HC Deb 08 November 1966 vol 735 cc1138-9
28. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what facilities are made available by his Department to assist self-governing territories in improving the machinery of democratic institutions in their territories; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bowden

I am not sure just what my hon. Friend has in mind. Any request from another member country of the Commonwealth for assistance in the matters referred to is naturally given most sympathetic consideration by my Department, in consultation as appropriate with other Departments.

Mr. Dempsey

Yes, but can my right hon. Friend say what active assistance he is giving to Commonwealth units where the threat of a one-party State emerges with its consequence of acts of oppression? Would he state that his offices are being used to the best of his ability to develop the democratic techniques of the Commonwealth organisation?

Mr. Bowden

The problem, of course, is that, once a country is independent, it is independent. Any advice or help which the Commonwealth Affairs Office could give would, I am sure, be offered.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that Her Majesty's Government's first priority should be to improve the machinery of democratic institutions somewhat nearer home?

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