House Of Commons
Wednesday, 25th October, 1950
The House met at Half past Two o'Clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
New Commons Chamber
Messages From Overseas Legislatures
I have some further messages to read to the House of Commons this afternoon. I have a letter from the Speaker of the House of Commons of the Commonwealth of Australia who, I might say, is now in this country. The letter says:
"Dear Mr. Speaker,
I have received from Australia a cable commanding me to convey to you the following resolution, passed by the Commonwealth House of Representatives on 24th October:
'That Mr. Speaker be asked to convey the following message to the Right Honourable the Speaker of the House of Commons.
We the Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled desire to offer our affectionate greetings and good wishes to the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Commons on the occasion of the opening of their reconstructed and historic House. In peace and in war the voice of freedom has for centuries spoken from Westminster to all the sons and brothers of the race wherever they might be. May that voice be heard for ever.'
ARCHIE G. CAMERON,
Speaker, House of
Now I have a cable to read from New Zealand:
"To the Speaker of the House of Commons. I have much pleasure in transmitting the text of the following resolution which was agreed to in the House of Representatives this day:
'That the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled expresses its sincere congratulations and warmest good wishes to the Speaker and Members of the House of Commons on the occasion of the opening of its new Chamber at Westminster; that this House takes pride in the fact that its traditions and procedure are based upon those of the House of Commons which for centuries has practised the principles of democracy and freedom; that this House rejoices that on the site of the Chamber destroyed there now arises a fitting home for the Mother of Parliament—for the institution which is the gift of our British people to mankind.'
Signed: C. G. E. HARKER,
Wellington, New Zealand."
It is signed by the Deputy-Speaker, for I might say that the New Zealand Speaker is in this country.
Oral Answers To Questions
Statutory Instrument No 1184
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will identify the statutory power under which S. I., 1950, No. 1184, has been given retrospective effect.
The Order in Council was made under the British Settlements Acts, 1887 and 1945. Although there is no statutory provision expressly providing for such orders to be given retrospective effect, I am advised that they may lawfully be made to operate retrospectively, and that the power to give similar retrospective operation to colonial constitutional instruments, which has from time to time been exercised, has hitherto not been called in question.
Has the Minister observed the provisions of the Treasury Circular of 21st June, 1946, in which the opinion of the Law Officers is stated, and which proceeds to instruct Departments to see that subordinate legislation is not made with retrospective effect unless there is clear authority so to make it under the Act under which it is made?
I can only say that I have gone into this matter very carefully with my legal advisers, and I am advised that what we have done is quite legal. I will, however, look into the point arising out of the document which has been raised by the hon. Member.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say where, according to the advice which he has received, the authority to make this Order retrospective is to be found?
I understand that it is founded largely upon precedent, and I think there is some evidence of several cases in the courts.
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I could not hear what the right hon. Gentleman said. As the Question has been down on the Order Paper for at least a month should not the Minister be in a position to give us a carefully considered answer?
The answer I have given is that I am legally advised that what we have done is perfectly right.
Could the right hon. Gentleman place a copy of that opinion in the Library, so that hon. Members may consider it?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the reasons for restraining the missionaries of Jehovah's Witnesses from entering or remaining in the Gold Coast, Kenya and other Colonial Territories?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk (Mr. Macdonald) on 19th July.
While having no particular or personal interest in this movement or sympathy with it, and not having ready access to the answer which the right hon. Gentleman has no doubt before him, may I ask him if he would also bear in mind that it would be rather unwise unduly to restrict freedom of conscience or belief in any particular society?
I appreciate that very fully, but if the hon. and gallant Gentleman will read the reply to which I have referred him I think he will find there are some reasons for adopting this course.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is alleged that this Watch Tower movement has been confused with another movement of the same name; and will he go very carefully into this question because it is an important one?
I received a very large number of letters from hon. Members on this subject, and I went into the matter very carefully indeed. I noted at the time the point raised by the hon. Member, but I am satisfied that what has been done by the Governors in these particular territories was justifiable.
On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply given to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I wish to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps were taken by his predecessor to ascertain the probable effects in the Colonial Empire of the policy of non-discrimination laid down in the Havana Charter.
In the negotiations which led up to the Havana Charter the United Kingdom delegation included a representative of the Colonial Office and also advisers selected by Colonial Governments themselves.
What was the attitude of the advisers appointed by the Colonial Governments themselves? Did they issue any warning against the dangers of this policy?
The Governments have their advisers and it is for the Governments to decide whether they accept their advice or not.
Medical Service, East Africa
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will recruit Asian doctors to fill the European vacancies in East Africa as an alternative to raising the salaries of European doctors.
The East African Governments already employ Asian doctors, but I am satisfied that European doctors are also needed. The salaries of European doctors must bear some relation to remuneration in this country if we are to get the right kind of recruit.
Owing to the disturbance on the other side I could not hear my right hon. Friend's answer. Would he mind repeating it?
The East African Governments already employ Asian doctors but I am satisfied that European doctors are also needed. The salaries of European doctors must bear some relation to remuneration in this country if we are to get the right kind of recruit.
While appreciating the answer given by my right hon. Friend, may I ask if he would not agree that qualifications and experience should determine salaries and not the colour of the skin?
