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Trinidad (New Constitution)

Volume 463: debated on Friday 8 April 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the people of Trinidad have expressed their support through local councils upon the meetings and labour organisations for the constitution proposed in the Solomon Minority Report, and that his despatch of 7th January, 1949, has consequently caused grave disappointment; and whether he will now hold a referendum on the proposed new Constitution before it is put into operation.

I am aware that various bodies have supported the proposals in the Minority Report. Others have accepted the proposals in my right hon. Friend's despatch of 7th January. I do not consider that a referendum is a reliable means of assessing public opinion on a complicated issue and I believe that such opinion is best expressed through normal constitutional channels. The views of the various sections of opinion in Trinidad were fully ventilated in the debate upon the report of the Constitution Committee last year, and the conclusions in the Secretary of State's despatch were reached after the most careful consideration of all the views expressed in this debate and in many subsequent representations. My right hon. Friend remains of the view that the best course is to give a full trial to the new constitution which is to be introduced.