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Colonial Empire

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 16 March 1949

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Burmese Rice (Supplies)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the steps which he is taking in view of the prospect of the Eastern Colonies going short of food owing to the difficulties of importing rice from Burma while the civil war there continues.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the written reply which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food gave on 9th March to the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) about the prospects of Burma rice exports. The supply position to the Far Eastern Colonies of rice from all sources and the local stock position are kept under constant review. Increased rice production is being encouraged in Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak.

Coloured Films


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has seen the coloured film of Southern Rhodesia; and whether, in order to lessen ignorance of British Colonies, he will arrange for coloured films to be made of West African and other Colonies.

I have not seen this film. There are already a number of colour films of Colonies in the Central Film Library, and more are included in the current production programme. The relevant details are set out in the booklet?Britain and the Colonies? published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, a copy of which has already been sent to the hon. Member.

Would not the hon. Gentleman see this film, because he will find that it is a revelation as to what can be done to dispel popular ignorance, which is very profound, about the Empire and Commonwealth; and why should not the Colonial Office, which has far greater resources than Southern Rhodesia, blaze the trail?

We have in the Central Film Library coloured films on the Gold Coast, Kenya and Northern Rhodesia, and we are producing coloured films on the West Indies, Cyprus and others on Northern Rhodesia. However, I should be very happy to see this film, and I will try to make arrangements to do so.

Are any of the films now being taken in Nigeria by the Film Unit coloured films; and if so, how many?

Communist Activities


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent he is in receipt of regular reports on Communist activities in the Colonies; by whom these reports are rendered; and at what intervals.

Governors furnish my right hon. Friend with regular reports, for the most part at monthly intervals, upon all political matters in the Colonies. The only exceptions to this rule have been in the case of a few of the smaller territories, but contact on political matters is maintained with them by normal correspondence.

Is my hon. Friend aware that any perfectly honourable trade union or nationalist leader in the Colonies can now be branded as a Communist agitator by a Governor with whom he may have had some disagreement; and can he say what steps he is taking to obtain clear evidence of Communist affiliations in such cases?

I do not accept that suggestion. I am quite certain that any reports which come from a Governor are based on the most careful and carefully scrutinised evidence.

Is the Under-Secretary himself satisfied that any criticism which has been made of political activities in these districts has been confined to Communists; and has he not some disquiet himself?

Colonial Service, West Africa


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many vacancies for posts in Government service now exist in each of the West African colonies; how far the number of these vacancies is decreasing; and to what extent it is estimated that these vacancies will be filled during the next three years by Africans and British, respectively.

The following figures relate to posts in the higher grades of the Colonial Service and do not include posts which are filled by the Crown Agents for the Colonies or those filled by Colonial Governments from Colonial people. On the 31st May, 1948, there were 324 vacancies in Nigeria, 111 in the Gold Coast and 41 in Sierra Leone and the Gambia: total 476. On 31st December the vacancies were 324 in Nigeria, 125 in the Gold Coast and 46 in Sierra Leone and the Gambia: total 495. This shows an excess of 19, notwithstanding the fact that 230 vacancies were filled throughout West Africa during this period of seven months. I regret that it is not possible to forecast the vacancy position during the next three years, but it is certain that an increasing number of higher posts will be filled by Africans.

Does the Under-Secretary appreciate that meantime many of these key posts have been vacant for some time and that unless they are filled Nigerian development is likely to be held up.

Immigration Statistics, East Africa

31 and 32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) how many immigrants from the Union of South Africa have entered Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Kenya and Tanganyika, respectively, since 1945; and how many of these have taken up land for settlement;

(2) how many non-Europeans have entered Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Kenya and Tanganyika as settlers since 1945; and how many of these have been allowed to take up agricultural holdings.

I will ask the Governors of the respective territories for the information and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as it is available.

Will the Under-Secretary include in his inquiries what provision is being made educationally for Afrikaans-speaking children, in view of the number of immigrants from the Union; and will he say whether any discrimination as to colour or race exists in the immigration provisions for non-Europeans, and that the only qualification is whether they have sufficient capital to work the land properly?

As the information called for in this Question is rather important, will not the Under-Secretary consider issuing the information as a written answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT instead of giving it in a private letter to the hon. Member?

Dollar Expenditure, Nigeria And Gold Coast


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is satisfied that the dollar allocations put at the disposal of the Governments of Nigeria and the Gold Coast are sufficient for their urgent present needs, in view of the increasing contributions both countries are making to our total dollar earnings; and if he will review the matter.

Colonial spending of dollars on imports is regulated in accordance with annual import programmes which are drawn up in the territories and sent to my right hon. Friend for approval. I am satisfied that these arrangements enable Nigeria and the Gold Coast to obtain their essential imports. The matter is kept continuously under review.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the relationship between the requirements, as expressed by the Governor, and the allocations is reasonably close.