§ 3.4 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Guyana Independence Bill, has consented to place Her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS AND FOR THE COLONIES (LORD BESWICK)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The main purpose of the Bill is to provide for the attainment by British Guiana of fully responsible status as an independent nation. It marks yet another step along the road on which we have been moving with increasing firmness, confidence and speed since the Second World War—a road along which we have led some 750 million people to independent nationhood. I am sure that everyone in the House will welcome, genuinely and sincerely, this new nation of Guyana, as the country will be called from May 26. At the Independence Conference, the British Guiana delegation expressed the wish that on achieving independence Guyana should be accepted as a member country of the Commonwealth. On behalf of the United Kingdom, the Secretary of State willingly undertook to support a formal request for membership, and it is in the belief that Guyana will be accepted into the Commonwealth family that this Bill has been drafted.
It is noteworthy that Guyana will be the first Commonwealth country on the continent of South America. The first British connection with this area dates as far back as the late 16th and early 17th centuries, although it was not until the end of the 18th century that we became directly involved in the affairs of what is now British Guiana; and a Colony of that name was formed only in 1831. There will be many in this House who will have a much more direct and intimate knowledge of the country and its peoples than I have, but I know enough 561 to be able to speak with conviction of the real friendliness of the Guianese people, and the genuine interest and regard which they have for this country and for the British people. Indeed, in many interesting ways it seems to me that some of them have held more tenaciously than we have done to British customs and attitudes, which they have come to know over the last 130 years.
It has been said that to some extent the Colony of British Guiana has suffered from too great a dependence upon one industry, and certainly this factor of a one-crop economy can hit with severity the territories which are in this position. Some efforts have been made to secure diversification, and more must be done. Over the past 100 years the population of the Colony has increased from an estimated 150,000 people to around 640,000 to-day. This can be taken as a mark of the considerable development which has taken place in the economy under British colonial rule, but when one reflects that this also means that a country the size of England and Wales has a population only the size of Manchester, one can see what an enormous potential there is for the future.
I recently had the privilege of meeting Mr. Thomas, the Minister of Economic Development, and it was stimulating, and indeed exciting, to listen to his hopes and plans for the economic development of his country. Especially did he emphasise the opportunities which could be made available in the thinly populated interior, for peoples from Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean area whose population densities are so strikingly higher. There are considerable resources in the area, modern knowledge and techniques have done much to reduce the diseases, such as malaria, which have afflicted these tropical countries, but what is now needed is more capital. Provided that development capital is forthcoming, there is no doubt that an expanding economic future can be assured for this country. I should add that the total aid from the United Kingdom for the year, if Parliament approves, will be about £3 million.
Guyana will move into independence under the leadership of Mr. Forbes Burnham, and there is no doubt that Mr. Burnham and his Coalition Government have made a great impression, both at home and overseas, by the way they have 562 tackled the financial and economic problems with which they have had to deal. Mr. Burnham, like Dr. Jagan, of the People's Progressive Party, is well known to many people in this country. I am sure that we all accept his ability and integrity, and will wish him well in the tasks that lie ahead.
I do not intend on this occasion to dwell upon the less happy aspects of recent years, but we are all aware of the most unfortunate difficulties and disturbances, many of them racial in character, which have marked the last few years of progress to national independence. It is a fact, on which both we and others in the world may well reflect, that in British Guiana, and in so many other territories of the world for which we have had or still have responsibility, a formidable obstacle to the achievement of independence has been not the clash of interest between the territory concerned and the United Kingdom, but the frictions and the antagonisms—although not, I trust, irreconcilable hostilities—between one section or group of peoples within the same territory. We must all regret there has not, as yet, been complete reconciliation in British Guiana between the different racial groups, but violence now is almost completely behind us, and we must hope that it is a phase that is finished for ever.
Clause 1 of this Bill, my Lords, provides for fully responsible status for Guyana from May 26, and it is in accordance with the agreement reached at the Constitutional Conference. Clauses 2 and 3 deal with nationality matters, and follow the normal pattern. By Clause 2, subsection (1), Guyana is added to the Commonwealth countries listed in Section 1, subsection (3), of the British Nationality Act 1948. This will secure that any person who, under a law in force in Guyana, becomes a citizen of Guyana will also, by virtue of that citizenship, possess the status of a British subject or Commonwealth citizen in our own country and under our law in the United Kingdom.
