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Basutoland and Swaziland

Oral Answers to Questions — Commonwealth Relations – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 1957.

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Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough 12:00 am, 28th November 1957

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what transport facilities exist in Swaziland and Basutoland by rail and road, respectively; under what auspices such facilities are organised; and the number of citizens of the Union of South Africa who are employed in transport in each of the Territories, respectively.

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

In Swaziland there are no railways. About 30 transport vehicles are operated by the South African Railways Road Motor Services. Twenty-three other bus services and numerous goods vehicles are operated by local residents. Ninety Europeans, of whom the majority are citizens of the Union of South Africa, are employed on the South African Railways Road Motor Services.

In Basutoland there is one mile of railway, operated by the South African Railways, from the border to Maserus station. One hundred and fifty-nine transport vehicles are operated by local residents, 14 by South African Railways Road Motor Services and 17 by residents in the Union of South Africa. About 30 citizens of the Union are employed in transport.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for his Answer, may I ask him, first, whether it indicates a very grave absence of railway communication—none in Swaziland and only one mile in Basutoland—and, second, if he is aware of the very grave concern of the peoples of Swaziland and Basutoland at the degree of control which the South African Union is gaining both over buses and the proposed extension of railways to Swaziland?

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

My noble Friend is most concerned that anything possible that can be done to improve the transport facilities in Swaziland and the other Protectorates should be done. I would draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the fact that we are in the process of spending £1,200,000 on road improvements in Swaziland and £170,000 on road improvements in Basutoland. So far as the railway position in Swaziland is concerned. I would remind the hon. Gentleman of the Report produced by Sir Arthur Griffin not long ago with regard to the potentiality in Swaziland which is still being studied by my Department.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how many times the High Commissioner for the High Commission Territories has visited the recognised native authorities and the Paramount Chiefs of Basutoland and Swaziland during the years 1955, 1956 and 1957, respectively.

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

In 1955, four times in Basutoland and five in Swaziland. In 1956, three times in Basutoland and three in Swaziland. Early in 1957, the High Commissioner made a tour of Basutoland, in the course of which he paid numerous such visits. He has been in the United Kingdom on leave from May to September this year.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

In view of the fact that the High Commissioner's headquarters are outside the Protectorates, at Pretoria in the South African Union, and that, alone in the whole sphere of the British Commonwealth, the High Commissioner has the power by decree to legislate, is not it desirable that he should have much closer contact than he has now with the peoples of the Protectorates?

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

The High Commissioner has very close contacts both through the resident commissioners and the Deputy High Commissioner, people who are charged with the responsbiility of Protectorate business in the High Commissioner's office.