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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 3 May 1950

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Tin Production

1.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet considered the revision of the sum of £100,000 provided in the International Tin Research Institute budget for each of the five years ending this year.

The annual budget of £100,000 applies to the years 1949, 1950 and 1951. The Council of the International Tin Research Institute are responsible for the preparation of the budget, and they have not informed me that they consider any additional provision necessary.

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how five years beginning in 1944 can end in 1951?

I cannot explain that. All I can say is that the Council have not asked for any additional money.

2.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the excessive production of tin, which is estimated to exceed consumption in 1950 by 45,000 tons, is a threat to employment in Malaya and Nigeria; and what action he proposes to reduce production or stimulate consumption.

The figure quoted by the hon. Member relates to the estimated excess of production over commercial consumption. I hope, however, that purchases for the United States stockpile will absorb the surplus production this year. As the duration and quantity of these purchases is uncertain, the International Tin Study Group, at its meeting in Paris in March last, by a majority adopted a resolution requesting the Secretary-General of the United Nations to convene, in accordance with the provisions of the Havana Charter, a United Nations' conference at an early date to discuss a commodity control agreement for tin.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the " American Metal Market," which is a United States' journal, attributes the failure to make an agreement for tin under the Havana Charter to the " delay, linger and wait " policy of the United States authorities?

Colonial Empire

Groundnut Scheme (Fertilisers)

5.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what fertilisers have been supplied to African cultivators growing groundnuts in Nigeria and Gambia.

In Nigeria, 1,000 tons of single superphosphate in large granules are being supplied this year to farmers free of cost. This will be used by the new placement technique for which much less fertiliser is needed than when it is broadcast.

In addition to the free distribution of fertilisers, will the Minister consider making larger quantities of fertilisers available on repayment?

What expenditure in dollars is incurred in the supply of these fertilisers?

Colonial Students, London(Sports Club)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made in the acquisition of a sports ground for colonial students in London.

The planning committee have prepared a scheme for a sports club in London for all colonials and their friends, including colonial students. This has my wholehearted approval. The committee are now considering the question of raising funds.

Will the Minister try to get facilities from existing sports clubs, which would be even more preferable?

I should be very glad to consider that suggestion, and I will look into it.

Development Schemes

17.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement as to the directions he will give to the Colonial Development Corporation before starting any large-scale agricultural ventures, to institute pilot schemes in order to test the practicability of the venture.

There is no necessity for any general directions to the Corporation applying especially to agricultural projects; the question whether large-scale agricultural projects should be preceded by pilot schemes is one for determination by the Corporation in the individual case.

In view of the fact that, as acknowledged, a great deal of money has been wasted upon the Gambia project, will the Secretary of State make it clear that before the beef raising scheme in the Kalahari is proceeded with a pilot scheme will be instituted?

I do not know who acknowledges that there has been waste in the Gambia scheme. I do not.

Do we understand the Secretary of State to say that it has been left to the Overseas Food Corporation to decide whether pilot schemes were necessary or not?

It is for the Corporation to decide whether any major scheme should be preceded by a pilot scheme.

Students' Welfare (British Council)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the grant made to the British Council for welfare work among colonial students, he had made or will make it conditional on the co-operation of the British Council in this respect with student and educational or other organisations recognised as of service to colonial students.

I am glad to be able to assure my hon. Friend that the British Council themselves made this co-operation one of t'ae conditions of their accepting the grant.

Would my right hon. Friend indicate with what other bodies the British Council are co-operating at the present time? Is it not highly desirable that this Council, to which very considerable responsibility has been delegated, should seek the largest operative co-operation with other bodies?

The Council have brought other bodies into active co-operation, including the Colonial Students' Union of Africa.

Medical Service

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the number of vacancies existing for medical officers in the Colonial Medical Service; and whether any steps are being taken to attract to it recruits from Malta.

There are 213 vacancies for medical officers in the Colonial Medical Service. I have no reason to think that the opportunities available in the Colonial Medical Service are not well known in Malta, but I will consider whether any further steps could usefully be taken on the lines suggested.

Hong Kong (Damaged Aircraft)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement regarding the seven civil aircraft situated at Kaitak Airport, Hong Kong, which were recently destroyed or damaged by explosives.

Early on the morning of Sunday, 2nd April, seven civil aircraft at Kaitak Airport were sabotaged by light explosive charges. None of the aircraft was destroyed, but the aircraft involved have been put out of action, at any rate for the time being. Immediately the explosions occurred the area involved was cleared, and some 12 employees of the two Chinese corporations who claim to own the aircraft were held by the police for interrogation. The police investigations are still proceeding, but so far no charges have been made against any persons. The area was already well guarded by police, but the guard has now been increased and the lighting of the area has been improved. It will, however, be appreciated that the close and constant supervision of 70 aircraft, which are dispersed over the airport to minimise the risk of danger from fire or of damage by storm, and to which the employees of the two Chinese corporations still have access for maintenance work, presents a difficult problem.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a considerable number of the employees of the People's Government, which is Communist, had passes to give them access to the airport? Can he say whether these men are still in possession of those passes, and, if so, will he take steps to see that they are withdrawn?

