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Commons Chamber

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 16 March 1949

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 16th March, 1949

The House met at Half-past Two o'Clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions

Civil Aviation

London Airport (Road Transport)

1.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation why, in view of the fact that London Airport is under his control, he does not provide a rapid and direct transport service between the airport and the Central London area.

Responsibility for surface transport between the airport and Central London rests with the air line operators, in conjunction with the licensing authority for public service vehicles and the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolitan Area as to the routes to be followed.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have pointed out in the Question that he is responsible for London Airport, and that I require to know whether he is satisfied that the present arrangements are satisfactory, and whether he has any future plans, because at present it takes passengers travelling between the airport and the centre of London as long as a third of the time it takes to fly between London and Paris?

The transport of passengers between the centre of London and the aerodrome is the responsibility of the operator, and not of the aerodrome owner.

Flying Clubs

2.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, if he will now make a statement regarding the Government?s policy in connection with flying clubs.

Is not a statement to be made about the flying clubs by the hon. Gentleman?s Ministry, in view of the fact that we were promised a statement in two months? Nothing is being done about the flying clubs.

If the hon. Gentleman will look in the OFFICIAL REPORT of yesterday?s date, at col. 2011, he will see the report of a statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air.

As presumably the hon. Gentleman and the Government trust the chief executive of B.O.A.C., and as two years ago that chief executive recommended that aid should be given, is it not about time the Government decided to follow that advice?

This is a Government decision, not the recommendation of an individual.

Why should it be left to the Secretary of State for Air to make a statement about flying clubs, when they are the responsibility of the Minister of Civil Aviation? When is the hon. Gentleman going to make up his mind about this? We have been waiting now for two years.

Boeing Stratocruisers

5.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what is the nature of the financial arrangements with the United States for the payment for the six Boeing Stratocruisers on order.

The financial arrangements are embodied in a contract between British Overseas Airways Corporation and the Boeing Aircraft Company. The details of this contract are a matter of management reserved to the Corporation.

Could the hon. Gentleman say how much of the purchase price has already been paid? Is there an escape clause in the contract in case the aircraft do not come up to the specification required?

Nearly 6,000,000 dollars have already been paid. I really could not answer the second part of the supplementary question without notice.

Stansted Airport

8.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how soon it is proposed to open Stansted Airport in order to provide facilities for charter operators; and what will be the position of residents in the huts at present on the airport.

Progressively from 1st April, as accommodation can be made available. The huts will be needed for those employed on the aerodrome, and I am afraid that the present occupants, not so employed, will have to move elsewhere.

Would the hon. Gentleman be ready to receive a deputation accompanied by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden on this subject, in order that the full case may be put to him of the circumstances of those on the airport?

We are already in very close consultation, and I am happy to acknowledge the close co-operation of Bishop Stortford Urban District Council; but we should be happy to receive a deputation headed by the right hon. Gentleman.

Would the hon. Gentleman also acknowledge that he has had the co-operation of Saffron Walden Rural District Council, which is intimately concerned in this matter?

Would the hon. Gentleman also receive a deputation about Errol Airport, which has been waiting for three years, on the same terms?

Vikings

9.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, how many Vikings have been sold by the British European Airways Corporation; and how the selling price compares with the price paid for them.

I am informed that British European Airways Corporation have not sold any of their Vikings.

May I ask how it is that a statement to the effect that they have been sold appears in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, who censures the Government for what happened when the sale took place; and is it not extraordinary that a high public official should make a statement which is now denied from the Government Front Bench?

I am only responsible for the correctness of my own statement. No doubt the Comptroller and Auditor General can justify his.

Surely, the Auditor General would never make a statement without having evidence before him. He must have taken evidence, and does the hon. Gentleman deny the evidence which he must have received before he made up his mind?

In view of the highly-conflicting and unsatisfactory answer, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

York Aircraft

10.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many York aircraft have been disposed of by the air Corporations; what sum was paid for these York aircraft; and for what price were they sold.

I am informed that no Yorks have been disposed of by the Corporations.

Corporations (Amalgamation)

11.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in view of the excessive losses accruing, what is the future policy of his Department regarding British South American Airways and the other two Government Corporations.

14.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if, in view of operating difficulties, he will amalgamate the British Overseas Airways Corporation and the British South American Airways; and to what extent legislation will be necessary for this purpose.

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement that I made yesterday.

Why did the hon. Gentleman make the statement yesterday? Why did we have to receive a premature statement here because a statement happened to be made in another place? These Questions were on the Order Paper for seven days, and it is generally the practice when Ministers have Questions put to them to answer them in this House. Are we subordinate to another place?

I am at the direction of Mr. Speaker whether a statement is made. If the hon. Gentleman has any supplementary question, I will deal with it.

Is it a fact that this amalgamation is taking place, and, if so, is the new corporation—B.O.A.C.—going to assume responsibility for B.S.A.A. as regards aircraft which have already been ordered by B.S.A.A.?

I answered both questions yesterday, and the answer again to both is,?Yes, Sir.?

On a point of Order. The hon. Gentleman has now said that whether or not he makes a statement is at your discretion, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday when a statement was made, and the matter was put to you on a point of Order, you, I think, said that it was not a matter for you, but it was entirely a matter for the Minister.

Further to that point of Order; when an occasion arises and we try to put down a particular Question on urgent private business, if a Question happens to be on the Order Paper relating to it, however remotely, we are not allowed to ask it as a Private Notice Question. On the other hand, a Minister can come in here and make a statement at any time.

