HC Deb 03 March 1960 vol 618 cc1422-3
48. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if it has yet been decided how and to what extent civil servants in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland who wish to give evidence against Federation to the Monckton Commission will be able to make their submissions.

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

The Governments concerned have agreed that their civil servants should not be allowed to volunteer evidence to the Commission. Where, however, the Commission specifically invites individual officials to supply it with information on subjects on which they are qualified by their office to speak, or to explain some aspect of Government policy which arises in their sphere of official duty, civil servants will be permitted to give such evidence as the Commission requires of them.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Colonial Secretary aware that Sir Roy Welensky has said that he is aware that many civil servants in the two Northern Protectorates are strongly opposed to Federation? Would it not assist the work of the Monckton Commission if those civil servants could voluntarily appear before it?

Mr. Macleod

I am happy to know that the hon. Member is anxious to assist the work of the Monckton Commission. It seems to me that what I have announced provides the right sort of balance between what we might call the strict United Kingdom position in these matters and enabling the Monckton Commission to have the specific information it may well require from individual civil servants.

Mr. Callaghan

Is it not a fact that the civil servants concerned will have to wait to be invited to present their views? While recognising the statutory difficulties, is not it within the knowledge of the Colonial Secretary that a large number of distinguished and senior civil servants have reached conclusions about federation, as the result of their experience over the last seven years, which ought not to be denied to those considering it at this time? Has he any proposal to make—for example, by gathering opinions together himself and presenting them to the Commission—so that the Commission may know the views of the men on the spot who have been endeavouring to carry out Government policy?

Mr. Macleod

I do not think the Commission will find any difficulty in having that point of view, or any other, put to it. I am happy to say that the Commission has now a great deal of evidence put before it. Obviously, the position of civil servants is difficult. As hon. Members will recognise, it would not be wholly satisfactory to have civil servants expressing opinions in support or in criticism of Governments. What I have announced recognises that and yet will enable the Monckton Commission to call on them for specific information.