HC Deb 12 March 1941 vol 369 cc1262-3
16. Mr. David Adams

asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware, that after the destruction by earthquake in 1939 of large numbers of houses in Accra, Gold Coast Colony, the Gold Coast Government compelled the native chiefs of Accra to sign an indenture conveying their lands to it as security for the erection of new houses, street-works, etc., instead of effecting these works by the town council secured by loans upon the municipal revenues; and what steps have been taken to guarantee the return to the respective chiefs of their lands compulsorily taken from them?

Mr. George Hall

It is not the case that the chiefs concerned were compelled to convey lands to the Gold Coast Government as security for the erection of buildings, etc. The cost of the Accra rehousing scheme was borne by Government, but the only suitable land was the property of the Ga Chiefdoms, whose representatives agreed to its conveyance to Government for the purposes of this scheme on conditions which were embodied in a formal indenture. The resources of the Accra Town Council even in normal conditions are only sufficient to meet their recurrent expenditure. The financing of the rehousing scheme by loans secured upon the municipal revenues would not therefore, have been possible.

Mr. Adams

Is it not a fact that the chiefs in question were advised that unless they voluntarily handed over their land it would be taken from them compulsorily under the regulations? Would the Minister be good enough to answer my Question as to whether this land is to be returned to the chiefs?

Mr. Hall

From the information we have received the land was transferred voluntarily under an agreement that the land should be used for this purpose.

Mr. Adams

Do I understand that they handed over this land voluntarily, free of charge?

Mr. Hall

I am not sure as to the cost, but it was agreed between the chiefs and the Government that the land should be used for this purpose.

Mr. McGovern

Will the hon. Gentle-can encourage landlords in this country to hand over land for housing purposes free?