Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Orders of the Day — African Territories

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st July 1957.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon 12:00 am, 31st July 1957

No, I am afraid that I cannot give way to the hon. Member.

The hon. Member who was just about to speak again complained that he had not enough chance of raising these matters with my right hon. Friend and myself. I should like him to know that, on average, the Colonial Office has about 1,000 Questions a year. We have now given the Opposition two days a week on which to ask their Questions, so that there will now be the opportunity to ask 2,000 Questions a year and, no doubt, the hon. Member for Wednesbury will take advantage of that fact.

I will certainly look into the questions raised about the problems in Central Africa. I want to say a word about the Central African franchise and the Constitution (Amendment)Bill which was mentioned by both hon. Members. The position is that if the African Affairs Board after what it has done report against this Bill to the Speaker of the Federal Assembly as a differentiating Measure, then it will become a matter for my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. Under the Constitution the Governor of the Federation has to send the Bill to my right hon. Friend, if passed, for signification of Her Majesty's pleasure. It would be wholly wrong for me, as the matter is sub judice—and I think the hon. Members opposite recognise this—to comment any further about the problem.

I will give a very short answer to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough—I hope that he will not think it a dusty answer—about the date of Nigerian independence. I would refer him to the reply which I gave last Thursday when I told him that this matter of independence was thoroughly discussed at the recent Nigeria Constitutional Conference. I want to argue against him that he was wholly wrong in saying that we had lost the confidence of the people of Nigeria. Had he been able to be at the conference he would have seen that the very reverse was the fact. It was a most successful conference, and these people went back to their country full of confidence in the Government and in my right hon. Friend.

The only difference of opinion was on the question of the final date. If the hon. Gentleman cares to look at the Report of the conference, Cmd. 207, if he has not already done so, and if he will read paragraphs 48 to 54, that will save me making a long response at this time of the morning. I am quite sure that any hon. Member who reads that will disagree profoundly with the conclusions reached by the hon. Member.

We ought not to be mesmerised by an actual date for independence. Twenty years from now, neither the Nigerians nor we will argue whether Independence Day should have been on 2nd April, 1960, or on some other date close to that. All that will matter is that the country will have been well prepared for independence when the day comes. With these remarks, I am sure that the House is well prepared to hear me end my speech.