HC Deb 21 December 1934 vol 296 cc1529-30W

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether he is aware that for the past 50 years English common law has been in use in the Gambia Colony, and that it has now been superseded by the introduction of a criminal code and a criminal procedure code, and the people of the Gambia have petitioned against these codes expressing the desire to retain the English common law; what was the reason for this change of legal system; whether the views of the people of the Gambia were ascertained before the change was made; and whether he is aware that the enforcement of the code laws by the military police force gives the appearance that the Colony is under martial law?


Previous to the recent enactment of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Ordinances, the Criminal Law in force in the Gambia Colony was a mixture of the common law, local Ordinances, and certain Imperial Acts of general application. It was in order to codify the principles embodied in all these and to clarify the position generally that these Ordinances were enacted. Ample opportunity was given for discussion of the measures, and a number of amendments were accepted when the Bills were before the Legislative Council. Protests have been received from the Gambia against the enactment of the codes in question, but I am satisfied that they proceed from a very small minority of the inhabitants of the Colony, and that the Codes are well suited to the requirements of, and will be of considerable value to, the Gambia. The ordinary police force of the Colony is employed in the enforcement of these, as of any other, Ordinances, and I aware of no ground for the suggestion that an appearance of martial law has been created.