House Of Commons
Tuesday, 24th June, 1952
The House met at Half past Two o'Clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Glamorgan County Council Bill Queen's Consent, On Behalf Of The Crown, Signified
West Hartlepool Extension Bill Queen's Consent, On Behalf Of The Crown, Signified
Read the Third time, and passed.
Oral Answers To Questions
Private Street Works, Oldham
1 and 2.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) what effect the recent review of the capital investment programme will have on the making up of unpaved streets in the county borough of Oldham;(2) for what reason the Oldham Corporation has been asked to submit a photograph of a private street when making application for the approval of the making up of the street, in view of the fact that there are 400 unpaved streets in the county borough of Oldham.
Under present conditions I can authorise only a limited amount of private street works, in cases of urgency. After seeing the photographs supplied by the Oldham Corporation I have agreed that work on a number of streets in their area may proceed.
Would the right hon. Gentleman give a clear answer to Question No. 1 as to what will be the effect of the diminution of capital development in Oldham on the reconstruction of these private streets, of which there are 400, some in quite a shocking condition, and in respect of which the Oldham Corporation were doing a great amount of very effective work up till October last?
I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means by "diminution."
Would the Minister have a word with the Chancellor of the Exchequer? There is already a difference of opinion between them on this matter. The House is entitled to know what is the position. As I understood the right hon. Gentleman's answer, it was that there was a diminution. He said that he could only authorise a limited amount of work now. Can he say what that amount is?
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was referring to the capital investment programme for 1952 or 1953.
Cubley Water Scheme
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will receive a deputation from the Rural District Council of Ashbourne, who desire to direct his personal attention to the evergrowing danger of physical injury, as well as waste of labour and material, caused by the refusal of his Department to permit certain modifications of the Cubley water scheme.
I am aware of the representations and of the facts concerning this water supply. In view, however, of the complaints about damage to water fittings, I am arranging for this aspect of the question to be looked into again.
Plymouth City Centre (Licences)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he expects to be able to make a full statement on the new licences to be issued for projects in Plymouth City Centre.
I have been able to authorise the rebuilding of another shop in the central area in Plymouth for which all the steel was in hand; but I have thought it more important to try to obtain the necessary steel for projects in progress than to start on new proposals.
Does that mean that in effect no licences for new projects have been issued in Plymouth City Centre since this Government came into office? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think, that it is about time he gave to the City of Plymouth and other blitzed cities a full indication of the building which they will be allowed to undertake this year?
I still think that it is more important to give licences for the completion of work which is in hand and that we should wait for a little longer until we can see a little clearer what the programme will be.
Is it not a fact that licences for the projects which are already in hand had already been issued by the previous Government? Would not the right hon. Gentleman consult with the Minister of Labour about the grave threat to employment in Plymouth? Does he not think it is time, in the middle of the year, that some indication should be given to blitzed cities of the programme they will be allowed to carry out in the next six months?
The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do what are the reasons which make us hesitate to fix a programme now. I have tried to get them to finish what is in hand, much of which was stopped or prevented when the steel allocation system had to be introduced.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many licensed slaughterhouses are situated in England and Wales; if he will give the number and location of those in the London area; and what steps he is taking to prevent the slaughtering of horses in unlicensed slaughterhouses.
Local authorities are not required to make returns of the number of slaughterhouses licensed by them, and central records are not therefore available. Responsibility for enforcing the law regarding the slaughter of animals rests by statute with the local authorities.
In view of his position as Minister of Local Government, and in view of the widespread concern on both sides of the House at the killing of horses in circumstances of horrible brutality in unlicensed slaughterhouses, will my right hon. Friend instruct local authorities to take the most energetic steps to track down any unlicensed premises so that the people concerned may be brought to justice?
I fully agree, but perhaps my hon. Friend would wait for a statement in reply to a Question which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is about to make, when he will try to deal with all the different responsibilities of the different Departments, which will be a better moment to survey the problem as a whole.
Town And Country Planning
Gypsy Survey, Kent
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware of the interest in the outcome of the Gypsy Survey in Kent; what progress has been made; and what directions under the Town and Country Planning Acts he is giving as a result of this survey.
The survey by the County Council has now been completed and the final report is being prepared. Action on this report is a matter for the County Council and the other local authorities and I must leave it to them.
Will not the right hon. Gentleman take some interest in what is happening, to assist in pressing forward with a much-needed reform? Is he not aware that this would help the children to have a fair chance? In this House two Members—one on the Tory and one on the Labour side—have informed me that they have gypsy ancestors not far removed.
It is not a question whether one has gypsy ancestors but whether I should give directions under the Town and Country Planning Acts.
Would the right hon. Gentleman publish the Survey so that the various authorities can have the benefit of what has occurred in Kent?
I will look into that question.
Newton Aycliffe Development Corporation (Chairmanship)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware of the widespread concern that has arisen from his request that Lord Beveridge should give up the chairmanship of the Aycliffe Development Corporation; and, in view of his outstanding ability and desire to continue serving the best interests of this important scheme, if he will reconsider this decision.
I do not think I can usefully add to the full statement I made in my reply of the 13th June to the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper).
Did Lord Beveridge express a desire to continue? Does not the Minister appreciate that to millions of people he represents the best in public life? In reaching his decision, did he consider the grave situation which could arise if the very sensitive Prime Minister took this to heart and left the Tory Party like a ship without a rudder?
