House Of Commons
Wednesday, 23rd July, 1947
The House met at Half past Two o'Clock
[MR. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Helston And Porthleven Water Bill
Lords Amendments considered and agreed to.
Borough Of Croydon (Rating) Bill Lords
Standing Order 198 suspended; Bill to be read a Second time forthwith.—[ The Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Bill accordingly read a Second time, and committed.
"That Standing Orders 115, 177 and 199 be suspended; and that one clear day's notice be given by the Clerk to the Committee of Selection or the Clerk to the Committee on the Bill, as the case may require, of the day and hour appointed for the sitting of the Committee on the Bill.—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Oral Answers To Questions
Corporations' Accounts (Publication)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when the accounts of B.O.A.C., covering the year ended March, 1947, will be available.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when it is intended to publish the annual accounts of the three air corporations.
The statements of accounts of the three airways corporations for the year ended 31st March, 1947, will be laid as soon as possible after Parliament re-assembles in October.
While I appreciate the difficulties of getting the accounts from overseas, may I ask the Minister to be sure that there is no delay, because of the large sums which may be involved, and because of the public interest in this matter?
Most certainly. There has been active co-operation between the Minister, the chairman of the corporations, and the accountancy sections and auditors of the corporations. We have brought publication of the accounts to within seven months of the end of the financial year, and we are desirous of bringing them as close to it as possible, because that is, in itself, an efficiency test.
In view of the long delay in presenting these accounts, will my hon. Friend consider giving more information in this House in response to questions put to him by Members of this House, pending publication of the accounts?
That is an entirely different question.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether, as a result of the acquisition by the State of Doncaster airport, he now proposes to construct the necessary runways and other essential works; when he anticipates the plans will be ready or the work of reconstruction will commence; who will use the airport in the meantime; and what facilities will be given to commercial operators or charter companies to develop, in the near future, regular airline services.
I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made in regard to aerodromes in the United Kingdom on 9th July, in answer to a Question by the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick), but I may add with regard to Doncaster that preliminary plans for its development, which is a heavy constructional undertaking, have been prepared, though for the reasons given in my earlier statement I am unable to forecast the date of implementation. Meanwhile, the aerodrome is already being used by one aircraft repair and maintenance firm, and will be available within the limits of its capacity and accommodation to other commercial, charter and private flying interests to engage in their legitimate actiivties. A civil operated reserve school will resume flying activities there in the autumn.
Is not the Minister aware that we in the West Riding of Yorkshire, particularly in the City of Sheffield and other towns around Doncaster, attach considerable importance to the development of this airport? Will my hon. Friend give it the same consideration as he gives to Prestwick in Scotland, because the West Riding produces a considerable amount of wealth for Britain, certainly in the export field?
The development of this aerodrome will cost a considerable amount of money and will require a lot of labour and materials, and its development must, in relation to these factors, be in accordance with the national programme.
Prestwick (Transatlantic Service)
asked the Parliamentary Secreary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many Atlantic arrivals and departures to and from Prestwick, by aircraft of the three corporations, took place during June; and how many by other airlines.
In the month of June there were 17 arrivals and 19 departures to and from Prestwick Airport on transatlantic services by the British Overseas Airways Corporation, 41 arrivals and 41 departures by Trans-Canada Airlines and 54 arrivals and 56 departures by foreign airlines.
Does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that these figures abundantly bear out the contention that if left to themselves to choose between Prestwick, Heathrow and Shannon, a great many foreign companies will, in fact, prefer to use Prestwick?
Yes, as and when it is the most effective route on the Great Circle route.
Do these figures bear out the prognostication that a Labour Government would close Prestwick?
Air-Sea Rescue Equipment
asked the Parliamentary Secertary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether all British air-liners operating on the ocean routes carry emergency dinghies, lifebelts and other standard air-sea rescue equipment for passengers and crews.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he will now state when Gatwick racecourse is to be derequisitioned.
Gatwick racecourse is now an essential part of Gatwick Aerodrome which is being extensively used for the testing of transport aircraft under modification on the aerodrome, for air charter work and for the Ministry of Civil Aviation's experimental and communication work. I can, therefore, give no promise that it will be derequisitioned.
Does the hon. Gentleman mean that it will be requisitioned permanently?
The answer means that I can give no promise when it will be derequisitioned. From my information, I think it will be in use for a number of years, for there is no alternative aerodrome within the London area.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many German doctors and surgeons in the British zone, whose medical services are urgently needed, are prevented from resuming practice because of their former connection with the National Socialist Party.
Control Commission (Rations)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the weekly weight and calorie content of each item of the rations issued to British officials of the Control Commission in Germany; and whether the quantities are the same for large messes as for issues to individuals.
The rations for the Control Commission are the same as for the British Army of the Rhine. I have obtained the details asked for in the first part of the Question from my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for War, and with permission will circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The answer to the second half of the Question is, "Yes, Sir."
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the allegations I sent him that there is a good deal of waste and does not his reply to the last part of my Question corroborate that, as it is a well known fact that the issues need not be the same for a large mess as for an individual?
I will look into that very carefully. The Commander-in-Chief is coming over, and I am constantly trying to tighten up the administration.
Following are the details:
|Commodity.||Weekly Quantity in oz.||Calories (per week)|
|Meat Frozen (Bone in)||42||3,115|
|Milk Td. U.K.||14||644|
|Skim Milk Powder||2||196|
|Milk Powder F.C.S.U.||3||413|
|Rice or alternative||2||196|
|Sausages (Fresh) (Beef)||16||973|
Land Reform Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the main differences between the land expropriation proposals for the British zone of Germany and those already in operation or proposed for the United States zone.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether consultations have been held with the United States occupation authority and agreement reached as to the principles on which the scheme for land reform in the British zone of Germany is to be based.
