HL Deb 25 May 1954 vol 187 cc841-2

2.42 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 whether they regard the recent replacement of the pro-independence member of the Governor-General's Commission as being in accordance with the letter or the spirit of Article 4 of the Sudan Agreement of 12th February, 1953.]


My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, under Article 4 of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement, the two Sudanese members of the Governor-General's Commission were to be appointed by agreement between the British and the Egyptian Governments. Their appointment was to be subject to the subsequent approval of the Sudanese Parliament, the Parliament being entitled to nominate alternative candidates in case of disapproval.

The two Sudanese originally nominated were drawn from the two main bodies of opinion in the Sudan. One belonged to the Khatmia sect and to the National Unionist Party, which favours union with Egypt, and the other was associated with the Ansar sect and the pro-independence movement. This arrangement was acceptable to all political Parties in the Sudan at the time. When their appointments came before the Sudanese Parliament last month, the appointment of the pro-independence member, Ibrahim Ahmed, was disapproved, and a second supporter of the National Unionist Party was nominated in his place. The majority Party were within their rights, according to the letter of the Agreement, in making this change. But Her Majesty's Government deeply regret their action, which, in our view, is calculated to destroy the balance of representation on the Commission and is therefore incompatible with the intention of the Agreement that the Commission should act as a body above Party conflicts for the benefit of the Sudanese people as a whole.


My Lords, I thank the noble Marquess for his very clear Answer. Arising out of it, would he not agree that, as a result of this appoint-meet, the Governor-General's Commission is now in fact a packed Commission, with potential results so serious that there has already been one Press report that the Pakistani Chairman contemplates resigning?


In answer to the noble Lord I can only repeat that I understand that what has been done is in accordance with the letter of the Agreement, but I must not be taken as giving to your Lordships the impression that I think it was in accordance with the spirit that was intended; indeed, I would agree with the noble Lord that it was far from being that. So far as the Pakistani Chairman is concerned, I am afraid that I cannot answer for him.