Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 499: debated on Wednesday 30 April 1952

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Civil Aviation



asked the Minister of Civil Aviation if he will name those employed as civil air attachés and the countries to which they are attached; and if he will increase this number, in view of the necessity of increasing the export of British aircraft.

I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of those officers employed as civil air attachés and of the countries to which they are accredited. The answer to the second part of the Question is: "No, Sir"; measures for increasing aircraft exports are primarily the responsibility of the aircraft industry and not of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, but the Ministry's overseas representatives have instructions to assist the aircraft industry so far as they can in the course of their normal duties.

In asking a supplementary question, may I, on behalf of the whole House, be allowed to congratulate my hon. Friend upon his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] While I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask whether, when he has had more time to consider the matter, he will bear in mind that our American friends have representatives in great numbers all over the world selling their own products of their aircraft industry; that if he will follow their example it will, I am sure, pay good dividends; and will he look at it again?

I am sorry that my maiden answer to my hon. Friend should be rather a dusty one. The fact is that the aircraft firms and the Society of British Aircraft Constructors are well represented abroad at the moment. In the circumstances, I do not think it would be justifiable to have further attachés for this purpose.

Following is the list:

  • R. S. S. Dickinson, United States of America and Mexico.
  • Air Marshal D. Colyer, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
  • G. S. Hill, Argentine, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
  • R. M. S. Rayner, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey.
  • B. G. Barnard, Iraq, Persia and the Persian Gulf.

Policy Review


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation whether he will give an assurance that in all future associate agreements between independent air operators and the corporations, the terms and conditions of employment of persons employed by the associates will be not less favourable than those contained in agreements negotiated through the machinery of the National Joint Council for Civil Air Transport, and that all pension rights will be transferable.

My hon. Friend is considering this important point as part of his general review of civil aviation policy.

Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that in any future arrangements that may be made pilots will be transferred with their pension rights?

I cannot give that assurance, but I can assure my hon. Friend that before any announcement is made of the new policy for civil aviation the Minister will consult the trade unions on the National Joint Council which are concerned.

Will the hon. Gentleman also bear in mind the necessity to safeguard wages and conditions of work in factories to which independent operators sub-contract the maintenance and repair of their aircraft?


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation if he has now concluded his review of civil air service policy.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that tomorrow the bus service recently run under the control of the nationalised service in Scotland passes into the hands of private enterprise? Can he tell us what effect this will have with regard to the displacement of the men already in the service, and if jobs are assured to them under the private enterprise company that is now taking over this nationalised service?

I find it a little difficult to connect the hon. Member's supplementary with the review of civil aviation policy which is now under discussion.

Surely all the services associated with the nationalised air transport system are part and parcel of the review of civil air policy now taking place. Can the hon. Gentleman say if there is to be a basic change and if the nationalised aircraft are to be passed over to the hands of private enterprise?

I cannot anticipate the statement that my hon. Friend will make in due course on the general question of aircraft transport policy.

The hon. Gentleman has said that the trade unions will be consulted before his hon. Friend introduces any new policy. Can he give an assurance that the House will have the opportunity of discussing this matter before the Government finally make up their minds on any definite new policy?

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us how he defines "in due course"? When can we expect a statement on civil air policy?

As soon as a satisfactory statement can be made. My hon. Friend the Minister is well aware of the importance of making a statement on this matter, which is complicated and important, at the earliest possible moment.

On a point of order. While we have been getting these assurances changes are taking place.

On a point of order. Should there not be some penalty, Mr. Speaker, when an hon. Member claims audience by using the words "point of order" when he is not raising a point of order?

Points of order are, of course, very useful to the Chair when they are points of order, but if they are not points of order, it really is abusing the Rules of the House to get in debating points.

State Airports (Passenger Charges)


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation under what authority the proposed charges on passengers leaving this country by air at State airports are to be imposed.

With effect from 1st May a charge is being imposed on the operators of international air services calculated on the number of passengers leaving this country by air from State airports. The payment of this charge will be a condition of use of the airports in accordance with Article 49 of the Air Navigation Order, 1949.

Services, Scotland—England


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what schemes have been submitted to him for approval recently for expanded summer services between Scotland and England.

New connections have recently been introduced by British European Airways linking Orkney and Aberdeen directly with London and Manchester, and Glasgow and Edinburgh with Manchester.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that these improvements go far enough? On looking at the timetable, I was rather disappointed. May I ask my hon. Friend to make his presence felt by giving us something better?

The Question was: "What schemes have been submitted?" and the answer, I am afraid, is that no schemes of this nature for extending summer services have been submitted, but we shall be very glad to investigate the satisfactory or unsatisfactory nature of the services.

While not wishing to prevent any expansion of air services in Scotland, will the hon. Gentleman take note that we on the North-East coast have nothing at all, and will he give some attention to that?

The position on the North-East coast, like the position in Scotland, will be constantly under the review and care of my hon. Friend.

