HC Deb 02 May 1957 vol 569 cc353-9
27. Mr. Brockway

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will make a statement on the official discussions with the Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland regarding the future of the Federation.

29. Mr. Wade

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will make a statement on the recent conversations between Her Majesty's Government and the Prime Minister of the Central African Federation.

30. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will make a statement upon the recent discussions with Sir Roy Welensky, Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)

In the absence in Ghana of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, I have been asked to reply.

Her Majesty's Government were glad to welcome Sir Roy Welensky to this country as Prime Minister of the Federation, and his visit provided an opportunity for useful discussion of a number of questions concerning the Federation. A joint announcement and declaration by Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the Federation were issued on 27th April, and I will circulate the texts in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Brockway

In view of the importance of the decisions which were reached, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that a full statement should be made to this House? So far as the official communiqués are concerned, will the right hon. Gentleman answer two questions? First, will there be consultation with the African populations of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia in 1960 before the Federal structure is maintained? Secondly, will he guarantee that before self-government is handed to the Federation, there shall be a democratic franchise in which the population will be able to express its views?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It is difficult to answer questions of such importance within the compass of a Parliamentary Answer. We are to have a debate on colonial matters in this House on Monday, and I shall be very glad then to answer any points raised. If, however, the hon. Member has any specific points in mind, I will attempt to answer them now. With regard to his first point, I can assure him that it is, of course, our intention that the conference in 1960 shall be a fully representative one

Mr. Wade

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the British Government have not committed this country in advance to any modification of the safeguards of the economic and political interests of the African inhabitants of these territories? Secondly, is it likely in the near future that there will be any increase in African representation at Federal level?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In regard to the first part of the Question, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I and my colleagues found the Federal Prime Minister, and his colleague, Mr. Greenfield, fully conscious, as we knew they were, of the importance of the African population in the Federation, and of their obligations to them. There was no need for us to stress the need to see that responsibilities are properly discharged. In regard to the second part of the Question, it has been made clear I think, that in the 1960 conference the whole field of Federal problems, including franchise and representation of different races, will be open for review.

Mr. Johnson

Is the Colonial Secretary fully aware of the tension in the Federation, and the anxiety felt by the African leaders regarding Sir Roy Welensky? They feel that some matters discussed are a violation of the agreements of 1953 entered into by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, Lord Chandos. Is he further aware that the Africans place most emphasis upon a fair franchise, and that anything like the Tredgold Commission, which will not send to Salisbury an appreciable number of black M. P. s, will be surely looked on as a sham and hypocrisy? Will he give an assurance that in that event he will use his power of veto, if such legislation is placed before him?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I wish that the hon. Member—whose interest in these matters I fully recognise—would do all he can—and he could do quite a lot—to reduce the tension. I would suggest to him that the statement that was made as a result of the conference, that the Prime Minister of the Federation could assure the United Kingdom Ministers that a Franchise Bill would be introduced and would ensure that British-protected persons otherwise qualified would not he required to change their status in order to he eligible for the Federal franchise. is a matter of very great importance; and if—as I am sure he is—the hon. Gentleman is anxious to reduce the tension, I wish that he would sometimes concentrate his attention on definite undertakings of that kind, for which, I think, the Federal Government deserve a great degree of credit.

Mr. Creech Jones

In view of the fact that it was understood that there would be a standstill arrangement in regard to the Constitution, how did it happen that the Government have now agreed to the abrogation of Section 29 (7) which diminishes the powers of the British Parliament and at the same time increases the diplomatic rights of the Federation and in other respects modifies the Constitution as we understand it at the present moment?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is really correct in either of his assumptions. In regard to the question of United Kingdom legislative powers, the powers of Parliament remain unaffected. The passage in the statement merely states what is the accepted practice, that the United Kingdom Government do not initiate any legislation on matters within the Federal sphere except at the request of the Federal Government. The powers of Parliament in regard to the territories remain quite unaffected. As to the second question, on matters of external affairs that are to be entrusted to the Federation, I think it is reasonable, in view of the achievements of the Federation and its importance in the world, that proper recognition of that fact should take place in the field of external affairs; and I shall be very ready in the debate next week to develop this argument and to give illustrations of the increased scope which will quite properly now be open to the Federal Government.

Mr. Callaghan

Will the right hon. Gentleman give a clear answer to the question put by the Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) [Interruption.] We do not know what we shall be debating on Monday. May I ask the Colonial Secretary this question? is there anything in the agreement which has been reached with the Federal Government or anything in the impending legislation which will lessen the degree of protection which this House at this moment exercises in regard to African inhabitants of the Protectorates?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Nothing whatsoever, Sir.

