HC Deb 13 July 1955 vol 543 cc1928-9
39. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that there is no freedom of assembly for lawfully recognised trade unions in Nigeria; and what steps he is taking in this matter.

Mr. Hopkinson

No Sir. In the Federal Territory of Lagos there is complete freedom of assembly for trade unions. Elsewhere in the country a permit is required under the Police Ordinance for the holding of public meetings, but there are long-standing instructions to all concerned to facilitate the issue of general licences under this Ordinance to registered trade unions. The legislation now in force for Lagos has been commended to the regional Governments for adoption.

Mr. Johnson

Is it not a fact that ten years after the war-time emergency, well organised unions, lawfully recognised, have still to apply for police permits before they can hold meetings? Is it not time to rescind this war-time restriction?

Mr. Hopkinson

As I told the hon. Member, it has been rescinded in the case of Lagos by the Federal Government, and the Federal Government have commended to the regional Governments that it should also be rescinded in their territories. Whilst I sympathise very much with what the hon. Member has said, we must remember that there is a very large degree of self-government in these regions and, without wishing to shelter behind that fact, we must be careful to what extent we interfere in these matters.

Forward to