HC Deb 28 February 1973 vol 851 cc1493-4
26. Mr. Frederick Lee

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made towards constitutional reform in the Solomons, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and the Condominium of the New Hebrides.

Lord Balniel

I would refer the hon. Member to what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary told the House on 27th November and 11th December. In December the Legislative Council of the Gilbert and Ellice Island set up a Select Committee to make recommendations for constitutional changes there.—[Vol. 847 c. 14–15, 518–19; Vol. 848 c. 4–5.]

Mr. Lee

While obviously the need for economic aid will be with us for a very long time, now that we see the great changes coming in Papua and Guinea, could it not well be that the need to expedite constitutional change, especially in the Solomons, has arrived?

Lord Balniel

I am sure that there is a great deal of validity in the point the right hon. Gentleman is making. He will know that the Select Committee on the Constitution of the Solomon Islands has made proposals. It is not, however, for Her Majesty's Government to consider or to comment on the Committee's proposals at this stage. In due course, after the election, a new governing council will decide what recommendations to convey to the High Commissioner, and we shall consider them at that stage.