The statement which I made was made at Lord Beveridge's request. He agreed the draft with me. He asked to be informed definitely how long he might expect to remain in this office. Great as are his services, I do not believe holders of this kind of office should be regarded as holding a life preferment.
Would the Minister answer the question? Has Lord Beveridge expressed a desire to continue for a longer period?
It is my duty to make an appointment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I make an appointment for a year. Lord Beveridge asked what would be my intention after that time, and I said I thought that after that time, if I were in office, I should make a change in the appointment.
Harold Hill Estate, Romford (Amenities)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, in view of the need for increased amenities on the Harold Hill Estate, Romford, he will reconsider his decision to postpone a grant of £15,000 towards the cost of the establishment of a park and recreation grounds and other open spaces on the estate.
I have had to defer consent to the raising of a loan of £15,000 for this purpose in the, interests of national economy. No question of grant arises.
In reaching that decision, has the Minister taken into account the fact that permission has already been given to raise a loan to develop the land, and that if the land is acquired and there is no development, it will become derelict and virtually useless?
Are we to take it from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that he has now awakened to the fact that there is a diminution in capital investment?
Agricultural Land, Bracknell
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware that the Bracknell New Town Corporation are proposing by Compulsory Purchase Order No. 6 to acquire good agricultural land outside the designated area; and whether he will give an assurance that no further agricultural land outside that area will be acquired.
None of the land included in the Development Corporation's Compulsory Purchase Order No. 6 is outside the designated area of the New Town. I am, however, sending my hon. Friend a copy of a memorandum which has just been issued about a proposed small extension of the area of the New Town.
Does that memorandum include the area of the land concerned, because my information is at variance to that of my right hon. Friend? Is he aware that the impression is growing in that area that it is his intention piece by piece to re-incorporate in the designated area the land which was included in the original designated area and taken out after the public inquiry?
I can give my hon. Friend a complete assurance on that point. There is no such intention. It was done for purely technical reasons.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will now give the Government's policy in relation to town and country planning and, in particular, to the development charges.
If I may venture on the phrase without impropriety, I would ask my hon. Friend to "wait and see."
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that phrase is a promise of action? Can he give us some indication that action is to be taken as foreshadowed by his party at the Election? Because in the meantime the continuance of these development charges is hindering housing, and, in particular, hindering the housing of the poorer people of the community who cannot pay these charges?
I hope action will be taken, but that involves legislation, and there is not, I fear, any hope of legislation this Session.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if anybody has benefited from these development charges it is the local authorities that are building the houses and have been able to get the land and other facilities at far less cost than ever before?
Yes, but I do observe that of the letters I receive on this subject half, if not more than half, come from hon. Gentlemen opposite.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what new towns he proposes to designate in the near future.
I do not propose to designate any more new towns in the near future.
Does that mean the Minister now takes the view that there is no longer any necessity to designate new towns?
I think it is much, more important to get on with building the new towns that have been designated than to designate a lot more.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government for what reason the ceiling height of houses being built by the Oldham Corporation has been reduced from 8 ft. 6 in. to 7 ft. 6 in.; and whether he will give the comparable cubic capacities of comparable council houses having these ceiling heights.
The reduction which was from 8 ft. not 8 ft. 6 in., was one of the measures taken by the Council to reduce cost. The capacity is reduced by 6¼per cent.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, while no one objected to this interesting experiment, we are all anxious to know whether the saving on cost will be more, in proportion, than the saving in amenities? Is it not time that he should come clean and say what reduction is being made in the general standards of council houses, as regards size, amenities and cupboard room and take these matters into account when he publishes any figures?
This was recommended in Circular 58/50 of 22nd May, 1950.
We are now being told that this is going to be introduced generally throughout the country. We want to know why and what the saving is going to be.
Is it not a fact that the experiment which has been referred to by my hon. Friend has now in fact been made a widespread policy by the right hon. Gentleman's Department? Is it not also a fact that it is possible, if proper steps are taken, to make a reduction in building costs without reducing housing standards?
As the hon. Gentleman knows quite well, local authorities are absolutely free to build houses as they wish. For my purposes I shall be very glad if they succeed in building a larger number of houses, with the same amount of materials, of the well known Dudley standards and in accordance with the recommendations of both my predecessors.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what progress has been made in respect to the investigations of his officials, following complaints of doubtful practices by house letting agents, who undertake to supply lists of vacant accommodation on payment of a registration fee.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what further consideration he has given to the activities of letting agencies charging fees to persons in need of housing accommodation.
Considerable progress, which will, I hope, lead to action.
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that there is not much more delay, because there have been plenty of examples of the way in which people have had money taken away from them by these people? Would he do something about these parasites who are battening on the public?
The problem is to find a method of action, which I hope to do, which does not involve legislation.
Will the Minister at least issue another warning to the public against these harpies who are shamefully, and to an ever-growing extent, exploiting the needs of people seeking homes? Will he, in particular, examine the activities of Watson, Price and Company, 55, Cleveland Street, W.1, and Craig and Company, 19, Gerrard Street, W.1?
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would let me have the information.
Building Contractors (Payment)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will call local authorities' attention to the speedier completion of domestic housebuilding which would result from prompt payment to building contractors; and if he will consider recommending prompt payment of 90 per cent. of the cost of materials upon delivery at the site and 95 per cent. of the cost of works as they are finished.