Gold Coast

Cocoa Marketing Board

4.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the figures of profit or loss for the operations of the Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board for 1947-48 and 1948-49, respectively.

I would refer the hon. Member to the relevant annual reports of the Board.

In view of the very high figures of profits given in these reports, will the Minister consider applying some of the surplus to the improvement of the conditions in the territory concerned?

Prisons (Inspections)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what the arrangements are for the inspection of prisons in the Gold Coast.

Regular routine inspections are made by senior members of the Prisons Department. In addition, visiting committees, appointed by the Governor to each of the penal establishments in the Colony, make monthly visits of inspection, hear complaints and make recommendations regarding all aspects of penal administration.

How often are these prisons inspected? I have very disturbing details about the conditions in them. If I send to my right hon. Friend those details will he see that the prison inspectors do, in fact, investigate the complaints?

Bungalows (Cost)

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. RANKIN:

30. To ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the dissatisfaction in the Gold Coast through the decision of the Government to build a bungalow at a cost of £80,000; and why the ceiling of £5,000 per bungalow, agreed on last year, in view of the need for expanding the social services, has not been maintained.

On a point of Order. There is a slight error in line 3, for which I am fully responsible. " A bungalow " ought to be " eight bungalows."

I have to answer the Question which is on the Order Paper, and the answer is: If my hon. Friend will let me have more precise information as to the bungalows to which he refers, I will make inquiries of the Governor.

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain whether a ceiling which has not been maintained is one which has fallen down or one which has been pushed up?

Malaya

War Damage Compensation

7.

asked the Secretary of state for the Colonies what is the total amount made avaliable by his Majesty Government for the Payment of compensation by the Malayan authorities to persons and firms as a result of the war; and what percentage of that sum has now been paid out by the Malayan Government.

His Majesty's Government have agreed to make a grant of £20,000,000 and an interest-free loan, if required, of up to £18,500,000 for this purpose. The Malayan Governments are at present utilising local assets derived from the proceeds of the sale of looted rubber and tin, etc., which was recovered from Japan, for the payment of awards under the War Damage Compensation Scheme, and no part of His Majesty's Government's contribution has, therefore, been paid to the local governments.

Would the Secretary of State tell us whether any of this interest-free loan will find its way into the pockets of the people who made over 60 per cent. profits last year?

The grants under this loan are used for the specific purpose to which I referred in my answer.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any likelihood of an early decision being reached on the paying of compensation? Is he further aware that the long delay has caused considerable hardship to many thousands of British subjects, Chinese and Malayans equally?

I gave an answer to that question last week. If the hon. and gallant Member looks it up he will see that interim payments have begun.

Tin And Rubber Companies

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many tin companies are now operating in Malaya.

There are 81 registered tin companies operating in Malaya, but these do not include Chinese partnerships. Chinese operators account for about one-third of the total production.

Is it possible for my right hon. Friend to insert in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of these companies, showing the total profits that they made last year?

Would the right hon. Gentleman add to that list the losses suffered in the war through our inablity to protect our own fellow-citizens, the dollars earned by those companies since the war, and the number of planters, who with their families, live in daily danger and have, in fact, also lost their lives?

Is not the interest which has been aroused by this Question sufficient evidence for the Minister to publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the full list of profits made by people who have never been in Malaya at all?

I am only too anxious to give information to hon. Members on both sides of the House about profits and losses, and if Questions are put down I will do my best to answer them.

Will the same principle apply to those hon. Members, who are paid, who did not vote on Monday?

The Question on the Paper asks how many companies are operating in Malaya. Any other question is outside its scope, and should not be asked.

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, how many rubber companies are now operating in Malaya.

I understand that the number of companies is about 500, but I could not say, without reference to the High Commissioner, what proportion of the total output is accounted for by these companies.

In view of the fact that pressure has been brought on the Government to make rubber a strategic material will the Minister consider the nationalisation of these companies, in the national interest?

In view of the fact that the rubber companies include European estates, Chinese estates, native estates and exporters, will the Minister say whether he understands what the question means—because nobody else does.

I have been asked for information and I have tried to give it. If hon. Members wish to ask any other Questions they should put them down.

Ministers' Visit

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now make a further statement about his proposed visit to Malaya.

I can now say definitely that, with the Prime Minister's approval, I propose to take the opportunity of the Whitsuntide Recess to visit the Federation of Malaya and Singapore, and that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War will accompany me. We hope to arrive in Singapore about 24th May. An official announcement is being made today both here and in Malaya.

