HC Deb 06 April 1970 vol 799 cc19-20
16. Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration has been given to Paper No. 22 of 1969 of the Legislative Council of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, being the report of the Special Select Committee to examine interim proposals on Constitutional Development; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Luard

The recommendations of the Select Committee form the basis of the new Constitution established by the British Solomon Islands Order 1970 made on 24th March. The Constitution provides for an elected majority in a single Governing Council working through functional committees. Elections are planned to begin this month with a view to constituting the new Governing Council by July.

Mr. Godman Irvine

Will the hon. Gentleman convey the congratulations of the House to all those who have been working on this Constitution and have modified the Westminster principle to meet the requirements of geography and Melanesian customs, which are rather different from those which we have here? Would the hon. Gentleman also agree that something ought to be done in his Department to ensure that information such as this, and the information requested in Question No. 29 about the Seychelles, is given to the House other than on occasions when requested by back-bench Members?

Mr. Luard

I thank the hon. Gentleman for the first part of his Question. It is true that the Constitution which has been agreed is suitable to the Solomon Islands Protectorate and to the traditions of the area.

On the second part of his question, it is the practice of the Government to issue White Papers announcing important decisions of this kind, and I think that in general the House receives full information about constitutional changes in our dependent territories.