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Volume 465: debated on Monday 23 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps were taken to ascertain the wishes of the local population before the agreement was reached with the Italian Government on the proposal to restore Italian rule in Tripolitania in two years' time.

The proposal which was submitted to the General Assembly by the Political Committee was for the independence of Libya in ten years' time unless the Assembly decided otherwise, and for an Italian trusteeship of Tripolitania from the end of 1951 to 1959. Both the Political Committee and the General Assembly had before them the evidence of the Four Power Commission which visited the territory in 1948, and every facility was given by the British Administration to Tripolitanians who wished to state their views before the United Nations. In this connection my hon. Friend will no doubt recall that the Delegation of the so-called National Council for the Liberation of Libya was heard by the Political Committee on 12th May.

May we take it that now that the people of this area have shown in an unmistakable manner what they think of this proposal, His Majesty's Government will not support it in future?

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that the Government will not in future put forward any proposals which conflict fundamentally with the wishes of the indigenous people of Tripolitania?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to Tripolitania.

The decision of the United Nations General Assembly to postpone discussion of the disposal of the former Italian Colonies until September leaves His Majesty's Government charged with the continued administration of Tripolitania under the terms of Article 23 of the Italian Peace Treaty. His Majesty's Government are considering what action they can take to promote the interests and welfare of the inhabitants, but I have nothing to add at this stage.

In view of that decision, will His Majesty's Government, while awaiting the autumn, be reconsidering a policy which must look to the Arabs as if we were letting them down?

We are certainly considering anew, in the new situation, what we should attempt in Tripolitania.

While doing that, will the hon. Gentleman again consider the proposal which I made some months ago, which might have avoided some of this trouble—that is, to give a trusteeship to the Western Union collectively?

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that Tripolitania has been administered merely on a care-and-maintenance basis for over six years, and that economic stagnation will be very prolonged indeed unless something is done fairly soon to re-equip the territory from a capital point of view? Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that all these delays are having very serious results, and that something should be done to overcome these economic difficulties?

We are most certainly aware of that, and indeed that explains our great efforts to reach some sort of practical arrangement at the United Nations.