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that something will be done for my part of the area of Scotland between Dundee, Perth and Aberdeen in the West, which is entirely without air services of any kind though these were faithfully promised by the Socialist Government.

Helicopters (Water Tests)


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what tests over water of helicopters for civil aviation have been carried out; how far these have proved satisfactory; and what further similar tests are proposed.

Existing civil helicopters of the single-engined type are not suitable for public transport operations over water and, therefore, no tests have been made. None is contemplated until a suitable type of helicopter becomes available.

I am looking ahead a little. In view of the fact that islands like the Hebrides and Shetlands are places which desperately need helicopters because other aircraft are unable to land there, would the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that early tests will be made as soon as a suitable type of helicopter is available?

I can assure the hon. Member that my hon. Friend is aware of the importance of investigating the possible use of helicopters for this service as early as is practicable.

Has the hon. Gentleman considered the use of helicopters for civil aviation generally for the North of Scotland, quite apart from their use over water?

The use of helicopters for all civil aviation purpose is very much in the mind of the Minister at the present moment.

Rapide Aircraft (Barra Service)


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what provision is being made to maintain a reserve supply of Rapide aircraft and spare parts until a type of aircraft suitable for such landing strips as that in the Isle of Barra is available.

I am not aware of any suggestion that the Rapide service to the Isle of Barra will be withdrawn.

I think that the hon. Gentleman has rather missed the point. Is he aware that the Rapides are, of course, becoming exhausted both in respect of numbers and spares, and that so far no replacement is really in view that can be applied to places like the Isle of Barra and various other places dependent upon natural sand strips for landing aircraft? Can he make any statement about, or is there any investigation taking place of, the problems confronting places like the Isle of Barra, which have no replacement aircraft in prospect and where the Rapides will very likely, in the near future, have to be withdrawn?

The Corporation concerned have this matter very much in mind, and the hon. Member can be assured that so long as there is no suggestion—and there is not at the moment—of withdrawing this service, the Corporation will ensure that adequate and satisfactory supplies of the aircraft which are operated are available.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Scottish Civil Aviation Advisory Council have been considering this question for a number of years? We have got no further towards a solution of this problem of replacement and even the Heron, which is a possible replacement type on some of these services, is not suitable for places such as Barra.

Can the hon. Gentleman give some assurance—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] I hope that it will be a point of order, Mr. Speaker, if I ask you to intervene to ensure courtesy from hon. Members opposite. Will the hon. Gentleman give me an answer to the part of the Question which asked for a reserve supply of Rapide aircraft and spare parts in order to ensure the continuation of the service, for which there are no replacements at all and none contemplated?

I appreciate the hon. Member's concern for this very important service. The Corporation are responsible for maintaining it and, as I have said, they have considered this question of the type of aircraft very closely, and so long as they are responsible for maintaining the service they will also be responsible for maintaining adequate supplies of aircraft for that service.

North Uist


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation when the regular passenger service to the Isle of North Uist will be resumed and island air mail facilities be extended to this district.

I am afraid that the cost of providing these services would be unjustifiably high in present economic circumstances.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a similar reply was very severely criticised when it was given by the previous Government—quite wrongly, I think—and while appreciating the high cost involved, may I ask him if he is nevertheless aware of the need to improve the air service to this island, which is by far the worst served for transport by sea or air of any of the islands in Scotland?

I appreciate the importance of communications to this part of the United Kingdom, but the fact is that both the high operating costs involved and the cost of bringing the airfields back into operation would, in the present circumstances, not be really justified.

On a point of order. You will have observed, Mr. Speaker, that there are several Questions referring to air services as such. When hon. Members have tried to put down Questions relating to rail services and time-tables those Questions are refused. Can you tell me why Questions are allowed about air services and not about rail services?

The answer about rail services is that the position with regard to Questions on nationalised industries has been referred to a Select Committee, which has not yet reported, and at present a provisional system is being worked. That does not apply to these air services.

Eritrea (Giorgio Habtit)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that Azmatch George Habtit, for 40 years Chief in Akele Guzai Province of Eritrea, after suffering damages valued at 74,616 shillings by banditry, was on 6th July, 1951, without explanation or charge of wrongdoing, deported to forced residence at Keren in the Western Province; that he was dismissed from his Chieftainship as from 30th June, 1951, deprived of his stipend and pension, and that his land which has been recognised as his property under customary law, and by the Chika and peasants, has been passed to Ghereghier, a son of Ras Tesemma, leader of the anti-Ethiopian political party, thus leaving his family, including many minor children destitute; and whether he will give orders that this old official shall return to his home and property.

As regards the first part of the Question, careful investigations confirmed that Giorgio Habtit was responsible for instigating repeated acts of violence between 1946 and 1951 upon a neighbouring tribe which resulted in serious loss of life and property. The Chief Administrator therefore thought it necessary, in the interests of public safety and order, to restrict him to residence in the town of Keren in the Western Province under the powers conferred by Proclamation No. 104.

