HC Deb 21 July 1960 vol 627 cc713-4
29. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the administrative arrangements for the Trust Territories of 'the Northern and Southern Cameroons following Nigerian independence in October, 1960; and what steps are being taken to retain an adequate number of United Kingdom personnel to ensure a smooth transfer of administration when the results of the United Nations plebiscites finally come to be implemented.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Sir Percy Wyn-Harris has been appointed Administrator of the Northern Cameroons and will take up office during September. The Northern Regional Government has seconded staff for the district administration of the territory and is continuing to provide other services on repayment. The Southern Cameroons already has a separate administration comparable to that of a Region in Nigeria and, as I informed the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) on 5th April, the Nigerian Federal Government has agreed to lend staff (including overseas officers) to enables services to be maintained in the territory. Additional staff are also being recruited from this country.

I am very grateful for the assistance of both the Federal and Regional Governments.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Is the Secretary of State aware that my information is that there is a real danger of a breakdown of administration in the Southern Cameroons? Is he aware that I have information that within a month or two there may be no magistrates' department in the Southern Cameroons; that there may be only two doctors and a few competent nurses, and that the public works department may be left without engineers? Will the look into this seriously to make sure that, when the people of the Southern Cameroons take their decision under the United Nations plebiscite, there may be sufficient administration to carry the transfer through smoothly?

Mr. Macleod

We are doing everything we can to fill the needs to Which the hon. Member has drawn attention. There are a number of vacancies in the Southern Cameroons. It is difficult to recruit the necessary staff, but we will do everything we can so that When the time comes we shall have an efficient administration.

Mr. Tilney

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the acute state of anarchy which prevails in the neighbouring state of the Cameroun Republic? Will he make sure that that anarchy does not spread across the border to the British Cameroons?

Mr. Macleod

We have undertaken that after this period in October when the Nigerian ordinary troops are no longer available we shall send a British battalion, if necessary, to the Southern Cameroon's.

Mr. Marquand

In view of the discussion we had on the Nigeria Bill and the large number of Questions there have been on the Order Paper on this subject of helping emerging territories and territories likely to become independent, will the Secretary of State make a statement to the House on his general conclusions on this matter before the House rises?

Mr. Macleod

I am working very hard on the matter and hope to be able to make a statement, but I cannot promise that I shall do so.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

In view of the seriousness of the situation in the Southern Cameroons, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter before the House rises for the Recess.