The settlement law passed in the United States zone was carefully studied before the issue of the British Draft Ordinance. There has been, however, no official consultation with the United States authorities on land reform. The main difference between the British proposals and the provisions of the United States settlement law is that while the British proposals envisage a fixed limit above which all land shall be expropriated, the United States law establishes a sliding scale of expropriation starting at a low fixed limit.
Does the Foreign Secretary intend to ask the United States Government what is their opinion of land nationalisation in a zone for which they are likely to take an increasing responsibility?
No, Sir. I had not thought of putting that question to them yet.
Could my right hon. Friend say what is the position with regard to this land reform as between ourselves and the Zonal Advisory Council, and what stage has been reached?
The stage which has been reached now is that opinion has been taken through the Zonal Advisory Council, and from different parties who put up different points of view and opinions, and the Commander-in-Chief and his officers, and we have been taking all these into account before reaching a final conclusion.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance that responsible organisations in Germany representing agriculture and forestry will be consulted before any decision to expropriate German farmers is reached.
Responsible German opinion has been consulted through the Zonal Advisory Council, which, in examining the British proposals, has employed the services of German agricultural experts.
May I ask the Foreign Secretary whether the responsible opinion which he says has been asked for its advice, is really responsible opinion with agricultural and forestry experience, and not merely the semi-political opinion as represented on the Zonal Advisory Council?
Responsible German opinion has been consulted through the Zonal Advisory Council, but if the hon. Member asks me whether I have taken into account all the farmers organisations, well, that is not so.
Would not the Foreign Secretary think it better that the Zonal Advisory Council should take the opinion of responsible agriculturists and foresters, who are more likely to know about the loss of foodstuffs?
In my experience, I have never found unanimity amongst them.
Travel Permit (Application)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why Mr. Paul Bruggemann, Hamburg-Harburg, Stormstrasse 15, British Zone, Germany, with a Swedish wife and family resident in Sweden, who went to Hamburg to visit his sick mother in the autumn of 1946, is still refused the right to return to Sweden, in spite of his anti-Nazi record, the distress of his wife and family and the Government's promise early in May to treat his request as a matter of prime urgency.
Mr. Bruggemann has made no application to the British authorities in Germany for permission to return to Sweden permanently. He has, however, made two applications to visit Sweden, both of which had to be refused because the grounds stated did not come within the approved categories of travel out of Germany.
If I give my right hon. Friend a copy of a letter from Mr. Bruggemann stating that he does wish to return to Sweden permanently, will he look into the matter again?
Rumania (Political Prisoners)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the arrest of people for political reasons, contrary to the peace treaty, has now ceased in Rumania; and how many political prisoners have been released since 1st June.
The Rumanian Government have not discontinued arrests of political opponents. They have recently arrested Monsieur Maniu and the leading members of the National Peasant Party. Releases of political prisoners are taking place, but I have been unable to obtain any reliable figures. I agree with the hon. Member that such political arrests are in conflict with Article 3 of the Peace Treaty, and His Majesty's Government addressed to the Rumanian Government a Note on 21st July refuting the Rumanian Government's contention that this is not so and that His Majesty's Government will have no right to concern themselves with the fulfilment by Rumania of that Article.
While appreciating the seriousness of the right hon. Gentleman's reply may I ask him can he assure the House that he is receiving the active co-operation of the other parties concerned with the Moscow Conference, towards ensuring that the Rumanian Government implement their obligations?
I would not like to say that. Certainly, the American Government, as one of the members of the Allied Council, have supported it. That is all.
Peace Treaties (Ratification)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when it is expected that the Peace Treaties, agreed on by the Great Powers, will be ratified.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an approximate date when the Treaty of Peace with Finland will be ratified; and what steps he is taking to hasten this ratification.
His Majesty's Government are anxious to avoid further delay, and are discussing the matter with the other Governments concerned.
Which Governments are delaying, and what alleged reasons do they give for the delay?
The principal point is in the case of Italy. I think it would be in the best interests of Italy if she were to ratify the Treaty and clear up the technical state of war and allow normal relations to be resumed; but she apparently is holding back because she does not feel certain whether Soviet Russia would ratify the Treaty. I do not think that she ought to rely on that. Really, she ought to carry it out and, having signed it, to ratify it and then to allow the other Powers to try to bring these Treaties into operation.
As Finland is an entirely different case from Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, etc., because the United States had nothing whatever to do with it, why could not Russia and Great Britain come to a quicker answer?
I was endeavouring to get the ratification of all the Treaties deposited at the same time. In view of the difficulties that have arisen, I will take up the point which the hon. Gentleman has made.
What is the policy of His Majesty's Government in the case of such Treaties as those with Bulgaria and Rumania which contain guarantees for the liberties of the individual and which are being openly flouted at present by the Governments in power there; will His Majesty's Government consider delaying ratification until those Governments show some intention of honouring the terms of the Treaties?
No. I think that would be a mistake. It would just keep the thing open. The best thing to do is to get the Treaties ratified, then get the countries admitted to United Nations, and then bring the "human rights" clause into operation so that the whole thing can be ventilated in a public assembly.
How is it possible to ratify the Treaty with Italy until she carries out the obligations which she has undertaken towards South Tyrol and the Tyrolese population?
Police (Overseas) Regulations
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what was the reason for the delay in laying on the Table of this House the Police (Overseas Service) Germany Regulations (S.R. & O., 1947, No. 1088), dated 29th May and the Police (Overseas Service) Austria Regulations (S.R. & O., 1947, No. 1188), dated 8th June.
