HL Deb 25 July 1963 vol 252 cc825-7

3.6 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave 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 a further assurance can be given that all the agreements and Treaties with the Barotseland Chiefs will be fully respected and implemented.]


My Lords, in the discussions on the future of Barotseland, which have now been initiated, Her Majesty's Government recognise the special relationship with Barotseland based on the agreement made with Paramount Chief Lewanika in 1900, as amended from time to time by later supplementary agreements.


My Lords, I have been asked by my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton to say that he has the liveliest recollection of the explicit pledges he gave, with full authority, when he was Secretary of State. May I ask my noble and learned friend whether this means that Barotseland will continue to be a Protectorate of the British Crown?


My Lords, the Litunga has been given repeated assurances that no constitutional changes affecting Barotseland will be made without prior consultation and agreement with the Litunga and Council. It is against this background that the forthcoming talks between the Northern Rhodesia Government and the Barotse Native Government are being arranged, with the object of finding an acceptable and workable solution.


My Lords, does not the noble and learned Lord agree that the right way to deal with this matter is in the way the Government propose—namely, to leave it to be dealt with by the Government of Northern Rhodesia and the Government of Barotseland? Does he not also agree that the position of Barotseland is comparable to that of the Princes' states in India, and that they took a wise course by negotiating their future with the Governments of India and Pakistan before those two countries became independent?


My Lords, there would be, of course, very serious difficulties if Barotseland were to be entirely separated from Northern Rhodesia, with which it has been intimately connected since the early days of British protection. But we are confident that the forthcoming talks between the Northern Rhodesia Government and the Barotse Native Government will take full account of the position arising from the existing agreements.


My Lords, may I ask my noble and learned friend whether we can ask for something more? Can we ask here, in the case of Barotseland, for the same rights as we asked for in the case of Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Basutoland: that they shall be able to pursue their way to independence as a separate unit, quite apart from anything that happens in Northern Rhodesia?


My Lords, that is not the Question on the Order Paper, nor does it appear to me to be related to it.


My Lords, might I ask this question, which I think does directly arise out of what is on the Order Paper? First of all, are not any Treaties which exist with Barotseland not Treaties with Northern Rhodesia or with anybody else but the British Government or the British Crown? Secondly, if that is so, will it not be necessary to deal with this by an Order in Council dealing with the Constitution of Northern Rhodesia? Also, will this Parliament have the opportunity of approving or dissenting from or amending any provision with regard to Barotseland that there may be in that Order in Council?


I am grateful to the noble Earl. The position is that there can be no change in the constitutional position of Barotseland without consideration by Parliament, because this Parliament of the United Kingdom alone is competent to effect legislation affecting its constitutional status.

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