The West Indies (Secretary of State's Tour)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st June 1960.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West 12:00 am, 21st June 1960

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will now reply to Question No. 16.

I have just returned from a most interesting and rewarding tour to the West Indies in the course of which I visited Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados and had discussions with the Governor-General and the Governors, Federal Ministers and Ministers of all the unit territories as well as many other representative groups and individuals. I also had, at the end of my visit, the unique opportunity and privilege of taking part in a meeting at the Federal capital, under the Governor-General's chairmanship, of the Prime Minister of the Federation the three Premiers of Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados and the Chief Ministers of the other islands, at which a most valuable exchange of views took place.

On the question of the future of the Federation, I made it clear that the shape of the Federation and pace at which it should advance to independence were essentially matters for the West Indians to settle but that Her Majesty's Government remained convinced that Federation offered the best solution for the problems of this area and that, as soon as West Indians had made up their minds on these questions and provided that the essential attributes of sovereignty were satisfied Her Majesty's Government would be ready and anxious to help them achieve independence at the earliest possible date and would indeed be proud to sponsor for full membership of the Commonwealth a country which, I am convinced, has much to teach the world, not least the way in which the people of many varying racial origins can live together in friendship and co-operation.

While in Trinidad I resumed constitutional discussions which had been started last autumn and had many discussions with representatives of the Trinidad Government, the Opposition party and other representative bodies such as the Chamber of Commerce and the T.U.C. In the result, all matters left outstanding from the London talks were settled and a full statement of recommendations for a revision of the constitution based on the principle of full internal self-government for Trinidad and Tobago, and commanding, I believe, a very wide measure of support and agreement in the territory, will be presented to Parliament and to the House of Representatives as a White Paper. Meanwhile, a summary of the main proposals has been published.

A further question which was discussed with Federal and other Ministers affected was the proposal that there should be talks with the United States Government for a revision of 1941 Leased Bases Agreement. Agreement was reached as to proposals which might be made for the consideration of the United States Government in this connection and as to the form which West Indian representation might take.

Full agreement was reached in my discussions with the Federal Government on the introduction of a Cabinet system of government for the Federation.

A variety of other questions was discussed during my visit and I am happy to report that discussions on all these matters revealed a wide identity of views between myself and West Indian Ministers.

I could not conclude without voicing my very deep gratitude for the many kindnesses which I received from all sections of the population in this most hospitable quarter of the Commonwealth.