Skip to main content

African Colonies

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 6 August 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Pyrethrum Crop


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the present position and future prospects of the pyrethrum crop in Kenya and Tanganyika.

The present position is that the Board of Trade's wartime contract with pyrethrum producers in East Africa expires at the end of this year. Thereafter the producers (who are already organised in a statutory marketing board) will be free to dispose of their crop on the open market.

In view of the importance of this matter to the economy of these two Colonies would the right hon. Gentleman see to it that when this contract is filed they will be given a certain amount of protection?

As I understand the position the industry is very well organised and there is a statutory marketing board for them.

Tsetse-Infested Areas, East Africa


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent work in reclamation of tsetse-infested areas in East Africa will be affected by clearing of bush under the groundnut scheme and whether, as a result of that scheme, the provision under Item 126 in Colonial Research Reports 1946–7 can be reduced.

The tsetse-infested areas which the Tanganyika Government has in view for purposes of reclamation are not, so far as I am aware, affected by reclamation under the groundnut scheme and such reclamation measures are, in any case, financed from territorial resources. The provision under Item 126 in Colonial Research Reports 1946–7 is for tsetse and trypanoecmiasis research and experimental reclamation and the answer to the second part of the Question is, therefore, in the negative.

Suitable Literature (Distribution)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what measures he proposes to take, following the introduction of the technique of mass education in Africa, to provide religious and other suitable literature to the new literates in adequate quantities; and what measures are contemplated to safeguard the new literates, as well as Africans generally, from the influence of immoral and seditious journals and news-sheets.

As the answer is long and factual, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply

Arrangements to secure adequate supplies of suitable literature for Africans are well in train, and the subject has the continuous attention of the Mass Education Sub-Committee of my Advisory Committee on Education. Under the Nigerian Development Plan a public corporation called the Gaskiya Corporation has been established in Northern Nigeria with the objects, among other things, of increasing the supply of general vernacular literature for post-school reading, particularly in connection with the spread of mass literacy, and of establishing a vernacular newspaper for the Northern Province. The Corporation is producing the paper "Gaskiya," the circulation of which is 22,000 fortnightly. In Sierra Leone for the past three years mission authorities, with assistance from public funds, have been carrying on a campaign for the extension of literacy within one of the language areas of the Protectorate, and this scheme provides for the printing and publication of suitable literature. The British Council has established libraries in West Africa and attention is being given to their further development.

As regards East and Central Africa, a scheme has just been received from the East African Governments recommending the setting up of a Literature Bureau, financed from colonial development and welfare funds, with headquarters in Nairobi, for the purpose of stimulating the production of books and other publications for Africans. A literature adviser for Africans in East Africa has already been appointed and has begun to work out plans for the Bureau. The Northern Rhodesia Development Plan provides for the establishment of a Publications Bureau and the scheme is being put in hand immediately. Similar measures are proposed for Nyasaland, and the establishment of a Joint Publications Bureau for the two Territories is under consideration. Northern Rhodesia already has a Government published African newspaper, "Mutende." This paper was first published in 1935 and has been published weekly for several years now.

Much attention is being devoted at the present time to the problem of encouraging the improvement of the standard of the newspapers produced by the colonial peoples themselves. An experimental scholarship scheme, under which training will be given to three colonial journalists, has been provided under British Council auspices. Consultation with organisations representing both proprietors of newspapers and journalists in this country show that there is sympathy with the ends in view, and it is hoped that further facilities will be arranged. It is also hoped to be able to arrange for the visits to this country from time to time of parties of colonial journalists. Colonial public relations officers give what assistance they can to newspaper editors and provide not only "hand-outs" about Government activities, but also, in certain instances, photographic and block-making facilities. In addition there is supplied from London, through the Public Relations Office, services of news commentaries, feature articles, photographs and blocks. The control of seditious and other literature is governed by laws which are much the same as those in the United Kingdom. The aim is to avoid restrictive controls and to do all that is possible by positive action to develop better quality alternatives.

Building Research Station, West Africa


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the objective of the Building Research Station in West Africa, to be set up under Item 133 of Colonial Research Reports, 1946–47; and whether the results of this research station will be available to governments outside West Africa.

The objective is to set up a Building Research Station which will enable co-operation to be achieved between the four West African Governments in such matters as the durability and other technical characteristics and the most efficient use of building materials (especially local materials) under prevailing climatic conditions. The answer to the second part of the Question is, "Yes."

Gold Coast (Book Prohibition)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in what circumstances, and for what reasons, 200 copies of the book "How Russia transformed her Colonial Empire" were seized in the Gold Coast under the Customs ordinance; whether he is aware that this book is in circulation in Nigeria; and whether he will take steps to allow it free circulation in the Gold Coast.

I am making inquiries into this matter and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as full information is available.

Will the Secretary of State arrange that a more complete answer as to the reason for the prohibition is given to the persons who wish to import the book, since the actual prohibition notice merely quotes Chapter 132 of the Customs Order.?

Can the Minister inform the House of what the Russian Colonial Empire consists? May I have an answer?

Since this book was written by a distinguished British coloured subject of great authority and knowledge who, curiously enough, is certainly by no means pro-Russian, and in view of the fact that I myself communicated with the right hon. Gentleman about it a fortnight ago, would he see that the answer is printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

I am not in possession of the full facts, otherwise I would have attempted to answer today, but if there is any way of communicating the reply to Members of the House I certainly will.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Commander Stalin when speaking to students at Sverdlov University in 1924, asked, "Where does one strike at Imperialism?" and answered the question by saying, "Where the chain is weakest," and would he do his best to encourage hon. Members on his own side of the House to strengthen the chain rather than to weaken it?

Linguistic Research


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is satisfied that the provision under Items 117, 122 and 146 of Colonial Research Reports, 1946–47, for linguistic research are beneficial, in view of the increasing tendency to teach English in African schools.

Yes, Sir. My aim is to enable Africans to become proficient in their own languages as well as learning English and the study of the languages for which the grants in question have been made will materially assist this object. I am also anxious that British officials employed in African territories should be given every facility for studying the languages of the peoples amongst whom they work.

Does the Minister consider that in view of the serious economic state of this country that kind of expense, which was over £3,000 is justified?

This is really economic expenditure, and in any case it has been authorised by the House.

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that in so far as his Department is concerned the School of Oriental and African Studies will have support?

Independent Churches (Book)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what benefit is likely to result, and to what parties, from Item 141 in Colonial Research Reports, 1946–47, which is the grant to assist in the completion of the manuscript of a book on African separatist churches.

This book is likely to be of assistance to Colonial administrative officers and others in appreciating the political and religious problems arising out of the large number of independent African sects and churches, which are inadequately covered by existing literature.

Cameroons Development Corporation (Appointment)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will consider appointing an African to the Cameroons Development Corporation.

Under Nigerian legislation creating the Corporation, the power to appoint members to it resides not in me but in the Governor of Nigeria. As indicated to my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) on 23rd of April, the Governor has already appointed an African to the Corporation. He is Mr. Manga Williams, who is the member of the Legislative Council for the Cameroons.