As regards the second part of the Question, he has not been dismissed from any chieftainship; but his enforced absence necessitated the transfer of certain powers and duties respecting the allocation of land in the Damas area to other persons. He has not been deprived of any land belonging personally to him but he no longer enjoys the use of certain other lands over which he had control under his former powers. Since Habtit is a person of property, there is no question of his family being left destitute.

As regards the third part of the Question, I am informed that the Chief Administrator now considers that the situation permits Habtit's release, which will take place on 15th May.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that will be welcomed by both the man and his family? It seems to me that if he did commit such a crime he should have been tried in the proper courts and given a proper opportunity of defending himself, which apparently was denied him. If so, why were not his rights safeguarded in that way?

I really do not think that this gentleman has had harsh treatment at all. There have been one or two rows between the tribes, in connection with which one tribe was attacked by the tribe with which the man concerned was connected, and 43 persons lost their lives in the ensuing fighting. On the whole I think it has not worked out too badly for the person mentioned in the hon. Member's Question.

Indo-China (Defence)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has given to the representations from the French Government about assistance in the defence of Indo-China in the event of an invasion of that country, either direct or indirect, by China.

Her Majesty's Government are in continuous consultation with the French Government on all matters affecting the defence of South-East Asia. If there were an aggression against Indo-China, the French Government and the Government of Vietnam would no doubt appeal to the United Nations. We have made it clear that in such an event Her Majesty's Government would not fail in their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations. As I have myself stated publicly, it would create a situation no less menacing than that which the United Nations met and faced in Korea; and the United Nations would, I trust, be equally firm to resist it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply will be received with great satisfaction?

If the French lost hold of the key position in Indo-China, would not a most oppressive burden fall on our defences in South-East Asia, and are we not greatly indebted to the French for the sacrifices in blood and treasure which they are making?

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what he understands the phrase in the Question about "indirect" invasion to mean? Is it the sort of thing that is now being done by Chiang Kai-shek's troops in Burma?

It is hardly for me to interpret the questioner's thought. I should have thought he had in mind the sort of thing being done by the Chinese Communists in Korea.

European Defence (British Forces)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the guarantee of Her Majesty's Government to the European Defence Community involves the retention of British Defence Forces in Europe so long as the guarantee operates.

As I informed the House on 21st April, Her Majesty's Government's commitment to provide assistance in the event of attack to all members of the European Defence Community lasts as long as the United Kingdom remains a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The disposition of defence forces under N.A.T.O. is a matter for agreement between the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and the Governments concerned.

The right hon. Gentleman will know that in the White Paper on European defence it is stated that at the Foreign Ministers' Conference both he and the American Secretary of State indicated that it was the policy of both Governments to retain their Forces in Europe. Is that common policy in any way affected by the unilateral guarantee to which the right hon. Gentleman has just referred?

No, Sir. I am much obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that question. No, it is not at all affected. What we stated then was that it was our policy to maintain Armed Forces on the Continent of Europe for as long as is necessary, and that pledge still stands.

Does that answer mean that our commitment will operate irrespective of whether American Forces remain in Europe under the present N.A.T.O. arrangements?

The hon. Gentleman will see that our commitment lasts as long as the commitment of N.A.T.O. lasts, and that the disposition of forces during that period is a matter for arrangement between the Supreme Allied Commander and the Governments concerned.

Japan (War Claims)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that those with claims for injuries, personal losses, destruction by war damage and seizure in Japanese-occupied territory, are given precedence over repayment of Japanese bonds and accumulated interest thereon.

The question of the resumption of payments on Japanese bonds is dealt with under Article 18 (b) of the Peace Treaty, in which Japan expresses her intention to enter into negotiations with her creditors. The procedure laid down for dealing with claims under the Treaty is quite different and the question of precedence as between the two does not, I can assure my hon. Friend, arise.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now state the total value of goods, commodities, chattels, etc., removed from Malaya and found in Japan on its occupation by Allied troops in 1945.

Restitution of looted property found in Japan has been proceeding since 1946 under the authority of the Supreme Commander for the allied Powers, and will continue, now that the Japanese Peace Treaty has come into force, under Article 15 (a) of the Treaty. I regret, however, that I am not in a position to give an accurate estimate of the value of Malayan property found in Japan in 1945.

Will my right hon. Friend lend the great weight of his authority to urging that there shall be some acceleration of this process, which has gone on for a very long time and creates great hardship for many who suffered in Malaya?

Ministry Of Food

Tea (Profit Margins)


asked the Minister of Food what are the total margins of profit per lb. on tea between the import price at British docks and the price to the consumer.

In the year ended 31st March, 1952, the average gross margin between the import price as reduced by subsidy and the retail price was about one shilling. This margin has to provide for the working costs of the blenders, packers and wholesale and retail distributors.

Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman considered the company reports of some of the leading tea importers, blenders and distributors? If so, does he agree that in many cases the profits which are being realised are unreasonable and in some cases fantastic, and is he satisfied that the present price of tea can be justified?