Clause 4 validates certain defective certificates of naturalisation with effect from their dates of issue. This makes valid a number of certificates issued between 1958 and 1963 which we now find were previously technically invalid. Clause 5, together with Schedule 2, deals 563 with the modifications of various United Kingdom enactments consequent upon the grant of independence. They are on the usual lines, except that, at the suggestion of the British Guiana Ministers, certain sections of the Army Act 1955, and the corresponding sections of the Air Force Act 1955 and the Naval Discipline Act 1957, will continue to apply as if Guyana were a Colony, in order to facilitate the implementation by the Guyana Government of certain undertakings given by them relating to the retention of British troops for a limited period after independence.
Clause 6 provides that Her Majesty may, by Order in Council made before May 26, 1966, provide a Constitution for Guyana to come into effect at that date. It has been agreed that the Independence Constitution should contain provision to enable Guyana to become a Republic, should it so desire, on the passing of a resolution by its National Assembly not earlier than April 1, 1969. But Guyana will enter independence as a Monarchy, and I confirm that Her Majesty has graciously agreed to become the Queen of Guyana on May 26. Clause 7 enables the Order in Council containing the Independence Constitution to provide for the jurisdiction of Her Majesty in Council to hear appeals from Guyana to pass to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, should Guyana become a Republic. Clause 8 contains interpretative provisions, and Clause 9 contains the Short Title.
It only remains for me to say again that we welcome this development in the affairs of a people with whom we have had such close associations. We are happy to think that Guyana is of her own wish applying for membership of the Commonwealth of Nations. We shall be ready and proud to support, in any way in which we are asked, her application to take a place in the United Nations. We look forward to a future for Guyana of economic development and political harmony. My Lords, I am pleased to move the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(Lord Beswick.)
§ 3.15 p.m.
THE EARL. OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, we must all be most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, for his 564 remarks on the development of British Guiana towards independence within the Commonwealth. We on this side of the House welcome the Bill, which was, of course, foreseen and prepared some time ago by my right honourable friends in another place.
Unlike some of your Lordships, I have never myself visited this most interesting country, although I spent some days in the neighbouring island of Trinidad, which has also achieved independent status within the Commonwealth. But I have read a great deal about the new Guyana in the Press, and, of course, about the regrettable political disturbances there in the past—very serious disturbances indeed. But, fortunately, under the wise Government of the present Prime Minister, Mr. Forbes Burnham, these disturbances, and what one might almost describe as the James Bond atmosphere in the territory, are all, I think, things of the past. I trust that the country will now live in peace and prosperity for many years to come, that her economic development—which, as the noble Lord has said, stems from bauxite, diamonds and gold as well as sugar, rice and bananas—will proceed apace, and that the 1965 record output of rice will be surpassed in coming years.
Much has been said about these racial conflicts which the noble Lord has mentioned and which have led to terrorism and people being detained under preventive detention powers. As I understand it, however, only 13 out of the original 44 now remain in custody, and it is clear that these 13 are not held for political reasons but for their acts of violence. I think it must be remembered that virtually all the other Commonwealth countries that have achieved independence in recent years have unfortunately had to retain such powers in order to maintain internal law and order. As your Lordships know, an independent tribunal of inquiry, comprising three non-political and, I know, just and sincere men, has been set up, and I hope that more of the prisoners will make use of this impartial body. In any event, I do not think that by delaying independence we shall assist in getting these men released. I am rather inclined to the view that they will achieve their freedom more rapidly when independence has been granted on May 26.
565 In regard to the stationing of British troops, which the noble Lord mentioned, am I not right in thinking that they will remain there until at least October of this year, by which time the Guyana defence forces should be fully trained and able to take over responsibility for internal security? I am glad to see that we have agreed to the secondment of men from Britain during the next few months, perhaps even years, to assist in the training of forces there.
Racial tensions have certainly been reduced, and last year the political and economic climate continued to improve under the Coalition Government of Mr. Forbes Burnham and his People's National Party and Mr. D'Aguiar's United Force Party. We regret, of course, that Dr. Jagan's Progressive People's Party declined to accept the invitation to attend the Conference last November, and we also regret that the present Government there, in the interests of law and order, still has to make use of the emergency powers of detention. But, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, implied—at all events, I am sure he will agree with me on this—we hate these powers of detention; but it must he agreed that they rest not with Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom but with the Government of Guyana itself which already has the responsibility for ensuring public safety and order.