I regret the delay; it was really due to confusion that arose out of the amalgamation of the Control Office and the Foreign Office. I have taken steps to prevent a recurrence.
Cuba (British West Indians)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what sums have been paid during the last year for the relief of necessitous British West Indian colonials in the island of Cuba; how many recipients have been involved; and, of these, how many were permanent residents in Cuba.
£22,048 for the financial year ended 31st March, 1947. There were 3,110 recipients. Information is not available to answer the last part of the Question.
British Embassy, Lima (Labour Attache)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the duties of the labour adviser to the British Ambassador at Lima; when this office was established; and what is its annual cost.
The Labour Attaché at His Majesty's Embassy at Lima, who is at the same time Labour Attaché on the staffs of His Majesty's representatives at Santiago and La Paz, took up his appointment on 9th May last. As regards the duties of Labour Attachés, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. F. Willey) on 7th July. I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour that the salary and allowances for this post amount to £2,050 a year.
Would the Foreign Secretary explain generally whether he is to give advice upon how to deal with labour conditions or whether he is to receive advice from the South American Republics upon how to treat the Trade Union Congress?
His duty is to keep other countries advised of the very advantageous social services and the policy developed in this country. I do not intend to leave the whole world of labour open to others when we have such an example to put before the world.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the present position of the discussions that have been taking place between His Majesty's Government and the Government of the U.S.S.R. in regard to the refusal of the latter Government to permit the Russian-born wives of British subjects to leave the U.S.S.R.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further action he proposes to take in the matter of the 15 Russian-born wives of British subjects who are still detained by the Soviet authorities.
His Majesty's Ambassador at Moscow has now written a letter to Mr. Vishinsky to inquire how the matter stands.
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to publish as a White Paper the correspondence with the Soviet Union concerning this matter over the last six months?
I would like notice of that question.
I beg to give notice, in view of the unprecedented action of the Russian Government—unprecedented in a country having treaty relationship with another country—that on behalf of a number of hon. Members I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment for the Summer Recess, if I am successful in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the large concentrations of guerillas along the Yugoslav and Albanian frontiers and their subsequent repeated and increasing violation of the Greek frontier; and whether he proposes to draw the attention of the Security Council of the United Nations to these unprovoked aggressions.
The Greek Government have already brought before the Security Council the latest case of a guerilla attack from across Greece's northern frontier. In addition, the Subsidiary Group of the United Nations Balkan Commission has investigated, and reported to that Commission in New York on, various frontier incidents which have taken place since the Commission's report was drawn up. The Security Council is, therefore, fully informed upon these matters which are, I understand, engaging its attention at the present time.
In view of the fact that these frontier situations are connived at, if not actively assisted, by the Yugoslav and Albanian Governments, will the Foreign Secretary consider making very strong protests to those Governments?
I think the matter has been taken up by the United Nations. We have a representative on the United Nations, and he speaks with the voice of His Majesty's Government, and I think we ought to stick to that instrument.
Could the Foreign Secretary say whether the United Nations Commission will have a representative on these frontier area commissions, or have these commissions been withdrawn?
There is some doubt about it; there is a partial commission at the moment.
British Police Mission
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether, in view of the action taken by the Greek Government in arresting, without charge, thousands of trade unionists, Socialists and Communists, he will now withdraw the British Police Mission.
In that case, will the Foreign Secretary say whether he is satisfied that the Police Mission which we sent over to Greece is there for a useful purpose or merely in order to ensure the unwarranted arrest of Socialist and Communist trade unionists?
They are there for a very useful and successful purpose.
Does the right hon. Gentleman think that this present attack on the Left and the working-class in Greece is a useful purpose?
I think that when any party, like the Communist Party—
And the Socialist Party.
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, perhaps he will allow me to answer the question—sets out to destroy the elected authority of the State, the elected authority of the State is entitled to protect itself.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in Greece, anybody who opposes the Government is apparently classified as a Communist, and that this also ha:; the appearance of a Nazi doctrine to which exception has been taken this afternoon?
I am not expressing a view whether the Greek Government are right or wrong; I am expressing the view that the Police Mission is out there doing its duty. On the other hand, when I was asked a question as to this attack on the State, I gave an answer, and I limited it to the Communist Party.
Spain (Tourist Propaganda)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps are being taken to attract Spanish tourists to this country; what instructions our consulates in Spain have received on this subject; and to what extent the British Council in Spain is directing its attentions to interesting Spaniards in visiting this country.
Propaganda to attract Spanish tourists is not justified in view of the virtual prohibition by the Spanish Government of the export of currency for private journeys abroad. The British authorities concerned in Spain have, however, been given discretion to issue tourist visas permitting a stay of two months. The activities of the British Council in Spain naturally stimulate interest in this country and encourage visits by scientific, medical, professional men and others.
While fully realising that it is very difficult, from the financial point of view, for Spaniards to leave Spain, is it not true that, in France, only £5 is allowed for export, and that there is still a large amount of propaganda to try to get French people to come over here? Can we not do the same in Spain?
The relationship between Spain and the rest of the world is not the same as in the case of France
Foreign Service (Uniforms)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what allowances are at present granted to members of His Majesty's Diplomatic Service for the purchase of diplomatic uniforms; whether coupons are specially granted for this purpose; and whether ambassadors when first appointed are given any special facilities for obtaining the necessary uniforms for official functions outside this country.
The new Foreign Service Regulations provide that new entrants into the Foreign Service shall receive the actual cost of their uniform and that all officers shall receive the cost of altering their uniform on promotion in rank. Only in exceptional circumstances can the cost of a second new uniform be borne by public funds. When a new uniform or the alteration of an existing uniform is authorised the necessary coupons are also provided. No other special facilities appear to be required for obtaining uniforms, but these would be granted if necessary.