My right hon. Friend and I are convinced that a personal visit would be useful in order that we may be fully informed on all aspects of the problem. We have every confidence in the ability of those on the spot to handle the difficult situation in Malaya. We hope that our visit will give encouragement to them in the plans and policies which they are pursuing; and will also give further evidence of the determination of the Government to carry through our task in Malaya.

I had hoped to include Hong Kong in my tour, but I very much regret that the limited time at my disposal, about three weeks in all, would not allow me to do so. I have explained the matter to the Governor. My right hon. Friend will, however, take the opportunity of spending a day or two with the British Forces in that Colony.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take his hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) along, and show him the planters at work in the worst protected area of the Commonwealth?

I should like to take many hon. Members from both sides of the House.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the two highest priorities on his trip should be to make it quite clear that we do not propose to clear out of Malaya for at least 10 years—

—and to decide whether the introduction of martial law is essential in order that the police can carry out their duties without a sense of frustration?

Would my right hon. Friend also consider taking with him a responsible member of the Opposition, such as the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers)?

Gambia Poultry Scheme

8.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many acres have been reserved for the poultry scheme in Gambia; and how many have so far been cleared.

Approximately 10,000 acres have been leased to the Colonial Development Corporation for this scheme, by agreement with the Gambia Government. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the Corporation, who are carrying out the project.

Will the Minister state approximately how much land has been cleared, and whether it will produce the food that is required?

West Indies

Food Supplies, Dominica

9.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the shortage of milk and bread in Dominica; and what steps he is taking to improve the position.

Dominica has never produced all the fresh milk it needs, but imported dried and other milk products are readily available. Steps are being taken to improve the local livestock industry with a view to securing increased supplies of fresh milk. Owing to late arrivals, supplies of flour to bakers have at times been restricted, but they are now satisfactory.

In view of the fact that the Minister considers the position satisfactory can he give us the per capita consumption figures?

Timber

11.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he proposes to take to co-ordinate the listing of the suitabilities of timber likely to be available from the Caribbean area so that all trees cut can be put to their most economical use.

A list of the timbers recommended for different uses was prepared before the war. The question of re-issuing it in an up-to-date form is under examination.

Will the right hon. Gentleman put a great deal of energy into this matter, because it is necessary for the proper development of the timber resources of this important area?

Medical Officers

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many medical practitioners were available to members of the public in Grenada at the latest convenient date.

Is it not the case that several of these medical officers have gone away or have retired? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that sufficient remain?

I would not say that I am satisfied there are sufficient. I will look into the question which the hon. Member has asked. Perhaps he will put another Question down.

Northern Rhodesia

Executive Council

10.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Governor of Northern Rhodesia, when making recommendations for the appointment or removal of unofficial members of the Executive Council, acts on the advice of all the unofficial members of the Legislative Council, including the two African unofficial members; on. what differences of opinion did Mr. J. Morris lose the confidence of more than two-thirds of the elected members of the Legislative Council; and whether the two African members are also known to have expressed lack of confidence in Mr. Morris.

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative. The Governor, in making recommendations for the appointment of elected members to Executive Council, and their removal therefrom, takes the advice only of their elected colleagues on Legislative Council. The unofficial member who represents African interests in Executive Council is nominated by the Governor.

As regards the second part of this Question, the major difference of opinion arose from the view which Mr. Morris took of his appointment to Executive Council. He regarded that appointment as a purely personal one and considered that in Executive Council he was not responsible to his elected colleagues on Legislative Council but to his constituents. Such a contention, if accepted, would have destroyed the value of the agreements arrived at between my predecessor and the unofficial members in 1948 and 1949 on their position in Executive Council. As Mr. Morris is an elected member, the last part of the Question does not arise.

Is it not the case that Mr. Morris was recommended for expulsion from the Council because he was the only member who voted against the resolution of the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council in favour of central African federation? If the Governor is to take the advice only from the elected white members of this Executive Council it is not calculated to arouse confidence on the part of the African population.

The differences are wider than that. This arrangement was entered into between my predecessor and the official members, and having studied the matter, I do not think I ought to disturb it.

Did I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that this gentleman was censored because he sought to represent his constituents rather than the caucus? Is that the idea which is coming from the benches opposite?

No; if the hon. and gallant Gentleman will study my answer he will see that that is not the correct interpretation to put on it.

Kafue River (Dam)

12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is proposed to start erection of a dam on the Kafue River in Northern Rhodesia for the large scale generation of electricity there.

A decision whether or not to carry out this project, which cannot be considered separately from the Kariba Gorge project, must await the recommendations of the Commission referred to by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in his reply to the hon. Member on 20th April.

Do I understand from that reply that the Commission are investigating both cases because I understood it was investigating the Kafue scheme only?