It was surely obvious that when a statement was to be made in another place, as I gathered was the case yesterday, there would have been complaints if the statement had been made in another place and not made here as well. Therefore, in spite of the Question on the Order Paper, the Minister was entitled to make his statement. If a statement is to be made—and I am no judge on that— and it must be made in both places, I think it is only courteous to this House that it should have a statement at the same time as the statement in another place.

I am much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for that explanation, but that is not the point that I raised. The hon. Gentleman said just now that whether or not he made a statement was a matter for your decision. If I remember rightly, you said yesterday just the contrary, and that whether the Minister made a statement or not was for him to decide.

I was looking up Erskine May this morning, and actually the Minister who wants to make a statement has to ask my permission. I am informed that a statement is to be made. I cannot say whether it is a good or bad one, but unless it seems to me to be quite unreasonable, I have no reason for withholding my consent.

I have seen a lot of this happen in this House. A Minister can make a statement to the House by permission of the House. It is the House that has to give the permission, and the Minister yesterday did not even have the courtesy to ask the House for permission.

The hon. Gentleman is in error. The Minister has the right to make a statement, subject, as I have said, to my consent, but, apart from that, a Minister on domestic affairs or on foreign affairs has, I think—I am speaking from memory—the right to make a statement. I think that if Ministers abused that right, the House would soon let them know.

Gliders (Registration)

12.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when he intends introducing the compulsory registration of gliders.

Is there any pressing reason why this regulation should be brought in on 1st April, 1949? If there are to be fees prescribed for these flying clubs and gliding clubs I hope that they will not be too high.

The regulation comes in under the new Air Navigation Order and Regulations which become operative on that date. There will be fees charged, but the whole question of regulations and fees charged has been discussed with the British Gliding Association and the Royal Aero Club who feel quite happy about them.

Boeing Stratocruisers

13.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what are the delivery dates for the six Boeing Stratocruisers on order for the British Overseas Airways Corporation; and when are they expected to be in service.

I am informed that, according to the latest information received from the manufacturer, the first of the six aircraft on order for the British Overseas Airways Corporation should be delivered in September and that delivery should be completed by the end of November. If these dates are maintained a limited North Atlantic service should commence as from 1st January, 1950.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Western Airlines of America are disposing of this type of aeroplane, as are also other international airlines, and is he still satisfied that this aeroplane will come up to specifications and do what is required?

As to the first part of the question, I was not aware of that. As regards the latter part, that is not a question for my noble Friend or myself but for the operator who is to operate the aircraft.

Surely, dollars are required for these aircraft and that comes within the purview of the Government?

That decision was given in 1946 when the hon. Gentleman then held my position.

When Mr. Peter Masefield returned from the South West Pacific conference he made a report to the Minister of Civil Aviation which contained a great deal of useful information with regard to stratocruisers, and can that report be made available to Members of this House?

Greek Refugees (Relief Measures)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the Report of the United Nations Balkan Committee on the plight of a million Greek refugees due to Communist guerrilla warfare and banditary; and whether he will urge the United Nations substantially to increase relief measures and assistance on an international scale as this problem now exceeds both the capacity of United Nations agencies operating in Greece as well as available Greek resources.

Yes, Sir. The report was supported by the United Kingdom delegate to the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans. His Majesty?s Government are well aware of the distress caused to these people by the Communist-led and foreign-sponsored rebellion in that country. Any proposals calculated to relieve the distress of these people will be sympathetically considered by His Majesty?s Government.

Will His Majesty?s Government raise this matter again at the United Nations in view of the deliberate policy of abducting Greek children on a very large scale, thereby causing tens of thousands of Greeks to abandon their homes and villages.

There is an Assembly resolution dealing with the plight of these children, and directions have been given to the International voluntary organisations to make an investigation and report on that subject. These proceedings are still in train.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that resolution is limited to children, whereas I referred to the deliberate abduction of the children so that tens of thousands of refugees are leaving their homelands, necessitating reconsideration of the whole scale of refugee relief.

I am aware of the growing and most distressing problem reflected in the general refugee problem. The hon. Member will, however, reflect that his previous supplementary question dealt with children, and it was to that point that I attempted to address my- self. On the second question, His Majesty?s Government will be anxious to aid any appropriate action at any point.

Does not the Minister remember an occasion when he said there was a Left and a Right in Greece, and that people in this country of a certain character were anxious to support the Right and that Socialists and Communists must support the Left; and does he still hold that point of view?

There is still a Right and a Left in Greece, and I have no doubt that this House and other places will divide, quite properly, upon their support of Right or Left. What we should consider here is the distress, the suffering and deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, due primarily to a revolt which international evidence has displayed as being assisted across three borders.

Could the right hon. Gentleman have the report of the International Refugee Organisation on this matter placed in the Library?

Declaration Of Human Rights (Publication)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he proposes to take to publicise the text of the Universial Declaration of Human Rights, in view of Article D. 1, by which all member States are recommended to use every means within their power to do so.

Arrangements are being made to issue the text of the Declaration as a White Paper, and I am informed by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that it is being communicated to Colonial Governors with a view to publication in their territories.

In view of the fact that this recommendation to the United Nations referred specially to dissemination in schools and other educational establishments, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to have that done in this country?

I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has this subject under consideration. Perhaps my hon. Friend will put down a Question to him.