The hon. Member asked me what the profit per lb. was. I should say that the figure which I have given is a perfectly reasonable one when one considers that four different processes have to be covered by the shilling.

Canned Tomatoes And Ham


asked the Minister of Food why he is increasing the tonnage of canned tomatoes and tomato juice imported into this country and reducing the tonnage of canned ham and bacon.

The hon. Member has overlooked the seasonal factor. Imports of canned tomatoes and tomato juice are being reduced as compared with last year.

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman agree that, with the constant withdrawal of sources of real meat for the British public, even a small reduction in the sources of canned meat which supplements the rations is a serious matter? Would he not agree that people would prefer to have even a little canned meat rather than tomato juice, which is largely consumed by the American Forces in this country?

I cannot accept the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. Tomato juice is an extremely popular commodity in this country. As regards meat, naturally we would rather be able to buy more, but I refuse to take any responsibility for that situation at any rate. The actual cuts in canned meat are much less extensive than in the case of the other commodities, which are about 50 per cent. in respect of canned tomatoes and 25 per cent. in respect of the juice.

Jam (Fruit Content)


asked the Minister of Food which of his Regulations define the term full fruit standard used on jam pot labels; what sanctions he has laid down for the enforcement of such standards; and if he is satisfied that they are adequate.

The Food Standards (Presèrves) Order, 1944, as amended. The Order is administered by local food and drugs authorities; and the penalties that may be imposed for contraventions appear fully adequate.


asked the Minister of Food what action he is taking on the recommendation of the Food Standards Committee to increase the fruit content of jam.

None at present. In accordance with normal practice I shall await a further report from the Committee in the light of any representations they may receive on their proposals from interested parties.

Is the Minister aware that the answer will be regarded as particularly sticky, and will he pay particular attention to the fact that both fruit growers and housewives would welcome this step as there would be a closer relation between the contents and the labels on the jam jars than there is at present?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman will appreciate that this is a sticky subject. The procedure here is perfectly normal. The report was received on 22nd April, and the trades concerned are allowed up to 10th May to make representations. This Committee will examine those representations and then the final report will be brought to me.

Food Imports (Standards)


asked the Minister of Food what steps he takes to ensure that the foodstuffs and meat that he imports into this country are comparable with the pre-war standards.

My Department tries to ensure that imports are at least up to pre-war standards of quality, by specification when buying and through inspection on arrival.

Is the Minister satisfied that the meat is adequately inspected before shipment in order to ensure that the carcases are free from disease?

They are certainly inspected, and no carcase with disease would be distributed to the public in this country.

Argentine Meat Negotiations


asked the Minister of Food what progress has been made on the Argentine meat negotiations; and if he will make a statement.

These negotiations are still in their preliminary stages. I shall make a statement at an appropriate time. Meanwhile, the House will be glad to know that, to counteract the adverse effects of last year's drought and to complete their shipments to us under the 1951 Protocol, the Argentine authorities have taken measures both to restrict the domestic consumption of meat and to prohibit sales to other countries.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that according to "The Times," this is the first time that a big delay has occurred at the beginning of the negotiations, and is it not about time that the negotiations were begun in an effective sense?

The hon. Gentleman is the last one who should make an observation like that. As a matter of fact the last negotiations took over a year.

Leaving out of consideration last year, when it took one year and 10 days—and for that I was not responsible—the negotiations for this year are proceeding in a perfectly normal manner compared with other years.

Can the Minister confirm that the negotiations last year were held up for many months because the Socialist Government could not supply the tin, coal and petroleum at the prices the Argentine were prepared to pay, and that the same problems faced us this year, as they were left to us by the previous Government?

Was there not last year an unfortunate debate on meat which held up the negotiations, and for that the then Opposition were responsible?



asked the Minister of Food which rationed foodstuffs he intends to de-ration.

While being heartened by the Minister's generalisations, may I ask if he does not appreciate that the statements he is repeatedly making in the country about de-rationing are apt to be very misleading, in view of the present economic position?

I do not take responsibility for what appears in the Press. I have not made any statement other than of this character at any time.

What does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mean by "eventually"? Does he not know that he will not be there eventually?

It is not so long ago since the right hon. Gentleman asked me a similar question about tea. He asked me what did I mean, and I showed him what I meant by quite recently giving him the date.

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that he has made a good start as far as Scotland is concerned by de-controlling haggis last night?



asked the Minister of Food if he can now state whether eggs will be sold off the ration this year.


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that the poultry committee of the National Farmers' Union have recommended to his Department that unfertile eggs removed from incubators should be marketed through packing stations for sale as processed liquid; and what action he is taking on this recommendation.