Yes, but the investigation into the one will effect considerations regarding the other.

It certainly will, but the point of my Question was whether they are specifically required to investigate both schemes or only one.

The position we have taken up is that we had better await the findings of the Commission and consider the matter in the light of their report.

British Trusteeship,Territories (Unomission)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many committees appointed by the United Nations have, in the last year, toured British Trusteeship Territories; and what nationalities were represented by the members of those committees.

One, Sir. A trusteeship Council Mission visited Togoland and the Cameroons in 1949. Its four members were of Iraqi, Belgian, Mexican and United States nationality respectively.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the United Nations Committee investigating the conditions in these territories did so at the invitation of His Majesty's Government, and whether it is not contrary to the terms of the Trustee Council's Charter to visit these places without the permission of His Majesty's Government?

That is a much wider question and I should have to have notice of it. The report has been published, and we are very glad to get it.

Is it not a fact that an agreement is reached before a visit takes place, and could my right hon. Friend say whether any similar investigations are likely to take place in the coming 12 months?

Kenya Disturbances(Inquiry)

16.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make upon the disturbances in North-West Kenya on 25th April when 20 tribesmen and three British citizens, A. J. Stevens, a district officer, G. M. Taylor, an assistant superintendent of police and R. G. Cameron, an assistant police inspector, were killed.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the murder of three European police officers and one African police Askari iby Suk tribesmen; and whether he will make a statement.

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement in respect of the recent disturbances in Kenya.

A party of police, in the charge of administrative and police officers, went on 24th April to a remote place north of Lake Baringo, to investigate reports received from a missionary. They met a party of some 300 Suk tribesmen who had been raised by one Lucas Kipkech, an escaped convict and an adherent of a fanatical religious sect called the " Dini Ya Msambwa." While a parley was in progress the tribesmen attacked the police, who withheld their fire as long as possible, but were eventually forced to shoot. One administrator and two police officers were killed, one African policeman was killed and three wounded, though not seriously. Twenty-nine tribesmen were 1:11ed (including the leader), and approximately 50 were wounded. A strong force of police is now operating in the area, where, according to latest reports, the situation is in hand.

There will be an official inquiry, the findings of which I do not wish to anticipate.

I am sure the House will join with me in expressing its sympathy towards the relatives of the men who have been killed.

While joining in that expression of sympathy, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that this trouble has been brewing for a long time and that he will find a description of it in Negley Farsons' " Last Chance In Africa "? Can he say whether the causes are not deep rooted in social and economic injustices, and will he make the inquiry cover more than the immediate occurences for these deeper reasons?

There will be an official inquiry into these very sad events, and when the report is before me I will consider whether any further action is needed. I would rather await that report

Can my right hon. Friend say whether there was foreknowledge of this particular sect or group and, in particular, of the alleged fanatic who led them? Can he also say whether the impulse from this group radiated over a much wider field, and can he associate with his observations any recognition of those deeper factors to which my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) referred?

I hope I carry the House with me when I say that I would rather await the official report and study it before considering what further action is necessary. I will bear all these points in mind.

While associating the Opposition with the sympathy expressed with the relatives of those who were killed, is it not also true that some at least of these so-called deeper factors have been introduced into Africa from outside by people with very little experience of the practical problems involved?

Would the Secretary of State agree that the contributing factor to this unrest, and not only to this but to other examples of it in that Colony, is that assistant district commissioners are not able to get round their districts because they are kept in their offices dealing with reams of paper work?

What is the position in regard to the compensation for the relatives of those officers who died while in the execution of their duty?

Would the right hon. Gentleman undertake to ensure that the inquiry will be conducted as quickly as possible, in view of the concern which has been shown over this question?

British Honduras (Land Settlement)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how far, in developing British Honduras, he proposes to give priority to settling in agricultural occupations those people who already live in the Colony.

The British Honduras Government, as they have already announced, will give local people the first chance of jobs in new agricultural projects.

Tanganyika (Wages)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the wages paid to African labour on the sisal estates of Tanganyika; and how they compare with wages paid on the tobacco plantations of Southern Rhodesia.

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Would the Minister agree that, roughly, the relation of the wages is that the tobacco planters of Southern Rhodesia pay almost twice as much as the current rate paid by the sisal growers of Tanganyika?

I have given my hon. Friend very full figures, and perhaps he will study them first.

Will the figures make very clear the difference in the cost of living in the two Colonies?

Following is the reply:

The wage rates vary considerably throughout both Tanganyika and Southern Rhodesia. The average rates of wages paid to indigenous employees on sisal estates in Tanganyika are:

OccupationAverage wages Shs.Unit of computationAverage number of hours worked per week
Cutters21/-;5/- bonus30 tasks to be completed in 42 days48-50
Cleaners and weeders.15/-;2/50 bonus42-46
Production21/-;5/- bonus42-46

Rations are issued in addition; if rations are not issued wages are increased proportionately. It is usual for land and accommodation also to be provided. Exact figures for Southern Rhodesia are not available, but the wage rates are understood to be 40/- to 44/- a month, plus similar services in kind.