Moreover, I do not think it can be seriously contended that the records of these men are other than those of involvement in violence and terrorism. Some, I believe, were trained abroad: some in China, others in Cuba. It would in my view be mad to release all these men unconditionally before independence is granted. Despite the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, the Amendment to the Bill tabled in another place, that the Act should come into operation only on condition that no persons continued to be detained, was emphatically negatived; and I hope that no similar Amendment will be put before your Lordships.
I do not think I have any observations to make on any specific clauses of the Bill. There was a very full discussion on the Second Reading and on the Committee stage in another place. The Bill follows the general pattern of previous 566 Bills granting independence to other territories. I think we must all be glad to learn that Her Majesty has agreed to become Queen of Guyana on Independence Day. I should like to join with your Lordships in congratulating Guyana on the great constitutional advance which will take place later this month and also on that country becoming, as the noble Lord said, the first Commonwealth country on the Continent of South America. I am sure your Lordships would like to congratulate, too, those who played so important a part in achieving this independence, not only the wise Mr. Burnham and Mr. D'Aguiar—I am told that they are both doing splendid jobs—but also successive British Governors, Sir Ralph Grey and Sir Richard Luyten. We all know that Sir Ralph bore the heat and burden of the troubles with amazing courage and endurance, and that Sir Richard has been equally dedicated in discharging his duties. I am sure that we also greatly welcome Sir Lionel Luckhoo as the first High Commissioner-designate for Guyana in Britain. He was, as your Lordships know, recently knighted by Her Majesty on her last visit to Georgetown. Mr. Burnham, I believe, has achieved considerable success in breaking down the strong racial differences. It is no longer correct to regard one Party as representing one race.
I think now, in conclusion, that we should concentrate our efforts on assisting Guyana in her economic development. Geographically, she is the size of Great Britain, yet there are only 60 miles of road in the country. The country certainly has an important economic future. Despite the internal troubles, she has managed to maintain—a remarkable thing to maintain—a favourable balance of payments by keeping her imports well under control. Her mineral wealth is not at present being fully exploited. Although her people have achieved considerable success with the 40 per cent. exports of sugar, it is hoped that with the aid of outside investment they will derive considerable further revenue from their mineral resources. I am glad to learn that a sum, perhaps amounting to some £3 million, will in the present financial year be provided in the form of technical assistance and development loans.
567 My Lords, who knows what limits may be set on their development? It is interesting that French Guiana, now a Department of France, and which lies beyond the Netherlands Guiana and is known as Surinam, may soon become a great international space station so that spacecraft may be placed in equatorial orbit, making it possible, with the same rockets, to put up larger payloads than even those from Cape Kennedy. Who knows what the future has in store for these three territories, the three Guianas? I am sure it is the wish of us all that the Guiana with which we have had such close links will remain for many years to come a happy member of the Commonwealth family and also of the Caribbean Free Trade Area in the creation of which Mr. Forbes Burnham played such an important part. On this side of the House we warmly welcome Guiana's independence.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am sorry to strike a somewhat discordant note in these harmonious proceedings; but I am not so optimistic about the future of Guyana as either of the previous speakers. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, with his usual realism, gave some of the factors of this country's situation—he mentioned, for example, that it is the size of England and Wales. It is, in fact, the size of England, Wales and Scotland, with a population of 100,000 less than that of the City of Liverpool. In view of the objection and the backpedalling that both the Government and the Opposition have displayed to regionalism in this country—they will not give any sort of self-government to Scotland or Wales or parts of England—it is odd that they are now prepared to hand over to such a country full government, with United Nations membership—and will, moreover, give them £3 million. As a Welshman I only wish that some charity started at home.
As we have heard, the economy of this country is narrowly based on sugar, rice, bauxite and timber. In fact, the population, small as it is, is not scattered over the country, but is concentrated in the capital, Georgetown, and in the narrow coastal belt. The remainder of the country is left to nature and to a few wandering aborigines, of whom we have heard not 568 a word to-day, from either speaker. When a country is given independence, we in this House are usually told a great deal about those who were the original inhabitants; but to-day not a word has been mentioned about them; whether they agree with independence; whether there are any of them left; or in what sort of conditions they will live. We do not know. All the people we are speaking about are either immigrants or the sons or grandsons of immigrants. It is an immigrant community. And no word has been said about the original inhabitants.
