African Congress Party (Memorandum)

Oral Answers to Questions — Sierra Leone – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Robert Edwards Mr Robert Edwards , Bilston 12:00 am, 15th November 1960

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he received representations from the Sierra Leone African Congress Party urging the necessity for a general election prior to the declaration of independence; what reply he has sent; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

Copies of a memorandum addressed to the Sierra Leone Government and of that Government's reply rejecting the memorandum were sent to me recently for information. I see no reason to intervene.

Photo of Mr Robert Edwards Mr Robert Edwards , Bilston

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is a good practice to have a general election before independence? This was the practice in Nigeria and Ghana. Does he not agree that the results of the recent municipal elections in Freetown indicate that the Coalition Government has not much support in Sierra Leone and that it might be a good thing to have a general election in order to educate the people in that election in the principles of self-government?

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

I do not think that that is an accurate assessment of the situation in Sierra Leone. When the people, headed by the Premier, came to the constitutional conference, there were 25 representatives, and 24 of them agreed that there should not be a general election before independence. I accepted that point of view. The one person who dissented and who did not sign the report, Mr. Siaka Stevens, is the person who has been putting forward the request for an election, but I do not think it has much support in Sierra Leone.