HC Deb 15 November 1960 vol 630 cc190-1
17. Mr. R. Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he received representations from the Sierra Leone African Congress Party urging the necessity for a general election prior to the declaration of independence; what reply he has sent; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Copies of a memorandum addressed to the Sierra Leone Government and of that Government's reply rejecting the memorandum were sent to me recently for information. I see no reason to intervene.

Mr. Edwards

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is a good practice to have a general election before independence? This was the practice in Nigeria and Ghana. Does he not agree that the results of the recent municipal elections in Freetown indicate that the Coalition Government has not much support in Sierra Leone and that it might be a good thing to have a general election in order to educate the people in that election in the principles of self-government?

Mr. Macleod

I do not think that that is an accurate assessment of the situation in Sierra Leone. When the people, headed by the Premier, came to the constitutional conference, there were 25 representatives, and 24 of them agreed that there should not be a general election before independence. I accepted that point of view. The one person who dissented and who did not sign the report, Mr. Siaka Stevens, is the person who has been putting forward the request for an election, but I do not think it has much support in Sierra Leone.