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Volume 481: debated on Wednesday 22 November 1950

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Armed Forces Special Vouchers


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why Colonel John Stevenson, 37, Esplanade, Hamburg, has been refused a British Armed Forces Service Volunteer Allowance.

I assume the hon. Member refers to British Armed Forces Special Vouchers. These vouchers are provided in Germany primarily for members of the British Armed Forces and other Occupation Services, and are not available for other British residents who were not in Germany in a private capacity before 1st July, 1950. It is not possible to make an exception in favour of Lieut.-Colonel Stevenson, who ceased to be a member of the Control Commission on 30th September last.

If that is the case, will the Foreign Secretary say why these vouchers are issued to German and other nationals, and, in particular, to Mr. Constantinopoulos, a German-Greek lawyer, who is in private practice in Hamburg?

Is it not a fact that the vendetta being pursued by the Foreign Office against Colonel Stevenson is because he complained, when a member of the Control Commission, that high officials of the Commission were not being prosecuted for very serious offences? Is not that the reason for this vendetta?

I do not know anything about the statements which the hon. Member is making, but in view of what he has just said I will look into it.

Soviet Zone (British Officer's Detention)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement about the detention of Flight Lieutenant Driver by the Russian authorities in Germany.

On 5th September, Flight Lieutenant Driver force-landed in the Soviet zone of Germany. When our authorities asked for his release, the Soviet authorities intimated that they would exchange him for Lieutenant Bystrov, a Soviet officer who had sought political asylum in the British zone a few days previously. His Majesty's Ambassador at Moscow has pointed out to M. Gromyko that the Soviet authorities may verify for themselves that Lieutenant Bystrov is a political refugee, and that to surrender him against his will would be contrary to the generally accepted practice in regard to the right of asylum. There is no parallel between the cases of Lieutenant Bystrov and Flight Lieutenant Driver and the detention of the latter is quite unjustified. His Majesty's Government are aware of the anxiety caused Flight Lieutenant Driver's relatives and will continue to make every effort to secure his release.

Can the Foreign Secretary say whether this officer has been well treated?

I have not yet had a report from those who got in contact with him, but I will let the hon. Member know.

Can the Foreign Secretary say whether this officer was visited by a British officer or other British representative?

Somaliland (Trusteeship)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Somali Youth League, which represents Somalis in the British Somaliland Protectorate, Somaliland under Italian trusteeship, and Somalis living in Britain and other countries abroad, has appealed to the United Nations asking that Italian trusteeship in Somaliland be terminated forthwith, and Ethiopian trusteeship substituted and that, if this should prove impossible, they would prefer joint Ethiopian and British trusteeship; and whether it is his intention to support such application.

An appeal of this nature was contained in a letter of 3rd October, 1950, from the President of the Somali Youth League in Great Britain to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. However, the representative in New York of the Somali Youth League whose credentials were accepted by the United Nations Secretariat, and who has been allowed to participate in discussion of the Somaliland question in the Trusteeship Committee of the United Nations, did not request the replacement of Italian by Ethiopian or any other trusteeship nor even refer to this possibility. On the contrary, he and a representative of a similar Somali organisation formally dissociated themselves from the letter of the President of the Somali Youth League in Great Britain. His Majesty's Government have no intention of supporting any such application.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what suggestion he proposes to submit to the Security Council of the United Nations to deal with the invasion of Tibet by Chinese Communist forces.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given on 16th November, to which I have at present nothing to add.

I heard that reply, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in the opinion of this country, there is very little difference, either morally or legally, between the wanton invasion of Korea and the cynical invasion of Tibet? Should not the United Nations be called upon to take similar action in both cases?



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British troops now remain in Ethiopian territory, either the Ogaden or the reserved area; for what purpose, and under what agreement.

There are no British troops either in the Ogaden or the reserved area. A detachment of the Somaliland Scouts is, however, stationed in the Haud to assist in the maintenance of law and order. The territory is provisionally under British administration under the Agreement of 19th December, 1944, and the Ogaden Protocol of 24th July, 1948, between His Majesty's Government and the Ethiopian Government.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance in view of the repeated declarations of His Majesty's Government affirming support for Ethiopia's claims to the reunion of Eritrea, that His Majesty's Government will continue to support this solution in the present Assembly of the United Nations.

His Majesty's Government have repeatedly stated that in their opinion the proper solution for the future of Eritrea would be the reunion of the Eastern Province of Eritrea with Ethiopia and the working out of a separate solution for the Western Province, and they remain convinced that this solution most nearly conforms to the wishes of the people. It does not appear, however, that this solution is likely to secure general support in the General Assembly. His Majesty's Government have already indicated their willingness to do their best to implement alternative proposals on a federal solution, provided that such proposals appear workable.

Falkland Islands


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give a list of the precedents upon which he relied in making Statutory Instrument, 1950, No. 1184, with retrospective purport without express statutory authority.

Provision having retrospective effect was made by the following Orders-in-Council: the Southern Nigeria Protectorate Order-in-Council, 1909, the Southern Nigeria Protectorate Order-in-Council, 1910, and Order of 28th March, 1930, amending the Somaliland Order-in-Council, 1929, the Grenada (Legislative Council) (Amendment) Order-in-Council, 1944, the St. Vincent (Legislative Council) (Amendment) Order-in-Council, 1947. I do not say that this is a complete list; there are probably others.

As the constitution of the Falkland Islands' Legislature is involved, would not the Minister do better to introduce a Bill to put the legality of his order beyond doubt rather than rely upon these precedents?

British Honduras


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the purpose of Statutory Instrument No. 1649 of 1950, which extends the boundary of British Honduras so as to include the area of the continental shelf under the sea off the coast; how far beyond the coast does the continental shelf go; on what authority he bases this claim; and whether it has received international recognition.

The purpose of the Order-in-Council is to give the local government control over natural resources which may be found in the sea-bed off the coast of British Honduras. The continental shelf is generally considered to extend to the 100-fathom line. This claim follows international practice under which a number of countries have annexed the continental shelves off their coasts.

Was it not a rather strange application of the 1895 Act to use it to extend the boundary of the Colony beyond the territorial limits, or is the 100-fathom line in this case within the territorial limits?

I would like to have notice of that question. What has happened is that we have only followed the practice adopted by other countries in recent years.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say to whom the shelf belonged before he annexed it?

Nigeria (Social Services)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent expenditure on health and social services in Nigeria is now to be reduced; and for what reason.

No reduction in the budget expenditure on existing health and social services is at present contemplated. The Nigerian Development Plan is, however, now under review locally; and I cannot say at present what modification of schemes originally projected for the next five years may be recommended to me, in order to maintain the necessary balance, within the funds likely to be available, between welfare schemes and economic development.

Could my right hon. Friend say whether this modification is likely to take place? In view of the very urgent needs still most inadequately met, does not he agree that it is undesirable to contemplate any modification to the detriment of the social services of that Colony?

I am not sure yet whether any modification will be proposed, and, if so, what it will be. I am very conscious of the very urgent need to which my hon. Friend has called attention.

It there is a modification it means that some other existing social service will have to be cut. Does not my right hon. Friend agree that that is very serious indeed?

We are now considering whether any, and if so, what, modification will be made. It will be a recommendation, and I shall have to consider it.