Would that exclude the fact that, in possibly 15 or 20 years' time, people's figures might change?
I shall rely on Mr. Moss to adjust that.
May I ask the Foreign Secretary whether he will ask the Soviet Government to release some of the three miles of gold braid which they recently ordered from this country?
I think the uniforms, without gold braid, of some of our Services are much better.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has received from the British Ambassador in Warsaw as to the number of Polish Socialists who have been re-arrested since the political amnesty was declared and in violation of the Potsdam Agreement.
A communiqué issued by the Polish Ministry of Public Security on 8th June named seven Socialists who had been arrested. Of these, two were arrested last year, and have been in prison ever since. Two others were arrested last year, released and re-arrested in June of this year. The remaining three were arrested in June. Certain other prominent Polish Socialists have also been arrested in May and June. According to the Press, the total number arrested is 23. Not all the persons arrested are at present members of the Polish Socialst Party. Some of them are former members who have resigned from the Party.
Can my right hon. Friend say what were the charges against these men?
No, I really could not.
Is it not a fact that there is nothing in the Potsdam Agreement to prevent the arrest of people identified with sabotage, and is he aware that the chairman of the Socialist Party has stated that, having seen the documents, he is convinced that these people had planned sabotage?
I have not gone into the question of the charges at all. I must say to the House that I cannot take up every charge made against these people. It is impossible.
Polish Repatriation Camp, Ayrshire (Soviet Citizens)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the appeals since January of 133 Soviet citizens now in Polish Repatriation Camp No. 75, at Stewarton, Ayrshire, to be sent home have hitherto led to no action; and why their request to see a Soviet Consul has been refused.
There are at present 144 Soviet citizens in Polish Repatriation Camp No. 75 at Stewarton who are due to leave for Russia on 29th July; all these men have seen the Soviet Consul in order to obtain their Soviet visas.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the remaining 550-odd Soviet citizens in camps in this country who have asked to be repatriated, will be repatriated in the near future?
When it is established that they have asked for it, I can do it, but there is a tremendous conflict about it. The Soviet sometimes tell me that people have written, and the people have said that they have not written, and so I have asked that, if a person writes from the camp, the Soviet should give me a copy of the letter, so that I can confront the person with that letter
Would not the Foreign Secretary consider making an exchange between these people and the Russian-born wives of British citizens?
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Visit)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the ban on the visit to this country of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, because of the many Nazis among its members, has been lifted, in spite of the fact that it still has 30 Nazi members, and that its leader, Wolfgang Schneiderhahn, is a former voluntary member of the S.S., who made his musical and political reputation under Hitler.
My hon. Friend has been misinformed. His Majesty's Government encouraged the project of a visit to this country of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra last year, after it had been purged of 17 of its members with Nazi connections. For commercial reasons it was not found possible to arrange engagements for the orchestra last year, but no political aspect was involved. I am satisfied that the Austrian Government, whose de-Nazification Law of 6th February, 1947, was only issued after thorough examination by the Allied Council in Vienna, has carried out the de-Nazification of the implicated members of the orchestra. Wolfgang Schneiderhahn is not a figure of any political importance.
Was not the persecution of artists and musicians, on account of their political opinions, among the first signs of incipient Nazi bestiality, and will the Foreign Secretary ensure that we do not follow that bad example?
I realise that the word "artist" covers a wide area and is not limited to musicians. I understand that politics is an art as well.
German Prisoner-Of-War Camps (Hansard)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make HANSARD available in information rooms at all German prisoner-of-war camps in Britain and the Middle East.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his suggestion, and am looking into it.
Would it not be wise to make, an exception of last Monday's edition?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the present situation in Indonesia; and what steps are being taken by His Majesty's Government to mediate between the Indonesians and the Dutch.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the outbreak of hostilities initiated by the Dutch military authorities against the Indonesian Republic, he will bring the matter, as an immediate urgency, to the notice of the Security Council of U.N.O. in accordance with Article 35 of the United Nations Charter.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the dangerous situation in Indonesia and the breakdown of negotiations, he will take steps to bring the matter to the notice of the Security Council under Article 35 of the United Nations Charter.
I would ask the hon. Members to await the statement which I propose to make at the end of Questions.
