Colonial Affairs Debate (Correction in Speech).

Secret Session. – in the House of Commons on 25th June 1942.

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Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

I should like to take the earliest opportunity to correct an error in my closing speech in the Debate in this House yesterday. The question of the relationship of the Atlantic Charter to the Colonial Empire having been raised, I thought it desirable to quote what the Prime Minister had said on this subject. Unfortunately, the wording which I was given was not a verbatim quotation from my right honourable Friend's statement, and, under the impression that it was the exact text, I quoted it as my right honourable Friend's words. The relevant extract from the Prime Minister's actual statement reads as follows: Secondly, the Joint Declaration does not qualify in any way the various statements of policy which have been made from time to time about the development of constitutional government in India, Burma or other parts of the British Empire. We are pledged by the Declaration of August, 1940, to help India to obtain free and equal partnership in the British Commonwealth with ourselves, subject, of course, to the fulfilment of obligations arising from our long connection with India and our responsibilities to its many creeds, races and interests. Burma also is covered by our considered policy of establishing Burmese self-government and by the measures already in progress. At the Atlantic Meeting, we had in mind, primarily, the restoration of the sovereignty, self-government and national life of the States and nations of Europe now under the Nazi yoke, and the principles governing any alterations in the territorial boundaries which may have to be made. So that is quite a separate problem from the progressive evolution of self-governing institutions in the regions and peoples which owe allegiance to the British Crown. We have made declarations on these matters which are complete in themselves, free from ambiguity and related to the conditions and circumstances of the territories and peoples affected. They will be found to be entirely in harmony with the high conception of freedom and justice which inspired the Joint Declaration. I need not say how sorry I am that through inadvertence I had been given a précis rather than the exact text and that I have to put the House to this inconvenience. I am grateful for your permission, Sir, to correct the error; because of the importance of having the actual text of the Declaration.