Eastern Europe (Peace Treaties)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, having regard to the expiration, on 15th March, 1949, of the period of 18 months mentioned in Articles 37, 35, and 39 of the Peace Treaties with Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary, respectively, he will now make a statement about the implementation of those treaties.

As the reply is long, I will, with permission, make a statement on this matter at the end of Questions.

Cardinal Mindszenty (Appeal)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet heard the date when the appeal of Cardinal Mindszenty will be heard; whether there is any time limit to the hearing of such an appeal; and whether our Minister in Budapest has yet made any attempt to see the Cardinal in prison or to find out the conditions under which he is living.

No announcement has yet been made of the date for hearing the Cardinal?s appeal, and I understand that there is no statutory time limit for such hearings. His Majesty's Chargéd? Affaires has not been able to obtain reliable information as regards the Cardinal?s living conditions, but it is believed that he is at present in a detention prison, and not in a convict prison.

With regard to the first part of the Question, is the right hon. Gentleman aware how unsatisfactory it is that this might go on indefinitely and can nothing be done to try to find out when this trial is to take place; and with regard to the second part of the Question, is he aware that a large number of people in this country are feeling more and more worried about the rumours of the ill-health of the Cardinal, and of the way he is being treated?

We will continue to observe this matter as closely as we are permitted. We will not spare ourselves any effort in that direction. As to the second part of the supplementary question, while I appreciate the hon. Member?s anxiety, I scarcely think it would be proper for us, at any rate at this stage, to try to suggest that the appeal might be hurried. We ought to conform to their procedure so long as their procedure is not improper or abused.

The right hon. Gentleman will remember at the same time that there were other prisoners tried with the Cardinal, and that their condition is very much similar to his?

Germany (Newspaper Article)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to an article entitled?Justice or Revenge,? written by a former British Fascist and published in the?Hamburger Allgemeine Zeitung? of 21st January, 1949, condemning the trial of war criminals and offering an apologia for Nazi atrocities that they were no worse than alleged atrocities by English settlers against American Indians in 1637–38 and by Americans against Indians in 1813; and whether he will take steps to discourage such anti-British propaganda in a newspaper licensed by the Control Commission.

Yes, Sir. My attention has been drawn to this article and the British Element of the Control Commission have taken steps to stop the circulation of others like it.

Colonial Empire

Burmese Rice (Supplies)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the steps which he is taking in view of the prospect of the Eastern Colonies going short of food owing to the difficulties of importing rice from Burma while the civil war there continues.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the written reply which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food gave on 9th March to the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) about the prospects of Burma rice exports. The supply position to the Far Eastern Colonies of rice from all sources and the local stock position are kept under constant review. Increased rice production is being encouraged in Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak.

Coloured Films

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has seen the coloured film of Southern Rhodesia; and whether, in order to lessen ignorance of British Colonies, he will arrange for coloured films to be made of West African and other Colonies.

I have not seen this film. There are already a number of colour films of Colonies in the Central Film Library, and more are included in the current production programme. The relevant details are set out in the booklet?Britain and the Colonies? published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, a copy of which has already been sent to the hon. Member.

Would not the hon. Gentleman see this film, because he will find that it is a revelation as to what can be done to dispel popular ignorance, which is very profound, about the Empire and Commonwealth; and why should not the Colonial Office, which has far greater resources than Southern Rhodesia, blaze the trail?

We have in the Central Film Library coloured films on the Gold Coast, Kenya and Northern Rhodesia, and we are producing coloured films on the West Indies, Cyprus and others on Northern Rhodesia. However, I should be very happy to see this film, and I will try to make arrangements to do so.

Are any of the films now being taken in Nigeria by the Film Unit coloured films; and if so, how many?

Communist Activities

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent he is in receipt of regular reports on Communist activities in the Colonies; by whom these reports are rendered; and at what intervals.

Governors furnish my right hon. Friend with regular reports, for the most part at monthly intervals, upon all political matters in the Colonies. The only exceptions to this rule have been in the case of a few of the smaller territories, but contact on political matters is maintained with them by normal correspondence.

Is my hon. Friend aware that any perfectly honourable trade union or nationalist leader in the Colonies can now be branded as a Communist agitator by a Governor with whom he may have had some disagreement; and can he say what steps he is taking to obtain clear evidence of Communist affiliations in such cases?

I do not accept that suggestion. I am quite certain that any reports which come from a Governor are based on the most careful and carefully scrutinised evidence.

Is the Under-Secretary himself satisfied that any criticism which has been made of political activities in these districts has been confined to Communists; and has he not some disquiet himself?

Colonial Service, West Africa

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many vacancies for posts in Government service now exist in each of the West African colonies; how far the number of these vacancies is decreasing; and to what extent it is estimated that these vacancies will be filled during the next three years by Africans and British, respectively.

The following figures relate to posts in the higher grades of the Colonial Service and do not include posts which are filled by the Crown Agents for the Colonies or those filled by Colonial Governments from Colonial people. On the 31st May, 1948, there were 324 vacancies in Nigeria, 111 in the Gold Coast and 41 in Sierra Leone and the Gambia: total 476. On 31st December the vacancies were 324 in Nigeria, 125 in the Gold Coast and 46 in Sierra Leone and the Gambia: total 495. This shows an excess of 19, notwithstanding the fact that 230 vacancies were filled throughout West Africa during this period of seven months. I regret that it is not possible to forecast the vacancy position during the next three years, but it is certain that an increasing number of higher posts will be filled by Africans.

