§ 77. Mr. Fenner Brockway
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the appointment of an independent commission to make recommendations for a form of constitution for a fully self-governing and independent Federation of Malaya within the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The approval of Her Majesty' The Queen and the Conference of Rulers has now been signified to the recommendations of the London Constitutional Conference regarding the appointment of an independent commission to make recommendations for a form of constitution for a fully self-governing and independent Federation of Malaya within the Commonwealth.
This Constitutional Commission is to be a small body selected in agreement with the Conference of Rulers and the Alliance Ministers. It will have a United Kingdom Chairman and one other member from the United Kingdom: Canada, Australia, India and Pakistan will each also be invited to provide a member. Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are already informally in touch with the Governments of the Commonwealth countries concerned regarding these appointments.
The Constitutional Commission will be appointed in the names of Her Majesty The Queen and Their Highnesses the Rulers.
The terms of reference of the Commission are as follows:To examine the present constitutional arrangements throughout the Federation of Malaya, taking into account the positions and dignities of Her Majesty The Queen and of Their Highnesses the Rulers; andTo make recommendations for a federal form of constitution for the whole country as a single, independent, self-governing unit within the Commonwealth based on Parliamentary democracy with a bi-cameral legislature, which would include provision for:
- (i) the establishment of a strong central government with the States and Settlements enjoying a measure of autonomy (the question of the residual legislative power to be examined by, and to be the subject of recommendations by, the Commission) and with machinery for consultation between the central government and the States and Settlements on certain financial matters to be specified in the Constitution;
- (ii) the safeguarding of the position and prestige of Their Highnesses as constitutional Rulers of their respective States;
- (iii) a constitutional Yang di-Pertuan Besar (Head of State) for the Federation to be chosen from among Their Highnesses the Rulers;
- (iv) a common nationality for the whole of the Federation;
- (v) the safeguarding of the special position of the Malays and the legitimate interest of other communities.
Two understandings were reached at the London Conference in relation to the terms of reference. First it was understood that nothing in the terms of reference proposed for the Constitutional Commission is to be taken as in any way prejudging the position of Her Majesty The Queen in relation to the Settlements of Penang and Malacca; and second that subsection (iv) of the terms of reference is not to be taken as precluding the Commission from making recommendations which would allow British subjects or subjects of Their Highnesses the Rulers to retain their status as such after they had acquired the proposed common nationality.
The Rt. Hon. Lord Reid, LL.D., F.R.S.E., has accepted appointment as Chairman of the Commission.