At the end of Questions:
As the House is aware, Netherlands troops began military action against the Indonesian forces at dawn on 21st July. The reasons for the actual breakdown have been described in detail in an official statement by the Netherlands Prime Minister on 20th July, and I do not propose to comment on these at the moment. I would like, however, to give the House some account of the efforts which His Majesty's Government have made over a long period to avert this breakdown.I have learned of the decision of the Netherlands Government with the keenest regret. Ever since December, 1945, when the Political Adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander in South-East Asia was authorised to make our first attempt to exercise good offices and bring the two parties together, we have continued our efforts to this end. It will be recalled that early in 1946 Lord Inverchapel was sent to Batavia by His Majesty's Government and succeeded in securing a wide measure of agreement between the Netherlands authorities and the Indonesians on certain proposals providing for Indonesian autonomy within the framework of the Netherlands Kingdom, a state of affairs which had been foreshadowed in a broadcast declaration by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands in 1942. Unfortunately, these proposals were subsequently found to be unacceptable by the Netherlands Government at The Hague. In August, 1946, Lord Killearn was invited by both parties to exercise his good offices. The result of the ensuing negotiations was the Linggadjati Agreement, which provided for the establishment by 1st January, 1949, of a federal government to be known as the United States of Indonesia, and of a Netherlands-Indonesian Union in which the Kingdom of the Netherlands, on the one hand, and the United States of Indonesia, on the other, were to co-operate on a basis of joint partnership. Since March last, when the Agreement was signed, negotiations have been going on between the Netherlands and Indonesian authorities for its practical implementation. Until recently these negotiations were going fairly well. We know that a wide measure of agreement was reached, but there were one or two outstanding points on which the Indonesian authorities were reluctant to accept the Dutch proposals. One of the chief points was a Dutch proposal for the creation of a joint Netherlands-Indonesian gendarmerie, which would restore order in the interior. Even on this a compromise seemed possible, since the Indonesian authorities were ready to pursue negotiations with a view to meeting, in some measure, the Netherlands proposals. In the hope of promoting agreement, His Majesty's Government suggested to the Netherlands Government the possible appointment of a neutral police commissioner, but this idea did not prove acceptable. Meanwhile, His Majesty's Consul-General in Batavia, Mr. Mitcheson, has done a lot of valuable work to bridge the differences between the two parties, which was very greatly appreciated by both. At all times His Majesty's Government have made it plain that they were ready to place their good offices at the disposal of both parties, and in our official statement of 21st July this offer of good offices was renewed. I would add that His Majesty's Government have acted throughout in full consultation with the United States, to whom also, on various occasions, the Netherlands Government and the Indonesian authorities have appealed for help. They have also kept in close touch with all members of the Commonwealth. In reply to our offer, which was published yesterday at The Hague, the Netherlands Government state that they are grateful to the United States and His Majesty's Governments for their help; that they have taken good note of our offer of good offices; and that it will depend on developments whether, and if so when, it will be opportune to appeal again to the U.S. Government and His Majesty's Government. I am keeping in very close touch with events, and will take advantage of any opportunity to bring about a peaceful settlement, but I cannot, at the moment, express any view as to the quickest and best way of bringing this conflict to an end. I cannot, therefore, at present give an opinion as to whether the Security Council is the best and most appropriate means of achieving this object.
While fully appreciating the efforts which have been made, and are being made, in regard to mediation, may I ask if the Foreign Secretary does not feel that the situation has now so deteriorated that there is both a technical and a moral obligation to refer the matter to the United Nations and, indeed, would not this be in the best interests of all concerned, and of the world at large?
I am giving very careful consideration to that. Obviously, I do not rule it out, but I have to be guided by experience. In regard to questions we referred to the Security Council recently, it does not bring about a final and peaceful solution, and the matter drags on, with vetoes, and all sorts of difficulties going on, which is disappointing. What His Majesty's Government are determined to do is, to try to use their good offices to bring this matter to a satisfactory solution at the earliest possible moment.
Can the Foreign Secretary say to what extent the Indonesian Government who were carrying on the negotiations with the Dutch have, in fact, lost power; and to what extent has that power now reverted to a much more extreme section of political opinion?
I cannot answer that question, but I do say this, that all history proves that whatever may happen when negotiations are going on, once you start letting off the guns you create an entirely different situation, with a rallying round the Government.
Would my right hon. Friend be willing to see and to talk personally with Dr. Sjahrir, if he should be able to come to this country; and would my right hon. Friend also give an assurance, now a war has actually begun, that we shall not provide any more arms or equipment for the Dutch, or train Dutch troops, or allow them to be trained, anywhere on British soil, here or in Singapore?
I do not feel disposed to make threats of any kind at this moment. With regard to Dr. Sjahrir, he is not now the Prime Minister, and, therefore, I do not see that it would serve any useful purpose to see him. We are working on other methods, which I think might be more appropriate if they can be found to be practicable. Therefore, at this stage, I would not like to commit myself to any actual decisions which His Majesty's Government might take.
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement—which I think we all understand fully—that he does not feel able to comment at the present time on the Dutch Government's note, would not this House be well advised to pursue a similar attitude in dealing with a matter of this delicacy in relation to an Ally, when His Majesty's Government have already offered their good offices?
European Reconstruction (Paris Conference)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he anticipates being able to make a statement on the progress of discussions among the European countries on the Marshall offer arid of all related discussions which have taken place between his Department and the State Department of the U.S.A.
I can tell the hon. Member now that the Economic Reconstruction Conference in Paris is making good progress. The discussions are in the committee stage, and any detailed report on the proceedings will clearly have to await its conclusion. The discussions are confined to participating States and there are no related talks in progress with the United States.
Does the Foreign Secretary deny the statements which have been published in the Press with regard to the behind the scenes discussions with America, and some of the almost open threats which America is making with regard to this country's attitude to the Marshall offer and the negotiations in Europe?
I here have been no threats and no discussions on the Marshall offer at all. I have made that clear, but I cannot be expected every time to deny an accusation which comes out of an inventive brain.
Is it a fact that the Marshall proposals are being developed on the assumption that they will not interfere with the sovereignty of the States participating?
The whole basis of the conference is voluntary, just as it is when one enters the United Nations; one enters it or not, and the position as regards one's sovereignty is exactly the same. If one does not come in, nothing happens; if one does accept to come in, and then comes in, one agrees to do a certain thing, and it becomes a voluntary act, just like making a treaty or anything else.
Highland Farming (Cost)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the cost per acre for farming the highland areas in Malaya; and the crop yield per acre.
Agriculture in the Malayan highlands is almost exclusively concerned with tea growing and market gardening. Tea is grown on about 50,000 acres, the average annual cost of production including manufacture being 470 dollars and the yield 700 lbs. per acre. Market gardening is carried out on about 750 acres, the average annual cost of production being 4,850 dollars, and the yield 12 tons per acre. These figures do not include capital outlay. The area is unsuited for rice cultivation.