That is another question.
Welfare And Development Publicity
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the extent to which the operations of the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund are inadequately understood and deliberately misrepresented in West Africa; and if he will arrange that wherever any public works, such as schools, bridges, water supplies, etc., are financed by this fund, a plaque or some other permanent testimony shall be affixed to the building in question to the effect that the project is a gift from the British people.
Considerable publicity is given in West Africa to the objects and operations of the Act, and I. am not aware of any wide and deliberate misrepresentation of its purposes.
Why should not any building that has been erected out of the funds provided by this country bear a plaque saying that it is a gift of the British people, in view of the fact that the operations of this Fund are inadequately understood in West Africa, whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say?
I believe that in all the Colonial territories the work that has been done under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act by the Colonial Development Corporation is fully understood. I do not think it would help anybody if we were to erect plaques saying: "This is a gift from the British people."
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a plaque of this sort would be resented considerably by people in this country as well as in the Colonies?
All these efforts are efforts of partnership, and we ought to emphasise this partnership between the various peoples concerned.
Hotels (Racial Discrimination)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is his policy with regard to the opening of hotels in Tanganyika territory equally to Africans and Europeans.
The Tanganyika Government naturally desires that all hotels in the territory should be open equally to all races. I fully share their hope that, where any racial discrimination at present exists in practice, it will soon disappear.
Is it not a fact that, according to the laws of Tanganyika, it is forbidden to sell natives hard liquor? Does not the Minister's statement, therefore, render nugatory the recent objections of the right hon. Gentleman's colleague to attending a reception?
I think that my colleague was perfectly right and I fully support him.
Without expressing any opinion on the desirability of having differential arrangements in hotels about the sale of liquor, is it not a fact that there is such a differentiation, and that it is a factor in any policy in connection with entertainment of that kind?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are some native people who prefer to be able to go to hotels where they will not find white people, and will some hotels be reserved for native people for that reason?
I repeat the answer I have given—that I share the view expressed by the Government that hotels in the territory should be open equally to all races.
Singida District (Famine)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Africans died from starvation in the Singida district of Tanganyika between October, 1949, and April, 1950; and whether he is satisfied that every possible action was taken to prevent famine conditions from arising in that area.
I am informed that 96 persons died from causes which could be attributed in any measure to starvation. The famine occurred in a remote part during the rains, when communications were difficult. The Chief who should have reported the situation in ample time for relief to be sent has been removed from office and better arrangements have been made for the storing of communal food reserves.
Cocoa Trees (Disease)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the attitude of the Legislative Council of the Gold Coast to the compulsory destruction of cocoa trees infected with swollen shoot; and whether destruction is being universally enforced.
In December of last year, the Legislative Council passed a resolution welcoming the policy of enforcing, immediately after the collection of the main crop for the current season, the regulations under which diseased trees may be compulsorily cut out. Under the plan of campaign which the Government are now following diseased trees are being cut out wherever they are found, and only in a few isolated cases has it been necessary to invoke the legal powers to overcome opposition.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the view which was expressed by the Secretary for Rural Development of this Colony at the cocoa conference in London last month, that the Government had under-rated the swing of opinion in favour of compulsory cutting out?
I made a fairly long statement on this problem arising out of recent experience, and perhaps if I send the hon. Member a copy he will look at it again.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the rate of cutting out is now catching up on the number of trees being affected?
The information I have at the moment is that the Government are now reasonably satisfied with the progress being made.
Is the right hon. Gentleman really satisfied, because his predecessor a year ago said that he was satisfied, and yet, since then, the deterioration has gone on at an increasing rate? Will he put behind it a good deal of the huge amount of money which is available, and a good deal of energy?
I am fully conscious of the great importance of this problem, and will do everything I possibly can to help this campaign.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps it is proposed to take to prevent impersonation and intimidation at the forthcoming Gold Coast elections; and if he will consider the possibility of arranging for observers to be sent from this country as was done in the case of the Greek elections where the possibility of malpractices was feared.
I am satisfied that the greatest care is being taken to guard against malpractice of any kind; and, with the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a detailed account of the steps taken.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that of every 10 people who go to the polling booths nine will not have the faintest idea of what is printed on the voting paper? Can the right hon. Gentleman guarantee that in every polling booth there will be at least one literate polling clerk and one literate policeman on duty throughout the whole of the polling day?
The steps that are being taken to prevent any malpractice and to ensure that this is a fair, democratic election are set out in the reply which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT. It is very long, but in view of the statements that have been made, from which I have felt compelled to dissociate myself, I hope that hon. Members in all parts of the House will read the statement when it appears in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow. They will see the very careful steps which have been taken to ensure that the election is fair.
Will the statement include some details as to how, in the absence of birth certificates, it is possible to ensure that voters are 21 years of age or over?
That is one of the problems, and I believe the reply contains a statement about that. If not, I will see that it is sent to the hon. Member.
Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a leaflet issued by the People's Convention Party, which is open to the interpretation that it is urging boys and girls under 21 to say that they are 21 and so get on the register?
No, I have not seen any such leaflet.
