HC Deb 01 August 1951 vol 491 cc1435-6
13. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the Russian allegations in the Trusteeship Council on 6th July against the British administration in the Cameroons; and what steps he has taken to rebut them.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Yes, Sir. These allegations were effectively rebutted by the United Kingdom representatives in the Council. A copy of the relevant verbatim record has been placed in the Library of the House, and, with permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT an extract from the speech of Brigadier Gibbons, the United Kingdom spokesman.

Mr. Johnson

Can the Minister assure the House that the African people in the Cameroons enjoy the right of habeas corpus as much as any cockney in London?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, Sir. I hope that hon. Members who may have heard these charges made against the administration in this area will read the statement which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT and look at the copy of the verbatim record which I am placing in the Library.

Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

Will my right hon. Friend agree to investigate the standard of administration in the Cameroon Development Corporation, in view of the fact that over the last three years more than one-third of the European staff have left the Corporation and feel very bitter that opportunities to make their complaints heard have not been given to them?

Mr. Griffiths

That supplementary question does not arise on this Question and answer.

Following is the extract: The first of these astonishing suggestions was that, under the present Administration, the people of the Territory are deprived of all civic rights. Now let us simply ask ourselves what in fact is this machinery of tyranny which is supposed to exist. There are no troops stationed in the Territory. There is, of course, no secret police. In a population of over one million there are three—only three—British police officers and 497 government and native administration police recruited from the people of the Territory themselves, none of whom carries arms on normal duty. Thus, there is only one policeman to over two thousand of the inhabitants. In fact, even in these early stages of our educational expansion, there are considerably more than twice as many teachers in the schools as there are policemen. The inhabitants enjoy the same freedom from arbitrary arrest which was won by the English people centuries ago. The writ of habeas corpus runs in this Territory as surely as it runs in London and throughout the British Commonwealth. I must now mention in passing what appeared to me to be the most bizarre of the misconceptions expressed, namely, that the Administering Authority is pursuing a policy of capacious exploitation in alienating the lands of the people in order to produce raw materials for the profit of the United Kingdom. The Council is, of course, already fully aware that the exact opposite is the case. The policy of the present Administration, which has been generously commended by this Council, has in fact been to restore to the people of this Territory lands previously alienated from them and to ensure to the inhabitants of the Trust Territory exclusively the enjoyment of all the benefits derived from their operation, whether in the shape of trading profits or of tax accruing to government, of which, as the Council well knows, not one penny is appropriated either by the Nigerian Government or by the United Kingdom.