In the absence of any common index of prices and costs of living, it is difficult to compare statistically real wage rates in the two territories.

21.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in the bulk purchase contracts arranged between Great Britain and the sisal growers of Tanganyika, there is any control of wage rates.

The bulk purchase contract between Great Britain and the sisal growers of East Africa ended at the beginning of 1949. The question, therefore, does not arise.

Would not my right.hon. Friend agree that there has, in fact, been no reduction in the prices paid for sisal? In those circumstances would it not be reasonable, since the British Government is the buyer of the sisal, that it should ask that some interest be taken in wage rate control in sisal?

I appreciate the point which my hon. Friend makes, but the above contract, which has now ended, did not contain the arrangement which my hon. Friend suggests. That is a matter for the future.

Nigeria (Railway Staff Transfers)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the house of the vice-president of the Railway Staff Union at Enugu, Nigeria, was searched in his absence; and why the vice-president and the secretary have both been transferred to Achopa station.

The person referred to was president of the local branch of the Zikist movement, and his house was searched on 8th February at the same time as those of other members of the movement. The movement has since been declared an unlawful society. With regard to the second part of the Question, both persons were due for transfer in accordance with normal railway routine. The transfer of the vice-president was postponed in October, 1949, because of his union status; the union was at the same time informed that transfer was due. When the matter was raised again in April, he resigned from the railway rather than accept transfer. The secretary is also due for routine transfer, but it has been postponed because of his union status.

Do I take it that the transfer has no penal association at all because of this man's alleged activities?

No, Sir. I understand that the vice-president has been in his present post for four years, which is much longer than the normal period.

Mauritius (Old Age Pensions Scheme)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will recommend the measure of the Government of Mauritius to establish an old age pensions scheme to other Colonial Governments who have not introduced such a measure.

The old age pensions scheme to which my hon. Friend refers is still under discussion by the Government of Mauritius. I will bear in mind the suggestion my hon. Friend has made.

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend and the Government of Mauritius upon what I hope will be the establishment of an old age pensions scheme?

Tristan Da Cunha(Administrator)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the reason for now appointing an administrative officer to Tristan da Cunha; and what is the cost involved.

A fishing company is establishing a fishing industry and a canning factory in Tristan da Cunha. In view of this, it was considered necessary to post an experienced officer to the Island to deal with any administrative problems that might arise and to assist the islanders in the changed conditions created by the establishment of the industry.

The Administrator receives a salary of £1,200 a year. In addition, the cost of his passage was f116, and there will be further expenditure for his family's passages in due course, and for certain equipment, etc., of which no firm estimate can at present be given. The Administrator's salary and other expenses are payable from the revenue of the Island.

Would not this have been a good job for the ex-Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food?

Is it not a good thing that there should be at least one tiny spot free from bureaucracy?

Royal Navy

Dockyard, Bermuda(Closing)

35.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what repair facilities will remain at Bermuda when His Majesty's dockyard is closed down.

41.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the proposed closing of the dockyards in Bermuda; and where are our ships, formerly using these dockyards, to be serviced and repaired.

On 22nd March, my hon. Friend informed the House that a delegation representing the Bermuda Government would shortly be visiting this country to discuss the question of closing the Bermuda Dockyard. The delegation reached London on 26th March and had discussions with the Prime Minister, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

After the fullest and frankest discussion with the delegation, His Majesty's Government decided with regret that in all the circumstances there was no economically justifiable alternative to the complete closure of Bermuda Dockyard. The Dockyard has become uneconomical in many ways, and, in view of the necessity for extreme administrative economies, its closure must be accepted if the fighting efficiency of the Fleet is to remain unimpaired and if our resources are to be deployed effectively for the defence of the Commonwealth and Empire as a whole.

The composition and strength of the America and West Indies Squadron will not be affected by this decision, but in future the Squadron will be maintained by ships detached from the Home Fleet, whose refits and repairs will be carried out in the United Kingdom.

The Squadron will continue to use Bermuda as its headquarters; and the Commander-in-Chief's residence, together with the necessary recreational facilties for the ships' companies, will be retained in Bermuda. In this way the traditional association of the Royal Navy with Bermuda will be preserved.

Is the Minister aware that he has not answered the Question which I asked? Will he say whether the floating dock will still remain there?

Will the hon. Gentleman take into consideration the supplying of repair ships to that area, instead of using the obsolescent dockyards at Bermuda? Repair ships would be much more mobile and advantageous to modern conditions.

