HC Deb 24 November 1959 vol 614 cc197-8
32. Mr. N. Pannell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been drawn to the statement made by the Premier of the Northern Region of Nigeria regarding the conduct of British officers during the recent plebiscite in the Northern Cameroons; and what action he proposes to take to maintain confidence in the impartiality of British officers in the course of their duties there.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Yes, Sir. The United Nations Plebiscite Commissioner, whose duty it was to supervise the plebiscite arrangements, stated that the plebiscite was organised and conducted by the administering authorities with efficiency, impartiality and in accordance with the laws and regulations promulgated for this purpose. I have no doubt that publicity will be given to the Plebiscite Commissioner's statement.

Mr. Pannell

Is not it a fact that the Northern Cameroons consists of two isolated strips of territory separated by 40 miles of Nigerian territory proper and administered up to now as parts of three separate provinces of Nigeria? In view of that, will not it be a matter of extreme difficulty and embarrassment for Her Majesty's Government to continue administration of this territory after Nigeria has achieved its independence next year?

Mr. Macleod

As far as I know, my hon. Friend's geography is correct. Certainly it will be an enormously difficult problem, in the period between October, 1960, and whenever a final decision is reached about the Northern Cameroons, to improvise administrative machinery in that area, and that is why I hope that the gap will be as short as possible.