HC Deb 04 March 1949 vol 462 cc74-5W
Mr. Skinnard

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what changes have been made within the past five years in the systems of local and central government in Basutoland; and what further changes are contemplated.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

The following changes have been made:

  1. 1. A District Council has been set up in each of the nine districts of Basutoland. The majority of the members of each council are elected. Each Council also includes some members of the Basutoland Council resident in the district and nominated representatives of certain bodies.
  2. 2. A National Treasury was established on the 1st April, 1946. The Treasury is administered by Basuto and receives a proportion of Native Tax and certain other revenues. It has taken over a number of services notably the maintenance of bridle paths in the mountains. The Paramount Chief and all other chiefs with courts of record receive fixed salaries from the National Treasury. The practices whereby chiefs retained the proceeds of fines imposed in their courts and the proceeds of the sale of stray cattle and imposed "non-judicial fines" have been abolished.
  3. 3. Courts of record have been reduced from over 1,300 to just below 200. The 75 system of appeals has been greatly simplified and proper arrangements have been made for the record of proceedings by court clerks paid from National Treasury funds and for the inspection of courts by District Officers.
  4. 4. Reforms have recently been made in the composition of the Basutoland National Council. Details of these reforms were given in my reply to the hon. Member's Question of 2nd December last.
  5. 5. No further immediate changes are contemplated. Future 'development must be by progressive stages and cannot be allowed to outstrip the development of the ability among Africans to take a larger share in the privileges and responsibilities of government.