All that has been considered. We feel we can administer the station by repairs from the home yards far better than by having repair ships going out there.

Pay And Allowances

36.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how much money he estimates will be spent in the current financial year on pay and allowances of Regular officers and other ranks in the Royal Navy, and how much on those of National Service men, respectively.

Sea Cadets, Eastbourne

37.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether, in view of the assistance already granted with regard to the provision of training and headquarter accommodation to the Army Cadet Force and the Air Training Corps in Eastbourne, his Department is now prepared to give financial help in these matters to the Sea Cadets in that town.

Unlike the Army Cadet Force and the Air Training Corps which are pre-service training organisations entirely controlled by the War Office and Air Ministry, the Sea Cadet Corps is a voluntary youth organisation jointly controlled by the Admiralty and the Navy League. The Admiralty is responsible for the professional training of the Corps and for limited financial assistance. The Eastbourne Unit has received help in respect of overhead expenses, stores for training purposes and uniforms. I am sorry that more cannot be done.

I appreciate the difference between the three cadet forces of the Services, but will the hon. Gentleman agree that it would be reasonable to expect the Admiralty to pay the rent for the accommodation which is so badly needed by the Sea Cadet Corps?

We cannot accept that. The Eastbourne unit is being treated in precisely the same way as other units in the country, which, somehow, manage to find the rent.

In view of the splendid work which the Cadet Force is doing, is it not time that the Admiralty agreed to pay all the accommodation charges for the Force?

I beg to give notice that in view of the unsatisfactory answer which I have received I will raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Requisitioned Property, Warsash (Restoration)

38.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how soon authority will be given for the restoration of the public hard at Warsash, Hampshire.

The Admiralty's responsibility in this matter is limited to the payment under Section 2 (1, b) of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, of compensation for damage to the property whilst it was held on requisition, and this has been settled recently. The work of restoring the hard is a matter for the urban district council.

Employee, Portsmouth(Redundancy)

39.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why Mr. George Clasby, a welder, has been made redundant after 19 years' service.

Mr. Clasby has been employed by the Admiralty since 1932, but as a welder only since December, 1942. A state of redundancy arose recently amongst the welders at Portsmouth Yard and he was one of those who being the least efficient were selected for reversion to a lower grade, with the option of discharge on reduction, in accordance with the terms of the agreement made between the Admiralty and the trade unions.

Does the Minister realise that, after 19 years' service, this man is one example—there are others—of men being given the option one week to revert to a lower grade and to be paid a lower wage or go out? That is not the way private enterprise would treat them.

I do not know whether private enterprise ought to come into this. I remember the day when, in the industry in which I was employed, people were paid off after four hours' work without getting a week's notice, but I think that is beside the point. The fact remains that this man has not been a welder during the whole of the time that he has been with us. He is classified as the least efficient, and, under the agreement with the trade unions, he has to go.

What warnings were given to this man that he was inefficient and might become redundant?

It is not a question of warnings. When redundancy arises we have to look at the whole body of men and see who is least efficient.

We have not said that he is inefficient. We have said that he is the least efficient.

is the Minister aware that this man is now employed by private enterprise at a higher wage?

Prize Money (Distribution)

40.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how much of the prize money is still to be distributed; and the causes of its delay in its distribution.

Since 1st June last, 533,000 claims amounting to nearly £3 million have been paid out of the £4 million naval prize fund. Fewer than 50,000 claims, including nearly 20,000 from the next-of-kin of deceased officers and men which require special investigation, are at present in hand. I cannot agree that there has been any delay in distribution, but if the hon. Member will inform me of any specific cases which he has in mind I shall be glad to have them investigated.

It is estimated that about 80,000 eligible persons have not yet made a claim. These should write to the Director of Navy Accounts, Branch 3B, at Bath, for the necessary application form. I wish to stress that the only persons who have not yet received prize money, but who may be entitled are former members of the Naval and Marine Forces, of the Maritime Regiment (Royal Artillery), and other former members of the crews of H.M. ships-of-war who performed 180 days' service at sea as defined in the Royal Proclamation, copies of which are exhibited at post office:. The next-ofkin of such qualified persons and of those who were killed in action or lost their lives at sea before completing 180 days' sea service are also entitled to claim.

When relatives of deceased men make claims for prize money are their claims acknowledged by the Admiralty, or do they have to go on applying again and again?

I could not say whether they are acknowledged, but I do know that some people are continually writing and complaining because they do not get a reply every time they write. That helps to bring about a delay, if any delays at all are caused.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that they do not even get acknowledgements of their letters, and that I have a case before me now in which application has been made four times without any acknowledgement whatever that the letter has been received? Will he please look into that?

Yes, but despite all that I think it can be agreed by the House as a whole that the distribution has gone off very well indeed. I ask hon. Members themselves to discourage people from writing, because it does not help matters.