I have had a good deal to do with the economic problems of Guiana, and I know the difficulties. That is why I have now done what I have never done before. I have been talking on Independence Bills, either in this House or in another place, ever since the first one in 1947 when I carried the Ceylon Bill through the House of Commons, but I have never previously made a speech like this. I think that the House ought to know the great problems that this country will have to face in the future, with such a small population: such an enormous amount of harness on such a tiny horse. The instability of the country, the fact that it has these two main immigrant communities, either from Africa or from the East Indies, affects the whole of the situation, politically, militarily, socially and economically. We have seen the result of this to-day. So far as I am aware, this is the first time that we as a Parliament have been asked to grant independence and to leave our troops in the country. Why is that? Why are we to leave our troops in the country?
I should like to have from the Government an answer to a question which, so far as I know, has never been put, either here or in another place. To whom are these troops to be responsible? If an officer gives an order to shoot, to what authority will he look, either for his superior order or to protect him in the case of action, civil or criminal? In my young days, when in the Colonies, we used to have a lot of training in operations in aid of the civil Power, in what we used to call "mob fighting". One of the things we were always told was: "Don't give an order to fire, if you can help it; and, if you do, hand in your resignation straight away, for no Government will back you up at home." This is a very serious problem. If British troops are 569 operating in Guyana and it is an independent country, what will be the position of the officer or other rank who takes action? Who will be responsible? Are we in this House, and Members of the other place, Parliament as a whole, to be responsible for British troops?
Another example of this instability is that we know that under the new Constitution which is coming into operation there will be detention without trial. It is an odd thing that a democratic society should put these people off into the brave new world and give them the right to detain people without trial. The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, knows that at this moment there are thirteen people in detention who have not been tried. He said—on what authority I do not know—that they are all very bad fellows and ought to be detained. How does the noble Earl know that they are bad fellows, or what offences they have committed? Has he gone through their papers? They have never come to trial. No court has decided what the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, has decided. We have now the position that a noble Lord on the Opposition Benches can condemn thirteen men unheard. I think that is a very odd situation for this House of Parliament.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, I cannot allow the noble Lord to go unite so far as that. I have not condemned any one. The information we have, I am told—no doubt the Minister replying for the Government will say something on this—is that it is quite clear that these men are not there for political reasons, but entirely due to the acts of violence which they committed.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, the noble Earl says that it is due to the acts of violence which they committed. How do we know? What evidence have we got, or has the noble Earl got, that they committed any acts of violence at all? What evidence have we got, or has he got, that these men are there not because of political reasons but as criminals?
This state of affairs seems to me highly unsatisfactory. The noble Earl may be right. I do not know whether he is right; nor does he know. That is the whole point. I guarantee that the noble Earl does not know. He has made statements in this House—and presumably the Government will support him—for which 570 neither he nor they have any authority. The fact is that at this present moment, with the blessing of Her Majesty's Government, thirteen people who have never been tried are detained. We say enough about Rhodesia and South Africa, when the authorities there detain people without trial, but what about this country? Why are we at this moment giving all this power and authority when these people are doing the very thing which we rightly condemn when it is done in Rhodesia and South Africa?
My Lords, I do not like making this speech. I would rather make the sort of speech which the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, made, quite frankly—the sort of speech I usually make. But your Lordships know me well enough to know that I always say what I mean, and I feel that it is time we looked at the realities of the situation, instead of passing these pious platitudes on this sort of occasion.
For instance, there are in Guiana 640,000 people, who are poor people: as we have already heard, they will have to provide Embassies all over the world. They will have to provide High Commission offices in London and elsewhere. Their Ambassadors and High Commissioners will float around in Cadillacs and Mercedes cars. Her Majesty's Government will introduce them to the United Nations, and they will need an expensive establishment in New York, as well as an establishment at Washington. Again, they will have to have cars there. Where is the money coming from? Of course, £3 million of it is coming from Her Majesty's Government, but what about the people? It is the people with whom I am concerned. Time after time we have produced these Constitutions and ushered countries off into the brave new world, and we have seen money go into the pockets of the leaders, of the politicians, and the people have been no better off. In fact, to my certain knowledge, and to the knowledge of your Lordships, the gap between poor and rich countries is getting wider the whole time; partly due to the fact that the richer countries are exploiting the poorer countries in so far as they will not pay the proper market price for their raw materials.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, may I put one question to the noble Lord? 571 Have not we given to this country proportional representation, which is the policy of his Party?