Food Crops (Cultivation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what amount has been spent by the Government of Malaya on Government farms opened up for the cultivation of rice substitute crops; what acreage has been planted; what are the weight and value of the crops harvested to date; and whether he is satisfied with the results of this experiment.
The Government of the Malayan Union has spent 4,200,000 Straits dollars on short-term food production for crops, including rice, during the period April, 1946, to June, 1947, of which over 2,000,000 dollars is capital expenditure. Five thousand, three hundred and twenty-three acres have been planted, the weight of crops harvested being 196 tons, value at 20,000 dollars. Heavy expenditure has been entailed in the preliminary work of clearing and preparing land for cultivation, and it must be some time before the full benefits of this development become apparent. Nevertheless, in the Governor's view, the results have so far been disappointing.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there seems to be some difference of opinion between the experts of the Department of Agriculture and the short-term food production committee with regard to the cutting down of the tropical Malayan forest whose natural productions are tropical trees and rubber, and that, consequently, the 80,000 acres of highland that were put down for rice will not yield sufficient rice to make it worth while?
I am fully aware of the importance of conserving the Malayan forests. On the other hand, there is a tremendous drive by the Agricultural Department to grow more food wherever that can be done.
Will the Minister confirm, as he has done before, that there is a large part of the population for whom no substitute for rice can be obtained?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that Malayan officers are compelled to retire from the service at the age of 55 years and under in certain cases; and why such officers are excluded from temporary increase in pension until they have reached 60 years of age unless incapacitated by ill-health.
I took occasion at the end of April, when sending them particulars of the increases introduced in this country by the Pensions Increase Act, 1947, to invite a number of Governors, including the Governors of the Malayan Union and Singapore, to consider reducing the minimum qualifying age for pension increase from 60 years to 55 years.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the question of revising the pension increase for Malayan and other colonial pensioners in the light of the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1947, is still under consideration; and when the result is to be announced.
I would invite the hon. Member's attention to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) on 2nd July. I have not yet received replies from the Governors of the Malayan Union and Singapore to the invitation sent them on 26th April to review their schemes.
Colonial Handbooks (Publication)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what Colonies have now published the comprehensive handbooks relating to their history, potentialities and developments which his predecessor promised to the hon. Member for Swindon.
The reports on British Guiana, British Honduras, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Jamaica (Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands), Nigeria, Saint Vincent, Sierra Leone and Zanzibar are now with the printers. The report on Hong Kong, already published locally, will be issued by the Stationery Office as soon as copies are available. Several other Colonial Governments have supplied the material required and it is now being examined. I hope that publication here will begin during the next two or three months.
Hong Kong (Salaries Commission)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Salaries Commission in Hong Kong has started its work; and when it is likely to report.
The Commission has started its work, but I am not yet in a position to say when it will report.
Is the Minister aware of the great urgency of getting a report and taking action, owing to the gradual disintegration which will otherwise occur in the Hong Kong Civil Service?
Yes, Sir. I am personally alive to the urgency of the matter, and so are the Hong Kong Government.
Is there any possibility of an interim report to deal especially with medical officers and very junior officers of the other services, who really at present are just not able to live upon their official income?
I know that there is very much distress with regard to the medical establishments, and representations have already been made to the Hong Kong Government in that respect.
Is there any possibility of action on an interim report in those very urgent cases?
I will look into that
Cocoa (Government Profits)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he will announce the use to which he proposes putting the large sums, exceeding £20,000,000, arising from Government profits on cocoa deals.
It will be for the Cocoa Marketing Boards which are being established in the Gold Coast and Nigeria to consider how these funds may best be utilised for the benefit of West Africa farmers. Some of the uses to which these funds may be put are set out in Command Paper 6950 on the Future Marketing of West Africa Cocoa, which I presented to the House last November.
Will the Minister confirm that this enormous sum will not be put to any uses other than those indicated in his reply—that is to say, for general purposes?
The purposes are set out in the White Paper, and obviously these funds which have accumulated will he used for these purposes.
Will the West African farmers be consulted first?
Certainly. The West African farmers are represented, in the case of the Gold Coast, on the Production Board; and in the case of Nigeria their voices will be heard through their officials.
If the Government carried on this business for themselves, would it not be a profitable investment for this country?
The answer is that this is bulk purchase and trading by the Government.
Will the Minister agree that hulk trading, where he pays £60 a ton to the natives and sells to the Americans at £177 a ton, is hardly a practice to he encouraged?
That is another question, but the whole of the proceeds of the sales of the cocoa will go back to the producers in West Africa.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what regulations the funds of the native authority of Ijebu-Remo are used to provide for the Akarigbo of Ijebu-Remo a salary which includes a sum paid in discharge of a treaty obligation of the Central Nigerian Government.
I am consulting the Governor on this question, and will communicate further with my hon. Friend when the reply is received.
Jewish Displa Persons, Uganda
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jewish displaced persons from Iraq are still interned in Uganda; and when it is proposed they shall be released.
Including women and children, between 20 and 30 persons of Jewish race who were transferred from Iraq for internment during the war now remain in Uganda. Those of them who are unable to obtain accommodation elsewhere live in a provided camp, but are subject only to the rules necessary for the organisation of the camp. They are free to accept any employment they can obtain in Uganda and to leave the country. It is hoped that an official of the Preparatory Commission for the International Refugee Organisation will shortly visit Uganda with a view to discussing the problems of these people on the spot, and that, as a result, the Commission will be able to arrange for their settlement elsewhere.
Would my right hon. Friend tell us how long they have been there?