Does the Minister realise that better methods of disposing of these eggs are now supported by the National Farmers' Union, the National Federation of Grocers and Provision Dealers and responsible people generally, and how long is he going to sit on this egg problem?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman asked me if I had received a recommendation. I have not received it yet, but I shall receive it, I gather, in a few days. I shall then examine the recommendation. Although I am not unsympathetic to the idea, I cannot do anything until I receive the recommendation.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that incubated clears are all right for cake making if they are a week old, but if more than a week old they are of use only for political meetings?

Slaughtering Facilities, Norfolk


asked the Minister of Food if he will give an assurance that the arrangements for slaughtering fat stock in Norfolk are now adequate to prevent the holding back of fat animals, particularly bacon pigs, on the farms in the event of serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease; and what steps he has taken to avoid a repetition of the serious hold-up which occurred in November last.

We are as anxious as the producers that delays should be reduced to a minimum and all possible emergency arrangements are made to increase slaughtering capacity in an infected area. But when normal movements of fat stock are interrupted, some delay may be inevitable.

Will the Minister bear in mind the great dislocation that is taking place in the whole of the pig industry in East Anglia because of the few bacon factories in that area, and as we hope to increase the number of pigs there will he try and improve the existing slaughterhouse facilities, some of which are extremely primitive, and will he include in his review the possibility of authorising the building of another bacon factory there?

My hon. Friend knows that the question of a bacon factory in East Anglia is under review at the moment. On the question of slaughterhouses, whilst some are being built at the moment, I am sure my hon. Friend will realise that in the case of a county like Norfolk, a great deal of slaughtering is done outside the county, in the Midlands, and when there are emergencies of this character it is almost impossible to deal with them adequately and completely. If that were to be done we should have to build more slaughterhouses in the country than we could possibly maintain. I might add that I fully appreciate all the considerations in this matter.

Potato Disposal (Loss)


asked the Minister of Food what loss he estimates will be incurred by his Department in disposing of 460,000 tons of 1951 main crop potatoes for stock feeding.

Will the Minister give an assurance that this really substantial loss will not be recouped by a further cut in the subsidy on some other item of staple food?

This is a perfectly normal procedure under the guarantee of the 1947 Act, and it has been followed by previous Governments for some years.

Is it not a fact that this loss is very much smaller than the loss in 1948, when Polish potatoes were imported at £26 a ton and allowed to rot completely?

Home-Produced Meat (Freezing)


asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to establish or increase refrigeration capacity in this country to store the increasing amount of home-produced meat fattened on grass.

Present restrictions on capital investment would prevent us from constructing new freezing plants for this purpose, but I have arranged to have some experimental work done with the limited facilities already available.

Now that we have a proper agricultural policy can we not expect more home produced meat? Is the Minister aware that farmers, appreciating the feedingstuffs supplies' position, are feeding and fattening their cattle off grass; that, therefore, more cattle are likely to be available in the seasons of the year when grass is growing; and that is a very important question for the future of agriculture?

I do not think that large-scale freezing has ever been done on a commercial basis in this country before, and it represents a very big capital expenditure item. However, other steps are being taken, such as the holding back of cattle at the height of the autumn flush, which I hope will have a very good effect.

Agricultural Prices Review (Cost Of Living)


asked the Minister of Food how the new farm prices have affected the 1s. 6d. per week increase in food prices previously announced.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on 29th April by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


asked the Minister of Food if he will give a list of the foods that will increase in price resulting from the annual review of farm prices; and the amount of such increases in each case.

In making the price increases necessary to bring the food subsidy figure down to a rate of £250 million a year I have to take into account the cost of imported foods as well as the farm prices resulting from the annual review. In opening his Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer listed the foods to be increased in price, and I will announce the amounts of the increases at the appropriate time.

Is the Minister aware that most of the lower-paid population of this country are of the opinion that the policy of this Government is to bring about de-rationing by increasing prices to such an extent that the poor people will not be able to take their rations? Will he give an assurance that the Government will not de-ration at the expense of the poor people?

On the contrary, we have taken steps to alleviate some of the hardship. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]I am wondering whether the hon. Gentleman had the same views when prices were increased early last year.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that with the continual rise in the cost of living and of rationed foodstuffs, and the increase in unemployment, many families cannot now afford to take the rations, and that the rich are getting more than they are entitled to? Is it not time that the Government did something about that situation?

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. I gave an answer last week to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), in which I said that the average increase over the whole weekly ration since last October was 2¼d. The hon. Gentleman is exaggerating slightly.

In view of the confusion which appears to have arisen on this subject, will my right hon. and gallant Friend take steps to see that the facts are made widely known throughout the country, quite apart from publication in HANSARD?

Bread (Flour Consumption)


asked the Minister of Food what is the total weekly sackage of flour used throughout the country and the proportion of this used for the baking of bread.

The current weekly useage of flour in the United Kingdom is about 728,000 sacks of 280 lb. Approximately 62 per cent. is used for breadmaking.

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that at the existing price and existing subsidy rates many small bakers are finding it increasingly difficult to carry on business, and will he give special attention to affording them some alleviation so that they can carry on with their task?

