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Colonial Empire

Volume 414: debated on Wednesday 17 October 1945

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Nutrition Policy


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken in the past year to implement the policy concerned with nutrition in the Colonies, announced on 21st June, 1944.

The Human Nutrition Research Unit of the Medical Research Council has, under Dr. Platt's direction, extended its Colonial work both on Colonial research problems and in the provision of courses for Colonial nutrition workers. The Director visited the Caribbean territories last winter, and as a result plans are being made for experimental development in Trinidad on lines which he suggested. He also visited West Africa in May and made proposals which are now under discussion with the West African Governments. Women nutrition officers have been appointed in Trinidad and the Gambia, and nutrition posts have recently been created in the Gold Coast and Northern Rhodesia. Twelve additional posts for domestic science teachers and hospital dietitians have also been created. These posts are in Kenya, Tanganyika (2), Seychelles, the Gold Coast (2), Nigeria (2), Gibraltar (2), Barbadoes and Trinidad. A team of experts is shortly to assemble in Malaya to investigate prevailing conditions there.

Leprosy Relief Work


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the amount contributed by the Government for the welfare of the 2,000,000 lepers in the British Empire is insufficient and has to be supplemented by private charity; and will he take steps to increase the amount to ensure that everything possible is done for these unfortunate people.

Although accurate figures are not available, my information is that a maximum of 700,000 out of the number of lepers mentioned by the hon. Member live within the Colonial Empire; of these the greater part are in Nigeria. Expenditure from Government funds on leprosy relief work in the Colonies generally is increasing. In Nigeria a big anti-leprosy campaign is now being undertaken. A grant of £258,000 for this campaign was approved last year from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote, and a sum of £5,000 per annum for a period of five years is being contributed by the Nigeria Government. An application by the Nigeria Government for a further £170,000 from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote is at present under consideration. I can assure the hon. Member that I fully appreciate the importance of leprosy welfare, and I would like to pay a tribute to voluntary organisations for the very valuable work undertaken by them in dealing with this disease. I should regard it as most unfortunate if this work was curtailed in any way.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask if he is aware that if more money were made available it would be possible to cure a larger number of lepers?

As I have said, we have provided additional money. It may not be enough, but it is very much more than it was, and we hope to be able to provide more in the future.

Is the Minister aware that while every assistance should be given in cases of this kind, the same thing applies in this country with regard to tuberculosis cases?

Awards For Gallantry


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many West African and other Colonial Servicemen have been awarded the V.C. and other medals for gallantry.

Two V.Cs. have been awarded during the War to members of the Colonial Forces. The first was won by Major E. C. T. Wilson, The East Surrey Regiment (attached to the Somaliland Camel Corps), during the 1940 campaign in British Somaliland; the second by the late Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu, Fiji Military Forces, during the fighting in June, 1944, on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, in which he lost his life. Other awards for gallantry to members of the Colonial Military Forces include 35 D.S.Os., 180 M.Cs., 56 D.C.Ms., and 300 M.Ms. A considerable number of awards for gallantry have, of course, also been won by men from the Colonies serving in the U.K. Forces, particularly by West Indians in the R.A.F.

Can my right hon. Friend indicate the number of these awards given to soldiers from West African regiments? I did ask for this information in the Question.

We have had very little time to look into this matter but I will get the figures and send them on to my hon. Friend.

Officials' Wives (Travel Facilities)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether wives of members of the Colonial Service are included in the recently announced concession.

Arrangements are normally made for the wives of members of the Colonial Service to join their husbands overseas, but, as I indicated in the reply which I gave on 10th October to the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart), this is not at present possible in all cases owing to the present shortage of shipping.

Having regard to the clear terms of the Prime Minister's statement, does the Minister realise that Colonial servants' wives penalised in this way will be much dismayed; and, in view of the necessity for recruiting personnel of the right quality, will he not reconsider the matter in the light of the right hon. Gentleman's concession the day before his previous answer?

The concession which was announced by my right hon. Friend was confined to Service personnel.

There was some misunderstanding in connection with that matter. It was intended that it should apply solely to Service personnel.

In view of the importance of the Question put to-day, is it not plain that an early Debate on Colonial policy should take place? Will the right hon. Gentleman not consider that suggestion?