Does the Under-Secretary appreciate that meantime many of these key posts have been vacant for some time and that unless they are filled Nigerian development is likely to be held up.

Immigration Statistics, East Africa

31 and 32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) how many immigrants from the Union of South Africa have entered Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Kenya and Tanganyika, respectively, since 1945; and how many of these have taken up land for settlement;

(2) how many non-Europeans have entered Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Kenya and Tanganyika as settlers since 1945; and how many of these have been allowed to take up agricultural holdings.

I will ask the Governors of the respective territories for the information and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as it is available.

Will the Under-Secretary include in his inquiries what provision is being made educationally for Afrikaans-speaking children, in view of the number of immigrants from the Union; and will he say whether any discrimination as to colour or race exists in the immigration provisions for non-Europeans, and that the only qualification is whether they have sufficient capital to work the land properly?

As the information called for in this Question is rather important, will not the Under-Secretary consider issuing the information as a written answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT instead of giving it in a private letter to the hon. Member?

Dollar Expenditure, Nigeria And Gold Coast

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is satisfied that the dollar allocations put at the disposal of the Governments of Nigeria and the Gold Coast are sufficient for their urgent present needs, in view of the increasing contributions both countries are making to our total dollar earnings; and if he will review the matter.

Colonial spending of dollars on imports is regulated in accordance with annual import programmes which are drawn up in the territories and sent to my right hon. Friend for approval. I am satisfied that these arrangements enable Nigeria and the Gold Coast to obtain their essential imports. The matter is kept continuously under review.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the relationship between the requirements, as expressed by the Governor, and the allocations is reasonably close.

Gold Coast (Medicine Men)

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many unqualified medicine men are registered in any part of the Gold Coast whether they pay a graduated registration tax; and whether they are allowed to receive any capitation fees.

I have asked the Acting Governor for this information and will communicate with my hon. Friend when it has been received.

Could my hon. Friend obtain an assurance that none of these medicine men on the Gold Coast are in receipt of decapitation fees as well?

Could the Under-Secretary tell the House, quite shortly, what is the difference between a qualified and an unqualified medicine man?

I think that question should be addresed to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health.

Is the Under-Secretary aware that a large number of young men who come from the Colonies to this country to be trained as doctors never return; and will he do something to encourage these men to return to their own Colonies where they can be of assistance to the natives?

We always give them that encouragement, but sometimes, for some reason, they prefer to stay in this country.

In view of the Under-Secretary's suggestion the question should be addressed to the Minister of Health, will he guarantee a courteous reply?

Are the unqualified medicine men referred to in the Question only unqualified to be members of the B.M.A.?

Malaya (Security Measures)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reinforcements it is now proposed to send to Malaya so that law and order may be restored within the foreseeable future, and to ensure that the great strain under which all engaged in the production of rubber and tin are now living will be quickly and progressively reduced.

I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's written reply on 11th March to a similar Question by the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher).

Is the Under-Secretary aware that unless some effective action is taken, and taken soon, the strain on key men in the rubber and tin industries will be such that they will relinquish their posts, with the most dangerous consequences to this country, since Malaya earns more dollars than the whole United Kingdom exports?

I am well aware of the strain imposed upon planters and tin miners, and we are very grateful to them for the magnificent work they have been doing and for standing up to the sort of life they have had to lead for the last few months. I am glad to say, however, that although the position is still serious in Malaya, there has been a much more hopeful turn just lately and public morale is certainly better than it was a few months ago.

Has it been possible to meet the request of the military local police authorities for suitable aircraft to be sent out to assist them in their work?

All the indents that have been put in by the Government for police supplies have been met.

What reports does the hon. Member receive from unofficial sources, apart from the official reports from his representatives, because he may sometimes get the truth in unofficial reports?

We are constantly receiving letters from people in Malaya who are known to us personally or from people whom we do not know. In addition, we have Press cuttings from the various Malayan newspapers.

Will the Under-Secretary not consider bringing the British Forces home and, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, "Setting the people free"?

Do the unofficial reports and letters that are received give any indication of this more hopeful turn during the last few weeks, because that is certainly not the gist of the letters I and probably other Members in all parts of the House receive?

I think that they do. I noticed the day before yesterday a note in the "Financial Times" that the Stock Exchange prices in the rubber market had risen because of more hopeful news from Malaya. That, I think, justifies what I have been saying; that the rubber industry itself and others which effect the stock market prices have heard of this more hopeful news.

Surely the rise in Stock Exchange prices will not be of much comfort to the planters in Malaya?

Nigeria

Leprosy

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies approximately how many lepers exist in Nigeria; how many are now receiving treatment and care in hospitals or similar institutions and as out-patients; and whether leprosy is compulsorily notifiable.

It is estimated that there are about 400,000 lepers in Nigeria. Thirty-seven thousand are receiving hospital and similar treatment; 33,000 are out-patients. Leprosy is compulsorily notifiable only in districts proclaimed under the law governing the isolation and detention of lepers.

Cannot steps be taken to prevent lepers from still wandering around Nigeria; and can my hon. Friend give any indication of any long-term policy regarding this terrible scourge?

Yes, Sir. In the last few years the number of persons undergoing treatment who were said to have leprosy has been quadrupled. As regards the long-term policy, the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund is providing £400,000 to this end. In addition, the Resident has power to detain anyone who is alleged to be a leper.

Will my hon. Friend answer the first part of the my supplementary question to the effect that many lepers are still wandering about Nigeria who are likely to spread the disease?