I would refer my hon. Friend to a circular I addressed to local authorities on 9th April, of which I am sending him a copy.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will give an assurance that steel supplies are adequate to meet the certificates that he issues enabling local authorities to purchase steel for housing purposes.
I know there have been difficulties in obtaining building steel, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply is making every effort to adjust production to see that the right kind of steel is available.
Is the Minister aware, to quote one example, that work on a housing site at Knights Hill, Norwood, was held up for eight months because it took all that time, after many protests and letters to his Department, to get the steel required? Is there any relation between the certificates which the right hon. Gentleman seems to be issuing in lavish quantities and the actual steel which local authorities can get hold of?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman does not seem to appreciate that the term "steel" does not define a uniform commodity. What we have been trying to do is to increase total building by getting a larger amount of reinforcement rods and pre-stressed wire, and that requires an alteration in the pattern in the steel industry which we are pressing forward and which is making, I think, remarkably good progress.
Pipes And Cement
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government to what extent the housing programme is being retarded by a shortage of steel pipes and cement.
There are shortages in a few areas which we are doing all we can to overcome.
Is the Minster aware that shortages of steel pipes and cement are retarding housing programmes on the North-West Coast, and particularly in Sunderland? Does he not agree that the local authorities will not complete their programme of 300,000 houses unless building materials are forthcoming?
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman asked that supplementary because it enables me to say that, as he probably knows, the total production of cement in the country is increasing. The problem is of transport, and one of the places where the problem arises is in the North-East area, which is not a cement-producing area. There was a period in the winter, and at other times, when the transport problem was too big for us, but that is being dealt with. The production of cement is increasing, as a whole, and it is now a matter of moving it to the right place at the right time. Incidentally, the number of housing completions in Sunderland and the North-East is growing.
Will the Minister deal with the shortage of steel pipes, because this is a serious matter? It is affecting the housing programme inasmuch as gas services are provided in only a certain number of houses, while in other houses the tenants are deprived of the amenities which they desire. In other words, they are being offered a choice of gas or electricity, and that is due to the shortage of pipes.
Here again, the hon. Gentleman insists on using the words "steel pipes" as if that were a single kind or article. If he means steel mains, there is a shortage and long delivery dates, but if he means steel conduit pipes to carry electric wires, there are many other substitutes which could be used.
Could the Minister indicate when he talks about completions, how many completions there have been and how many authorities given for house building since the present Government came into office?
I do not think I should anticipate the next housing statement or I should get into trouble with the hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo).
May I tell the Minister that I was referring to gas pipes?
London Families (New Towns Accommodation)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will direct New Towns Development Corporations to allocate housing accommodation to families on the housing lists of local authorities who are in the greatest need.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) on 17th June.
Yes, but is the Minister aware that factory owners building new factories in some of the new towns are recruiting new staff from persons on the housing lists who are not in urgent need of accommodation at all and completely ignoring others who have been on the housing lists for a long time and who are really in urgent need? Will he take steps to see that the housing accommodation in the new towns really goes to the persons who are in most urgent need?
The hon. Gentleman knows that there are a good number of claims made on the new towns, not only for the L.C.C. area, that had, as it were, first claims when the new towns were begun; there is a strong demand from the L.C.C. also to be included. We are trying to get a fair arrangement by consultation and a new plan. There is also of course, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman will recognise, the need, if industry is to be moved, sometimes for key workers to be brought from different parts of the country in order to make the industrial development possible.
Rents (Voluntary Agreements)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what action he has taken to prevent the circumvention of the Rent Restriction Acts by property companies which are exerting pressure on their tenants to enter into voluntary agreements to pay higher rents.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 17th June to the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner).
Yes, I am aware of that reply, but is the Minister aware that certain of these public companies are exercising intimidation over their tenants, implying that, if they do not sign these new agreements, when or if the Government revise the Rent Restriction Acts, they will be in danger of being evicted?
All I can say is that under the present law a tenant is fairly well protected. He need not pay any increased rent. In many cases I have heard of the tenants have thought it right and fair to do so. But the tenant need not pay, and if by any mischance he should pay he can recover it at any time within two years.
What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to get the local authorities to publish the fact that these are wrong claims being made? It is a very serious matter and the tenants are being deceived.
It is not a wrong claim for a landlord to ask his tenant to make a voluntary addition to the rent. [Interruption.] That is not a wrong claim at all. Hon. Gentlemen know from their personal experience that in some cases the tenants have thought it right and fair to pay more rent—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"]—especially where services are paid for in the rent, the cost of which has risen. But it is wrong—I say to the hon. Gentleman if he will restrain his ardour a little—for pressure to be brought, and I hope that his Question, and the Questions last week, and my answer will give publicity to the fact that it is wrong to use such pressure.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that with the present rents some property owners have not enough money to carry out proper repairs?
That can be no reason for breaking the law. However, will the Minister give an assurance that those people who refuse to enter into voluntary agreements will not be prejudiced in regard to their relationships with their landlords should the Rent Restriction Acts be revised?
Gas Pipes, Sunderland
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what steps he is taking to ensure that a shortage of cast iron gas pipes shall not delay the progress of housing in Sunderland.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power and I have considered this matter. Although some delay in providing a gas supply is, I fear, inevitable, the Town Council do not intend to let this interfere with the completion and occupation of the houses.
Will the right hon. Gentleman reduce this delay to the minimum, because otherwise these houses will be completed without gas, and this is a very large estate? Second, will he realise that it is no good exhorting the local authorities unless they are backed up by a vigorous Department?
