HL Deb 20 July 1937 vol 106 cc676-7

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I do not think I need detain your Lordships very long over this Bill. The necessity for it arises from the fact that Section 3 of the Act of 1899 for the winding up of the Royal Niger Company is still on the Statute Book. That section reads as follows: … all such sums as the Treasury determine to be receipts from the territories administered by the company at the passing of this Act, in excess of the necessary expenses of the administration of those territories, shall be paid into the Exchequer, save so far as those sums are with the approval of the Treasury applied towards the development and improvement of those territories. All I think I need say is that that Act is now entirely obsolete, and that there are in fact insuperable difficulties in deciding, first of all, what actually were the areas administered by the old company, and, secondly, what the receipts and expenditure in respect of those areas actually were. Separate accounts were never kept in regard to the areas administered by the company as distinct from the whole area at present administered by the Government of Nigeria. Therefore there are insuperable difficulties in any case in discovering what those payments should be.

But I think, apart from those considerations, there seems a very good reason why the Government of Nigeria should now be absolved from any claim upon it with respect to those moneys. I would only say that the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 enabled the united Colonies to dispense with a grant-in-aid after a period of five years, whereas if this amalgamation had not been effected the grant-in-aid would have been on a much larger scale and for a much longer period for Northern Nigeria alone. In the second place the Colony made a large contribution, well over £1,000,000, towards the cost of the Great War, and, finally, a sum of no less than £75,000 has recently been voted by the Legislature of Nigeria as a contribution towards defence expenditure. In view of those facts I feel sure your Lordships will agree to give the Bill a Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.