HC Deb 06 April 1955 vol 539 cc1172-4
58. Mrs. White

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the outcome of the disagreement between the Executive Council and the Governor of Eastern Nigeria on appointments and allowances for certain senior Civil Service posts.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I must apologise for the length of the answer.

Despite protracted discussions, the disagreement arising on the Appropriation Bill between the Eastern Region Ministers and the Governor about the proposed abolition or reduction of the emoluments of certain posts has not been resolved. On 18th March, the Premier assured the House of Assembly that there would be no constitutional crisis. But on 29th March, without previous intimation to the Governor of his intention, he secured the adjournment of the House sine die although the Governor had informed him earlier that he proposed to send a message to the Speaker that day with a view to repairing the omissions in the Bill.

The Governor will now use his powers under the Constitution to restore the position. I consider that, in the interests of the Eastern Region itself as well as of the public service, the Governor's decision to use his powers is wise, and I fully support it.

Mrs. White

While not desiring to say anything that might make matters more difficult, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that most hon. Members in this House would also support the Governor, in so far as it is very important, in both the Eastern and Western Regions of Nigeria and in other territories of the Colonial Empire, that public servants should feel that they are being justly treated, and should not have their prospects of promotion or reasonable allowances taken away from them without due notice and consultation?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am very grateful for the hon. Lady's observations. I came back from a recent tour of Nigeria determined to encourage British officers already there to stay and others to go out to Nigeria to serve there. The action now threatened has placed me in a very difficult personal position, and the action taken or proposed to be taken seems wholly at variance with the undertaking given to me by Dr. Azikiwe when I was recently in Nigeria.

Mr. J. Griffiths

While fully supporting the action taken by the Secretary of State, may I ask him whether any reason was given by the Premier of Eastern Nigeria for this action, which is not in the best interests of the future of his country?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

No reason, I think, which would commend itself to either side of this House.