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Colonial Empire

Volume 467: debated on Wednesday 13 July 1949

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State Lotteries

3.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in what colonies or dependencies State lotteries are run; and what revenue has resulted.

State lotteries are run in Malta and Gibraltar. In 1948, the revenue was £267,706 and £56,000 respectively.

Is it the view of the Colonial Office that this type of lottery is desirable and morally defensible?

My right hon. Friend does not as a general rule favour lotteries, but there are in certain cases, local conditions which make them perhaps desirable.

Has there been any opposition to these lotteries from the churches in those two colonies?

They have not been very vociferous in Malta at all events, where, as I say, it is a very old-established lottery.

Is not the Under-Secretary aware that the lottery in Gibraltar is very helpful in providing housing accommodation which is very urgently needed?

Press Laws

12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is consulted before action is taken by colonial Governors to suppress newspapers; and whether he will undertake periodical review of each case.

I know of no instance of a colonial Governor suppressing a newspaper. The second part of the Question does not therefore arise.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the President of the Empire Press Union, Colonel J. J. Astor, in criticising this power, stated that it was liable to abuse? Will he, therefore, look into the question to see if there is any real necessity for this power to be retained?

There is only one colony where I know that the Governor has the power. He is not exercising it, so far as I am aware, in that colony.

Can my hon. Friend say if that colony is Malta, and, if so, can he inform the House of any progress which has been made in the consideration of the possibility of revising the somewhat obsolete and oppressive Press Ordinance in Malta?

Yes, the colony is Malta. As my hon. Friend knows, Malta has responsible self-government. It is for Maltese Ministers to decide whether or not they will reorganise their Press laws.

On a point of Order. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has already given information to the House on this point. Is it not, therefore, reasonable to expect that my hon. Friend would be able to inform the House further? That is why I asked my question in that form—simply for information.

My hon. Friend knows that I cannot get one past the Table. That is why he says that.

Do my hon. Friend's observations about the suppression of newspapers also apply to the banning of newspapers imported from this country?

Is the Minister aware that the "Labour Monthly" is banned in Kenya, and can he tell us why?

Supplies (Conference)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he will make available the proceedings of the recent Colonial Conference on Supplies.

The Conference was not a public one. A Press communiqué was issued at the end of the Conference and it is not my right hon. Friend's intention to publish the proceedings.

In view of the Colonial Office claim that this was a very satisfactory Conference, and of the importance of these supplies to this country, particularly at this juncture, would the hon. Gentleman at least consider putting a copy of the proceedings in the Library of the House of Commons, so that it can be available to all Members?

The Conference really took the form of an interchange of views, expressions of opinion, and so on, between the supplying officers in the various colonies and the officials of the Colonial Office. In those circumstances, it would be difficult to put anything of concrete value in the Library. It was, so to speak, a two-way traffic of opinions and views. As no major policy changes were made, I do not think there would be any advantage in trying to do what the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Technical And Specialist Staffs

15.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress is being made in overcoming the shortage of technicians, engineers, educationalists and other specialists who are wanted for development work in the Colonies; how far facilities are being provided for secondment of suitable personnel from this and other countries.

Difficulties continue in most technical fields but recruitment of forestry, geological and civil engineering staff is now a little easier than it was. Secondment is difficult in many fields because the staff in question is short in this country also, but secondment arrangements are in operation for postal and educational staff, and I hope that they can be devised for medical and civil engineering staff also. A review of progress in the past year is contained in paragraphs 70–81 of Cmd. Paper 7715 "The Colonial Territories (1948–1949)" to which I would invite my hon. Friend's attention.

Industrialisation (Report)

16.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when the Report of the Colonial Development Corporation on the Industrialisation of the Colonial Empire will be published.

News Services, Caribbean

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has investigated the position in a number of the Caribbean colonies where no English newspapers are on the news-stands and the sole means of obtaining news is from the radio and American Press; and what does he intend to do in order to keep the British Colonies better informed of news and developments in this country.

Yes, Sir. Newspaper sales are restricted by the high cost of despatch by air and the infrequency of the British air service to that area. A scheme to increase the sale of the principal economic and political weekly periodicals by air on a subscription basis is, however, being developed by the trade. As to the second part of the Question, one of the main tasks of the Information Department in the Colonial Office is to assist colonial territories to receive a service of news and information about this country.

Does my hon. Friend not agree that in view of the Government's concern with colonial development, it is of the utmost importance that adequate news services should be developed for the Caribbean area? Could he not have the whole matter reviewed, to see if it cannot be taken up as being one of local urgency?

I agree about the desirability, but it is a matter for the trade.

When my hon. Friend says "Yes, Sir," will he take note that the first part of the Question on the Order Paper is not accurate, since Jamaica at least is served by the redoubtable "Kingston Daily Gleaner," which is a genuine local newspaper, and by one or two smaller ones as well; but, in view of the fact that the radio services in these islands are increasingly going commercial, will he also bear in mind the necessity of supplying a much better service of objective and official information?