Following is the reply:
Under the new Constitution, the Legislative Assembly will consist of 84 members. Of these 38 will be elected by direct or indirect election based on popular franchise; the remainder being elected by traditional bodies, or traditional bodies enlarged by a system of nomination or by the Chambers of Commerce and Mines. There will also be three official members.
Of the 38 elected members, five will be elected by direct election in the four municipalities and 33 will be elected by electoral colleges which will themselves be elected by primary elections in the rural constituencies. The question of electoral procedure to be adopted at all these elections has been the subject of a Select Committee of Legislative Council which has recommended the following arrangements, on which the electoral regulations will be based.
With regard to impersonation, ample provision is made for candidates and their polling and counting agents to be present at all times, not only to challenge possible personators but to ensure that everything is done in accordance with the regulations. It is laid down that if a polling agent challenges an applicant for a ballot paper of personation and undertakes to substantiate the charge in a court of law, the presiding officer shall direct the applicant to be arrested. In addition each voter will be required to have his left thumb pressed upon a pad impregnated with ink before he leaves the polling station on the day of election.
The organisation of the elections is being given first priority by the Gold Coast Government and all available resources are being mobilised. This is being accompanied by an intensive propaganda campaign by means of the Press, pamphlets, mobile vans, wireless and gramophone records in the vernacular to make clear to the electorate the procedure being adopted.
The would-be voter must satisfy the registration officer that he or she is 21 years of age, the onus of proof being on the applicant. It is provided that this may be done by a birth or baptismal certificate or by showing that levy has been paid for three years, or in some other way. Registration officers will normally be the District Commissioner of the area, and the assistant registration officers may be Government officers, local government officers, teachers or other persons of standing in the community.
Cocoa Trees (Disease)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the attitude of the Legislative Council of Nigeria to the compulsory destruction of cocoa trees infested with swollen shoot; and whether destruction is being universally enforced.
In April last, the Legislative Council approved regulations providing for the compulsory inspection of cocoa farms and for power to destroy infected trees. These compulsory powers are being used at present outside the endemic area, but it is proposed also to attack inwards from the perimeter of this area.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the cocoa conference last month, officials of the Department of Agriculture of Nigeria said that hardly a week goes by without some incident and the withdrawal of the gangs doing the cutting out? Why is it that there has been so much less success in Nigeria in enforcing cutting out than there has been in the Gold Coast?
I would like to see that statement and consider it. Some time ago, I made a very long statement on the whole problem in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg). It is very difficult, but my present information is that plans are proceeding reasonably satisfactorily.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what measures are being taken to protect African-owned industries in Nigeria in their early stages of development from unfair competition; and whether he will give an assurance that industries owned or managed by the Colonial Development Corporation will not receive more favourable treatment than that accorded to African-owned industries.
African-owned industries in Nigeria receive expert advice and assistance from the Department of Commerce and Industries and may obtain loans at low rates of interest from the regional development boards. Industries owned and managed by the Colonial Development Corporation do not receive more favourable treatment than that accorded to African-owned industries.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Nigerian farmers are to pay more than the world price for sacks manufactured in the Colonial Development Corporation's new factory at Onitsha? Why cannot some similar protective arrangement be granted to African-owned undertakings?
I would like to see that question on the Order Paper before I reply to it.
Kenya (No-Cropping Order)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the action of the Kenya European Settlement Board in inflicting heavy financial loss on a British ex-Service man by letting farm L.O. 5391 to him in November, 1947, without disclosing to him that the arable land had been overcropped and that the Kenya Department of Agriculture, in March, 1947, had imposed a no-cropping order on an important part of it; and whether, in the interests of future settlement policy, he will have inquiries made.
I have asked the Governor of Kenya to make inquiries into this case, and will write to the hon. Member as soon as his report is received.
Northern And Southern Rhodesia
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if, in view of the expressed desire of the European population of Northern Rhodesia for federation with Southern Rhodesia, with adequate safeguards for Africans and the continual growth of the European population by immigration, he will reconsider his refusal to sanction such a federation.
I am not yet in a position to make any statement, but hope to be able to do so early in November.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is a most dangerous thing, as exemplified by the policy of the late Lord North in North America, with calamitous results, to refuse the reasonable representations of overseas settlers, mainly of British descent, and will he give urgent consideration to this matter, which is agitating the whole British population in Africa?
I have said that I hope to make a statement.
Malaya And Singapore
Rubber Workers (Wages)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give, in terms of English currency, the minimum rate of wages paid to the labourers on the rubber plantations of Malaya, together with the market price of rubber in October, 1948, 1949 and 1950.
In 1948 and 1949, minimum wage rates ranged between 2s. 10d. and 3s. 7d. a day, according to the job. They have now increased by 24 per cent. An agreement on daily paid wages was concluded last March between the rubber workers' unions and the employers' association; it may be reviewed by both parties at the end of six months. In 1948 and 1949, the average market spot price for top quality rubber was 1s. a pound; this October it was 3s. 10d. It must be remembered, however, that much rubber sold is below top grade, and there has also been a great deal of forward selling at prices well below the present spot prices.
