HL Deb 21 November 1968 vol 297 cc1029-30

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government to what extent the civil war in Nigeria has affected the financial interests of British companies in the Eastern Region; and whether the previous interests of British companies have been transferred to French companies in the area controlled by Colonel Ojukwu.]


My Lords, British companies with investment in the Eastern Region of Nigeria have suffered substantially both in their physical assets and through loss of business. Until the civil war is over, it will not be possible to arrive at a reliable estimate of the total damage to those assets. I do not know of any reports of British commercial interests in the areas controlled by Colonel Ojukwu having been transferred to French companies.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether he has seen reports in the newspapers that French interests have moved n and acquired these properties, under the alleged authority of the Biafran Government? Could the noble Lord say whether the oil companies and the production of oil in the Eastern Region are still technically under the authority of the Nigerian Government? Furthermore, could he say approximately how much of the oil production is now within the area controlled by the Nigerian Government'?


My Lords, apart from a few small oil wells, the entire oil complex is now under Federal Military Government control. In regard to newspaper reports, I have seen them but, as I have said, there is no clear evidence to substantiate the statements referred to.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether he is aware that there is now in Lagos a trade delegation from Soviet Russia, and that it has been reported that a concession has been made to them in relation to steel and iron? Further, is there any evidence that negotiations are taking place so far as the oil industry is concerned?


My Lords, I am aware that there is a Soviet economic mission in Nigeria, and I understood that it was connected with the development of steel. I have no evidence in regard to oil. As my noble friend will be aware, the main oil industry there is Shell and B.P.