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Disturbances, Enugu

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 14 June 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is yet in a position to state when the report on the disturbances at Enugu will be published.

The Report and accompanying despatches were published on 10th June. I take this opportunity of informing the House that Mr. Edward Cain, J.P., Secretary of the Wheatley Hill Branch of the National Union of Mine-workers, and Mr. P. G. Weekes, Manager of the Oakdale Colliery, South Wales, accompanied by Mr. E. Parry, my Assistant Labour Adviser, will leave for Nigeria next week, as the advance party of the group of experts mentioned in paragraph 9 of my published despatch of 22nd May to the Governor. They will proceed immediately to Enugu Colliery. They will be followed in July by two other members selected in consultation with the Trades Union Congress and the British Employers' Confederation, whose names I hope to announce shortly.

Can this body of people perhaps consider also the advisability of transferring the colliery not to a public body but to private enterprise, which has a much better record in labour relations in West Africa than have Government-owned organisations?

These two gentlemen, who kindly accepted my invitation to carry out this task, have experience of both sides of industry and industrial relationships in collieries. I have asked them to go because the primary consideration must be the building up of good relations in the colliery itself.

We hope that these men will meet with success. We may want to debate the Report later. When will the Secretary of State let the House know the names of the two other Members, which he said he would announce shortly?

Will the right hon. Gentleman draw the attention of these experts on trade unionism to paragraph 21 of the Fitzgerald Report, which said that the main cause of the failure of trade unionism in West Africa—though the Secretary of State did not mention this in his despatch to the Governor—is that the trade union leaders exploit and prostitute the movement for their own ends?

Will these gentlemen issue a report and, if so, when? Subsequent to that, shall we be able to have a Debate in the House about their report and the Report which has preceded it?

I would ask my hon. Friend to put his question about a Debate to the Leader of the House. I am not asking these two experts, who are going out to Enugu colliery, to prepare a report. They are not a formal commission. Their job is not to prepare a report to me. I am asking them to go for a considerable time to assist in building up good industrial relations in the colliery.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether this Committee will include someone who, as well as being an expert in trade unionism in this country, is expert in the knowledge of conditions in West Africa?

These two men have been appointed because they have wide experience in the working of industrial relations machinery and industrial conciliation in this country, which is about the best model in the world to follow.