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East Africa (Inter-Territorial Services)

Volume 441: debated on Monday 28 July 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement about the scheme of inter-territorial organisation in East Africa.

It is now over four months since the revised proposals contained in Colonial Paper No. 210 were published and they have since been widely discussed in East Africa. I have most carefully studied the views expressed on them by all sections of the community in the three Territories, as recorded in the East African press, in communications addressed to me and above all in records of the debates in the Legislative Councils of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika.I regret that opposition has been expressed to the revised proposals in certain quarters in East Africa but this has been largely confined to one particular point, the proposed composition of the East African Assembly on the unofficial side. The original proposals, which were published as a basis for discussion only and were always known to be subject to modification in the light of such discussion, provided for an unofficial membership on the Assembly of 24, consisting of six Europeans, six Indians, six representatives of African interests (not all of whom would necessarily have been Africans), two Arabs and four other unofficial members nominated by the High Commission. Under the revised proposals the number of unofficial members has been reduced to 13; one member would be an Arab and there would be four unofficial members from each of the three Territories, of whom one would be a European, one an Indian and one an African in each case, while the fourth would be elected by the unofficial members of the territorial Legislative Council voting as a whole.Those who have criticised the revised proposals have suggested that the basis of equality in the representation of the three main races has been departed from; but this is not the case. Equality has been retained as between the unofficial members to represent each of the main races. Objection has also been taken in certain quarters to the addition of the three members to be selected by the unofficial members of each of the territorial Legislative Councils; but it appears to have been overlooked that these are in substitution of the four unofficial members who would have been nominated by the High Commissioner under the original proposals. These three members have been included to emphasise the territorial, as opposed to the communal aspect of representation; they would be selected by a vote of all the unofficial members in each Territory and would represent the interests of the Territory as a whole rather than of any single race. It seems to have been assumed by some that all these three members would necessarily be Europeans; but this is not the case, as will be seen from an examination of the composition of the territorial Legislative Councils on the unofficial side.The revised proposals for the composition of the Assembly have not pleased everybody; but I am satisfied that they are fair, that they will not prejudice the interests of any community, and that under them no single community could possibly secure a predominant influence over the affairs of the Assembly. They are, moreover, introduced for an experimental period of four years only in the first instance. Thereafter any changes shown to be required in the light of experience can if necessary be madeI have been impressed by the tact that few of those who have criticised the proposed composition of the Assembly have denied the necessity for a scheme on the general lines suggested to give constitutional backing for the operation of the inter-territorial services in East Africa and to associate representatives of the public in the control of these services. The urgency of this need has been amply shown by our experience in East Africa since the war ended and I am convinced that, if the economic and general development of the three Territories is not to be hampered, the scheme proposed in Colonial Paper No. 210 should be brought into force without further delay. I regard the Assembly as an essential feature of the whole scheme, since without it there can be no adequate popular control, I am satisfied that the scheme is in the best interests of the East African Territories, and that, with the additional safeguards introduced in Colonial Paper No. 210, the interests of the three Territories and of all races in them will be fully secured. His Majesty's Government have accordingly decided that the scheme as proposed in Colonial Paper No. 210 should be brought into force on 1st January, 1948, and the necessary constitutional instruments are being prepared with this object in view.In announcing this decision I wish to emphasise that the points made in paragraphs 9–10 of Colonial Paper 191 still hold good. The final responsibility to Parliament for the administration of the three East African Territories will continue to rest with His Majesty's Government, as will the special responsibility of His Majesty's Government as the Administering Authority of Tanganyika under the Trusteeship Agreement for that Territory. This special position of responsibility will be secured by means of the usual reserve powers under the constitution. Secondly the scheme is not to be regarded as a step towards political union or the fusion of the East African Governments. As stated in paragraph 10 of Colonial Paper 191, the scheme will leave the administration of the Territories as at present in the hands of the three Governments, and the Territories will retain their existing constitutions. As I have already said, the scheme is designed to provide a constitutional framework for the operation of the inter-territorial services, which are mainly economic, and to associate representatives of the public with the control of these services