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Commonwealth (Membership)

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 22 March 1951

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25.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether His Majesty's Government will now set up machinery to ensure consultation with the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and obtaining their approval before Colonial Territories which shall have achieved full self-government are admitted as equal partners in the Commonwealth.

It is already the practice of the United Kingdom Government to consult the Governments of the other members of the Commonwealth on such a matter.

While welcoming the prospect of new members of the Commonwealth, of whatever colour, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is true that, according to the Prime Minister of South Africa, his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has "already cordially conceded," apparently unilaterally, the demand of West Africa to be accepted into the Commonwealth when she has achieved full self-government?

That is a question that ought to be directed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies or to Dr. Malan, but not to me.

Is it not clear that the principle of our helping, guiding and directing colonial peoples towards self-government within the Commonwealth, and therefore necessarily as members of the Commonwealth, has been so long established that, although other Dominions may perhaps wish to make suggestions on points of detail, there is no power now to stand out against that principle as a principle?

I was asked whether we have, in fact, consulted other members of the Commonwealth when new members have been admitted, and the answer is that we have. It is the ordinary practice so to do.

Yes, but it can only be on detail. There cannot be any right to bject in principle to a policy so long laid down.