HC Deb 21 July 1958 vol 592 cc11-2W
Mr. Wall

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will make a statement with regard to defence facilities for the Union of South Africa in the High Commission Territories.

Mr. Alport

The High Commissioner for Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland has completed his discussions with the Union Minister of Defence and the following statement has been publishedDiscussions which have been taking place in Pretoria between Mr. F. C. Erasmus, Minister of Defence, and Sir Percivale Liesching, High Commissioner for Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland, on facilities in the Territories relating to planning for the defence of South Africa have been concluded. Mr. Erasmus and Sir Percivale were accompanied by their respective advisers. During the discussions reference was made to the arrangements agreed in 1955 for the grant of facilities to the Union Government to survey sites for the establishment of radar stations in the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland for possible use in defence in the event of war. It was also then agreed that the survey might be extended to Basutoland if suitable sites could not be found outside its borders. Following on a series of meetings in London in September, 1957, between Mr. Erasmus and Lord Mancroft, Minister without Portfolio (who was acting on behalf of the Minister of Defence in the latter's absence from the United Kingdom), the United Kingdom Government undertook that careful consideration would be given by the High Commissioner for Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland to proposals made by the Union Government for further facilities in the High Commission Territories and it was agreed that these proposals would be discussed in greater detail in South Africa. As a result of the further talks the High Commissioner has agreed that certain facilities should be accorded to the Union Government under the following heads:

  1. (a) overflying rights on a reciprocal basis;
  2. (b) arrangements for search and rescue operations;
  3. (c) airstrips in the Bechuanaland Protectorate may be inspected for use by S.A.A.F. aircraft in case of emergency landings;
  4. (d) a short access route through Basutoland to a proposed radar site on the Drakensberg Mountains on Union territory; and
  5. (e) permission for a South African Defence Force party to carry out a reconnaissance of an emergency route to South West Africa across the south-western part of the Bechuanaland Protectorate. If in the event of an emergency in South West Africa the Union Government requested permission to send defence vehicles there by that route sympathetic consideration would be given to this request.

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