HC Deb 15 March 1939 vol 345 cc402-3
56. Mr. Ammon

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken to improve sanitation in the mining districts of the Gold Coast, and especially to create township boards, or other forms of local government, with representation of the native population?

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

Various measures are being taken to improve general sanitary conditions in the mining districts. Additional staff has been provided: satisfactory building control has been obtained, and new town and village lay outs have been provided and. are being built upon. Further legislation of a comprehensive character dealing with townships and public health is in contemplation, and pending its enactment it is proposed to constitute a township board at Tarkwa by a special ordinance. Similar action later is contemplated in respect of Bibiani.

Mr. Davidson

If those measures of sanitation prove successful will the right hon. Gentleman submit them to the Minister of Health for adoption in Wales?

60. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received any explanation from the Gold Coast authorities as to the statement in their latest medical report that 50 Africans in the colony died from starvation last year; and what steps are being taken to ensure that such things shall cease?

Mr. M. MacDonald

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. These deaths apparently occurred among immigrant labourers coming from the north. Every year as many as 100,000 men, of whom some two-thirds come from French territory, travel from 400 to 500 miles to the southern parts of the Gold Coast, where they obtain work. I understand that these men often start their journey with scanty resources, and suffer great hardships on the way. The Labour Department which has recently been set up is losing no time in dealing with this important problem, and steps are being taken to establish a labour ex change in Kumasi, labour offices at four of the more important centres on the labour routes, as well as eight rest camps for the use of labourers travelling along the regular routes in the Northern Territories. I trust that these measures will prevent a repetition of the deplorable occurrences to which the medical report drew attention.

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