HC Deb 06 July 1961 vol 643 cc1676-7
Mr. G. M. Thomson

I wish to raise with you, Mr. Speaker, a matter which appears to me to raise a question of a breach of the privileges of this House. It occurs in a report in the Guardian of today, from its correspondent in Salisbury. With your permission, I shall read the relevant portions of the report. They are as follows: The Northern Rhodesian African leader, Mr. Kenneth Kaunda, had his documents confiscated by Federal Government immigration and customs officials and was forced to remain in the airport building for five hours when he arrived in Salisbury today on his way from London, where he had talks with Mr. Macleod. Mr. Kaunda has been a prohibited immigrant in Southern Rhodesia since 1954.… Today, he spent 45 minutes in the immigration office where officials confiscated his suitcase and documents—including a letter from Mr. George Thomson, a Labour M.P., correspondence between him and the Governor of Northern Rhodesia, Sir Evelyn Hone, about the Northern Rhodesian constitution, his presidential address to the congress of his party in Broken Hill next Sunday.… In support of my submission, I wish briefly to make three points, Sir. First, it appears that this matter comes wholly within the jurisdiction of this House of Commons. Mr. Kenneth Kaunda is a prohibited immigrant, not of the Federation of Central Africa which has certain attributes of sovereignty in regard to immigration. Mr. Kenneth Kaunda is a prohibited immigrant to Southern Rhodesia, which, in the legal sense at least, is still a Colony finally responsible to this House. Moreover, Mr. Kenneth Kaunda is himself beyond doubt a British-protected person for whom this House of Commons is responsible.

Secondly, the letter to which reference is made in this news report is, to the best of my knowledge, a letter arising out of proceedings in Parliament, since it is a letter which followed from Questions in the House and which, I believe, accompanies a letter from one of the Ministers of the Government which I was passing on to Mr. Kenneth Kaunda.

Finally, arising out of these two initial observations, I put this to you, Sir. It would seem impossible for hon. Members of this House to do their duty, as Members of Parliament, on behalf of British-protected persons if it is possible for our private correspondence on. Parliamentary matters with those persons to be arbitrarily seized by the officers of a colonial administration.

I therefore beg to submit to you that there is a prima facie case of breach of Privilege.

Mr. Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. Member. Under our present dispensations, I am allowed 24 hours to consider such matters. That I shall do in relation to this matter, subtracting from the 24 hours by ruling on it tomorrow morning.