If these people are notified to the Resident he has power to order them to be detained, but the Government's policy is that it is better to proceed in this matter by voluntary methods rather than to use compulsion.

Arising out of the answers that have been given, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

Mineral Royalties

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made respecting the inquiry into the disposal of mineral royalties in Nigeria; and when is a report likely to be made public.

As the matter is still under consideration it is not possible to make a statement at present.

Does the Under-Secretary appreciate that this has been going on for a long time and that there is ambiguity in the whole matter? In view of the interest in this matter, will the Under-Secretary see that a report is made at the earliest possible date?

In view of the fact that these mineral rights depend on an agreement made in 1898 and thus were handed over to the Nigerian company on the assumption that they were worth less than £1 million, whereas the company has received over £3 million, will my hon. Friend do his utmost to bring this matter to a conclusion?

Aden Disturbances (Compensation)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the inadequacy of the compensation to be given to the victims of the anti-Jewish riots in Aden in December, 1947, in which over 75 Jews were killed and much Jewish property destroyed, he will take steps to increase such compensation, which is only a fraction of the compensation recommended by the special magistrate in his report.

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will see that the claims of the individual victims of the anti-Jewish riots in Aden are justly met, and also provide far the rebuilding and re-equipment of the schools and synagogues which were partially or completely destroyed, the disuse of which has contributed to preventing the Jewish community from returning to normal life.

In view of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the disturbances, the Government of Aden has not accepted liability to pay compensation, but is providing financial assistance for rehabilitation based on a combination of grants and loans. This scheme of assistance represents the most that the Colony can undertake. Offers of financial assistance have been made by the Aden Government for the rebuilding of the Jewish boys' and girls' schools, subject to the production of plans and estimates by the local Jewish emergency committee; but these have not yet been submitted, neither has any application been made for the grants provisionaly offered. The Government of Aden has not made any special provision for the rebuilding and re-equipment of synagogues.

Was not the special magistrate appointed to recommend the amount of compensation to be available for these victims, and why has his report not been carried out?

My recollection was that he was appointed to investigate the general circumstances and the amount of damage that had been caused.

Will not the assistance offered by the Government of Aden greatly exceed anything offered or given by the Jewish authorities to compensate for the loss of British lives and the destruction of British property in Palestine?

Royal Navy

College Staffs (Air Pilots And Observers)

39 and 40.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (1) how many fully qualified pilots and air observers are serving on the naval staff of the Imperial Defence College and the Joint Services Staff College; and how many of these officers have had war flying experience;

(2) how many fully qualified pilots and air observers are serving on the staffs of the Royal Naval Colleges, Greenwich and Dartmouth; and how many have had war flying experience.

One observer is serving on the staff of the Joint Services College, but there are no pilots or observers on the staff of the Imperial Defence College. One pilot and two observers are serving on the staff of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and there is one pilot on the staff of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. The five officers holding the appointments have war flying experience.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I put down these two Questions precisely in this form a year ago, at which time he expressed some concern at the small number of these officers, since when the numbers have been reduced by one?

No, Sir, the total number is the same as last year. However, we are concerned with the small numbers, the trouble being that during the war few officers specialised in naval aviation, and of those few quite a large percentage were killed.

Is it not infinitely more important that those who are supervising training should take priority over those actually carrying out flying duties?

What steps are being taken to improve this most unsatisfactory position?

The only step that we can take is to see that we get more naval officers specialising in naval aviation, and we are taking steps to that end as rapidly as we can.

What does the hon. Gentleman mean when he says that only a few naval officers specialised in air operations during the war? Surely very large numbers specialised?

Applied Ballistics (Superintendents)

41.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why the Assistant Superintendent of Applied Ballistics receives a salary of £1,534 per annum, whereas his superior officer the Deputy Superintendent of Applied Ballistics receives a salary of only £1,145 per annum.

The figures quoted by the hon. and gallant Member are not quite accurate. The difference is somewhat smaller than his figures suggest. Normally these officers would both be members of the Naval Ordnance Inspection Pool, and the Assistant Superintendent would receive less remuneration than the Deputy Superintendent. At present, although the Deputy Superintendent is a Pool officer it has been necessary as a temporary measure to fill the Assistant Superintendent post by an Active Service R.N. officer who is not a member of the Pool. The latter is still in receipt of the full naval pay and allowances appropriate to his rank.

Is not the Minister aware that the figures which I have put in the Question are taken from page 136 of the Navy Estimates, Vote 9? Surely it is most unfortunate that inaccurate information should be given in an official paper laid before this House.

I cannot agree that the information is inaccurate so far as the Navy Estimates are concerned. Various allowances are given to both individuals referred to, and it is because of these allowances that the hon. and gallant Gentleman's figure is somewhat higher than it should be.

Does not the Minister's rather diffuse reply mean that the junior officer is receiving more than his superior? If so, why?

It is because a naval officer is doing the job at the present time, and he is receiving the pay of a naval officer.

Ordnance Inspection Department

42.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many permanent officers of the Naval Ordnance Inspection Department have resigned from service in that Department since V.E.-Day.

In view of the small permanent strength of the Department, does not this loss indicate the considerable dissatisfaction with the conditions of service in it?

I do not think so, because since VE-Day more people have entered than have gone out.

Do not these resignations amount to about 40 per cent. of the whole strength, and is it not really time that the position of these officers was considered?

Rosyth Dockyard (Temporary Staff)

43.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many established non-industrial Admiralty employees, who were sent to the Rosyth Dockyard during the war as temporary additional staff, have not yet been returned to the home-yards from which they were drafted.