I am fully aware of the difficulties that small bakeries are experiencing, and certain steps have been taken to alleviate the position. I hope that the speeding up of the payment of the subsidy will help the small bakery trade.



asked the Minister of Food whether he will consider permitting sweet coupons to be used to obtain additional sugar in lieu of sweets.

Can my right hon. and gallant Friend hold out any hope of an increase in the sugar ration later in the year to enable housewives to make jam?

There would be no difficulty about getting sugar if we had the currency. The one source of supply from which we could get enough is entirely a dollar one.

Does that mean that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman does not intend to de-ration sugar, at any rate this year?

I cannot say whether it will be this year or not, but it will be done as soon as we have cleared up the mess left by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

In view of the fact that it is possible to exchange sugar for sweets does not my right hon. and gallant Friend not think that it would be possible for us to give up our sweet ration for extra sugar?

In any circumstances that scheme would be bound to involve extra purchases of sugar and the administration of it would be extremely difficult. It would make the matter more complicated and cumbersome, and more difficult to get rid of eventually.

Ministry Of Defence

Commonwealth Forces (Transfer Of British Personnel)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence whether he will make arrangements to permit members of Her Majesty's Forces who marry members of Commonwealth countries to transfer automatically if they so wish to the Forces of the country concerned.

As I informed my hon. Friend on 9th April, applications from serving personnel of the British Forces to join Commonwealth Forces are considered on their merits. It would not be possible to grant applications automatically in the circumstances he mentions, as it would depend, among other things, on the willingness of the Commonwealth Governments to accept those who wish to transfer, and our ability to release them.

Guided Missile Sites (Detection)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence if he has yet laid down the spheres of responsibility as between the Service Departments for the detection of the launching sites if, and when, guided missiles are directed against this country.

Is my hon. Friend aware that I asked this Question on 7th March and 27th June last year of the former Minister of Defence, and that on both occasions I was told that the matter was being examined; and that it will give a sense of confidence that at last a decision is being made?

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that it is precisely because there was a careful examination that the Minister is now in a position to give a decision.

West Africa

Japanese Imports, Nigeria


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what basis licences are granted to the Japanese to enable them to import textile fabrics into Lagos.

The Nigerian authorities have been issuing licences to import Japanese textiles to meet the territory's essential needs. Import policy is now, however, being reviewed in the light of the balance of payments of the sterling area and the experience of the working of the Payments Agreement between the sterling area and Japan. The possibilities of increasing the exports of Lancashire textiles to the Colonies are also being urgently examined.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his answer, may I ask him to bear in mind that the Japanese are copying British designs in textiles and exporting to West Africa, and that the advice given by his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is that the industry of Lancashire should take legal action in West Africa? Will my right hon. Friend deal with this matter at the source in West Africa, because otherwise such action is very expensive and often does not work at all?

I am willing to consult with the President of the Board of Trade about the appropriate measures.

Gold Coast Civil Service (Pay)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking in respect of the claims of the white civil servants in the Gold Coast for increases in salary to meet the rising cost of living and for the retention of their expatriate allowances.

The Commission appointed by my predecessor in September, 1950, to make recommendations on certain questions including the salaries of the Gold Coast Civil Service reported last August. My predecessor commended this report to the Gold Coast Government, and it has since been under consideration by a Select Committee of the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly. The Assembly adopted the Select Committee's recommendations on 23rd April and the new improved salaries are being introduced as from 1st April, 1952.

The new scales provide for increases over existing salaries, plus present cost of living allowance, and are generally higher than those recommended by the original Commission in order to take some account of the further rise in the cost of living which has occurred since the Commission reported. I have not yet been able to consider the Select Committee's Report in full, but I understand that overseas pay has been retained except for posts at the highest levels where basic and overseas pay have been consolidated.

Sierra Leone (Regent Chief)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will appoint a committee of inquiry to investigate the situation within the Small Bo tribal authority of Sierra Leone since S. Kata was appointed Regent Chief in view of the opposition to his appointment.

As I told the hon. Member in reply to a letter which he sent to me on 3rd April, the power to make such an appointment is vested in the Governor, who has informed me that the great majority both of the inhabitants and of the members of the tribal authority are not opposed to the Acting Chief, and that conditions generally are peaceful. In considering whether or not a commission of inquiry should be appointed, the Governor will be guided by the advice of the Executive Council, in which there is a majority of African members.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that, according to the information I passed to him at least three weeks ago, the taxing authorities are having difficulty in finding males in this territory because they have all gone to other territories as a protest against the present arrangements? Will he again ask the Governor to look into this matter?

The Governor is now considering whether a commission of inquiry is appropriate.

Central African Federation


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the agenda for the forthcoming conference in London on Central African Federation; when and where it will take place; and who the delegates are, both white and coloured, who will participate in it.

I presume that the hon. Member refers to the Conference now being held in London.

I explained its purpose in yesterday's debate. I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the delegates.

