Oral Answers to Questions — Gold Coast (Constitution)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26 October 1949.

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Mr. Creech Jones:

Yes, Sir. I am issuing for publication this afternoon the Report of the Gold Coast Committee on Constitutional Reform, which, as hon. Members will remember, was appointed by the Governor at the end of last year. At the same time, I am publishing a despatch which I have sent to the Governor in order to help forward the examination of the Report in the Gold Coast; this sets out the views of His Majesty's Government on the more important recommendations of the Committee. Copies of both documents are being placed in the Library of the House.

I wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, of expressing my appreciation of the work which the chairman and members of the Committee have performed. I have stated in my dispatch that, subject to their observations in it, His Majesty's Government accept the proposals put forward in the Report as providing a workable plan within the framework of which constitutional development in the Gold Coast can now proceed.

The Committee has made comprehensive recommendations on the reform of local government, the building up of regional administrations, and the form of the central legislature and executive. I will not go into details, but in brief the proposals accepted by His Majesty's Government provide for an important step forward in the direction of representative and responsible government at all levels of the administration.

There will be a Legislative Assembly consisting almost entirely of members elected either directly or indirectly by popular vote. The Executive Council will consist of the Governor as chairman, three ex-officio members, and eight members drawn from the Legislative Assembly, six of whom will be Ministers with portfolio responsible for the administration of departments and two Ministers without portfolio. The Executive Council will be the principal instrument of policy, and decisions in it will be taken by a majority vote. The ultimate responsibility for the administration of the Territory will remain with the Governor, who will for this purpose have reserve powers in relation both to the Legislative Assembly and to the Executive Council.