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Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1950

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Trade Unions


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total membership of the trade unions in Malaya; and what percentage of the workers eligible for membership this represents.

The present membership of employees' trade unions in the Federation of Malaya is 42,695, representing 5 per cent. of workers eligible for membership. The corresponding figures for Singapore are 49,266 and 18.3 per cent.

In view of the minute percentage in the Federation, in spite of very strenuous efforts on the part of the labour officers, does not this suggest that trade unionism in its present form in Malaya makes very little appeal to the workers?

On the contrary, it does appeal. The hon. Gentleman should realise that there are, to put it mildly, certain difficulties existing in Malaya, and unfortunate experiences which rather tended to drive people away from the trade unions as a result of the action of the Communist-dominated federation of trade unions which appropriated the funds for jungle warfare.

Is my hon. Friend aware that although a large number of employers in Malaya encourage trade unionism, there is quite a large number who discourage it, and who will do all they possibly can to prevent their employees from joining a trade union?

His Majesty's Government are quite satisfied that the best way of building up good and solid relations in the Colonies is by the establishment of sound trade unions.

Would the Under-Secretary deny or demand proof of the statement just made by his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), which casts a bad reflection on people who are not able to answer personally.

To which unions do the labourers getting 4s. 9½d. a day belong; and do not these figures show a great need for increasing trade union membership in Singapore?

Mr Nehru's Speech


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what arrangements he made for broadcasting the speech of Mr. Nehru, made at Singapore, advocating a policy of non-violence in Malaya.

Only one speech made by Mr. Nehru in Singapore was broadcast—that given at the dinner arranged in his honour by the Legislative Council. This speech in no way advocates a policy of non-violence.

Is the Minister aware that the appeal made by Mr. Nehru in favour of non-violence was made to the bandits, and does he not think that this speech should be given the greatest possible publicity both to the bandits and to those fighting the bandits?

Does the Minister not think that in view of Pandit Nehru's deliberate cold-blooded attack on Hyderabad, that talk of non-violence is sheer humbug?

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the utmost possible use should be made of Mr. Nehru's very helpful speech as he said that we were roughly following the right sort of policy in Malaya?

On a point of order. May I ask to what extent Members of this House are able to attack the Prime Minister of one of the Dominions and to make a very serious allegation against him?

The question only refers to broadcasting. As to criticism of the head of a foreign State, of course one has to be very careful about that, and one should not do it.

May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the supplementary question of the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) which was rather out of taste, if not out of order?

I think that Mr. Nehru is not the head of the State. He is the Prime Minister and, therefore, rather different from the head.

Is it not out of taste to refer to the Prime Minister of a most important Dominion in that way?

Prison Camps


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the estimated weekly cost of maintaining the prison camps in Malaya.

The estimated average weekly cost of maintaining the detention camps in the Federation of Malaya is £12,519.



asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what consultations he has had with the Sultans of Perak and Pahang during their visit to this country.

My right hon. Friend discussed the Malayan situation with the Sultans of Perak and Pahang before leaving on his recent visit, and he hopes to meet them again very shortly.

Is the Minister of State aware of the unfortunate impression made by his own speech at the recent Malayan dinner in London when he made no comment on the presence of these Sultans and failed to pay adequate tribute to the bravery and loyalty of the Malays during the disturbances?

No, Sir. At that dinner I did not make any particular comment about the Malay people as such because the Malay people are defending their own country, as we know, and there was no reason to single out the Malay people especially. I did, in fact, make a particular comment about the Chinese and about the British, and naturally I would pay as high a tribute as anyone else to the Malays. So far as the Sultans of Perak and Pahang were concerned, they were present at the dinner and I had very cordial relations with them there.

Is the Minister aware that whatever may have been his intentions, he did, in fact, create a most unfortunate impression?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he wishes to earn the applause of the Opposition he should spend his time at these dinners attacking Mr. Nehru?



asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on his interview with those residents of Penang who wish that the island and province of Wellesley should revert to pre-war colonial status.

When my right hon. Friend visited Penang, he had an interview with the Secession Committee whom he was anxious to meet personally before replying to the petition they had submitted to his predecessor. My right hon. Friend is now considering the matter further.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an early reply, as it has been hanging about for far too long?

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the majority of the people in Malaya, including the Europeans, are in favour of federation and not separation, as suggested by the Question?