Commissioner for the establishment in the Bechuanaland Protectorate of Legislative and Executive Councils. The Legislative Council will have an elected unofficial majority with equal numbers of European and African unofficial members and one elected Asian member. The Executive Council will have an official majority, and also with equal numbers of European and African unofficial members. The Secretary of State has approved these proposals, which are almost identical with the unanimous recommendations of the Constitutional Committee, which were endorsed by the Joint Advisory Council. A White Paper setting out the proposals will be laid as soon as possible.

Mr. Emery

I thank my right hon. Friend for that statement, which marks a very definite step forward in the constitutional advance of Bechuanaland. Will he give serious consideration to the desirability of the capital and administrative headquarters of Bechuanaland being moved inside the territory, now that this constitutional advance is being made? Without that neither the business interest nor the economic advance, which the political advance suggests, will ever develop.

Mr. Alport

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State replied on an earlier occasion to the point which my hon. Friend has just made. During the immediate past there has been a substantial transfer of Government offices and administrative headquarters into the Protectorate, and I hope that it will not be long before the headquarters of an increased number of Government Departments operate from the Protectorate. I can assure my hon. Friend and other hon. Members that we are well aware of the significance of the point which they have made.

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