HC Deb 02 March 1961 vol 635 cc1722-3
2. Mr. D. Foot

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations when the Government of the Union of South Africa last communicated with Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom regarding the transfer to South Africa of the High Commission Territories; and if he will state the nature of such communication, and of the reply.

Mr. Sandys

The last request from the Government of South Africa for the transfer of these territories was received in July 1956. The reply given was on the lines to the statement made to the House on the 13th April, 1954, by the then Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), of which for easy reference I am circulating a copy in HANSARD.

Mr. Foot

Arising out of that reply, is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the Schedule to the South Africa Act, 1909, which provides the machinery of transfer, clearly contemplates a continuing relationship with the Crown? If such a request is received again, will Her Majesty's Government make it clear to the South African Government that when South Africa becomes a Republic there can no longer be even the faintest possibility of the transfer of these territories?

Mr. Sandys

Yes. The answer to which I referred made it quite clear that we were not contemplating any transfer. I should like to make it clear that the South Africa Act, 1909, does not place on us any obligation to transfer these territories, and therefore the fact that the Union has decided to become a Republic does not affect the position.

Following is the statement: There can be no question of Her Majesty's Government agreeing at the present time to the transfer of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland to the Union of South Africa. We are pledged, since the South Africa Act of 1909, not to transfer these Territories until their inhabitants have been consulted and until the United Kingdom Parliament has had an opportunity of expressing its views. General Hertzog himself, in 1925, said that his party was not prepared to incorporate in the Union any Territory unless its inhabitants wished it." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th April, 1954; Vol. 526, c. 966.]