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will circularise all housing authorities requesting them to give consideration to facilitating the exchange of houses in appropriate cases, where persons have transferred their work from one town to another, so as to facilitate the redeployment of workpeople to the best possible advantage.
I am sending the hon. Member a copy of a circular which I addressed to all local housing authorities in January last.
West Cheshire Rent Tribunal
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what representations have been made to him objecting to the closing down of the West Cheshire Rent Tribunal; and what replies were made thereto.
The representations were, broadly, that the tribunal was doing good work, that intending applicants would have to incur greater expense in attending the offices of the new and more distant tribunal, that the new tribunal would do the work less satisfactorily and would not have the specialised rural knowledge of the old. The replies given were that the volume of work did not justify the continued separate existence of the tribunal, and that no additional expense would be placed on intending applicants since the tribunal itself would do the travelling.
Is the Minister aware that everybody in Lancashire and Cheshire who speaks with knowledge and authority on the work of the rent tribunals is opposed to the number of abolitions of these tribunals which the Minister has decided upon, and will he not even now, at this late hour, allow the County of Cheshire to retain at least one rent tribunal?
I understand that the hon. Gentleman and some other hon. Gentlemen are coming to see me on this matter, and I of course shall give all consideration to anything they may say, but I still think it better to make the tribunals mobile and have fewer of them than have rather more of them and have them static.
Requisitioned Premises (Ministry Of Health Tenants)
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government in what metropolitan boroughs residential accommodation in requisitioned premises is reserved for tenants nominated by the Ministry of Health; how many houses or flats have been reserved in this way; and what qualifications make tenants eligible for this preferential treatment.
My arrangement with the local authorities in 59 requisitioned properties used as "half-way houses" in Paddington, Camberwell, Kensington, St. Marylebone, Stoke Newington and Westminster. The families nominated must be on the waiting list of a local housing authority and have become homeless through no fault of their own.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these somewhat secret privileges became public knowledge only when the Kensington Borough Council explained that Mr. Pavel Kuznetsov occupied one of its requisitioned flats, and is it right that foreign diplomats should get property of this kind where the rents are subsidised either out of rates or taxes?
That raises broad issues. I suppose it is right that if there are to be foreign diplomats, and the staffs of those diplomats, they should have somewhere where they can live. At any rate, it is not I who housed Mr. Kuznetsov. He was housed in March. 1950, by my predecessor.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government, in view of the continuing reduction in the stocks of softwood during this year, how he proposes to maintain the present output of houses and flats.
The decline in stocks during the first part of this year is the normal seasonal trend; the present level of stocks is high compared with previous years.
Is the Minister aware—I am quite sure he is—that whereas imports of softwoods have dropped by 56,000 standards this year, the stock of softwood timber has dropped by 65,000 standards, and that, if that goes on during the rest of the year, there will be an end even to the present housing progress?
The hon. Gentleman has quoted statistics, but he has chosen them to prove, if I may venture to say so, a false point. In March, 1950, the stock was 278,000 standards; in March, 1951, a comparable period—and it is the last published figures I am giving—the stock was 202,000; and in March, 1952. It was 669,000. Therefore, I do not think it is quite fair to say it has dropped. The hon. Gentleman must compare each period of the year with the similar period of another year. Of course, timber is bought at certain periods of the year, and imported at certain periods, and used largely at certain other, periods. It is an important thing to keep up the flow.
Is it not a fact that these increased stocks the right hon. Gentleman has referred to were ordered by the late Government, and that since this Government came into power the importation of softwood timber for houses has practically stopped?
I am still trying to explain to the hon. Gentleman that timber is largely imported on a seasonal basis. Trees are cut at certain seasons of the year. Timber is imported at certain periods of the year. He can compare only like with like, and one period of the year with the same period of another year.
Is it not a fact that the very satisfactory trend in softwood timber stocks in the last 12 months is the direct result of the busting of the Socialist buying monopoly and the restoration of private enterprise?
Also I am much encouraged by the fall in the price of timber.
Ministry Of Works
Building Works (Free Limits)
asked the Minister of Works if he will now make a statement on further changes in the licensing system, particularly a relaxation of the £100 a year free limit in building.
asked the Minister of Works whether, in view of the increased cost of building materials and labour since the £100 limit on house repair work was introduced, he is now prepared to raise, at least proportionately, the present ceiling of £100.
asked the Minister of Works the present limit of licence-free building work that may be carried out by an industrial undertaking without licence or permit from his Department.
asked the Minister of Works whether he intends to renew the £100 building limit for a further period; or whether he has any alternative proposals.
I have examined carefully the possibility of increasing the free limits for building work. The potential demand for building and repair work is so great and the load on the building industry differs so much from one district to another that it has been found impossible to make a general relaxation of the licensing system at this time. I am, therefore, making an Order continuing for the 12 months from 1st July the present limit of £500 for industrial and agricultural buildings, but increasing the limit for other buildings from £100 to £200. The position will be reviewed in the autumn, and if conditions justify a change another Order will be made. In issuing licences for repair and maintenance above the free limits careful regard will be had to the load of work in the area concerned.
Will my right hon. Friend and his colleagues take heart from the welcome that local authorities and individuals will give to this decision, and see whether it is possible to raise the free limit still further in certain districts where it would obviously be desirable and altogether practicable to do so?
