HC Deb 01 August 1958 vol 592 cc216-7W
Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reply has been sent by the Broken Hill District Race Relations Committee, Northern Rhodesia, to the complaint by the Rev. M. M. Temple that 11 members of the Constitution Party, including three Africans and one Asian, were refused refreshments at the Rio Cafe, Broken Hill, on 18th February last.

Mr. Profumo

, pursuant to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, Tuesday, 22nd July 1958; Vol. 592, c. 225], supplied the following further information:

The summary which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member is as follows:

"In his reply the Governor gave me the following summary of the correspondence, which I think you will agree is rather long for an oral Parliamentary reply. He stated that the Chairman of the Committee replied on 2nd April to Mr. Temple's letter of the 18th February, but had been unable to settle the complaint to everyone's satisfaction; that the Committee felt that the proprietor had no personal animosity or strong colour prejudice, but that the reason for refusing service to non-Europeans was purely commercial—a fear with some justification, in that if they served non-Europeans, much of their European custom would leave them; that there was some substance in the view that if Africans were served in the cafe race relations, which have never been bad at Broken Hill, might deteriorate rather than improve; that the Committee did not consider that it would be helpful to take the matter further at this stage; and that as the proprietors of the cafe in question were reasonable people, it was hoped as time went on to persuade them to modify their present policy.

Subsequently, on 14th May, Mr. Temple replied that he understood the reasons advanced by the proprietors, and saw no reason why the same reasons would not be valid in thirty years' time; that he did not feel that the Committee had taken any action to prevent similar occurrences; that the financial loss that might be suffered by the proprietors by serving non-Europeans was a small matter compared to the great damage done to human dignity by refusing to serve them; that he did not accept the view that race relations might deteriorate if the cafe were open to non-Europeans; and that he was referring the matter to the Race Relations Committee.

Apparently there was a further exchange of letters which took the matter no further, but in a letter also dated 14th May Mr. Temple put the same complaint to the Central Committee. The Committee replied on 27th June that the time had come to investigate the possibility of establishing more cafes and restaurants in the major towns of the territory to serve all sections of the communities; that it had therefore decided to find out whether English law governing the right of travellers to receive hospitality in hotels also applied to cafes and restaurants; that another solution might be for all new licences for cafes and restaurants to be issued on the condition that the premises would be open to all members of the public, subject to their behaviour and dress, and that the Committee was investigating this possibility; and that it would be unreasonable to expect the cafe proprietor to penalise himself by taking individual action, thereby estranging the goodwill of the majority of his regular customers, particularly since he might have invested considerable capital in his business, and have started out to cater for a particular type of trade."

When I receive the findings of the Central Committee I will let the hon. Member know.

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