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Basutoland, Bechuanaland And Swaziland

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 15 April 1954

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asked the Undersecretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what were the terms of the 1909 agreement, upon which the United Kingdom Government agreed to consider the possibility of a transfer of the High Commission Territories of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland to the Union of South Africa.

The history of this matter is fully set out in the White Paper (Cmd. 8707) published in December, 1952, to which I would invite the hon. Member's attention.

The South Africa Act, which was prepared by a National Convention in South Africa in consultation with the United Kingdom Government, contained provision for the possible eventual transfer of the administration of the Territories to the Union, subject to terms and conditions embodied in the Schedule to the Act. During the passage of the Act through the United Kingdom Parliament, pledges were given by the Government of the day that Parliament should have the fullest opportunity of discussing and, if it wished, disapproving any proposed transfer of these Territories and, also that the wishes of the inhabitants would be ascertained and considered before any transfer took place.

While thanking the hon. and learned Gentleman for that answer, and bearing in mind the satisfactory reply given by the Prime Minister on Tuesday, may I ask whether the House can take it that Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland will not be transferred to the Union of South Africa without the consent of the Africans who dwell in those territories?

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister answered a Question on this matter and I cannot go beyond or depart from the terms of that answer.