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Constitution

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 28 July 1954

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46.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how he proposes to review the Malayan Federation agreement in view of his refusal of a Commission to consider it from outside Malaya but inside the British Commonwealth; and if he will ask the Sultans to suggest how their powers should be reduced in the interest of democratic government.

My right hon. Friend has not refused such a commission. The first part of the Question therefore does not arise. The answer to the second part of the Question is "No." I would, however, refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) on 21st July.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his answer. Can he say whether in the near future some approach will be made to the Sultans to see whether or not they, as a body, would be prepared to limit some of their powers so as to get more democratic representation inside Malaya?

I do not think that question arises at all. We are concerned with the working of the new constitution, and the Commission which it is suggested should sit would be going into that particular aspect of the matter.

Is the Minister aware that any extension of political power in Malaya will mean taking powers from Sultans? Does he think that the Sultans will agree to that? Would it not be wiser if he consulted some body such as a committee composed of those representing the Commonwealth rather than the Sultans in regard to this?

The position is that the Sultans have said that at their next meeting with the High Commissioner they will give further thought to the matter, but at this stage I do not think I can say any more as to the precise way in which an inquiry can be carried out.