Can my hon. Friend give the House any indication of the date by which these claims are likely to be settled? Hon. Members on both sides of the House, particularly those representing naval ports, are getting considerable correspondence about it.

That does not arise out of this Question, but I am certain that if my hon. Friend will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT she will find that the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) put down a Question to that effect which was answered recently.

Officers (Discharges)

42.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many officers holding extended service commissions in the Royal Navy will be discharged this year; what is their average age and length of service; and whether they will be offered re-employment or training for another career.

Four hundred and fourteen, whose average age is 29½ years and average length of service as naval officers is about seven years. None of these officers can be offered further naval employment. Some may have rights under the release and resettlement arrangements to apply for help in training for a civil career, and some may avail themselves of the Business Training Scheme. Those who are pilots and interested in a civil pilot's career are being invited to apply to the Ministry of Civil Aviation for employment in that capacity.

Has the hon. Gentleman considered the possibility of seeing whether arrangements can be made to assist any of these ex-officers towards serving with the Dominion or Colonial navies, or of assisting them to find employment in the only form of work they know, having been in the Navy ever since they left school?

I have no knowledge of any vacancies existing in Dominion navies, but I will certainly take up that point.

Dockyard Staffs, Chathamand Sheerness

43.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what reduction in dockyard staffs at Chatham and Sheerness will follow completion of the proposed dockyard extensions at Portsmouth.

Monument, Ulverston(Flag)

44.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if the Lords of the Admiralty will direct that the Union Jack be flown on the Sir John Barrow monument on Hoad Hill, near Ulverston, on the centenary on 15th May, 1950, as they did at the erection of the monument 100 years ago.

The Admiralty has presented a Union flag to be flown on this occasion.

Will they send a small party to add to the ceremonial and to indicate their happy recollection?

The Question on the Order Paper deals only with the flag. I cannot answer the hon. Gentleman's supplementary.

Armed Forces

Defence Committees

46.

asked the Minister of Defence the names of all the committees and sub-committees relating to defence at home and overseas on which his or Service Departments are represented; what is the purpose, size and constitution of each; how many members from the Departments mentioned are members of more than one, showing the number of committees served on; and what is the cost to the Exchequer of and total number of British persons involved in these committees and subcommittees.

Would the right hon. Gentleman give some reason why the House should not be informed about what committees and sub-committees his Department is represented on concerning defence?

Deserters (Policy)

47.

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will now make a further statement on the Government's future policy in regard to deserters.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that before any statement is made all three Services will be in agreement?

Pay And Pensions

48.

asked the Minister of Defence if he will review the long-service pensions paid to men retiring from the Armed Forces in order to see whether an increase is possible.

50.

asked the Minister of Defence whether a review of pay and allowances of officers and other ranks is now being carried out; who is conducting the necessary inquiries: and who is advising him.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Members to the statement I made in the course of the Defence Debate on 16th March, indicating that a comprehensive examination of life in the Services in all its aspects was now proceeding. I am sending a copy of the relevant paragraph to the hon. and gallant Members.

Is the Minister aware that Question No. 50 bears no relation to Question No. 48 because the amounts allowed to men on retirement for long-service pension are looked upon as payment for long and faithful service, and not as a pension or as pay and allowances? Is he further aware that they are very distressed at the continual decline in the purchasing power of the £, although they are thankful that, factually, their rate of pay has been improved?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman will surely agree that the matter of pensions is very important in relation to life in the Service.

Would the right hon. Gentleman answer the second and third parts of Question No. 50, to which I believe his answer purported to be a reply? Is he not aware that one of the reasons for putting down the Question was that I heard his reply in the Defence Debate and would be interested to know whether it is a Service inquiry, or whether people from civil life, or trade union representatives, or others are involved in the inquiry?

If we conduct an inquiry of this sort there is no reason why we should furnish details of the personnel and the like.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that when certain inquiries have been carried out by the Air Ministry, for example, in the last three years, they have told the House what form the inquiry was taking, and were quite happy to do so?

Will the Minister assure the House that this inquiry has on it representatives of the most important part of all, namely, commanding officers and their equivalent, who know of the hardships caused by low pay?

In view of the unsatisfactory reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

Dependants Pensions Scheme

49.

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will now make a statement about the scheme for contributory pensions for widows and children, announced on 11th May, 1949.

I have nothing to add to the statement which I made on this subject on 29th March in reply to the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. South (Mr. Bell).

Not being aware at this moment of the nature of that reply, may I ask whether the Minister is aware that this matter was raised in the House on Friday last when his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War did not seem to be aware of that reply either? Would he not tell us what the result is?

If the hon. Gentleman wishes me to send him a copy of the reply to which I have referred, I will certainly do so, but, as he will agree, this is a very complicated matter. We have to make very careful inquiries. We must be certain, too, that the Services will respond to any proposal we make to them.

