§ 9. Mr. Fenner Brockway
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the position in Singapore following the proposed resignation of the Chief Minister.
§ 21. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what further information he has in respect of the notified resignation of the Chief Minister of Singapore; and, pending his inquiry into all the circumstances, if he will state the reason attached to the request for the appointment of extra Ministers.
§ 33. Mr. Elwyn Jones
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the constitutional crisis in Singapore.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
Early this month, the Chief Minister of Singapore asked the Governor to appoint four additional assistant Ministers in order to strengthen the Ministries concerned. The Governor agreed to appoint two assistant Ministers, but refused to appoint the others because he did not consider that there was a real need for them.
1161 The Constitution provides that the Governor may appoint assistant Ministers after consultation with the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister contends that the Governor should accept his advice in all cases where the Constitution requires that the Governor should consult him. In the Governor's view, which my right hon. Friend shares, the correct interpretation of the Constitution is that in such cases the Governor, after consulting the Chief Minister, is bound to exercise his own discretion and that to accept the Chief Minister's interpretation would amount to an amendment of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Assembly has adopted a resolution endorsing the Chief Minister's view and adding a request that a new Constitution providing for self-government should be granted immediately.
My right hon. Friend is arriving in Singapore on Sunday and has suggested that this matter should be included among the subjects for discussion between himself and the Chief Minister during his visit.
§ Mr. Brockway
May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that very full answer? While hoping that Mr. David Marshall will continue to serve as Chief Minister, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will convey to the Secretary of State, before the conversations take place, the feeling of many hon. Members of this House that the peoples of Singapore and Malaya are now as determined to end colonialism as the peoples of India were in 1946, and that steps should be taken for the realisation of full self-government in these territories?
Air Commodore Harvey
Will not my right hon. Friend agree that, in the interests of all concerned, this matter ought to be left over until the Secretary of State has had his meeting in Singapore?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
I very much hope that it will be possible to avoid discussion of the merits of the Chief Minister's claim until after there has been this opportunity, which we all very much welcome, of my right hon. Friend discussing it with him in person in Singapore next week.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
While welcoming the fact that the Secretary of State will be 1162 meeting the Governor, the Chief Minister and other Ministers on Saturday, do I therefore gather that when he meets them he will not of necessity be bound by the statement made today that the views of the Governor must prevail, but that it will be open to him to discuss the whole situation?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
Certainly, the discussions will cover this point and a number of others. I would, of course, remind the right hon. Gentleman that the present Constitution came into force less than three months ago, and one would have to consider very carefully before embarking on any changes in it. The right hon. Gentleman and the whole House can rest assured that we are most anxious to secure a settlement of this question, and that we appreciate the help which the Chief Minister and his Government gave in the matters of the strikes and riots last month, and the strength which they showed. We are most anxious to secure a settlement.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider one other suggestion? We all welcome the fact that in the course of these discussions there was correspondence between Mr. Nkrumah and Mr. Marshall. May I ask him whether he will consider the fact that there are a number of Colonies which have reached the constitutional stage of having Ministers, and that it might be helpful to this development if in the not-too-distant future Ministers who occupy these offices in the various territories were called together in conference to discuss their related problems?
§ Mr. Sorensen
While also sharing the hope that the meeting between the Secretary of State and Mr. Marshall will issue in some reasonable compromise, may I ask the Minister whether, meanwhile, he will consider whether it is advisable for the Governor—although it is his prerogative—at least to consider sympathetically the acceptance of the proposal put forward by Mr. Marshall in the interests of all concerned?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
The question has, of course, gone very much wider than the 1163 original issue of the appointment of these assistant Ministers. The Governor's decision was based on purely practical grounds—that he did not think there was a need for the addition of two further Ministers, which would mean fourteen Ministers out of a House of thirty-two, apart from the fact that he did not think there was work for them to do. That decision was taken on its merits, and I think that, with the wider issues now under discussion, it would be quite wrong to go back on the original decision.