Constitution (Talks)

Oral Answers to Questions — South Arabian Federation – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th June 1964.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Middlesbrough East 12:00 am, 16th June 1964

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies what steps he is now taking to associate the political leaders in Aden Colony with the constitutional discussions on the South Arabian Federation.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies if he will make a statement on the constitutional conference on the Federation of Southern Arabia.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies if he will make a statement on the conference on constitutional advance in the South Arabian Federation.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

The talks started on 9th June, and are still proceeding. With regard to representation at the conference, I have already explained the position fully to the House.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Middlesbrough East

Will the Secretary of State reconsider the question of consulting the representatives of the political parties from Aden? Further, as those representatives are not being consulted in any way, can an assurance be given that no elections will be held in Aden by the Federation except with the consent of this Government?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

The Federation does not hold elections in Aden. With regard to the position of the other parties, the P.S.P. has stated recently that the British Government are well aware of its views already. That is perfectly correct. I had a long meeting with members of the P.S.P. when I was in Aden. I think that I can say to the House that most of the views held by the different political parties in Aden are represented in one way or the other at the conference—I do not say fully, but to a large extent. In so far as their views are not being advocated there, we are fully aware of them, and will, of course, take them into account.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Middlesbrough East

Can the Secretary of State say that the Federation itself will not be given power to hold up elections, but that if the people of Aden want elections, elections can be held?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

It is not a matter for the Federation to decide when elections are to be held in Aden.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

Is it not utterly unrealistic to go ahead with a conference of this sort without any really representative element from the Aden Colony? Whilst the views of the P.S.P. may be known to the right hon. Gentleman, is it not quite unreal to hold a conference without these people being represented? Will he give an assurance that at the conference he will try to promote democratic advance in the Protectorate States?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

That is, of course, the purpose of the conference, and is in accord with the wishes of the people about whom the hon. Member speaks.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton

Prior to the conference were there consultations with the leaders of the several parties in Aden? Further, can the right hon. Gentleman indicate the likely termination of the conference?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I cannot say. It would be very rash to try to say when these conferences will be likely to come to an end. We are making progress. It is difficult enough, I can assure the House, to get the agreement of representatives of 14 separate States, many of whom have quite different views from one another. As to prior consultation with the political parties in Aden, I myself went to Aden the other day. I received delegations from all the political groups in Aden but, in order to ensure that they had an additional opportunity to express their views, I arranged for my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to go out to Aden before the conference and make himself available to receive the views of any political parties that wished to add anything to what they had already told me.

Photo of Mr Donald Wade Mr Donald Wade , Huddersfield West

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that in the development of Southern Arabia it is most important that Her Majesty's Government should avoid the errors which were committed at the time of the setting up of the Central African Federation when a large and important body of opinion was ignored? It is true that there are many different points of view, but is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that all important political points of view are being considered and taken into account in this development?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

Yes, I am. All important political views are being taken into account.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies which of the Rulers of the States of the South Arabian Federation at present attending the London Conference were appointed to their position by Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

Is it not a fact that, over the last few years, four of the Rulers of States have been deposed by the British Government? Can the right hon. Gentleman say how, in the absence of any kind of democratic structure in these States, new Rulers have been appointed?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

It varies from State to State, but the normal method of appointing a Ruler is for the tribes to appoint the Ruler in accordance with tribal custom. After that, the British Government recognise the new Ruler. That is the procedure.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

If the normal practice of the British Government is to recognise a Ruler whom the tribe appoints, how is it that the British Government take the right to depose a Ruler? Does not this totally disclose the nature of the London conference now going on?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

That has nothing to do with it.