There are approximately 100 established Admiralty employees in non-industrial grades who were sent to Rosyth Dockyard during the war and are still employed there. This number includes transferees from the Admiralty, foreign yards and non-dockyard establishments as well as transferees from other home yards. In the time available it has not been possible to divide the number into its several component parts. I should make it clear that the majority of established non-industrial employees are on general lists and, being liable to service at any naval establishment, have no expectation of returning to their previous establishment. Draughtsmen borne on separate dockyard lists are not liable to serve at other yards except in emergency, and the number of draughtsmen now at Rosyth who were appointed there from southern yards during the war is seven.

Is my hon. Friend aware that my Question asks about temporary additional staff, and not about those who were sent there permanently? Is my hon. Friend further aware that there is a considerable sense of grievance amongst some of these men because they were promised that they would be returned home when the war ended, and will my hon. Friend do something to expedite the return of those men who were transferred temporarily?

It is very difficult to sort out the temporary transferees and those who were transferred in the normal way. That is why I have not been able to give the figures. I can assure my hon. Friend that we have no information at the Admiralty of this expressed desire to return on the part of those people who have gone to Rosyth.

Why should these men wish to transfer from Rosyth when they now have the privilege of living in the kingdom of Fife?

Does the retention of these people in Rosyth indicate that the Government are shortly going to make a decision about the retention of Rosyth as a full-time Royal Dockyard?

Toome Aerodrome (Civilian Workers)

44.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why two ex-Service men sent by Magherafelt employment exchange to the foreman employed by the Admiralty at Toome aerodrome were not taken into employment, and why two other men who had never volunteered or served in His Majesty's Forces were taken on instead; and whether it was on his instructions that the Admiralty foreman stated that he would not take ex-Service men into civilian employment for the Admiralty.

The two ex-Service men referred to were not engaged, as they were considered to be less suitable than two other men sent along by the employment exchange. I am informed that no statement was made that ex-Service men would not he employed.

Is the Civil Lord aware that the suitability of one of the men engaged by the foreman was that he was the foreman's own brother?

Baby Foods (Milk)

45.

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the increase in liquid milk supplies, more milk will be made available for the manufacture of proprietary baby foods, in order that these may be made available for small children over the age of one year.

No, Sir. The extra milk is needed for other important uses, such as cheese. We already meet the essential needs of children under one, and those between the ages of one and two for whom a doctor certifies these foods to be essential.

Shall we ever have a land flowing with milk and sugar in this country?

Post Office

Postal Services, Manchester— London

47.

asked the Postmaster-General if he will instruct the Post Office Advisory Council to investigate the unsatisfactory postal services between Manchester and London and report to him.

No, Sir. The evidence which the hon. Member was good enough to let my right hon. Friend have yesterday has disclosed some weakness in organisation which will be thoroughly investigated. He is satisfied that the remedy lies in departmental action and he will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

While I am grateful for the action which is being taken, could the Minister publish the reply that he is going to send, and bear in mind that the evidence which just one hon. Member can collect is only a very small indication of the total amount of dissatisfaction which exists?

I do not admit for one moment that the state of affairs which the hon. Member has envisaged concerning the case at Manchester is common to the whole of the Post Office.

When this matter has been investigated, will the Public Relations Officer of the Post Office issue a statement?

In the meantime, will the hon. Gentleman undertake to publish the letter to which he has referred so that other people in the Manchester area will know what it is all about?

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is not what I envisage but what I am being told by business men in Manchester?

Advisory Council

48.

asked the Postmaster-General how many times the Post Office Advisory Council met in 1948; and what advice they tendered to him.

The Post Office Advisory Council met five times in 1948 and gave the benefit of their advice on all matters of current interest. The proceedings of the Council are confidential, and I regret I am not at liberty to disclose them.

Would it not remove the feeling that this Council is moribund if the evidence was published?

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the proceedings of the Council are most valuable from the point of view of advice tendered to the Postmaster-General, and that at every meeting we have been able to exchange views?

Telephone Service

Accounts

49.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will introduce legislation to enable interest to be charged on every telephone account between the end of the quarter and the date when the account is rendered.

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to congratulate him on declining to follow the bad lead of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who sucks interest from the payer of the Special Contribution, even for the period before the account is sent to him?

Installations

50.

asked the Postmaster-General how many of the 330,000 new telephones provided by the Post Office last year were for private individuals; how many were for Government offices; and how many for local authorities.

Of the net growth of 330,000 telephones last year, 135,000 were for residential subscribers. I regret that the other information desired by the hon. and gallant Member is not readily available.

Who pays for the installation of Government telephones? Is it the Department concerned or the Post Office?

Royal Air Force

Electoral Lists (Service Declarations)

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what steps he is taking to inform airmen and their wives of their procedure of making service declarations under the Representation of the People Regulations, 1949; and whether he will give the necessary order to ensure that airmen and their wives are notified of the entry of their names in the electors lists.

An Air Ministry Order setting out the procedure for making service declarations will be published tomorrow, together with a leaflet for display on unit notice boards. In addition to this, two Air Ministry pamphlets will be issued in the next few days for the guidance of airmen and their wives in completing these declarations. The responsibility for notifying Service declarants that they will be entered in the electors lists is laid upon electoral registration officers by Regulation 58 of the Representation of the People Regulations, 1949.