It the Minister aware that we are passing through the greatest rubber boom for 38 years, and that, when there is a slump in rubber, the workers are asked to accept reductions in their wages? Now that there is the biggest boom for so many years, will he see that the workers on the rubber plantations share in this boom?
My hon. Friend will know that the agreement that was concluded last March can be reviewed by both parties at the end of six months. When I was in Malaya I sought to do everything I possibly could to encourage the growth of trade unions and industrial collective bargaining, and I am very glad to see that the unions and the employers are making agreements and carrying them out.
Is not the more important thing, in dealing with the wages position on the rubber estates, to increase the number of people who are paid on piece work and by results, so that those who work the harder get a better reward? Second, would the right hon. Gentleman remind the hon. Member who asked this question that, in his own report on trade union conditions to the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, the hon. Member said that, in considering wages in Malaya, it was important to take into account the Asian, rather than the Western European, standard of living?
My advice to all in Malaya, when I was there, was that they should work to make the trade unions ever stronger, and that the employers should recognise them and help to build up machinery by which they could settle all problems.
While thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask him to continue to encourage the trade union movement in Malaya, and, at the same time, point out to him that there are 23,000 Government employees getting less than 3s. 5d.—
This is becoming an irregular Debate. We had better get on.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is his estimate of the number of civilians accidentally killed in bombing raids on bandits in Malaya; and what compensation has been paid.
Only one civilian, a child of three, is known to have been killed in this way, and 676 dollars (about £80) were paid as compensation.
In view of the recent statement by the Director of Operations in Malaya that these bombing operations are expensive, and seeing that the jungle cannot be set on fire, would the Minister reconsider the whole policy of the use of bombers in Malaya?
This is a matter which I would prefer to leave to the Director of Operations in Malaya.
Would it not be better if Mr. Vyshinsky, now so friendly, would call off these operations altogether?
Does not the Minister agree that the Royal Air Force does at least give some warning to the bandits when its aircraft are coming, whereas the bandits stab people in the back when they are carrying out their normal daily work?
I indicated last week the steps taken before bombing takes place to ensure that civilians are given as much warning as possible.
Can the Minister say how many civilian lives have been saved as a result of the attacks on terrorists by Royal Air Force aircraft?
I have given the figure; it is a very large number, and an increasing number.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the average increase in pay of the European doctors in the medical service in Malaya and Singapore, comparing 1950 with 1938; and what is the rise in the cost of living for Europeans in those territories as between 1938 and 1950.
For most doctors, the average increase is between 50 and 60 per cent. For those in the highest posts, between 30 and 50 per cent. In August, 1950, the Singapore cost of living index for Europeans was 110 per cent. above the 1938 level; in June, 1950, the corresponding index for the Federation of Malaya stood at 142 per cent. above 1939.
In view of the difficulty of recruiting British doctors, and also the fact that there is a shortage of European doctors in Malaya, would the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the scale of payments and the financial attractions to the service? If he cannot do that will he give consideration to recruiting European doctors in those countries where there is a surplus of doctors?
I have answered before not only about Malaya but about other Colonial Territories. There is a shortage of doctors in the service of the Colonial Territories everywhere. We are doing our very best to recruit doctors wherever we can find them.
Administrative Officers (Retirement)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what consideration he has given to raising the age of compulsory retirement for members of the administrative service in Malaya in view of the shortage of experienced officers and the improvements in health conditions in the past 20 years.
The present age of compulsory retirement in Malaya is 55. That in tropical conditions is not too low as a general rule, but when the services of an individual officer who is nearing retiring age are specially needed it has been the practice to ask him if he would be willing to stay voluntarily beyond 55. Also the local Governments have notified all officers that permission will no longer be given automatically to those applying to retire at the age of 50 and have invited those approaching that age to consider carefully whether it is not their duty, in present conditions, to continue to serve.
Do not vital statistics show that officials who accept invitations to stay in Malaya over the normal age are very apt to live very little longer?
I appreciate that, but we have made an appeal to them that in the existing circumstances in Malaya we hope they will continue to serve beyond the retiring age, whenever possible.
Would it not be better to reduce the age of retirement so that many of the senior and less enlightened officers can be cleared away—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—so that many of the less enlightened officers can be cleared away—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—and more recruitment can take place from local inhabitants of Malaya, which is very much desired?
There is a good deal of recruitment. A large proportion of the officers in Malaya have served since 1945 in very difficult circumstances, and a very large number of them after years of internment in war camps. What we are asking them to do at the moment—and I know we are asking a big thing—is that, in view of the circumstances in Malaya, wherever they can stay beyond retiring age they should do so.
Will the right hon. Gentleman convey to these gentlemen that the majority of the House views with respect the manner in which they are discharging their duties, often at the risk of their lives?
I think the hon. Gentleman asked for trouble and I think he got it.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total subscribed by the United Kingdom to the Caribbean Commission; and whether he will make reports of that Commission available in this country.
The contributions made since the Commission was set up in 1946, including the contribution provided for this year, total £138,141. Copies of the Annual Reports of the Commission are available in the House of Commons' Library and may also be purchased from the Crown Agents for the Colonies. Copies of the Report for 1948 will reach this country shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what measures are being taken to improve shipping services in the Caribbean in accordance with the recommendations of several commissions and other responsible organisations.
