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Colonies (Ministers)

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 31 July 1956

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49.

asked the Prime Minister what consideration he has given to the need for an extra Minister for the Colonies.

Does the Prime Minister not think that the Colonial Office is being overwhelmed today by events—in Singapore, Malaya, Cyprus, Malta, the Seychelles, the Caribbean, the Gold Coast and Nigeria? Is there not a case for a peripatetic Minister—[An HON. MEMBER: "A sympathetic Minister."]—particularly in Africa, to go out and see what is happening, because too often we find that events are taking the Government by surprise? We are faced with these events and the Government do not seem to know what they are doing about them.

I know the hon. Gentleman's interest in this question but I really have some doubts whether peripatetic Ministers, even if they are sympathetic, would be particularly the means of dealing with this kind of situation. I think that those on the spot must advise the Colonial Office on this matter, and the staffs of Ministers must be adequate but not more than adequate for the tasks which they have to fulfill.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great number of us are willing to rely on Her Majesty's Government's representatives overseas, and are much more interested in being able to put Questions to Ministers who are responsible for them?

Could we not have an additional Minister in the Colonial Office, whether peripatetic or not, without extra expense if we dispensed with one of the unnecessary Scottish Ministers?