HC Deb 16 July 1952 vol 503 cc2147-8
51. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies for details of the proposed changes in local government in the Western Provinces of Nigeria.

Mr. Lyttelton

Yes, Sir, but as the answer is long I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:


A Bill to replace the Native Authority Ordinance, 1943, in respect of the Western Region of Nigeria with the exception of the area administered by the Lagos Town Council, is to be introduced at the current meeting of the Western House of Assembly. This Bill will no doubt be referred at the appropriate stage to the Governor in Council and cannot in any case be presented to the Lieutenant-Governor for assent unless the Governor in Council has previously given notice that he does not object to its terms.

The main provisions of the Bill, some of which follow the existing Native Authority Ordinance, include:

(i) Nomenclature and Structure of Local Government Bodies The term "Native Authorities" is to be replaced by that of "Councils," of which there will be three classes: Divisional, Urban and Rural District, and Local Councils. All Councils will derive their powers directly from the Regional Authority, which for the purposes of this Bill is the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. Some Divisions will require only Divisional and District Councils, but Local Councils (Village or Village Group Councils) may also be established where necessary. In some Divisions where there are no Local Councils, District Councils may appoint town, village, or area committees with responsibility for the conduct of town, village or area affairs. (ii) Control and Inspection Control is vested in the Regional Authority which, inter alia, will have power to establish and dissolve Councils, to vary areas, to initiate inquiries to be held into the affairs of Councils, and to appoint a Local Government Inspectorate which will take over the functions previously exercised by Residents and District Officers in relation to councils established under the Native Authority Ordinance, 1943. It is intended that the Inspectors should be drawn from serving Administrative Officers. (iii) Composition of Council District and Local Councils will consist of both traditional and elected members, the former (chiefs) not exceeding one quarter of the whole. The traditional members will either be appointed to the Council by the Regional Authority or elected by an electoral college of chiefs. (iv) Elections Elections to District and Local Councils will be direct. District Councils will serve as electoral colleges to Divisional Councils. Qualifications of voters will remain broadly similar to those at present required for elections to the native authority councils but as an alternative to the payment of direct tax, the payment of a certain minimum rate will also be a qualification, thus enfranchising women in areas where they pay rates. (v) Functions and Powers of Councils These will be similar to those enumerated in Section 99 of the Eastern Region Local Government Ordinance, 1950, and in addition there is provision for borrowing. Divisional Councils will normally be responsible for the imposition and collection of rates, and District and Local Councils will be empowered to precept on them. (vi) Police Native Authority Police will be re-organised as Local Government Police and Forces will be established on a provincial basis subject to the approval of the Regional Authority. Authority over these Forces will be vested in the Regional Commissioner of Police or in a Deputy Commissioner.