Oral Answers to Questions — British Somaliland.

– in the House of Commons on 8th July 1935.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what conditions were attached to the proposals to cede certain British territories to Abyssinia for the purpose of protecting the interests of the natives?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

Any definite proposal which His Majesty's Government might have made to cede to Abyssinia the Port of Zeila and a corridor of British Somaliland would have been accompanied by safeguards designed to protect the interests of the inhabitants of the territories concerned. In particular, the Ethiopian Government would have been requested to give a guarantee that such territory as might be ceded would not be utilised in any way for slave traffic. Moreover, the necessary steps would have been taken to ensure that grazing and watering rights already possessed by the tribes under British protection would have been unaffected by any transfer of territory.

Lieut. - Colonel Sir ARNOLD WILSON:

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the agreements of 1884 with the inhabitants of Somali territory and the terms of the Somaliland Order in Council, 1929, under the Foreign Jurisdiction Acts of 1890 and 1913, involve the assumption by the Crown not of full sovereignty but of a protectorate, upon the abandonment of which the inhabitants would resume their independent status; and whether the Crown has, by proclamation or otherwise, assumed in Somaliland sovereign rights which could, under international law, be transferred to another Power in the manner set forth in 53 and 54 Vic., cap. 32?

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macdonald Mr Malcolm Macdonald , Bassetlaw

I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for giving me an opportunity to make a fuller statement on a matter which he raised in a supplementary question last Thursday.

As regards the first part of the question, it is correct that British Somaliland is not British territory, but is a Protectorate. His Majesty does not possess full sovereignty there, but has for many years possessed full powers of administration and jurisdiction by virtue of usage and sufferance as well as under the treaties of 1884 to which my hon. Friend refers. These powers are at present exercised under the Somaliland Order in Council, 1929, made in pursuance of powers under the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1890. Had circumstances arisen which required further consideration to be given to the suggestion made tentatively by my right hon. Friend the Minister for League of Nations Affairs consultation would have taken place with the tribe affected with a view to the transfer to Ethiopia of the necessary rights in the area concerned.

As regards the last part of the question, this has, in effect been answered by what I have already stated, but I would like to explain that as there is no question here of the transfer of British territory, the precedent of the Act of Parliament relating to the cession of Heligoland, which has been mentioned by my hon. Friend, is not in point, and I regret that in answer to a supplementary question last Thursday, I gave a contrary impression.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the inhabitants of British Somaliland enjoy, in practice, the same rights and privileges within the British Empire as those of Kenya and Uganda; and whether they receive similar passports and consular assistance in foreign countries?

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macdonald Mr Malcolm Macdonald , Bassetlaw

The inhabitants of British Somaliland are British protected persons. Their status is thus similar to that of the inhabitants of Uganda and the Kenya Protectorate. The inhabitants of Kenya Colony are, however, British subjects. As British protected persons the inhabitants of British Somaliland do not enjoy in the Empire all the rights and privileges of British subjects. They receive passports as British protected persons, but in foreign countries they receive consular assistance similar to that given to British subjects.

Captain ARTHUR EVANS:

Do I understand that these Somalis on entering Great Britain have to register with the police authorities as aliens?

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macdonald Mr Malcolm Macdonald , Bassetlaw

I have made that plain in my answer. As protected persons they have to do that, unless they get special exemption in individual cases.

Captain EVANS:

Can my right hon. Friend say in what particular instances special exemptions are granted?

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macdonald Mr Malcolm Macdonald , Bassetlaw

My hon. and gallant Friend had better put that question to the Home Secretary.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the precedent of the Treaty of 1925, whereby we ceded Jubaland without the consent or concurrence of the inhabitants, will not be followed in future?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will state the area of the land in British Somaliland which it was proposed to hand over to Abyssinia, the number of wells and watering places in this area, and the name of any port included in it?

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macdonald Mr Malcolm Macdonald , Bassetlaw

As regards the first part of the question I would refer to the reply which I gave on the 4th July to my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes. As regards the rest of the question, the area concerned, which includes the port of Zeila, contains about 30 permanent wells.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

Will my right hon. Friend place a map showing the area in question in the Tea Room or some other convenient place?

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macdonald Mr Malcolm Macdonald , Bassetlaw

Yes, I will consider my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Were the natives consulted and asked whether they would rather stay where they are or be shunted over to Italy?

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this was rather a silly offer?