§ LORD OGMORE
Yes, my Lords; a Conservative Government gave them proportional representation, because they said —Mr. Sandys himself said it—that the ordinary British system which they had previously had led to chaos. If that was the Conservative Government's view of the situation, I am surprised that they did not suggest putting proportional representation into operation in this country.
I do not wish to detain your Lordships any longer. You have two important measures to consider, or one, at any rate, if we can manage to persuade the Leader of the House to give way on that score. But this is an important question. I feel that we are embarking on a voyage into the unknown. We are pushing these people, or are agreeing to their going sailing off, in their very frail barque, into the unknown; and I think that before we give a Second Reading to the Bill, or at all events before we pass the Bill as a whole, we should realise what are their chances and what are the circumstances of a country which we are now proposing to make a fully paid-up member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, I did not intend to intervene in this debate but I have been to British Guiana. I am sorry that Lord Campbell of Eskan is not present to-day. He is a great expert on British Guiana. I had the privilege to he present at the inauguration of the Caribbean Federation by Princess Margaret and I visited British Guiana. The current Constitution was then being operated. There had been troubles, and Sir Patrick Renison, the Governor, had appointed his nominees under the Legislative Chamber at that time.
We know that British Guiana has sugar and bauxite and rice in the Macciviony area, and there is green heart timber which is worked by our Colonial Development Board in the jungle. The difficulty in Guiana which we have to recognise is that around Georgetown there are the blacks, and in the Macciviony area, where the population is vastly increasing, there are the Indians who, in the main, support Dr. Jagan. I wish to 572 say frankly to this House that it will take a long time to get a viable economy in British Guiana, but that is no reason why we should not give them the independence which they have sought for so many years.
In the context of racial strife as I have seen it, I am pleased that Guyana has decided to remain a member of the British Commonwealth. The greatest problem I see—and I support the Bill—is this. While there is no tension now, will that situation continue under independence? The Indian population is increasing fast, and the population ratio of the two races is about 51:49. That is the difficulty we have to face. Years ago there was a split between Dr. Jagan and Forbes Burnham which I remember very well. Forbes Burnham continued in Opposition for many years till we had the last trouble, and then Duncan Sandys brought in a Constitution which they have been operating up to now. I believe that Constitution was greatly responsible for reducing the tension since the last uprising. I disagree with the previous speaker. I think the Government are right to help the new independent State with its Coalition Government, whatever may happen in the future, and to give them a period to consolidate their Government.
Again, in the context of the racial tensions that I have seen, I think the Government have done right in the Act of Independence to say, "While you have independence we will see that the lawful Government is upheld, and help in all ways to reduce the potential trouble that can take place between the Indians and the blacks". It is my honest desire today, knowing the country as I do, that our every endeavour within the Commonwealth should be to help to break down this terrible tension that has occurred between the Indians and the blacks in British Guiana, and to get a geophysical survey of the whole country, with its diamonds and gold by the Kausher Falls up the River Potaro, its bauxite, its sugar and bananas. Small as the population may be, I believe that there can be a future for them if we can get them living together harmoniously.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Bess-borough, and my noble friend Lord Blyton for the welcome they have given 573 to this Bill. I am sorry I cannot equally thank my noble friend (if I may still call him my noble friend) Lord Ogmore. Knowing his great interest in the Colonies, I expected him to take part in this debate, but I was not expecting him to take the sort of line he did. I must tell him that all three Parties in British Guiana want independence. Who are we to say that they should not have independence? Since when has the great Liberal Party been against the granting of independence to these colonial territories? Is the noble Lord prepared to stomp the country and say that he is no longer in favour of independence for these people? One reason that he seemed to have against their being given independence was the fact that the majority of the people in British Guiana are immigrants. So are the majority of people in Wales immigrants. I do not think he can seriously hold that against them.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, my noble friend (if I may call him that) has rather misconstrued what I said, no doubt owing to my lack of putting it clearly. What I meant was that I do not see how one can really call it independence when the Government has to be supported by British troops, and has to have a provision in the Constitution which enables them to detain people in custody without trial. If those two points are present I do not think you can call it real independence, quite apart from the fact of viability.
