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Colonial Territories

Volume 655: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1962

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United Nations Convention (Education)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Her Majesty's Government have now ratified the United Nations Convention against discrimination in education and have fully applied its provisions to Colonial Territories.

As to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, I have nothing to add to the reply given on the 21st February by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs to the hon. Members for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) and Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). As regards application of the Convention to Colonial Territories, I am in consultation with the Governments concerned with a view to deciding whether its provisions should apply to them.

Can the Colonial Secretary say why Her Majesty's Government are dragging their feet about ratifying this Convention, which is against the colour bar in schools? Is he not against the colour bar in schools in the Colonies? Is it not his policy to eliminate discrimination as quickly as possible? Therefore, why will the Government not ratify this Convention and get on with the job?

We have expressed the hope that as many overseas territories as possible will accept the Convention, but it is not our practice—and never has been—to apply international conventions to overseas territories without prior consultation and agreement with the Governments of those territories.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take responsibility for saying that where his writ runs he will carry out the provisions of the Convention wherever it is in his power in education to do so?

It has been made quite clear that where legislation of an administrative kind on the part of overseas Governments is concerned it is not our practice—it is wise that we should act in this way—to take action without prior consultation and agreement with the Governments concerned.