There was one thing which the right hon. Gentleman did not explain yesterday, and I should like to ask him this question. In view of the serious differences of opinion between black and white and between Southern Rhodesia and the other two territories involved, how does the right hon. Gentleman propose to implement a federation without imposing the views of a very small minority on a very large majority?

The question in no way concerns that which is on the Order Paper, and raises matters which I could not deal with by way of question and answer.

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman has just said that my supplementary question in no way deals with the Question on the Order Paper. That Question deals with the agenda for the Conference, and my supplementary question deals with that too. Am I not, therefore, entitled to an answer?

Though the original Question on the Paper refers to the agenda, the hon. and learned Gentleman is not entitled to ask a question about any conceivable subject that may appear upon it.

Following is the list of delegates:

Southern Rhodesia.

The Rt. hon. Sir Godfrey Huggins, C.H., K.C.M.G., M.P.; the hon. E. C. F. Whitehead, C.M.G., O.B.E., MP; the hon J M Greenfield, Q.C., M.P.; the hon. P. B. Fletcher; Mr. R. O. Stockil, M.P.; Mr. W. H. Eastwood, M.P.; Mr. A. H. Strachan, C.B.E.; Mr. T. G. Gisborne; Mr. A. D. Evans, M.B.E.; Mr. W. F. Nicholas; Mr. J. N. N. Nkomo and Mr. J. Z. Savanhu.

Northern Rhodesia.

Sir Gilbert Rennie, K.C.M.G., M.C.; Mr. E. I. G. Unsworth, Q.C.; Mr. R. P. Bush, O.B.E.; Mr. R. Welensky, C.M.G., M.L.C.; Mr. G. B. Beckett, C.M.G., M.L.C.; Lieut.-Colonel E. M. Wilson, M.B.E., M.L.C.; Mr. J. S. Moffatt, O.B.E., M.L.C.; Mr. R. A. Nicholson; Mr. J. E. Coombes and Major R. T. Hungerford.


Sir Geoffrey Colby, K.C.M.G.; Mr. V. Fox-Strangways; Mr. M. P. Barrow, C.B.E.; Mr. G. G. S. J. Hadlow, O.B.E.; Mr. J. Marshall, O.B.E., M.C. and Mr. K. O. Shelford.

Central African Council.

Mr. H. N. Parry.

United Kingdom.

The Most hon. the Marquess of Salisbury, K.G.; the right hon. Oliver Lyttelton, D.S.O., M.C., M.P.; the right hon. A. T. Lennox-Boyd, M.P.; Mr. J. G. Foster, Q.C., M.P.; Sir Percivale Liesching, G.C.M.G., K.C.B.; Sir Thomas Lloyd, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.; Mr. G. H. Baxter, C.M.G., C.I.E.; Mr. W. L. Gorell Barnes, C.M.G.; Mr. J. B. Williams, C.M.G.; Mr. E. Melville, C.M.G.; Mr. J. P. Gibson, C.B.E.; Mr. A. W. Snelling; Mr. J. E. Marnham and Mr. R. L. D. Jasper.


Destruction Of Crops


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if General Templer's threat to destroy crops in Malaya by chemical means was made with his approval.

Yes, Sir. Destruction of crops grown for the terrorists or likely to fall into their hands is a preventive measure of which, of course, I approve.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of State last Wednesday stated that this threat, as he himself admitted, applied to all crops which might fall into the hands of the terrorists, and are we to understand quite clearly that this applies to and includes crops grown by the villagers?

Generally speaking, that is not so. Of course it depends upon the actual circumstances and it is easy to find out what crops are grown for the terrorists. Where there is doubt it is always decided in favour of the villagers.

Further to that point. For the benefit of the House could not the right hon. Gentleman make it clear whether or not this threat is to apply, or is not to apply, to those crops which are grown for the sustenance of the villagers in Malaya?

I can give the hon. Member an unequivocal answer to that couched in general terms. The answer is "No." We have to be satisfied that they are being grown for the terrorists or in some place where the terrorists are compelling the inhabitants to grow crops for them.

Is it not desirable that hon. Members of this House should give the Commander-in-Chief their support in his efforts to protect the lives of our men and in his attempts to bring this war to a successful conclusion, instead of putting down Questions on the Order Paper like this one, which only tend to destroy confidence?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would give the greatest possible support to the Commander-in-Chief if his Government would have the courage to give political status to the Chinese and now offer a date for independence?

That raises questions which are not concerned at all with the Question on the Order Paper.

Tanjong Malim (Collective Punishment)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how far relief for the people of Tanjong Malim, Malaya, arising out of the curfew, has been left to charitable organisations and how far it has been undertaken by the Government; to what extent the supply of food is adequate; what attention is given to the villagers' cattle during the curfew period; and when the curfew will be lifted.

