§ 43. Mr. Foot
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the Sierra Leone Deportation Ordinance, and, in particular, to Section 8 (2) which provides that the judge shall not be bound by the rules affecting the admissibility of evidence in legal proceedings and may, in his discretion, accept and act upon less than legal evidence, Section 20 (2) which provides that no action or proceeding, whether civil or criminal, shall lie against any public officer in respect of any act done by him for the purpose of carrying into effect any direction of the Governor in pursuance of Section 20 (1), and Section 21 which provides that no writ of habeas corpus or other process calling in question the legality of any order made under this ordinance shall have any effect; and whether he will take steps to prevent these Sections coming into force?
Mr. M. MacDonald
I am informed by the Governor that Clause 8 (2) of the Bill has been deleted and a new provision substituted; that Clause 20 (2) has been modified; and that Clause 21 has been deleted. Certain other amendments have also been made. I should wish to defer a further statement until I have had an opportunity of studying the Ordinance as passed by the Legislative Council. Copies of it are expected shortly.
A little later I shall be answering questions with regard to giving the House information. Perhaps the hon. Member will wait for those answers.
§ Mr. Maxton
Were the sections that have now been deleted included in the original draft that was sent out to the Colony by the Secretary of State?
Certainly not in some cases. I am not certain about other cases, but I think that in every case the answer is in the negative.
§ 44. Mr. Foot
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the Sierra Leone Undesirable Publications Ordinance, 1939, which empowers the Governor-in-Council, in his absolute discretion, to prohibit the importation of any publication which he considers contrary to the public interest and, in the case of a periodical publication, to prohibit the importation of any past or future issue; whether he has considered the provisions of Section 4 (2), which makes the mere possession without lawful excuse of such a publication an offence; and whether he will take steps to modify or set aside this ordinance?
A copy of the Ordinance has been placed in the Library of the House, and the hon. Member will see that in Section 3 of the Ordinance as passed, the words "would be contrary to the public interest," which appeared in the Bill as published, have been deleted and a description of the types of literature, the importation of which the Governor-in-Council is empowered to prohibit has been substituted.
There has been an amendment regarding that part of the Ordinance also. The Ordinance is in the Library of the House, and perhaps the hon. Member will study it, and then either get in touch with me or put further questions on the Order Paper.
§ 69. Mr. Paling
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has now considered the four Ordinances now before the Sierra Leone Legislature; whether he proposes to give his consent wholly or partially to same; and whether the Ordinances are in accordance with the draft Ordinances issued by the Colonial Office some time ago?
§ 62. Mr. Stephen
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will issue as a White Paper the model Ordinances which were issued to the Colonies, or make them available for Members in the Library, in view of the widespread trouble that has arisen among the workers in the Colonies owing to the introduction of such or revised Ordinances in Sierra Leone and elsewhere?
I have so far only received copies of two of the Ordinances as passed by the Legislative Council; there are slight differences between those and the models on which they are based. Copies of the other two Ordinances are expected within the next few days. Pending the arrival of these and of the Governor's report on the Ordinances, I cannot add to the answers which I gave to a series of questions on 28th June. I propose either to place the model Ordinances and the Ordinances as passed in the Library of the House or to publish them in a White Paper. Before deciding which would be the more appropriate course, I am considering the possibility of making available certain other papers connected with them. In either case they will be available to hon. Members at an early date.
§ Mr. Paling
Do I take it that it is the practice of these Legislatures to put Ordinances into operation before the Colonial Secretary has seen them or knows what is in them?
Normally the Secretary of State sees the Ordinances in draft and has an opportunity of making suggestions and proposing amendments regarding them. That happened in these cases, but I am not certain whether all the amendments which were proposed from London were finally passed in the form which we suggested. Until I have that information on receiving the Ordinances themselves, I am not in a position to make any further statement.
§ Mr. Paling
In so far as they do alter the model Ordinances, does the right hon. 1295 Gentleman see them before they are put into operation or embodied in legislation?
Before they introduce legislation and that legislation is passed by the local legislative council.
§ Mr. Maxton
Having regard to the very widespread opposition from all sections of the community in Sierra Leone and the opposition of this House, would the right hon. Gentleman not consider whether he ought not to approach the problem of Sierra Leone in an entirely different way, apart from these Ordinances altogether?
When hon. Members have had an opportunity of studying the Ordinances, they will find that many of the points on which objection were taken in the original draft were amended or deleted in the course of the discussions in the Colony.