They were taken to Uganda at different periods during the war. A large number of them have now found places in which to live outside of, the country, and they are all free to go, and all possible help is given to them if they go elsewhere.
Will the right hon. Gentleman avoid the use of the term "Jewish race," because, in fact, the Jews are a religious community and not a race?
Has it occurred to my right hon. Friend that most people there would desire to go to the Jewish National Home in Palestine, and has he considered that at all?
In point of fact, the vast majority of Jews amongst these people have already left Uganda. But it is not a Jewish problem only. It is a much larger problem than that.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how soon it is estimated that it will be feasible to introduce compulsory education for Africans in townships in Kenya.
I regret that I am unable to give an estimate at the present time. The Kenya Government are re-examining their education programme for Africans in the light of the financial resources available, and as soon as I am informed of their plans I will communicate with my hon. Friend.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in how many cases have local native councils voted a special cess for education in 1945 and 1946; and in how many cases have the proceeds been spent, and with what result.
I assume that my hon. Friend's Question refers to the African Territories. I am making inquiries from the Governors concerned and will write to my hon. Friend when I have their replies.
Service Personnel (Indian Wives)
asked the Minister of Defence approximately how many British Service men have married Indian women in India during the past three years; how many of these wives have come to reside in this country or are known as desiring to accompany their husbands on repatriation; and whether permission to marry Indian women has to be granted to Service men by military or other authorities.
I have been asked to reply. The information asked for in the first two parts of my hon. Friend's Question is not available. As regards the last part, there is no provision in Service law which prevents marriages of Service personnel to Indian women, though if the Service authorities considered it to be in a man's own interests there are a variety of steps which they could take to dissuade him from such a marriage.
Could my right hon. Friend give some rough idea of the number of Indian women who are married to British Service men?
No, Sir, I am afraid we have not any statistics.
Does that mean that none of the Services has any particulars at all regarding these marriages?
No, Sir, that is what I have said in the first part of the answer.
asked the Minister of Defence what numbers of men and women were serving in each of the three Services on 30th June, 1947, or on the latest date for which such information is available; and what are his estimates of the corresponding strengths at 31st December, 1947.
I have been asked to reply. On 30th June there were 188,100 men and women in the Royal Navy, 806,200 in the Army and 307,000 in the Royal Air Force. As to the second part of the Question, I would ask my hon. Friend to await the promised statement of the release programme for the last quarter of this year following which it will be possible to give an estimate of the strength of the Forces at 31st December next.
Can my right hon. Friend say when that statement will be made?
I have an idea that it may be tomorrow, but, at any rate, it will he very soon.
Free Travel Warrants
asked the Minister of Defence if, before a final decision is taken on the question of the number of free travel warrants issued to Service men, he will consider the inequality between man and man caused by the present cut in the number of warrants, the hardship to those posted far from their homes, the increased cost to Service men of cigarettes and other amenities, and the consequent lessening of incentives to voluntary enlistment; and if, in view of all these considerations, he will revert to the wartime practice of allowing four free warrants a year.
I have been asked to reply. All the factors mentioned by my hon. Friend will certainly be taken into account in deciding the annual number of free travel warrants for Service men, but my right hon. Friend can hold out no hope of reverting to the wartime practice of issuing four such warrants a year.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that when the Civil Lord of the Admiralty was pressed about this matter last week, he seemed to be somewhat impressed by the argument put forward by several hon. Members that this is particularly hard on naval ratings whose homes are in Scotland or in the North of England, and who are mostly stationed in the South of England?
Yes, Sir, I am also impressed by the argument, but then, I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a few arguments, too.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what sum is involved in this matter, and how much saving there will be by cutting down on these warrants?
Quite a considerable sum. It may surprise the House to know that this wartime concession was one of the most costly of the welfare amenities given to Service men.
Would not this difficulty be overcome, so far as naval ratings in Scotland are concerned, by locating a naval base in Scotland?
Partly; but, of course, the Navy does have to go to sea
Will not my right hon. Friend agree that when a young man is taken from his home, it is in his moral interests that he should be able to go home at least four times a year?
I could not accept that suggestion entirely, although I am bound to say that the Services' leave provisions and free travel arrangements are generous when compared with what the men get in civil life.
asked the Minister of Defence whether he has considered, or is considering, proposals for lending Servicemen to industry whilst retaining them in the Services and if he will make a statement; and whether he will bear in mind the prior claims for release through demobilisation of men in the early release groups.
I have been asked to reply. No, Sir. The wartime scheme for lending men to industry from the Services was discontinued in June, 1945, on the institution of the release scheme for the Forces, which made provision for the out-of-turn release of men urgently required for reconstruction work. In the circumstances, the second part of the Question would not appear to arise
asked the Minister (it Food to what extent food supplies are being wasted owing to the fact that food processing firms are short of cans; and what action he is taking to remedy such a shortage.
If my hon. Friend knows of any case where food is being wasted owing to shortage of cans, I shall be glad to look into it. So far, no such case has come to my notice.
asked the Minister of Food if he will make a reduction in the purchases by his Department of the publications of the Bureau of Current Affairs, proportionate to the reductions in newsprint imposed by His Majesty's Government on the daily newspapers.
There will be no immediate reduction. I cannot say yet what we shall do when our present order for one year's set of posters is completed.
When that time comes, will the hon. Lady bear in mind the desirability of equality of sacrifice?
Is the hon. Lady aware that this publication is full of Socialist propaganda and sometimes propaganda of a pro-Russian and anti-British character, of which the Carnegie Trust would not approve; and when possible would she refrain from spending any public money in this way?
The answer to the first part of the supplementary question is in the negative. I must remind the House that there are 18 Government Departments who avail themselves of these publications.