Apart from that, will the Under-Secretary take steps to see that these airmen and their wives are also notified by their station commander as to what polling electoral list they are on, because at the present time there is great dissatisfaction as they do not know where they get their votes?

I do not quite understand that question. As I said, under the regulations, if the hon. Member studies them, it is quite clear that it is the electoral registration officer who is under an obligation to notify service declarants.

Croft Airport (Rental)

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what rental the Darlington and District Aero Club is obliged to pay for the use of the Croft Airport; and whether, for the purpose of encouraging the use of this airport by this flying club, he will consider the revision of that rental.

Exercises (Civil Air Services)

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that, owing to Royal Air Force activities, the afternoon air service on Monday, 7th March, from Renfrew to Northolt, was delayed for three hours; and what steps he is taking to prevent such interruption in the future.

A large air defence exercise was held in the Forth-Clyde area on this day and I am advised that, as the weather was such that Instrument Flight Rules were in force, the civil operators did not allow their aircraft to fly through the area until the weather improved. Traffic control arrangements have been made which should avoid delays on this account in future.

Is my hon. Friend aware that recent happenings, this included, are causing grave disquiet amongst passengers using the civil air service from Renfrew to Northolt?

I am not aware of any such disquiet. If the hon. Member's constituents are to be protected in wartime, the Royal Air Force have to have exercises in peace-time.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the actual passengers for this plane had turned up at Renfrew before the people at Renfrew airport were informed that it was unsafe to fly owing to these military operations?

I am not so aware. The decision to fly or not is, of course, a matter for the corporation.

Ministry Of Supply

Aircraft (Sales Abroad)

59.

asked the Minister of Supply how many sales have taken place of British aircraft to foreign operators in the latest convenient period; what were the types; and what was the price.

I assume the Question to refer to sales of civil aircraft. During the year ended 31st December, 1948, the following types of British civil aircraft have been delivered to overseas operators; Anson, Bristol Freighters, Consuls, Doves, Rapides, Vikings, converted Halifaxes, Sunderlands and Stirlings. The total value of aircraft sales, military and civil to overseas purchasers in this period was nearly £13½ million. I am not in a position to break this figure down as between civil and military types or to divulge the prices of individual contracts.

Could the Minister say what were the types of military aircraft sent overseas as the Question does not ask just for civil but for British types?

I made the assumption about civil aircraft because of the word "operator," but about 15 types of military aircraft were sent overseas. I do not think that the hon. Member would wish me to give details of them in terms of Meteors, Vampires, and so on.

What about the sales of Auster aircraft, which the House knows took place to Israel before it was recognised de facto; and were these aircraft used by them in operations against the Arabs? The Minister has not mentioned them.

Flying Boats

60.

asked the Minister of Supply what progress has now been made with the S.R.45; and what is the estimated date of delivery of these flying boats to the British South American Airways Corporation.

Satisfactory progress is being maintained with the design and construction of these flying boats. Delivery is expected to begin early in 1952.

Peace Treaties (Violations)

The Peace Treaties with Bulgaria, Roumania and Hungary entrusted the Heads of the Diplomatic Missions, in those countries, of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, acting in concert with the task of representing the Allied and Associated Powers, in dealing with all matters concerning the execution and interpretation of the Peace Treaties for a period of 18 months from the time when the Treaties came into force. This period came to an end yesterday. A review of this period shows that there have been violations of the human rights, military and economic clauses of the Peace Treaties by all three ex-enemy Governments. But whenever His Majesty's Government or the United States representative in any of the three countries has attempted to invoke the Peace Treaty by calling a meeting of the representatives of the three Allied Powers with a view to concerting action, the Soviet representative has refused to attend.

The House will recall that Article 2 of the Peace Treaty with Bulgaria, and the corresponding articles in the Peace Treaties with Roumania and Hungary guaranteed to all persons, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, the enjoyment of human rights and of the fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression of press and publication, of religious worship, of political opinion and of public meeting.

In Bulgaria, the Agrarian Party was liquidated as an effective force by a process which culminated in the death of Nikola Petkov. All the other parties which held out and refused to be merged with the Communists subsequently met a similar fate. In Roumania, the same pattern was followed, the leader of the National Peasant Party, Mr. Maniu, being sentenced to imprisonment for life.

In Hungary, the suppression and liquidation of the political opponents of the Communist regime was less naked but just as effective. Last month Mr. Barankovics, leader of the only remaining opposition party in the Hungarian Parliament, found it advisable to flee the country. Together with the suppression of the political parties went the suppression of all independent organs of opinion. Religious liberty has also been attacked and it has become clear that the calculated diminution of the influence of the Christian Churches is an integral part of the totalitarian plan for establishing a Communist monopoly of thought. The House knows that, this has been the case in Bulgaria, Roumania and Hungary.

But it is not only the political organisations, the press and organised religion which have suffered; the day to day persecution of the man-in-the-street must also be remembered—and the arbitrary and frequently exercised power of the administrative authorities to detain, arrest, judge and dispose of people without proper charges or warrants and without the necessity of according them adequate defence or even trial.

The position is no better in relation to the military clauses of the Treaties. The Bulgarian and Roumanian armed forces are in excess of the strengths laid down in the Treaties and, while the Hungarian forces may still be below treaty strength, their expansion is reported to be contemplated. Bulgaria and Roumania are moreover attempting to evade their obligations by the organisation, training and equipment of groups which, although not included in the strength of the regular armed forces, could, if necessary, be used readily to augment those forces.