Shipping services within the Caribbean area are on the whole satisfactory. If the hon. Member is referring to British passenger services between the United Kingdom and the Caribbean, I regret that as yet no practical plan for improving them has been submitted.
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the French are building large and fast steamers to serve French West Indian Colonies, and can he say whether he has consulted with British steamship companies in order to explore the practical possibilities of improving the services in the Caribbean?
Yes, Sir, I have, but, as I have said, no practical plan has been put before me.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in view of increasing unemployment in Jamaica and other West Indian colonies, what plans have been prepared by Development and Welfare Department and Colonial Development Corporation experts to deal with this situation and avert possible disturbances.
I am aware of the serious problem of unemployment and under-employment in the West Indies. The primary responsibility for dealing with it lies with the Colonial Governments concerned. They are stimulating employment by the planned development of local resources and industries, assisted with Colonial Development and Welfare funds. Some territories are offering tax concessions to new industries. The Colonial Development Corporation have several projects in operation; other projects are being started with help from the Economic Co-operation Administration.
Could my right hon. Friend say to what extent the plans devised by the development and welfare department of the Colonial Development Corporation are likely to absorb this unemployment at present?
I would not like to give any specific figures. I realise that this is a very big and difficult problem, but I am certain that the plans already in operation and the further plans which are to be introduced will help considerably to ease the situation.
Is the Minister aware that even then the problem of unemployment is bound to be very serious indeed, and can he say whether there is any long-term policy with a view to relieving this area of this great scourge?
If the hon. Member will put down a question I will give him detailed information as to the plans which are in operation and which are to be put into operation.
Periodical, British Guiana
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has read a copy of "Thunder," a magazine published in British Guiana, which has been sent to him; and what action he is taking to prevent circulation of the false statements and distorted facts which it contains.
The hon. Member has already drawn my attention to this publication. As I informed him, I am fully aware of the dangers implicit in the circulation of publications of this sort amongst unsophisticated colonial peoples. I must, however, leave to the Colonial Government concerned the decision whether a particular publication should be proscribed. I am consulting the Governor and will write to the hon. Member when I have his reply.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that loyal people in British Guiana, and throughout the Colonial Empire for that matter, are much concerned at the circulation of this type of literature and the abuse of the freedom of the Press, and that they are looking to the Minister for a lead? Is he aware that he ought not to shelter himself behind the Colonial Governments, and will he fortify himself on this subject with a Debate on the Colonial Press?
I am not sheltering behind the Colonial Governments. I believe that, in this matter, they can best decide in the existing local circumstances, and where they have taken action I have given them my full support.
Has my right hon. Friend had recent copies of the "Evening Standard" sent to him?
Was this Jehovah's thunder or some other variety?
Will my right hon. Friend remember that we do not wish to apply to the Colonies standards more strict than those operating in this country? In these circumstances, will he see that the widest latitude is allowed to papers of this kind so that the preservation of freedom in the Colonies will counterbalance any danger?
As I said, and I think I said rightly, I leave this matter to the discretion of the Governors. When they take action they consult with me, and where they have taken action to ban a publication I have been satisfied that that action was right.
Uganda (Deportation Orders)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why Mr. I. K. Musazi, President of the Uganda Farmers Union, who is now in Britain, is not permitted to return to his native land Uganda; how long this order has been in existence; and for what period will it continue.
The Commission of Enquiry into the 1949 riots showed Mr. Musazi to have been seriously implicated in them. In view of this and his subsequent activities, the Governor considers that his return to Uganda at the present time would be contrary to the public interest. The question of making an order has not yet arisen, but Mr. Musazi was warned on the 3rd August, 1950, that the Uganda Government would feel bound to deport him should he arrive in Uganda in the near future. The period for which this warning remains in force must depend on conditions in Uganda and Mr. Musazi's own behaviour.
Will the Minister make it quite clear that this gentleman is not prevented from leaving this country and returning to his own country because of his legitimate activities in the trade union movement of that country?
To remove any misapprehension in the mind of my hon. Friend, I would point out that Mr. Musazi came to this country voluntarily and on his own account.
Is this gentleman a member of Jehovah's Witnesses or of the Watch Tower?
Will my right hon. Friend say whether this action was taken in pursuance of the ordinance of 1902, and, if so, as that ordinance gives power to deport without trial or to keep out of the country without trial, is that not a complete negation of Article 75 of the United Nations' Charter?
As I have indicated, no order of deportation was put into operation at all. Mr. Musazi was warned that one would be put into operation, but I would prefer to see the question on the Order Paper.
Can the Minister say what are the conditions on which this man will be able to return to his own country?
No, Sir. The fact is that if hon. Members will read the report they will see that this was a planned rebellion which led to a great loss of life, and they will also see what the Commission found out and said about Mr. Musazi.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many persons are under sentence of deportation from Uganda; what rights of appeal are open to persons against whom a deportation order is made; what machinery exists for review of such orders; and what allowances are made to deportees and their families.
The answer to the first two parts of the Question is, "None, Sir." When such deportation orders were last in force, the Governor reviewed them every three months. The last part of the Question is hypothetical and would be decided in the light of circumstances if and when a deportation order were made.
