HC Deb 19 July 1963 vol 681 cc1006-7

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

3.42 p.m.

Mr. Brockway

I wish to raise on the Clause a point to which I drew attention in my speech on Second Reading but to which the Minister made no answer. The Clause, refers to the appointed day when the Bill will come into operation, although the Bill contains no statement of the date of that appointed day. The only reference to it is in the Explanatory Memorandum, which does not have the effect of law. The appointed day is described as the day when federation is introduced. It might be 31st August, 1st December or 1st January. The Bill contains no statement of the date.

I will not repeat the grounds which I urged in my speech for further consideration before Malaysia is inaugurated. The fact is that Indonesia is a little upset because there has not been United Nations' inspection of opinion as was proposed at the Manila foreign affairs conference. Although U Thant and the United Nations have been sounded, the opportunity has not yet been given. I strongly urge that the date should not definitely be decided until the Ministers representing Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines have met at the "summit" conference which has been announced.

I should like an assurance that the omission from the Clause of a date for the inauguration of independence permits flexibility concerning the date in order to give an opportunity for the further consideration which I have urged.

Mr. Fisher

There is no reason why the date should not be in the Bill, but it is not necessary to include it because it is included in Article II of the Agreement, the text of which was contained in Cmnd. 2094. The intention at least is perfectly clear. Indeed, 31st August is already referred to as "Malaysia Day". The intention is clear and remains clear and this is the way we will proceed.

On the substance of the matter, which has been dealt with before in this debate, there are many good reasons for not deferring the date of federation. It would disappoint very many people in that part of the world. I believe it would disappoint the overwhelming majority. Possibly delay would cause a loss of confidence in the new nation, and that would be a pity. It would certainly prolong the colonial status of the Borneo territories.

3.45 p.m.

Really, I see no reason at all in this case why we should defer, or these territories should defer, to the views of Indonesia, to whom Malaysia cannot be a threat in any possible way. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) rightly said, the threat to the peace of South-East Asia, if there is one, comes from Communist China. It certainly does not come from Malaysia, and I do not believe that the wishes of the great majority of the people of these territories are really in any serious doubt at all. I see no point, therefore, in delaying the federation date. It is also the independence date, let us bear in mind, of the hitherto dependent territories of this Federation.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.