Nyasaland (State of Emergency)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd March 1959.

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Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire 12:00 am, 3rd March 1959

I do not think that that is quite so. What they knew was that we would agree well before May, 1960, on what the changes thereafter were to be. Decisions, binding obligations and promises would have been entered into well before 1960. They were not as confused about that as the hon. Gentleman appears to be.

The disorders in Nyasaland started before the visit of Lord Perth had been announced. As soon as the announcement had been made, the Chief Secretary of Nyasaland interviewed Dr. Banda, told him about Lord Perth's visit and said that it was obviously necessary for the constitutional talks to take place in a calm atmosphere. In spite of this warning, and immediately afterwards, the Congress began to stir up even more widespread disorders, and it is their action which has led to the regrettable action which the Government has had to take today.

As I said this afternoon, I am afraid I cannot rid my mind of the feeling that there is something significant and sinister in the timing of all this in relation to the conclusion of the constitutional talks which the visit of my noble Friend would, I think, have brought about. I am forced to think that there are people in important positions in Nyasaland at the moment who do not want a tranquil atmosphere for talks and do not want the moderates to have a chance, or perhaps it is that they want to be able afterwards, when constitutional changes take place, to ascribe them to the violence that they have themselves created.

None of this must deflect us from our purpose. When law and order have been restored, we will most certainly resume the constitutional talks. Towards the end of his speech the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East asked me where we stood about the pledges given to the Africans of the Northern Territories. I say to him, with full truth, that we stand absolutely by those pledges, despite the fact that the Socialist Party has broken in a monstrous way the pledges given to the House by Lord Attlee when the Bill was passed.