HC Deb 08 February 1962 vol 653 cc587-8
4. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will make a statement on progress towards the realisation of the Malaysian Federation.

10. Mr. Strachey

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what further steps he now proposes to take to facilitate the merger of the Federation of Malaya with Singapore and the British territories in Borneo.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Bernard Braine)

Since my right hon. Friend's statement on 28th November, the Commission of Inquiry has been set up, under the chairmanship of Lord Cobbold.

Mr. Brockway

Whilst I welcome this proposal for a Malaysian Federation, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he appreciates that Singapore is likely to be the critical area? In order to secure the support of its population, does the proposal include the right of Singapore to equal status as a State within the Federation? Does it include citizenship rights for all who are born in Singapore?

Mr. Braine

That is another and wider question. I would ask the hon. Gentleman to put it down on the Order Paper.

Mr. Strachey

Will the hon. Gentleman state the terms of reference of the Commission. May we rely on him to see to it that the British Government appreciate the overriding importance and urgency of this matter and do everything in their power to facilitate a successful outcome?

Mr. Braine

Yes, Sir. The terms of reference are to ascertain the views of the peoples of North Borneo and Sarawak on the issues of greater Malaysian integration. I entirely agree with the thought behind the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. The object is to take the views of the people concerned and then, in the light of those views, to make recommendations.

Sir J. Barlow

Will my hon. Friend make sure that the rights and privileges of the indigenous populations of Sarawak and North Borneo are carefully preserved? Is he aware that these people are not nearly so well organised as the Chinese living in the principal towns of those countries.

Mr. Braine

Yes, Sir. That is one of the purposes of the Commission of Inquiry.

Mr. Strachey

While appreciating the point behind the question of the hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow), may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he does not agree that the rights and privileges of the aborigines of these areas will be far more seriously prejudiced if this project does not come to fruition than ever they will be by anything which happens if it does?