Seychelles (Poll Tax)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why it is intended to reintroduce a poll tax in the Seychelles in view of its abolition 25 years ago and the fact that large numbers of the inhabitants are landless wage-earners who live mainly on imported food.
My hon. Friend has be misinformed. The Government of Seychelles has, at present, no intention of reintroducing a poll tax.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the decision of the British Honduras Government to spend £12,000 on clearing land for sugar growing in the north, what steps are being taken to secure additional finance to meet the expenditure estimated by the Evans Commission to be £1,500,000.
The sum of £12,000, to which my hon. Friend refers, is being spent on the preliminary work of variety trials and seed multiplication. The arrangements for carrying out the major project are under consideration.
Does not my right hon. Friend realise that he has not answered the latter part of the Question, except rather ambiguously? Could he give any idea as to how this large sum of money is to be secured for this purpose, seeing that it is agreed that this money is approximately what is required for that development?
All I can say at the moment is that the sum of £12,000, to which I have referred, is to be spent on preliminary work. When that work has been completed and plans are considered the question of how they are to be financed will have to be considered at the same time.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what plans exist for promoting the growth of a town which could form a distributive and administrative centre for the southern and central portions of British Honduras.
No such plans have been made but the question whether there is a need for additional facilities of this kind will no doubt be considered by the local legislature in connection with the long-term development plan.
Hong Kong (Communist Periodicals)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the bookshops in Hong Kong are filled with periodicals imported from China and devoted to spreading the Communist ideology; if he will consider the banning of such literature; and what steps are being taken to disseminate knowledge of the British way of life.
It has been the policy of the Hong Kong Government to avoid imposing controls unless they are concerned with activities that are contrary to the law or prejudicial to public security in Hong Kong. The position is, however, being closely watched. This is a matter in which the Governor is in the best position to judge what policy to pursue and I am not prepared to interfere with his discretion.The British way of life is, of course reflected in the methods and ideals governing the administration of Colonial Territories. Responsibility for the positive dissemination of information on this subject in Hong Kong is shared by the Public Relations Department in Hong Kong, the Regional Information Organisation of South-East Asia and the British Council.
Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether any representations have, as yet, been made by the Governor about the danger of these publications, in view of the very isolated position of Hong Kong?
The Governor was in this country quite recently and this was one of the many problems I discussed with him.
But were there representations?
Does my right hon. Friend not agree that it is undesirable to suppress expressions of opinion? Does he not agree that in Hong Kong it will be completely impossible to impose any ban that could be made effective?
Is the Minister aware that I have warned on several occasions that, on good authority, I have heard that the dissemination of literature and propaganda by wireless from Hong Kong, and in that area generally, leaves a great deal to be desired?
Hon. Members on all sides will realise that the decision whether or not to ban a publication is an important one and has to be thought about very carefully. For example, banning a publication may have the opposite effect to that desired.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can give an assurance that anti-submarine craft now under construction have an adequate margin of speed over that of submarines belonging to foreign nations.
In view of the extreme importance of this matter, can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that Admiralty experts are absolutely satisfied that there is an adequate margin of speed over that of Russian submarines?
There is a later question about that.
Is the Admiralty bearing in mind the paramount importance of the speed and number of anti-submarine craft?
Would the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is essential that these vessels, besides having extra speed, should have equipment suitable for use at that speed?
That is also under consideration and is being implemented.
Dockyard Labourers (Wages)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what steps are being taken to improve the wages of labourers in His Majesty's dockyards.
The wages of labourers in His Majesty's dockyards are determined by negotiations on the Shipbuilding Trade Joint Council for Government Departments which has under consideration various claims made by the trade unions. It would be inappropriate for me to attempt to forecast the outcome of the negotiations now proceeding on these matters.
Is the hon. Gentleman of the opinion that £4 15s. a week is sufficient for a labourer to raise a family at a time when the cost of living is sky-rocketing, unofficially?
Hms "Ceres" (Transfer)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction in the Medway towns at the Admiralty's decision not now to transfer H.M.S. "Ceres" to Chatham; that this decision is likely still further to increase unemployment in the area; and if he will take steps to have this decision reversed.
There has been no decision in the Admiralty that H.M.S. "Ceres" should not be transferred to Chatham. The position is that the adaptation of the Royal Marine barracks to accommodate the "Ceres" involves a substantial amount of building work which has had to be considered in the light of the requirements of the Defence programme. The decision has now been taken that the work involved in adapting the premises for H.M.S. "Ceres" should proceed. I must make it clear, however, that it will be some time before the buildings at Chatham will be ready to accommodate H.M.S. "Ceres."
May I take it that the "Ceres" is going to Chatham as soon as those buildings are ready?
That is right.
Chatham Dockyard (Incidents)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will make a statement on his investigations into sabotage in Chatham dockyard.
There have been no incidents at Chatham dockyard during the last two years which, on investigation, were found to be attributable to malicious damage.
Is the Minister aware that considerable disquiet has been caused in Chatham dockyard by a report that appeared in the "Daily Express" on Saturday, 23rd September, quoting a statement of the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd)? If and when sabotage is suspected in His Majesty's dockyards, could a statement be made so that the men working in the dockyards, most of whom are loyal, can themselves look out for sabotage?
