HC Deb 10 March 1960 vol 619 cc607-8
4. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reply he has made to the general secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions concerning its protest against the proposed ordinance on public security in Northern Rhodesia on the ground that it would gravely imperil personal liberties and freedom of association and endanger trade union rights.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The communication which I received from the I.C.F.T.U. alleged in particular that the provisions of this ordinance violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and endangered the rights of trade unionists. My reply has made it clear that I do not accept this allegation.

Mr. Swingler

How does the Secretary of State explain the fact that this ordinance appears to perpetuate emergency powers in the hands of the Governor, such as the power arbitrarily to ban meetings, to detain persons and to censor the Press? Is he aware that the I.C.F.T.U. is concerned that these powers may well be used against African trade unions?

Mr. Macleod

I understand the anxieties of the I.C.F.T.U., but I am sure that they are misplaced. The position is not that these powers are permanently retained in the Governor's hands, because he can use only such powers as are strictly required by the exigencies of the situation. That must be proclaimed by public notice. From that point of view the position is exactly the same as if it were necessary to declare an emergency. I hope that there will be fewer emergencies as a result of having these powers in reserve.

Mr. Brockway

Is it not the case that this ordinance maintains in the power of the Governor the exiling of a large number of trade union officials under the emergency of a few years ago? Is it desirable that this should be maintained in a permanent ordinance?

Mr. Macleod

To bring this regulation into effect, as I have just explained, the Government would by public proclamation have to make a declaration, in effect, that the safety of the State was in peril. That is the same sort of situation as has always existed under Emergency Orders in Council.