Ought these inquiries not to have been made before the original announcement was made, over a year ago? Is it not about time something was done?

I agree that it is probably time something was done, but before we do anything we must see that what we are doing is worth while.

Food Supplies

Points Goods

51.

asked the Minister of Food if he will list the points foods which under the latest system holders of single ration books cannot obtain.

There are no such foods, although of course the larger tins of certain foods cost more than 16 points.

Will the Minister bear in mind that the new arrangement treats the holders of single ration books very badly indeed?

This is one of the problems we thought would arise and at the end of a month's experience of the new scheme I promised to undertake a review of all these considerations. That is certainly one which will have to be examined.

60.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that as a result of the reduction to 16 of the points allowance per person great hardship is being placed on those persons who desire to purchase syrup at 14 points per 2 lb. tin to supplement their sugar ration for cooking purposes; and if he will consider either reducing the points value of syrup or increasing the points allowance.

Yes, Sir. I am fully aware of this problem. It was in my mind when I stated that the restricted points scheme would cause problems, both for traders and housewives. We are compelled to make the number of points available equal to the total points value of the goods in the shops. If we did not do so, there would be even greater injustice, and certainly much greater complaint. However, this is one of the matters I will take into account when I make the comprehensive review of the points scheme which I promised to make after about a month's experience of the revised scheme.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, even with the best intentions in the world, instead of giving some concessions he has, in fact, taken away from the smaller families? The outlay of 12 points for a pound of biscuits or 16 for a pound of currants means that no points are left for the remainder of the month? Something must be done very quickly to give these people a chance of buying points goods.

Milk Consumption

52.

asked the Minister of Food the present annual rate of milk consumption by private purchasers; the rate when milk was rationed; the annual rate of subsidy on the amount of milk being sold in excess of the ration level; and why a subsidy on this portion of the milk supply is necessary.

We estimate that 1,015 million gallons will be consumed this year by private purchasers, apart, of course, from the Welfare Scheme. The corresponding figure for last year, when for a great part of the year the non-priority allowance varied between two and three pints a week, was about 980 million gallons. It would not be practicable to have a scheme for selling a fixed allowance to all consumers at a subsidised price and any balance at a higher price.

Would the Minister tell us why those who drink very little milk should be compelled to pay a subvention for those who are now at liberty to drink a very great deal of milk? Is that called equal shares for all, fair shares for all, social justice, or what?

That is one of the problems of life that requires very careful examination.

Canteen, Portman Court

53.

asked the Minister of Food what profit or loss was made by the canteen at his office in Portman Square in each year before it was handed over to private enterprise.

This refreshment club, which was a staff organisation managed by its members, was closed down in 1949, when another canteen became available in the neighbourhood. I understand that during the nine years of its operation the canteen made a profit overall; with permission I will circulate the figures year by year in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

As the canteen was handed over to private enterprise in spite of having made a profit, may we take it that the rent obtained from private enterprise exceeded the profit?

I should have thought that the management of a club by its members was in itself an act of private enterprise. It was their own club; they managed it at a profit. I cannot say without notice whether the rent of the building was taken into account.

Following is the statement:

The profit or loss made by the canteen in Portman Court in each year before it was closed was as follows:

£
1942 (Profit)95
1943 (Profit)476
1944 (Profit)626
1945 (Profit)248
1946 (Profit)618
1947 (Profit)554
1948 (Loss)1,858
1949 (Loss)423

Special Cheese Ration

54.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will extend the entitlement to the extra cheese ration now allowed to agricultural workers to cover those employers who also do manual farm work.

No, Sir. Working farmers can usually get home or make other arrangements for a meal during working hours.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has misrepresented-1 feel sure, unintentionally—the situation, because if these men are working out in the fields with their employees it is no easier for them to get home than it is for their employees? Therefore, why should they not have the same ration?

We just cannot go on extending these extra classes of entitlement to rationed foods, and I am satisfied on the whole that the system which we are now working is the best possible system.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that his system means that if an agricultural worker wishes to ascend the ladder by becoming a smallholder and his own master, he will get less to eat? is this not a serious discouragement to the Government's policy of encouraging agricultural smallholdings?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that it is the policy of his colleague the Minister of Agriculture to encourage people to do that by the smallholdings movement?

Snoek

55.

asked the Minister of Food how many cases of snoek have been resold abroad; to what countries; and, on average, what profit or loss per case has been made.

None has been sold abroad by my Department, but I understand that private traders have sold some to Israel. I have no knowledge of the profit or loss made.

is the Minister aware that in the trade it is believed that this snoek was bought by his predecessor for 65s. a case and re-sold at about 25s. a case, and can he say upon whom this loss has fallen?

Mr. Webb