Argentine Wheat (Purchase)
asked the Minister of Food whether he will make a statement regarding the delay in shipping 500,000 tons of wheat from the Argentine to this country, bought under bulk purchase; whether the price was free on board; and what is the nature of the dispute over this contract with the Argentine.
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Members for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) and Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) on 21st July.
Does the contract specify an f.o.b. price, or is the House to understand that the Minister omitted to include such a clause in the contract?
Yes, it does.
Citrus Fruit Imports (Prices)
asked the Minister of Food what price has been paid for citrus fruit imported from the U.S.A. during the past six months as compared with the prices paid for similar fruit from the British West Indies.
As I informed the hon. Member on 21st May, I am not prepared to disclose the prices paid by my Department for particular purchases. It is not in the national interest to do so.
Am I then to understand that money can be used in this way, and that there can be a differentiation against a British Colony without any figures whatever being revealed?
I have told the hon. Gentleman before that any business man would regard this disclosure as detrimental to negotiations.
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that Dutch tomatoes have recently been sold by the London Tomatoes Distribution Association at 131s. 6d. per cwt., instead of 121s. 4d. as laid down in the Tomatoes Order; and whether this variation was with the permission of his Department.
Yes, Sir. As the London Tomato Distributing Association carries out in the London area the functions which the secondary wholesaler performs in the provinces we have authorised the Association to sell at the secondary wholesale price of 131s. 6d. per cwt. applicable in other areas.
Is this strictly in accordance with the terms of the Order? In any case, do not such variations cause considerable dislocation in distribution? Are they wise?
The hon. Gentleman, I think, is a little confused. The figure in the Order, of course, which he will agree is the same for the primary wholesaler, is there in order to deter secondary wholesalers from infringing Article 19.
Will the hon. Lady use that as little as possible? Does she not agree that these sudden variations throw the whole scheme badly out of balance, involving severe losses in some elements of it and corresponding excessive profits in others?
asked the Minister of Food whether imported autumn and winter tomatoes from North Africa and the Canaries are to be freed from control; and whether he will now adopt this policy in reference to Dutch tomatoes.
Yes, Sir. An announcement was made on 17th July that the price and distribution of winter tomatoes imported from the Canary Islands and North Africa during the 1947/8 season will not be controlled, provided that selling prices remain at reasonable levels. The season for Dutch tomatoes coincides with our home crop and different considerations apply. The open general licence under which Dutch tomatoes are now being imported expires on 31st July, after which it is expected that the home grown supply will be sufficient to meet the demand.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the decision made already is generally considered most sensible? I hope the same thing will be done in regard to Dutch tomatoes.
Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the quantities of Dutch tomatoes which, even now, are being received, are so large that the present distribution scheme is liable to break down immediately, and would it not be possible, in order to avoid this, and to give the consumers the benefit of these large supplies, to consider removing the present price control?
The hon. Gentleman knows that the open general licence expires in a week and we shall certainly then look at the matter again.
Chilean Wine (Import Licence)
asked the Minister of Food whether he has considered an application for a licence to import wine from Chile; and whether, in order to encourage trade between Chile and the United Kingdom, he will authorise a sample importation of Chilean wine.
An application has been received, but the total amount we can afford to spend on wines and spirits is too limited for us to include even a small quantity of wine from Chile in our wine programme.
Is the hon. Lady aware that the balance of trade with Chile is such that unless we are more friendly towards her imports, it will be impossible for her to take our exports?
I must remind the hon. Gentleman that Chile has only been a nominal exporter of wine in the past.
Is the hon. Lady aware that this is the only country in the world at the moment which refuses to take Chilean wine?
Housing, Port Louis
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to improve the housing conditions in the town of Port Louis, Mauritius.
A town planning scheme for Port Louis is being prepared. A preliminary survey to enable the Consultant Town Planner and Architect to study possible planning solutions has already been completed, and this Consultant is now on his way back to the Colony for further discussions with the Governor and the Mayor of Port Louis with regard to the improvement of the town, including housing conditions.
Is it the case that the construction of the houses is mostly under private enterprise, and that that is the reason for the poor conditions? Will my right hon. Friend take steps to encourage either municipal authorities or the Governor to undertake housing schemes?
The whole of this problem is to be dealt with by the local Government in consultation with the architect who is now going out.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the high prices of goods imported into Mauritius from Britain; if he will state the existing level of the cost-of-living index; and the steps that are being taken by the Government of Mauritius to stabilise the prices of essential commodities.
The index for clothing, which forms the bulk of essential imports from the United Kingdom, now stands at from 250 to 300 compared with 100 in 1939. The prices paid for British goods by Mauritius are no higher than those paid by other importing countries, and British prices compare favourably with current world prices for similar goods. The cost-of-living index is at present 295 compared with 100 in 1939. The Government stabilises the prices of essential foodstuffs by subsidisation, and regulates the prices of other essential commodities by controlling profit margins.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the difficulties which have prevented the development of consumers' societies in Mauritius, in view of the fact that the Mauritius Co-operative Ordinance of 1945, as amended in 1946, makes provision for the establishment of consumers' societies.
I am not aware of any special difficulties attending the development of consumers' societies, although admittedly the main activity so far has been in connection with co-operative credit societies. A full-time Registrar has now been appointed and he has recently visited another Colony to study the operations of small consumers societies there.
As no special difficulties exist, will my right hon. Friend impress upon the Governor of Mauritius the desirability of the development of such societies, in view of the very high cost of living to which he referred in a previous answer?
Yes, the Governor is most anxious to get ahead with the setting up of the co-operative movement.
Palestine (Mps' Broadcast Appeal)