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Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made up to date towards West Indian Federation.

The subject has now been discussed by all the Legislatures concerned except British Honduras and Barbados. The Legislatures, apart from British Guiana and the Virgin Islands, have accepted federation in principle.

The next step should be a conference in London. A copy of my despatch setting out detailed plans for this conference was placed in the Library on 27th February.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the West Indies are going on with the plans for a Customs union, or whether these plans for a Customs union have to wait on the larger question of federation?

I think the Customs union will have to await the matter of federation. I do not know whether those discussions can take place simultaneously, but this is a germane subject, and the various Governments are now studying the matter with a view to this conference.

Is the right hon. Gentleman able to speed up this federation, and will he do me the honour of reading a paper which I wrote last year after visiting the West Indies?

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the widespread satisfaction caused by the recent announcement of further steps to enable the West Indian territories concerned to discuss federation, and of the hope of this side of the House that these discussions will have a successful outcome?