HC Deb 31 October 1957 vol 575 cc78-9W
66. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the constitutional crisis in St. Lucia.

Mr. Profumo

The present constitutional arrangements in St. Lucia came into force in March, 1956. They provide for elected majorities in both the Legislative and Executive Councils, for the appointment of elected members as Ministers and for the recognition of the Executive Council as the principal instrument of policy; they also provide for the appointment by the Governor in his discretion of three nominated members to the Legislative Council and one to the Executive Council.

Election under these constitutional arrangements took place in September. 1957, and the St. Lucia Labour Party secured seven of the eight elected seats in the Legislative Council. The Party has so far declined to co-operate in the formation of a Government on the grounds that the individuals nominated by the Governor are unacceptable to them, that the Party should have been consulted prior to their nomination and that only individuals not opposed to the Party's policies should be nominated.

Representations by political parties in three of the Windward Islands seeking various constitutional changes, including changes affecting the nominated members, have already been considered earlier this year by my right hon. Friend. He concluded that a longer opportunity should be given for all concerned, not least the electorate, to see how the present arrangements work in the territories before further changes are considered. With regard to the point now raised by the St. Lucia Labour Party, my right hon. Friend attaches great importance, at the present stage, to the retention of nominated members. He also attaches importance to the nomination of individuals to serve as nominated members being left, as the Constitution provides, to the Governor's discretion.

The first meeting of the new Legislative Council of St. Lucia is due to take place tomorrow. It is very much hoped that the St. Lucia Labour Party will at that meeting agree to operate the Constitution, under which the recent elections were fought, and that they will co-operate in the formation of a Government.

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