Parliamentary Commission

Oral Answers to Questions — Nyasaland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury 12:00 am, 9th April 1959

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now agree to a Parliamentary Commission going to Nyasaland to assess the political situation in the protectorate.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a strong feeling in Nyasaland that the views of the African people there have not been correctly represented to the House, and that it is important that hon. Members should be able to collect the facts at first hand, even in Nyasaland? Will he reconsider his decision?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

No, Sir. It is not for me to comment on the media through which some views purport to have been expressed. We must certainly first await the report of the Nyasaland Commission of Inquiry.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

May I ask for a little further elucidation? Was the Colonial Secretary indicating that he could not now make a statement, or that he was rejecting the idea of a Parliamentary Commission?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

A Commission of Inquiry has been sent out to inquire into the disturbances in Nyasaland and the events leading up to them. I have said that, in the wider context of the Federation as a whole, thought is being given to machinery to equip the Governments with the relevant information for the 1960 review. On the latter point, it would not be proper to comment in answer to a Question directed solely to Nyasaland.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I follow that answer. Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House some information about how soon he expects to be able to make a statement on that?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I cannot do so now, but in any case it would be quite a different question from that on the Order Paper. I am not in a position to say anything at the moment. As soon as I can, I will tell the House.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I understood the Colonial Secretary to indicate, in answer to a supplementary question, that a Parliamentary Commission could not be considered until after the Devlin Commission had completed its task and reported. Am I right in assuming that that was what the right hon. Gentleman said?

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

In that case, do I gather that a Parliamentary Commission could proceed independently and would not have to wait until the Devlin Commission had finished its work?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

The right hon. Gentleman must not assume that. I said that the first step in regard to any inquiries into any constituent part of the Federation was obviously through the medium of Mr. Justice Devlin's Commission of Inquiry. I said that, with regard to the Federation's problems as a whole, consideration was now being given by the Governments to providing machinery to equip the Governments with up-to-date information. I cannot add to that today.