Is the Minister aware that in industrial areas which have the best housing record this decision will be received with great indignation because of the inevitable consequences; and, if he accepts that line of reasoning, will he undertake to consult local authorities in order to avoid this decision affecting the building of houses?
I think the hon. Gentleman is possibly wrong. The number of licences between £100 and £200 which are refused today are very few indeed. It is my view that a sufficient volume of maintenance actually helps the construction of new houses, because it enables the small and medium builder to dovetail in some maintenance work with some new construction. I hope and believe that the result of this, which is a very modest concession, will actually be that we shall get more houses than we otherwise would.
Can my right hon. Friend indicate whether this increase in the limit, with obviously a reduction in the number of applications, will lead to a saving of manpower both in Government offices and in local authorities?
I hope so.
Before arriving at this decision, did the Minister consult the local authorities associations who have a very wide experience of the administration of this facet of housing work; and if the permitted unlicensed limit is to be doubled, will it not inevitably entail the taking up of a great deal more of the already short building labour, and as a result seriously impinge on the house construction programme?
I did not consult the local authorities. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because this question of repairs differs very much from one area to another. The facts are that the amount of underemployment in the building industry due to the financial policy the Government are pursuing is somewhat increasing—[Interruption.]Well, it was designed so to do; naturally we have to take the load off, and I have no doubt myself that this, which is a very modest increase, will not result in any decrease in house construction.
As his answer affects the whole country, has the right hon. Gentleman made this statement after prior consultation with and the approval of the Secretary of State for Scotland?
Yes, Sir. I have made very careful inquiries in Scotland, and both the industry and my officers in Scotland were for this increase in the limit.
Can my right hon. Friend clarify one point in regard to the continued limit of £500 licence-free entitlement for industrial building? Does that figure include or exclude any maintenance licence that may be granted to an industrial undertaking?
The free limit of £500 is in addition to any block maintenance licence.
Would the Minister consider varying his directions so as to leave freedom to local authorities to accept these decisions or not according to their personal experience; and if we bring him evidence that this decision will prevent the building of houses at the speed that all parties in the House would like to see them built, will he change his mind and go back to the former position?
There is flexibility as between one local authority and another in the allocation of licences over and above the free limits, and, as I indicated in my original answer, we shall vary what are called the "ceilings" as between one local authority and another on the best evidence we can get from them and from the building industry in the area of their capacity to do more work.
While congratulating my right hon. Friend on his decision today, might I ask whether he would consider if some further concession might be made in the cases of individuals who have been building their own houses under the £100 free limit for some years past, and give them some further encouragement to get on with building their own houses?
That is a question my hon. Friend must take up with my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government.
Crown Film Studios, Beaconsfield (Lease)
asked the Minister of Works the terms under which the Crown Film Unit Studios, Beaconsfield, were leased to his department; how much money was spent in equipping them for production immediately after the war; and whether the lease has now been disposed of.
It is not usual to disclose the terms under which property is leased to my Department. About £115,000 were spent by Ministry of Works in equipping these studios. This included a substantial sum for making good dilapidations due to war time use. The Central Office of Information spent another £41,000 on various items of technical equipment. The lease has not yet been disposed of.
Would my right hon. Friend not agree that everything possible must be done to try to recover this very heavy capital expenditure which had to be made in re-equipping these studios; and, in view of that, could he answer the last part of my Question and let me know a little more about that? Have any offers been made to his Ministry by firms to lease these studios; and if so, what were the terms, and will he do everything in his power to dispose of the lease so that he may recover the capital expenditure originally made on the studios?
Up to the present we have had no firm offer for the lease.
Would not the best way of recovering the capital expenditure be to allow the Crown Film Unit to remain in production?
Nash Terraces, Regent's Park
asked the Minister of Works when the Nash houses in Regent's Park temporarily occupied by the Ministry of Agriculture will be restored to private ownership as recommended in the Gorrell Report.
The Ministry of Agriculture will shortly move out of some of these houses. I propose to use them to accommodate staff of other Departments in order to release requisitioned premises elsewhere. I cannot say when it will be economical to return the Nash terraces to the Commissioners of Crown Lands.
Oddly enough, I hoped to be able to thank my right hon. Friend for his reply, but I find that I cannot; so may I ask why, since the Gorell Report recommended that these houses should be handed back for private accommodation within five years and that recommendation was accepted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, the time has been extended without there being consultation with this House?
We really must try to make the best use of this accommodation. The Ministry hold 209 houses of which only 27 are requisitioned, and the others are leased from Crown lands. It would be a great pity to spoil a block of property, on which previous Governments since the war have spent £1½million, until I am quite sure that I can clear out this very large block and hand it back, which for the time being I am not.
Gun Emplacement, Jarvis Brook
asked the Minister of Works if he will arrange for the removal, as soon as possible, of the concrete gun emplacement erected on church property at St. Michael and All Angels' Parish Church, Jarvis Brook, Sussex, at the beginning of the war for which no rent or compensation has ever been received.
The removal of this gun emplacement is not considered necessary in the public interest and is not, therefore, the concern of my Department. It is open to the Church Council to claim the compensation which is payable from the War Department and to make their own arrangements.
Does not my right hon. Friend realise that the presence of a gun emplacement close to a church door is not only an eyesore but singularly inappropriate, and that to meet an estimate of £118 which has been given to remove it is quite beyond the means of a small parish? Surely some grant could be made from public funds now that the war is over.
