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Local Government

Volume 524: debated on Wednesday 3 March 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many towns in Malaya have now elected councils; how many will be added during the present year; to what extent the qualifications for electors and councillors are uniform throughout the area; and if he will set up a special minister to deal with local government matters as suggested in the Bedale Report.

Fifteen towns in the Federation have elected municipal or town councils. Five more town councils are definitely to be established in 1954 and four others may be. The qualifications for electors and councillors are decided by the Governments of the States and Settlements and differ slightly from one to another. A Minister was appointed last November—not, of course, by my right hon. Friend but by the High Commissioner for the Federation of Malaya —with responsibility for a new portfolio covering local government, housing and town planning.

Whilst thanking the Minister for the progress already made, can I ask him to press on with the other towns and villages so that they can be incorporated in the scheme, and will he make it clear to the people of Malaya that the ballot is secret?

Yes, and I think the hon. Gentleman can be comforted by the fact that, if the present plans go forward, all the towns with over 10,000 population will have these town councils.