§ LORD BESWICK
I propose to come to the point about the British troops in a moment. As I understood the case which the noble Lord was making to the House, it was that British Guiana was unfitted to be independent by virtue of its size. It is a small country. The noble Lord rather derided it on that account and the fact that the majority of the people there are not indigenous people, or, at any rate, their connection with the country did not go back over infinity.
The 28,000 Amerindians are a separate people. They can, I suppose, claim that it is their country, in the same way that the Indians in the United States can claim that the United States is their country. Special provision will be made in the new Constitution for this separate group, and I understand that their welfare will be 574 I protected in the new Constitution. I do not think that because they have these emergency powers, on that account alone we should deny them independence. There are many countries in the world today, unhappily, which have emergency powers. If all the countries in which there are now people held without due process of trial were to be denied independence, the membership of the United Nations would be considerably smaller than it is at the present time.
In this particular case we did have a most unhappy period. There were racial tensions, to which the noble Lord referred; there were something like 200 people whose lives were lost, and about 1,000 houses which were destroyed. During that period it was, I think, difficult to bring anyone to trial; it was difficult to get witnesses to come forward. There was a good deal of terrorism. There was a period when the ordinary processes of law could not be maintained. But I think the record shows that the action which was taken under the Emergency Regulations has yielded results. The terrorism has been overcome; the violence, as I said earlier, is now behind us. Although at one time there were 41 people held under the Emergency Regulations, the number is now 13, and I hope that by May 26 it may be even less. The Prime Minister, Mr. Forbes Burnham, has said publically that it is not his intention after independence to use these Emergency Powers. He does intend to introduce fresh and more liberal legislation, and I think the undertakings he has given in this regard ought to commend themselves to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore.
The noble Lord raised a particular point, which I think is most interesting, about the presence of British troops in Guiana. It is significant that this same point has not been raised in earlier discussions in another place. But I think I can give the noble Lord some reassurance on this point. The troops are there at the request of the British Guiana Government, and they are there for a limited period. It is intended that, with the exception of a few officers, they will be withdrawn in October of this year. They are there for the purpose of assisting in the training of local defence forces. I f they were required for any other purpose than this training then the order would come not from the British Guiana or the Guyanese Government, as the noble Lord 575 suggests, but through the High Commissioner, who would not issue an order without the express consent of Her Majesty's Government here. I should have thought that the position was perfectly well covered so far as this is concerned.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, the position of the High Commissioner is really an ambassadorial one. He is the representative of the British Government in a diplomatic sense. Is it right to give him the authority and the serious responsibility of ordering troops out at the request of Mr. Forbes Burnham?
§ LORD BESWICK
I thought I had made the position clear. It is not intended that he will order British troops out. I am saying that the agreement is that these troops will be there for the purpose of assisting in the training of local defence forces. If the question arises—we hope that it will not, and we have no reason to think it will—that the use of these troops is required for any other purpose, then consent would have to be given by Her Majesty's Government in this country. That consent would be given not through the Government of Guyana, but through the High Commissioner. So the British troops, I should have thought, would know perfectly well what their position was.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, would a request for the use of the troops have to be made by the Government of Guyana? I do not think that is quite clear.
§ LORD BESWICK
We are dealing with a hypothetical situation. I have no reason to believe that this request will be made, but if the matter did arise there would be a request, presumably from the Guyana Government; but that request would have to come to Her Majesty's Government here, and any orders for the operational use of British troops would have to be channelled through the High Commissioner in Georgetown. As I have said, I think this will cover the doubts which have been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore.
I would just add, in conclusion, how much I agree with the words of con- 576 gratulation used by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough. I think we are indebted to all those who have come together to make this development possible, both British and Guianese. With his words of congratulation and appreciation, I think we might well spare a moment to consider all those in the Colonial Service who have given their lives in previous years and in the previous century, and who have helped to establish this nation and make possible the conditions in which I move the Second Reading of this Bill to-day.
On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.