HC Deb 30 October 1956 vol 558 cc139-40W
103. Sir R. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement about his recent discussions with Mr. Grantley Adams, the Premier of Barbados.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The discussions held in London with the Governor, the Premier, Dr. Cato and the Financial Secretary of Barbados on the one hand and myself and members of my Department and other United Kingdom Government Departments on the other had two objects. The first was to discuss in general terms what might be the next stage in the constitutional development of Barbados in the light both of experience since a ministerial system of government was established early in 1954 and the approaching Federation of the British West Indies.

It will be recalled that the Montego Bay Conference of 1947 resolved that the political development of the several units should be pursued as an aim in itself, without prejudice, and in no way subordinate, to progress towards Federation.

The talks were of an exploratory and general character and there was no question of taking final decisions either on the precise nature of changes to be made or on their timing. These matters will fall to be considered by the Government of Barbados after the general elections have taken place.

The second object was to review the development programme of the Barbados Government. Previous discussions on this plan had been held in August, 1955, and in February of this year. In February the plan, which included the construction of the proposed Deep Water Harbour, involved expenditure of £8¼ million in the period 1955–1960.

Since then the Barbados Government has felt obliged to expand the programme to include provision for other urgent commitments that have arisen. These include a new 500-bed hospital, additional schools to accommodate the increase in the child population and to eliminate overcrowding, new buses for the road transport service and provision for higher salaries and wages. The effect of this expansion of the programme is to increase its cost from about £8¼ million to just over £10 million.

Further useful talks have taken place in London on every phase of the revised development programme. The conclusion of these further talks with Her Majesty's Government was that financial resources are available to carry out every stage of the revised development programme for 1955–1960 as planned.

One important project in the plan is the expansion of Seawell Airport for which a grant of £135,000 has now been made from colonial development and welfare funds.

The question whether Seawell Airport should be open to additional airlines has been discussed with Her Majesty's Government who have undertaken to consider it sympathetically. The Premier of Barbados will make a further statement within a few weeks.

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