Local communal organisations provided relief for the poorer inhabitants of Tanjong Malim. It has not proved necessary for the Government to give relief. The supply of food is adequate. The 22-hour house curfew was lifted on 9th April. There is now a house curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. over the whole area and a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in some districts. During the period of daytime curfew, arrangements were made, at the villagers' request, for cattle to be brought within the perimeter area and owners were allowed out each morning and evening to care for them.

While it will give some satisfaction to right-thinking people that the curfew has been withdrawn for at least some period, is the Minister aware that the period of the curfew was for 22 out of 24 hours; that people live four and five in a room and were not allowed to leave their houses to go to an outside latrine, and were fined 50 dollars for so doing—

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to ask a supplementary question which is nothing but an effort to pass on information?

In general, supplementary questions should be interrogatory, but I have known them used as a vehicle for imparting information. Mr. Awbery.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if it is because of the requests of the Chinese, the Malays and the Indians that the curfew has been reduced by several hours?

I have no information upon that. I only say that the curfew has been reduced—

I have no information that it was at their request. I only know that it has been reduced, and I would remind the hon. Member that these measures are far less severe than those taken in similar cases by our predecessors.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what have been the results of the system of collective punishment on Tanjong Malim in bringing about greater co-operation from the people; and if he will give instructions that, in future, collective punishment should not be used.

Useful information has been received but it is as yet too soon to assess the full results of the measures taken at Tanjong Malim. I have no intention of interfering with General Templer's reasonable exercise of the discretion entrusted to him to deal with the very serious situation in Malaya.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this form of collective punishment is very repugnant to right-thinking people—

—and that this method is causing hostility against the Government among the people of Malaya? Is he doing all he can to protect the people during the period of the curfew?

The answer to the second part of the question is, "Yes." Wherever we can, we are endeavouring to improve the wire round these new villages.

While it is undesirable to cause embarrassment to General Templer, who has been appointed to undertake this difficult task, will the right hon. Gentleman not agree that it is desirable, on the other hand, that General Templer should proceed with the utmost caution in enforcing collective punishment, which may not be at all efficacious?

The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that these measures are not primarily punitive. They are in the main in order to prevent rice being passed through the wire to the bandits, and also to control movement in these black spots. I repeat that they are much less severe than some measures which have been taken in the past.

While I quite appreciate the difficulty, may I beg the right hon. Gentleman to understand that many of us, while not wishing to cause any embarrassment to General Templer, are anxious that he should not proceed in a direction which may have very serious repercussions?

I am glad the right hon. Gentleman asked that question. I say freely that the use of these measures has to be confined to places where demonstrably the inhabitants are helping the terrorists against our Forces in a way they should not. They will not be applied in a wholesale manner or without careful consideration of the circumstances. I hope that re-assures the right hon. Gentleman.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that as new collective methods by the bandits, both of mass murder and of helping their own supporters, come into operation, equally new methods have to be taken against them?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that repressive measures on a collective scale of this kind have always had the effect, not of reducing resistance to them, but of increasing it? Is he also aware that there is no war crime in history that has not been justified by the doctrine of giving unquestioning, blind support to the commander in the field?

I can accept neither suggestion of the hon. Member. I am afraid each is founded on ignorance of the circumstances.

Police Officer (Wife's Allowance)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why he refuses to take any action in the case of Lieutenant Birnie of the Malayan Police who is receiving pay at married rates but refuses to pay to his wife Mrs. A. C. Birnie, Hove, the married increment which he is receiving; why he has failed to take steps to bring home to this officer his obligation to provide adequate main-enance for his wife out of the resources available to him; upon what grounds he justifies this misapplication of public funds; and whether, if this officer continues to appropriate to himself money intended for his wife's support, payment of such increment will be stopped.

I have no jurisdiction in this matter and there has been no misapplication of public funds. Lieutenant Birnie has been paid strictly in accordance with the terms of his service as set out in his contract with the Government of the Federation of Malaya.

The question of his allotment to his wife was brought to Lieutenant Birnie's attention by the Malayan authorities but he said that he was not prepared to increase the allotment to which his wife is entitled under their voluntary separation agreement. Any variation in the amount is a matter for mutual agreement or for the courts.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is not a solitary case? There are many similar instances in which his Department is being lamentably spineless. Will he take the necessary action to bring home to the officers responsible for the support of their wives that money provided for them out of public funds is intended for that purpose?

I am afraid I can do nothing in matters over which I have no jurisdiction.

Commonwealth Defence Contributions


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies upon what basis and by which Colonies a Commonwealth defence contribution is paid.

Colonial territories make their main contribution towards Commonwealth defence by maintaining local forces adequate to ensure internal security and local defence, and in some cases by providing lands and services for United Kingdom Forces. This absorbs, or more than absorbs, all the funds which most territories can provide for defence, having regard to their other commitments.

When a territory is financially able to meet these obligations and also make a contribution towards the general Commonwealth defence expenditure borne by the United Kingdom, the amount of the contribution is arrived at by discussion between the colonial Government and Her Majesty's Government. Bermuda and Hong Kong make such contributions.