The decision as to what temporary defence works it is best to remove in the public interest lies with the Temporary Defence Works Committee, and unless they recommend me to remove this emplacement, I cannot do it. I have great sympathy with the Church Council in this matter, but it is impossible to remove all the scars of six years of war.
Even if all cannot be removed, cannot preference be given to the removal of one which is so near to a church?
Mining Subsidence (Financial Quotas)
asked the Minister of Works to what extent damage caused by mining subsidence is taken into account in fixing the financial quotas to local authorities for building licences for repairs.
In the worst affected areas a specially high allocation is given to local authorities. In other areas cases which cannot be met under the local authority's allocation are sympathetically considered by my Department.
Will the Minister not consider dealing with this matter separately? Would it not be better to deal with damage caused solely by mining subsidence separately from the normal quota given to local authorities, since it is impossible to forecast what the effects of the mining subsidence are going to be?
I think it a good thing to use the local authorities as much as possible.
asked the Minister of Works if he is aware of the profound dissatisfaction of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council with its present financial quota for building licences for repairs, owing to the National Coal Board's heavy demand for licences to repair properties seriously damaged by subsidence; and if he will give instructions to raise this quota or to treat mining subsidence cases separately.
An increase has recently been applied for by the Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and has been granted in full.
Pelicans, St James's Park
asked the Minister of Works whether he is yet in a position to make a statement regarding the sex of the pelicans in St. James's Park.
No, Sir. I am advised that the birds are still too young to reveal their sex.
Is the Minister not aware that if he takes a needle and thread, sticks the needle into a cork and holds it over the pelican, if it is a male it will swing in line and if it is a female it will go round in circles?
I am aware that we are beginning to have competition from the Japanese, but not in this connection.
Industrial And Building Licences
asked the Minister of Works how many building maintenance licences were issued by his Department to industrial undertakings during 12 months ended 31st May, 1952, or latest convenient date; what was the aggregate value of such licences; and whether he will consider substituting for the present system an open general licence granting to every industrial undertaking an entitlement to spend on building maintenance a sum properly related to the assessment of the property to general rates or similar formula.
During the 12 months ended May, 1952, 41,570 annual maintenance licences to a total value of £30,833,767 were issued by my Department.I have very carefully considered the suggestion in the third part of the Hon. Member's Question and, as the matter is very complicated, I have written to explain why I do not think it would be an improvement on our existing system.
asked the Minister of Works how many licences for new construction, reconditioning and renovation, excluding building maintenance licences, were issued by his Department to industrial undertakings during 12 months ended 31st May, 1952, or latest convenient date; what was the aggregate value of such licences; and how many such licences were in respect of applications to spend less than the sum of £1,000.
The number of licences issued to industrial undertakings (excluding the annual maintenance licences) during the 12 months ending 31st May, 1952, was 45,416, to an aggregate value of £ 130,770,140. 11,911 licences amounting to £5,551,117 were in respect of applications to spend less than £1,000 on new work; I regret that figures for reconditioning and renovation under £1,000 are not available.
Would my right hon. Friend undertake to give further consideration to this problem in view of the fact that industrial undertakings at present often have to apply for a large number of small licences for maintenance work in connection with putting in machinery or undertaking work of that kind, all of which causes a great deal of administrative work to the firms and to the right hon. Gentleman's Department?
I have not had many complaints, but if my hon. Friend will give me particulars I will certainly look into them.
Shipbuilding (Testing Tank)
asked the Minister of Works what progress is being made in the building of a new testing tank for the shipbuilding industry; and if he will make a statement.
A site has been secured at Feltham, Middlesex, and my Ministry is at work on the design. When plans are ready to go ahead with the major expenditure it will, of course, be necessary to consider the general economic situation at the time.
Will the right hon. Gentleman pay attention to the fact that this is urgently required by the shipbuilding industry, and that, although we are the biggest shipbuilding country in the world, we are at a disadvantage compared with the United States, Russia, Holland and Sweden, in this matter of a testing tank, and the sooner we overcome this disadvantage the better it will be for the industry?
Yes, I agree with the hon. Gentleman.
Battersea Pleasure Gardens (Accidents)
asked the Minister of Works how many accidents have occurred to date this year at the Batter-sea Pleasure Gardens; if he can state the cause of the accident to three Spanish aerial cyclists on 16th June; and whether he is satisfied that every care is taken to prevent accidents to performing artistes and to members of the public taking part in the fun fair activities.
No serious accidents have occurred at Battersea Pleasure Gardens this year. The performance given by the three Spanish aerial cyclists on 16th June was stopped because the sagging of the horizontal cable immobilised the cyclist. I am satisfied that Festival Gardens Ltd. takes every reasonable precaution to prevent accidents and to ensure the safety both of performers and the public.
Is the Minister aware of the fact that these three cyclists were suspended for some 25 minutes without being able to receive proper assistance, and will he go into the matter to see that that kind of peril is avoided in the future?
I am aware of that, but the matter is difficult to understand. All I can say to the hon. Gentleman is that Spaniards are very great individualists and, I think, long accustomed to adversity.
Kensington Palace (Repairs)
asked the Minister of Works whether he will carry out repairs to Kensington Palace before more damage results to this historic building, bombed during the war.
Yes, Sir, as soon as the money is available.
