asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the measure of agreement in the Legislative Assembly of Sudan, Her Majesty's Government will consent, subject to similar consent by the Government of Egypt, to the Assembly reaching a decision on the issue of the Sudan's future international status without the cost and delay of a plebiscite or further general election.
On 29th October the Sudanese Prime Minister stated that it might be some time before the possibility of a decision on a shortening of the self-determination process laid down in the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of February, 1953, was fully explored by the political parties, and, until it was accepted or rejected, the Government would continue on the presumption that the future of the Sudan would be decided by a plebiscite or along the lines laid down in the Agreement. Her Majesty's Government have decided to agree that a plebiscite be held, but have told the Egyptian Government that they consider that any proposal which the Sudanese Parliament may in the future make about a shortening of the process of self-determination should be given sympathetic consideration by the Codomini.
Did my right hon. Friend make any proviso that no plebiscite should be held until an effective administration is again set up in Southern Sudan? Does he not consider that Britain is under an obligation to see that such an administration must be in effect before a general election or plebiscite is held?
We are one of the parties to the agreement of February, 1953, and cannot unilaterally denounce it; we must try to make it effective. Of course the situation in the Sudan is one on the things which causes us concern, but that in my view is not a ground for withdrawing from the undertaking that by one means or another the people of the Sudan should have the right to decide what their future should be.
Do I understand my right hon. Friend to say that the International Commission will not only have the right to supervise the election but also have the right to say whether or not conditions are ripe for the election?
I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that Her Majesty's Government in their status as co-dominus are watching with the closest concern the interests of the Southern Sudanese. In these, as in other matters, we are scrupulously abiding by the terms of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement. Meanwhile, our information leads us to believe that the Sudan Government, in taking measures to restore order after the mutiny of 18th August, have acted with restraint and with due regard for legal processes.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people feel that this country is not fulfilling its moral obligations to the Southern Sudanese? Can he say whether these people are not being victimised and whether they will have a chance to express their views as to the future of their country without coercion?
Yes, Sir. We are certainly doing our best and the Governor-General is doing all he can, too. But the situation is, of course, difficult and we are in the position that we can only influence it by the efforts of the Governor-General. I am sure that there will be every help from the Government of the Sudan.