HC Deb 12 May 1960 vol 623 cc82-4W
Mr. B. Harrison

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on his discussions with the delegation from the Somaliland Protectorate.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I informed the delegation of elected Ministers, in the course of my discussions with them last week, that, in pursuance of the policy announced by my predecessor in February, 1959, and in view of the declared wishes of the elected representatives of the Protectorate, as evidenced in the Motion adopted by the Legislative Council on 6th April, Her Majesty's Government were prepared to take further constitutional steps to make possible the independence of the Protectorate by 1st July.

Good progress has been made in subsequent discussions. Agreement has been reached on essential matters. In particular we have agreed on compensation to members of the public service, and on a scheme whereby a number of expatriate officers, at present serving in the Protectorate, will be able to continue to serve there for an interim period of six months after independence as a United Kingdom Aid Mission. We have agreed that a similar arrangement should be devised to enable British personnel serving with the Somaliland Scouts to continue to do so for an interim period of six months. This interim period will enable the Somaliland authorities to devise their longer term arrangements.

A suitable draft constitution for an independent Somaliland has been prepared.

We have given careful thought to problems of citizenship and nationality. With the withdrawal of Her Majesty's protection these Somalis-virtually the whole population of the Protectorate- who are British Protected Persons by virtue of their connection with the Protectorate will lose that status. While a new Somaliland citizenship will be created immediately upon independence, we realised that there might well be hardship and difficulties involved for individuals before the necessary organisation for the issue of new passports and papers could be created. Her Majesty's Government will do everything possible, in the United Kingdom and overseas, to ensure that hardship and difficulties do not arise, and I have so assured the elected Ministers.

In pursuance of my predecessor's undertaking regarding financial assistance, I proposed, subject to Parliamentary approval, and the elected Ministers accepted, that the sum of £1.5 million should be the amount paid during the first year after independence, of which half will be devoted to development expenditure. The elected Ministers informed me of their intention to maintain the level of economic and social services at present available to the people of the Protectorate. While Her Majesty's Government are glad to give financial help to the people of Somaliland for a period after independence, we would expect that in due course dependence upon the United Kingdom for financial assistance will diminish; and to this end the level of aid will be subject to annual review.

The elected Ministers proposed and Her Majesty's Government accepted that the date of independence shall be 26th June.

A report of our discussions will be printed and laid before Parliament as soon as possible.

I am sure that hon. Members will wish to join with me in sending to the people of Somaliland a message of good wishes as they prepare to tackle the great responsibilities which await them, and an assurance of our hopes for enduring friendship.

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