Hyde Park Gates (Widening)
asked the Minister of Works whether he will widen the entrances into Hyde Park for wheeled traffic, thus enabling a double line of vehicles to be accommodated in accordance with the recommendations of the official committee set up to study the statistics of London traffic problems.
The London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee recommended the widening of Alexandra and Victoria Gates. Alexandra Gate has already been widened; I am advised by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport that any scheme for widening Victoria Gate must wait till money is available.
asked the Minister of Works what was the percentage increase in the average monthly production of fletton and non-fletton bricks, respectively, for the period 1st January to 30th April, 1952, compared to the average of the previous four months.
In the last four months of a year production may be expected to be higher than in the first four months when the weather is at its worst. But this winter the average monthly production of fletton bricks in January to April, 1952, was 4.0 per cent. higher than in September to December, 1951. Non-fletton brick production during the same period was 1.7 per cent. less than for the last four months of 1951, which is a smaller decline than in previous years.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the very welcome increase in the production of bricks has been due to the fletton side of the industry which has been able to use the Italian labour brought over for the purpose? Does he realise that if we want sufficient bricks to sustain the housing programme and the new licence-free limit which he has announced we need a big increase in non-fletton production? What steps is he taking to this end?
I quite agree. We want more bricks all round. At the moment the production is rising quite well, and I see no reason to think it will not continue.
Does the right hon. Gentleman still take that rather complacent view although the April figures, when the weather was improving, were worse than those for March? Will he apply himself to the problem of providing equipment and finance for the small non-fletton producers on whom so much depends if we are to get the brick production we need?
I am considering that, but the May figures were the best ever.
Cement And Plaster Board Prices
asked the Minister of Works if he will state the reductions in the price of cement and plaster board which have followed reductions in the cost of paper since 11th March, 1952.
In addition to the reduction in the price of cement by 3s. a ton on 3rd June over most of the United Kingdom, I am informed that another reduction will be made as soon as the very considerable stocks of paper bought at high prices have been exhausted. I am also informed that there has been no recent change in the price of plaster board, and that an increase in net costs has more than offset the reduction in the price of paper.
Will the Minister give some details of the additional costs which plaster board manufacturers have incurred, because I think he will agree that the cost of paper lining is a substantial part of the cost of plaster board? On many occasions the manufacturers claim increases, and this is one of the reasons given for them.
The additional cost, which is 2.9d. per yard, appears to be largely due to wages, transport and some decline in turnover, which naturally puts up the cost per unit.
Palace Of Westminster Model (Removal)
asked the Minister of Works whether, in view of the closing to visitors of the Lower Waiting Hall, he will have the model of the old Houses of Parliament transferred to the Royal Gallery.
Arrangements have been made for this to be done as soon as the Royal Gallery has been cleaned and decorated this summer.
May I say how much those who are endeavouring to explain to visitors the real history of the Palace of Westminster will appreciate this removal?
This gives them a chance of doing what they did before.
Korea (Visit Of Minister Of Defence)
asked the Prime Minister how soon he expects to receive a report on the situation in the Far East from the Minister of Defence and the Minister of State; and in what form this report will be made available to Parliament.
Statements will be made in both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday next, 1st July.
Will the statement include some reference to, or can the Prime Minister say anything now about, this morning's very serious news of the bombing of targets on the Yalu River, which even General MacArthur never attacked? Can he say whether that action was taken with the knowledge and approval of Her Majesty's Government?
I have a Private Notice Question dealing with that which I will answer when it is asked.
asked the Prime Minister to what extent the Minister of Defence visited the battle zone in Korea in his capacity as a Field Marshal on the active list.
My noble Friend visited Korea as Minister of Defence. As is well-known a Field Marshal is permanently on the active list without necessarily having executive military command.
Is the Prime Minister aware that many soldiers who might wish to put legitimate grievances to a Minister of Defence who is a civilian are not likely to do so when they find that the visiting Minister of Defence is not only a "brass hat" but the biggest "brass hat" of all? Does he not think it would be far more in accordance with our constitution if the Minister of Defence, if he wishes to pursue a political career, were to resign altogether from the Army?
I think it rather unfortunate that a young promising Member who has held office in the War Office should use a somewhat disparaging term, like "brass hats," about many of the distinguished, able and agreeable officers with whom he must have worked.
Does not the Prime Minister understand that what I am concerned about is not the merits of Field Marshal Alexander, on which we all agree, but the constitutional point involved in having a Minister of Defence who is also a Field Marshal and who, instead of divesting himself of his military rank, still wears the uniform of a Field Marshal when he visits the troops.
I do not think there is really any very serious issue involved. Precedents for the appointment of Field Marshals to high Cabinet positions exist—for instance, Lord Kitchener—and they were approved by the House. I cannot feel that any serious difficulty is likely to arise. I certainly think—I thought so before Field Marshal Alexander departed on his mission—that he should not go into the actual battle zone without wearing the uniform which he has had the honour to wear and sustain through so many years.
As the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, does he not recollect the incident when he went, as Secretary of State for War, to Field Marshal French and also donned his uniform, and the discomfort and embarrassment that caused on that occasion?
In quoting a precedent to illustrate a point of principle one cannot be sure that all the circumstances connected with the previous incident have actually been parallelled by what has happend on the latest occasion.
