HC Deb 20 January 1959 vol 598 cc11-2
20. Mr. Pargiter

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what legislation to increase the powers of the police has been proposed to the Legislative Council of Nyasaland; and what official announcements have been made with regard to action to be taken to deal with unrest in the territory.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The Nyasaland Police Ordinance has recently been amended so as to extend to all police officers of the rank of assistant inspector and above the power to stop and order to disperse assemblies, meetings or processions. As to the second part of the question, following disturbances in Blantyre and Zomba, the Nyasaland Government issued a statement indicating their determination to maintain law and order. I am circulating a copy of this statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Pargiter

What are the constitutional arrangements that can be made between the Governor or the Legislative Council and the Federal Government on a matter which is clearly within the autonomy of the Legislative Council or Governor in conjunction with the Minister himself?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As the hon. Member said, the preservation of law and order is within the autonomy of the Northern Government, and it is right to draw attention to the fact that, in securing that, the resources of the Federation are behind the Northern Government. Clearly, the Federation has a very great interest in the maintenance of peaceful conditions.

Following is the statement: Recent incidents, particularly in the Blantyre and Zomba areas, have given rise to considerable public concern. That such incidents have occurred is deplored and it should be known that the Government are determined to maintain law and order throughout the Protectorate and to deal firmly and effectively with those who disturb the public tranquillity. Those who seek to perpetrate such incidents are warned that the Government will take every means in its power to stamp out lawlessness. As to the forces required to deal with such lawlessness, in addition to its own police force the Government has, as the Federal Prime Minister recently observed, the resources of the Federation behind it. It will make the fullest use of those resources should the need arise. The maintenance of law and order is the first duty of the Government, and in fulfilling that duty the Government is confident that it will receive the whole-hearted co-operation of all law-abiding citizens.
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