Plebiscite, Southern Cameroons

Oral Answers to Questions — British Cameroons – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30 July 1959.

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Photo of Mr Robert Edwards Mr Robert Edwards , Bilston 12:00, 30 July 1959

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what agreement has been reached between the parties concerned in the Southern Cameroons in connection with the questions which are to form the basis of the promised plebiscite; and what representations he has had on this subject.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I regert that so far the parties have reached no agreement. I have had no representations on the subject from the Southern Cameroons but of course I discussed it with the Premier while I was in Nigeria in May.

Photo of Mr Robert Edwards Mr Robert Edwards , Bilston

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what provision he has made against the possibility of the two political parties in the Southern Cameroons, namely the Kamerun National Congress Party and the Kamerun National Democratic Party, failing to agree on the questions to be submitted for the impending plebiscite.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

Her Majesty's Government must reserve their attitude on this question until the political parties in the territory have given their final views, which they will no doubt do when the question comes before the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Photo of Mr Robert Edwards Mr Robert Edwards , Bilston

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be a mistake for the British administration to make an arbitrary decision? I take it from the Minister's reply that this matter will rest with the United Nations if a deadlock is reached on the questions to be submitted.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

The ideal would be for the parties in the British Cameroons to agree. That is what we are working for and I hope that will happen. If that does not come off, Her Majesty's Government will have a point of view to express at the United Nations with whom the final decision will rest. I take this opportunity of thanking the hon. Gentleman for his very helpful and worth-while visit to the Southern Cameroons.

Photo of Mr John Arbuthnot Mr John Arbuthnot , Dover

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the desirability of the Cameroonians having an opportunity of remaining under British guidance and help so that, with greater experience, they will be able to make up their own minds about their ultimate intentions?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

It is important that they should know what it is that they are being asked to decide. As I made clear in 1957, Her Majesty's Government accept that among the options should be the option to continue under the trust administration of the United Kingdom. The precise form in which the questions will be asked and what the questions will be are matters for the United Nations to settle.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present policy of political bodies in the Southern Cameroons in respect of the future of their country; how far agreement on questions to be asked in the plebiscite has been reached; and what attitude representatives of Her Majesty's Government intend to take when the United Nations reassembles.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I understand that the present Government party, the Kamerun National Democratic Party, wishes United Kingdom trusteeship separate from Nigeria to continue for some time before a final decision is taken; and that the main opposition parties, the Kamerun National Congress and the Kamerun People's Party, favour becoming a self-governing region of Nigeria. No agreement on the questions for the plebiscite has so far been reached, and Her Majesty's Government must reserve their attitude until the General Assembly meets.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton

Does the right hon. Gentleman's Answer mean that the prospect of securing agreement on the terms of the plebiscite is still very remote? Can he say whether there is any time within which some decision must be reached on this matter?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

I cannot force agreement on the parties, and if they do not arrive at agreement it will be for the United Nations to meet to make up its mind, and at that meeting Her Majesty's Government will express their view.

Photo of Mr Roland Robinson Mr Roland Robinson , Blackpool South

In view of the fact that my right hon. Friend has completed five successful years in office today, can he confirm that in that period he has dealt with about 6,130 Questions?

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

My hon. Friend has many qualities, and I trust him in everything, including his mathematics.