HC Deb 10 December 1963 vol 686 cc200-1
20. Mr. Oram

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what recommendations he has received for a revision of the franchise in Aden; and if the next elections will be held on the basis of the present franchise or of a revised one

Mr. Fisher

These matters are still being considered by the Aden Government.

Mr. Oram

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that there has been a quite inexcusable delay in this matter of franchise and elections in Aden which is leading to a sense of frustration in Aden and suspicion about Her Majesty's Government's intentions? Does the hon. Gentleman recall saying in this House on 26th February that elections were due this year and that there would be no question of delay? What is he doing to make sure that elections are held as soon as possible and on as wide a franchise as possible? There will be trouble if this is not done.

Mr. Fisher

There is nothing sinister about this. The Commission of Inquiry established by the Chief Minister of Aden last August completed its report at the end of October and its recommendations are now under consideration by the Aden Council of Ministers.

As to the date of the elections, these must be held, as the hon. Member knows perfectly well, within three months of the dissolution of the Legislative Council, which is due in January, 1964. Therefore, the elections must be held by April, 1964. We have no intention of introducing an Order in Council to postpone them, so they will take place during that period.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that on 26th February, in answer to me, he gave an undertaking that elections would take place this year? Is he now saying that this pledge is to be broken?

Mr. Fisher

No. There was possibly a misunderstanding. What I meant to say—and if the hon. Gentleman looks up the position in Aden he will see that this is correct—was that the present Legislative Council has to be dissolved in January, 1964, and that elections have to be held within three months thereafter. Therefore, what we are doing conforms entirely with the Constitution.

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