We cannot be responsible for issuing denials of things which are said by hon. Members or even by the Press. We would have a busy time doing that and we should not be able to get on with our work at the Admiralty.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will consider extending prize money to all naval personnel who were sunk at sea and taken prisoner regardless of the length of time they served at sea.
No, Sir. Prize money is payable only to those who qualified for it under the Royal Proclamation, which was drafted in accordance with the wishes expressed in this House and in another place during the passage of the Prize Bill in 1949.
Does the Minister not think that it is now time we revised those rules? A small number of personnel in the Navy were sunk in the early days of the war and were unable to get either the Atlantic Star or their prize money. These men could not have done more for their country except make the supreme sacrifice.
I have great sympathy with the point that the hon. and gallant Member makes, but it would be presumptuous for me to say that the rules should be revised in view of the fact that all this was taken into account when the Royal Proclamation was under consideration.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether it is proposed to reopen Bermuda dockyard, in view of the re-armament programme.
Does the Minister think it wise to dispense with these facilities at a time when there is danger to this country of an international conflict? Does he not think it would be prudent to maintain a dockyard which is remote from potential enemy bases?
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that careful consideration has been given to the position, but the dockyard has become uneconomical in many ways. I would point out that the America and West Indies Fleet is still operating from there and will be able adequately to carry out its duties.
Has any action yet been taken to dispose of the Bermuda dockyard?
I could not answer that question without notice, but we are continuing the process of getting out of the yard.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will make a comprehensive statement on the progress and programme of naval construction, conversions, &c.
I apologise for the length of this answer.Of the new vessels to be built shown in the Navy Estimates 1950–51, H.M.S. "Ark Royal" and three destroyers of the "Daring" Class have been launched. Six new aircraft carriers will join the Fleet between now and 1954. The number of warships under construction has been increased by two anti-submarine frigates of new design; and 41 new design minesweepers, including those approved under the recent additional defence measures, have been or shortly will be ordered, in addition to some small craft. The conversion of fleet destroyers into anti-submarine frigates is already well under way, and six of these vessels will be in dockyard hands by the end of 1950. More are planned to follow during 1951. A programme of converting war-time submarines to higher speeds has also begun. The aircraft carrier "Victorious" is in hand for modernisation to enable her to operate future types of aircraft. The number of refits for ships in the Reserve Fleet that will have been undertaken during the three years ending in March, 1951, is 450, including 88 which were part of the recent additional defence programme. Virtually all the ships of the operational reserve have now been refitted at least once since the end of the war. A start is being made on the building of stocks of degaussing and other equipment for the protection of the Merchant Fleet in war.
The hon. Gentleman referred to two further anti-submarine vessels of a new type. Could he say what the programme of these vessels is to be?
Not in answer to a supplementary question. Questions of public security are involved.
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that this programme discloses a considerable weakness in numbers of escort vessels which are refitted and available for service?
No, Sir; I think nothing of the sort. It shows that we have an excellent number of vessels in reserve that would be available to do the job.
Has the construction of the three aircraft carriers, which was suspended in 1946, been resumed?
At the moment we are pushing ahead with the completion of other carriers, which are already further advanced.
Will the Admiralty consider re-issuing next year the Return of Fleets, without which it is almost impossible to know what the situation is?
I will certainly consider that.
Will the Minister say whether the undertaking he gave in answer to my Question applies only to the two new anti-submarine frigates or to others as well?
It applies to all vessels that are now being converted, including the fleet destroyers.
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether this re-fitting includes the complete rehabilitation of all radar equipment and gun directional equipment on those vessels?
Yes, Sir. This is a process of modernisation.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary confirm that there is no major work being done on battleships?
I think there is not.
Ship-Building And Repairing
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when it is proposed to set up the development council for the ship-building and ship repairing industries.
The Government are fully alive to the position in this industry and will consider the setting up of a development council when they consider the time appropriate.
Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a considerable amount of unemployment in the ship-building and ship repairing industry today, and would the time not now be appropriate to give effect to the pledge made in "Labour Believes in Britain" that this development council should be set up?
We are aware that there is some increase in unemployment in ship repairing rather than in ship-building, but I believe the situation is a little more promising for the future. My hon. Friend's proposal will be kept under active consideration.
Is the Minister aware that all interests are represented on the Ship-Building Advisory Committee, with its independent chairman?
Submarine Detection Devices
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what steps are being taken to equip naval air craft and surface craft with detection devices suitable for use against sub marines fitted with fast under-water batteries and snorts.
As far as I can tell, the development of anti-submarine detecting devices and weapons for both naval aircraft and surface ships is fully keeping pace with developments in the submarine's power and underwater evasion and attack. It would not be in the public interest to disclose details of what is being done in this field.
I quite agree with the Parliamentary Secretary, but will he give me an assurance that this position will be continuously watched, because the balance is likely to swing one way or the other?
The highest priority is being given to this work.
Mail Deliveries, Far East
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that delays, up to five weeks, are arising in the delivery of mail to His Majesty's ships in Far Eastern waters; and whether he will consult with the Postmaster-General to ensure a more prompt and efficient delivery.
