HL Deb 10 March 1954 vol 186 cc227-8

2.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what British troops are in the Sudan, and whether, if they are called upon to act under the present Regulation of a State of Emergency, they will only do so on the orders, and subject to the authority, of the Governor-General of the Sudan.]


My Lords, British troops in the Sudan consist of one battalion stationed in Khartoum. Under Article 11 of the Self-Government Statute, the supreme military command in the Sudan remains vested in the Governor-General. So far as the British battalion is concerned, this command is exercised through the Major-General Commanding British Troops in the Sudan, who is also Commandant of the Sudan Defence Force. It therefore follows that if British troops are required to act under the present state of emergency, they will do so only on the orders, and subject to the authority, of the Governor-General.

2.46 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend the Leader of the House for clearing up a doubt which existed in my mind and I think also in the minds of other noble Lords as the result of answers which were given by the Minister of State to supplementary questions put by me. In view of the danger and delicacy of the situation in the Sudan, I do not propose to ask my noble friend a supplemental question to-day. Of course, he will not assume from that—having the wide experience which he has of great affairs of State—that some of us, including, I think, some of your Lordships on this side of the House, are not seriously disturbed at the situation in the Sudan and may not at some future date ask for a debate and the opportunity to make a request for Papers.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Marquess for having made that statement in the form in which he has made it. He has put the point so clearly that one can readily understand it. I would say at once that it is in accordance with what I had always held to be the position since the new regime began to function in the Sudan. I should like, if I may, to say two things. The first is that I have the utmost confidence in the Governor-General, especially as to how and when he will choose to use what powers remain with him. The second thing is this. I also have confidence that the Governor-General will act in a perfectly constitutional manner after proper consultation with his Ministerial Council.