In Bulgaria, the regular armed forces, which already exceed the Treaty strength laid down, do not include the frontier guards and militia and the labour detachment known as "Trudovaks," all of which receive some form of para-military training. Bulgaria has also been unwilling to allow inspection of the Greco-Bulgarian frontier where she is forbidden by the Peace Treaty to erect permanent fortifications.

In Roumania, the gendarmerie, which, after the signature of the Peace Treaty, was transferred from the Ministry of War to the Ministry of the Interior, is now armed not only with rifles but also with machine guns, mortars, field guns and anti-tank guns. Its strength is not included in the regular armed forces.

Towards the end of 1947, His Majesty's Government and the United States Government decided, after consultation, to request the three ex-enemy Governments under the terms of the Peace Treaties, to provide detailed information regarding the state of their armed forces. In each case the satellite government concerned declined to provide the information required on the pretext that the Peace Treaty laid down that such requests should be made by the three Allied Heads of Mission acting in concert. In such circumstances His Majesty's Government are entitled to conclude that the ex-enemy Governments, in collusion with the Government of the U.S.S.R., are not implementing the military clauses of the Peace Treaties.

The three Treaties also had certain economic clauses which provide, among other things, that the ex-enemy Governments shall grant to the nationals of members of the United Nations, on a reciprocal basis, national and most favoured nation treatment in all matters pertaining to commerce, industry, shipping and other forms of business activity within their territory. Nevertheless, the ex-enemy States, in collusion with the U.S.S.R., have persistently enacted laws or imposed measures which, even though nominally non-discriminatory in form, have, in intention and effect, been aimed at Western proprietary and commercial interests in general and against British interests in particular.

There is little doubt that, in practice at any rate, Soviet and Soviet bloc interests have been exempted from the operation of all these economic measures or have not had them applied in the same way or with the same results.

My right hon. Friend felt it desirable that details should be offered upon this important subject. The plain fact is that, although the Governments of Bulgaria, Hungary and Roumania have committed flagrant violations of the terms of the Peace Treaties, they have so far succeeded, with Soviet connivance and even support, in obstructing the attempts of His Majesty's Government and the United States Government to set in motion the Treaty machinery, by which concerted action by the Allied Governments should have ensured the proper fulfilment of these obligations. In these circumstances His Majesty's Government have not, for some time past, felt that any useful purpose would be served by renewing those efforts. They nevertheless intend to continue to draw public attention to violations of the Treaty as these occur.

But the Treaties do not expire with the passage of the 18 months period, which concluded yesterday; and my right hon. Friend desires formally to assure the House that His Majesty's Government fully maintain their rights to invoke the Treaty machinery in the future, whether in relation to the human rights articles or to any other portions of the Treaties.

In view of the most serious statement which my right hon. Friend has made, the gravity of which, I am sure, will not be lost on the country, I should like to ask him two questions. First of all, in view of the flagrant violations of the Peace Treaties to which he has referred and which, as he has said, have taken place with the collusion and assistance of Russia, and in view of the complete breakdown of the machinery for dealing with those violations contemplated in the Treaties, will my right hon. Friend bring the matter to the attention of the United Nations at the earliest possible opportunity? Secondly, will he confirm that the whole structure of the Peace Treaty settlements, as of the United Nations itself, is based on the belief, which was universally expressed three years ago at the end of the war, that terror, persecution and a denial of human rights in any country or group of countries are a threat to freedom everywhere and a menace to world peace?

In answer to the first part of the supplementary question, I should prefer to say that, without prejudice to any United Nations activity which might be appropriate, His Majesty's Government would prefer first to exhaust the machinery of the Treaty which now becomes operative after 18 months. As to the second part of the supplementary question, plainly His Majesty's Government consider that these injustices create suspicion, impair diplomatic relations, and, of course, at all times impair international stability and understanding.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my right hon. and hon. Friends agree generally with the tone of his observations this afternoon? We have not had an opportunity of studying his statement in detail and therefore we must reserve further observations to a later period. However, in view of his remarks about the discrimination which has existed in the economic sphere, do I understand that his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade proposes to engage in future discussions with a view to improving trade between us and these countries? In the second place, in view of the fact that the Treaties have not in fact been carried out and that the military clauses have not in fact been implemented, what reliance does His Majesty's Government place on using the Treaty machinery in future to achieve any desirable ends in relation to our conduct of foreign policy with these nations?

As to the first part of the supplementary question, I should prefer that to be put down on the Order Paper to my right hon. Friend. As to the second part, there is now an operative part of the Treaty which would not depend upon the three parties acting in concert. We should attempt to utilise that part of the Treaty in order to satisfy ourselves upon the military clauses. Of course, if no co-operation is offered in examining the implications of these military clauses, the worst fears of His Majesty's Government will be realised, and their attitude will be varied accordingly.

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's very important statement and the equally important question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the B.B C will make a point of seeing that both state- ments are broadcast to the appropriate countries? Furthermore, in view of the religious side of the statement and the fact that in Roumania the Jews and the Uniate Church, in Bulgaria the Protestants, and in Hungary both Protestants and Catholics have been involved, will it be possible for more detailed information on these subjects to be given at another time in this House?

The statement will, of course, be made in the normal way by the B.B.C. I would not seek to direct them, nor have I any powers so to do, but I am certain that they will deal fitly with the material. As to the second part of the supplementary question, I think that we could quite easily arrange for the details of these religious persecutions, relating at any rate to the main individuals of all sects, to be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.