Normally air mail takes from four to six days, and I can only assume that the hon. Member is referring to surface mail which takes between three and a half and eight weeks to get from the United Kingdom to one or other of the three Fleet mail offices on the Far East Station. I should like to remind the families of Service men that lightweight Forces letters can be sent by air for the normal cost of 2½d.
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that anything but the very smallest letter sent by Services airmail is absolutely prohibitive in cost to the normal family and that it costs up to 25s. to send two cakes of soap and a packet of writing paper?
There is no limitation at all on the number of lightweight airmail Forces letters that can be sent for the cost of 2½d. each.
As the London mail is very limited, will the hon. Gentleman consider having it flown to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea?
I will certainly look into that. I am not acquainted with the exact route.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when duty-free cigarettes and tobacco are to be made available for sale to the personnel at Royal Naval air stations in Scotland.
Discussions are proceeding with the Customs about the Navy's duty-free privileges. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that naval air stations have not been forgotten; but the subject is complex and it will take a little time before the regulations can be drafted.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary be able to make a statement on this matter in due course?
Yes, Sir, if a Question is put down.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that we hope this will apply to English air stations as well?
It certainly will.
Acting Rank (Pensions)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if his regulations allow acting rank held for more than 12 months in peace-time to be counted for pension purposes.
All paid rank is now taken into account when assessing the rank element of ratings' pensions. Paid acting rank on the active list of a year or more between 3rd September, 1939, and 31st October, 1952, will also be allowed to count for increases in officers' retired pay.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary say whether or not such service in an acting rank can be confirmed after holding that acting rank successfully for 12 months or more?
That sounds far too technical for a supplementary question. I should like to write to the hon. Member on the subject.
Long Service And Good Conduct Medal
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why service under pension should not be counted towards the qualifying period for the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
All naval ratings and other ranks Royal Marines have the opportunity before discharge to pension of being recommended for the award of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal on completion of 15 years' service with continuous "Very Good" character and with character before the 15 years not inferior to "Good." Pensioners who were unable to secure the award before discharge to pension after 22 years' service thus fail to maintain the very high standard of character for which it is the recognition. It is not desirable that any steps be taken which might depreciate the award.
Does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that in the case of pensioners who had uniformed service during the war, even though, before that, they had not completed the necessary number of years, that extra long service and good conduct should be counted as part of the qualifying period?
The hon. Gentleman is asking me for an opinion. I have discovered that there are mixed views about this.
Has my hon. Friend observed that of the 12 Questions from the Opposition which he and his hon. Friend have answered ten have been demands for increased Government ex- penditure which, in their week-end speeches, hon. Members opposite are always seeking to reduce?
asked the Minister of Defence what was the number of Regular recruits showing men and women separately, joining the Armed Forces between the date of the announcement by the Government of improved rates in pay and the latest convenient date, together with the figures for the corresponding period in 1949.
The figures of final enlistments in the Armed Forces in the month of September, 1950, were 7,665 men and 716 women. The corresponding figures for September, 1949, were 5,388 men and 731 women. These figures are not a true measure of the effect on recruiting of the improved rates of pay recently announced, since there is an appreciable interval between provisional acceptance at a recruiting office and final enlistment. The figures of provisional acceptance of recruits during the month of September, 1950, were 9,797 men and 1,393 women.
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied, on the whole and from the signs so far, with the results of the increased pay?
There has been an improvement, but I would not go so far as to say that I am satisfied.
Could my right hon. Friend tell us whether there has been a boom in recruiting as a result of increased pay?
I am not quite sure what is meant by a "boom." I should like a very accurate definition.
asked the Minister of Defence what was the percentage of those members of the Armed Forces whose regular engagements expired during the period between the date of the announcement by the Government of improved rates of pay and the latest convenient date re-engaging, as compared with the percentage re-engaging in the corresponding period of 1949.
During September, 1950, 3,388 men and women in all three Services completed their original engagements. In the same period 1,026 men and women extended their service or reengaged. These figures compare with 2,572 and 1,025 respectively in September, 1949. I should explain that since members of the Forces can re-engage or extend their service at varying periods before their service is due to end I cannot say how many of those whose original engagements were due to expire in September, 1949, and September, 1950, actually did so.
Medical Branch (Pay)
asked the Minister of Defence if he will now make a statement in regard to the pay increases for the medical branch of the Services.
The urgency of this matter is well understood and I hope to make a statement soon.
Reservists (Recall Notices)
asked the Minister of Defence if, in view of the fact that a Reservist who has taken accommodation that is tied to his civilian job is likely to lose his entitlement to such accommodation upon his recall to the Colours, he will ensure that, so far as is possible, all Reservists likely to be so recalled are warned of the likelihood in sufficient time to enable them to ensure adequate alternative accommodation for their families.
Reservists are always given as long notice as possible of recall. There is also machinery for dealing with individual cases of hardship.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that some Reservists who were called up in the recent emergency had no time to make any preparations to obtain alternative accommodation for their families? Will he try to avoid that happening again?
We are doing our very best to avoid any hardship. I think it would be useful if I were furnished with some specific cases of hardship so that I could deal with them individually