HC Deb 12 May 1961 vol 640 cc85-6W
Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on his recent official conversations on the future of the Southern Cameroons.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The following is the statement issued after these discussions:

The Commissioner of the Southern Cameroons (Mr. J. O. Field), the Premier of the Southern Cameroons (Mr. J. N. Foncha) and the Minister of Commerce and Industries (Mr. S. T. Muna) have just concluded discussions in London with the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Iain Macleod). They were returning to the Southern Cameroons after attending the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

The steps to be taken following the passage of the recent United Nations Resolution were reviewed and Mr. Foncha expressed the intention to resume his contacts with the Govern- ment of the Cameroon Republic as soon as possible, as a preliminary to the consultations between the Administering Authority and the Governments of the Republic and of the Southern Cameroons which were contemplated in the Resolution.

The motions on constitutional matters recently passed in the House of Assembly of the Southern Cameroons were discussed. It was agreed that in future the Premier should increasingly preside in the Executive Council and that the Deputy Commissioner and Financial Secretary should cease to be members of the Council and of the House of Assembly. It was agreed that a Minister of Finance should be appointed.

It was also agreed that the number of constituencies should be increased to 37. This would, of course, not take effect until the next general election. In addition, it was decided that the limit on the number of Ministers should be raised and it was noted that discussions had already taken place between the leaders of the Government and the Opposition with a view to establishing national co-operation at this important time in the life of the country.

It was agreed, in principle, that the House of Chiefs should have legislative powers but that these should not come into effect until October 1, 1961. The question of changes in electoral qualifications was left for later consideration.

The opportunity was taken for an exchange of views on the many practical problems which will require attention in the coming months.

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