HC Deb 15 December 1952 vol 509 cc142-3W
Mr. Gordon Walker

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will make a statement about development since 1939 concerning the future of the High Commission Territories.

Mr. J. Foster

There were no developments during the years 1939 to 1947.

When he was in this country for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in 1949, the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa referred to the matter in conversation with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), then Secretary of State. Dr. Malan restated the Union Government's view, of which the right hon. Gentleman took note. Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom understand that Dr. Malan has also referred to the matter publicly on several occasions since 1947.

In addresses delivered to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) during his visits as Secretary of State to Basutoland and Swaziland in February, 1951, the Paramount Chiefs of those Territories referred to their desire that their present constitutional position should remain unaltered. In reply the right hon. Gentleman reiterated the pledges that no decision would be taken until the inhabitants of the Territories had been consulted and the United Kingdom Parliament given an opportunity to express its views.

In reply to a Question in the House of Commons on 22nd November, 1951, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stated on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom: I can assure the hon. Member that His Majesty's Government consider themselves bound by the pledges concerning the future of these territories which have been made on many occasions during the past 40 years by previous Governments. These pledges are that transfer of the Territories to the Union of South Africa should not take place until their inhabitants have been consulted and until the United Kingdom Parliament has been given an opportunity of expressing its views.

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