Following are the texts of the joint announcement and declaration:

  1. 1. Discussions were held in London from 12th April to 17th April, 1957, between Sir Roy Welensky, Prime Minister and Mr. J. M. Greenfield. Minister of Law, of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and Lord Home, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and Mr. A. T. Lennox-Boyd, Secretary of State for the Colonies, about certain aspects of the constitution of the Federation.
  2. 2. They reviewed the progress made by the Federation since it was established in 1953. They agreed that this progress had justified the hopes of its founders and provided a sound basis for further development of the policy of partnership between races which the Federation is pursuing.


3. The Federal Constitution provides that matters of External Affairs may, from time to time, be entrusted to the Federation. The Federal Prime Minister represented that the time had come for the Federation to assume more responsibility in this sphere, particularly in the field of relations with other countries, and the appointment of representatives of the Federation in such countries. The United Kingdom Government have agreed to entrust responsibility for external affairs to the Federal Government to the fullest extent possible consistent with the responsibility which Her Majesty's Government must continue to have in international law so long as the Federation is not a separate international entity.


4. In recognition of the constitutional position of the Federation, H. M. The Queen has been pleased to approve that in future the Prime Minister of the Federation should have direct access to the Sovereign on Federal matters affecting the Sovereign personally, on the award of Honours for services to the Federation, and on a number of ceremonial matters.


5. There was discussion of a proposal by the Federal Prime Minister that a separate department of the United Kingdom Government, responsible to the Secretaries of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies jointly, should handle relations both with the Federal Government and with all three Territorial Governments. United Kingdom Ministers explained that this was part of the general question of the responsibility of different Ministers for relations with the various parts of the constantly evolving Commonwealth, The whole question would have to be examined and in this examination Sir Roy Welensky's suggestion would be borne in mind.


6. The Federal Government having represented that the Federal Legislature should have the power to legislate with extra-territorial effect, the United Kingdom Government have agreed that legislation for this purpose will be introduced into Parliament at Westminster at a convenient opportunity.

7. The Federal Prime Minister drew attention to doubts which had arisen in regard to the purpose and effect of Article 29 (7) of the Federal Constitution and to the subject of legislation in the United Kingdom for the Federation. United Kingdom Ministers made it clear that the United Kingdom Government recognise the existence of a convention applicable to the present stage of the constitutional evolution of the Federation, whereby the United Kingdom Government in practice do not initiate any legislation to amend or to repeal any Federal Act or to deal with any matter included within the competence of the Federal Legislature, except at the request of the Federal Government.


8. Public service questions were also considered. The United Kingdom Ministers said that in principle it was accepted that all Civil Services in the Federation, whether Federal or Territorial, would eventually be locally based and look for their future to the Federal area.

9. Accordingly steps would be taken to work towards this objective and in particular the question of inter-changeability of officers would be examined in consultation with the four Governments of the Federation.


10. The Federal Prime Minister informed United Kingdom Ministers of the position reached in his discussions with the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in regard to the enlargement of the Federal Assembly and to the Federal franchise. United Kingdom Ministers accepted in principle proposals for the enlargement of the Federal Assembly. The Federal Prime Minister stated that he would not be able to inform Her Majesty's Government of the Federal Government's definite proposals for the franchise, or to present a Bill on this subject to the Federal Legislature, until further discussions had been held in Salisbury. Meanwhile, however, he could assure United Kingdom Ministers that a Franchise Bill would be introduced and would ensure that British Protected Persons otherwise qualified would not be required to change their status in order to be eligible for the Federal franchise, and that the qualifications for that franchise would permit of a reasonable number of such persons acquiring the franchise. United Kingdom Ministers took note with satisfaction of these assurances.


11. The Federal Constitution provides for a review not less than seven nor more than nine years from the date when it came into force (October, 1953). In this connection the two Governments have agreed on the declaration annexed.


  1. 1. Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland have already made it clear and take this opportunity of reaffirming that they are opposed to any proposal either for the amalgamation into a unitary state of the Territories now composing the Federation or for the secession of any of those Territories from the Federation.
  2. 2. Article 99 of the Federal Constitution provides that not less than seven nor more than nine years from the date of the coming into force of the Constitution there shall be convened a conference consisting of delegations from the Federation, from each of the three Territories and from the United Kingdom, chosen by their respective Governments for the purpose of reviewing that Constitution. The Constitution came into force in 1953, and it is agreed that the conference shall be convened in 1960.
  3. 3. The purpose of this conference is to review the Constitution in the light of the experience gained since the inception of federation and in addition to agree on the constiutional advances which may be made. In this latter context the conference will consider a programme for the attainment of such a status as would enable the Federation to become eligible for full membership of the Commonwealth.