Horse Slaughtering (Inquiries)
asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been drawn to the confusion of the law and the anomalies which exist in regard to the slaughtering of horses; and if, in view of the fact that five Government Departments are involved in this matter, he will order an official Government inquiry to be made into the flow of horses and donkeys into slaughterhouses, and to make recommendations to amend the law and indict such evil practices as come to light.
Everyone will, I am sure, agree that the fullest safeguards should be provided to avoid any cruelty in the transport of horses for slaughter and in the slaughterhouses and knackers' yards.An inquiry into the trade in horses for slaughter and export was conducted by a Departmental Committee under Lord Rosebery's Chairmanship whose report was published in March, 1950. Effect has been given to many of the recommendations of that Committee but not to the recommendation that all central government functions in relation to horse slaughterhouses and knackers' yards be allotted to one Ministry. I have given directions that this question should be considered as one of urgency. Her Majesty's Government have also decided to hold a further immediate inquiry to ascertain whether the report of the Rosebery Committee needs to be brought up to date. Meanwhile the Minister of Food in the exercise of his powers under Section 8 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, will amend the Public Health (Meat) Regulations so that any person proposing to slaughter a horse will be under an obligation to inform the local authority in advance and will be liable to penalties if he fails to do so.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that his most helpful answer will go a long way to allay the anxieties felt in all quarters of the House about this matter? Quite apart from the cruelty which can be suffered by animals if they fall into the wrong hands, one of the greatest dangers confronting us is the depopulation of these islands of good working horses and sturdy ponies and donkeys. Will not this help to build up one of the most dangerous gaps in our defences?
As there were about 1¼ million horses in this country only 25 years ago and there are only 400,000 today, will the right hon. Gentleman consider registering all horses before they are extinct and making it obligatory for permission to be sought from the local authorities before horses are slaughtered?
I have always considered that the substitution of the internal combustion engine for the horse marked a very gloomy milestone in the progress of mankind.
Is the Prime Minister aware that the abattoir in this country where the "Manchester Guardian" report alleged that these abominations were carried on has been extremely difficult to discover? Will it be laid down that, when having horses slaughtered, people must say where they are sending them to be slaughtered?
I think there is complete agreement in the House that this matter must be pursued with vigilance and vigour.
Crops, Kevington Park
Might I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker. This morning I had an urgent telephone message informing me that Kevington Park, which is now designated for a building estate, is being ploughed up. Today they are beginning to plough up eight acres of wheat, eight acres of potatoes and eight acres of raspberries. Can nothing be done to stop that at any rate until these crops are harvested? Might I ask what action I can take, because local feeling is very strong on this happening, in view of the food shortage?
I understand from the hon. Member that the work of ploughing up has already started. I can only advise him to get in touch with the Ministers responsible as soon as he can.
I have, but they cannot do anything.
I am afraid I cannot either.
Korea (Air Attack, Yalu River)
(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make to the House concerning the attack by 500 aeroplanes under United Nations command upon power stations upon the Korean—Manchurian frontier serving the needs of Manchuria.
As the House is aware, it is the policy of the United Nations Command to limit hostilities to Korea. While there has not been much ground fighting in the past few months, air operations by United Nations forces have continued with the entirely legitimate object of decreasing the enemy war potential in Korea. Attacks such as those now reported do not appear to us to involve any extension of the operations hitherto pursued or to go beyond the discretionary authority vested in the United Nations Supreme Commander. So far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, there has been no change of policy.
Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman three short supplementary questions arising out of that statement? First, is he not aware that every point in dispute in the armistice negotiations has already been agreed on, except one, and on that point the Foreign Secretary told the House last week that he had every hope that agreement would be reached? Secondly, does he think that so extensive an operation as this in this place, affecting as it does places outside Korea, is likely to lead or could lead to an extension of hostilities which all sensible people in the world are doing their best to avoid? Thirdly, will he say whether the Minister of Defence, on his recent visit to the United Nations Command, was told about this forthcoming operation and whether he expressed any opinion about it?
I can only say that I am aware of what has been said by the Foreign Secretary in the House. As to the second question, that really is not a matter on which I have any means of giving an outside judgment at this moment. On the third question, I will talk to Lord Alexander when he comes home and find out, but we have not had any notification of any change in the policy which hitherto has been pursued, nor have we made any ourselves. I cannot feel that any serious departure in principle has been made or, if it had been made, that we should not have been consulted upon it.
Has the Prime Minister considered that this is one of the matters on which there should have been consultations with others who are concerned in the actual fighting in Korea and that hitherto, although there has been bombing of purely military targets, and on the bridges over the Yalu River, this represents destruction of very important establishments which affect the whole of Manchuria, and that that kind of policy is largely one that should not be embarked upon without full consultation, especially in view of the fact that the discussions for an armistice are now taking place?
As I have said, there is no change in policy so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that he told the House not long ago that his Government were following the policy laid down by the previous Government? The policy laid down by the previous Government was to let the fighting in Korea die away as much as possible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] This was the policy stated by the late Mr. Ernest Bevin in order to facilitate negotiations and these negotiations have been facilitated up to this point and now are deeply prejudiced. Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that a spokesman of the Pentagon stated:
He described the raid, which is reported to have wiped out five large hydro-electric plants along the Yalu River servicing North Korea and parts of Manchuria, as part of a "get-tough" policy in the military as well as in the political field. As this is not only military action but political as well, will the right hon. Gentleman direct his attention to what he said in the House in April last year when, in reply to my right hon. Friend who was then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, he said:
"We now realise that the best chance of breaking the deadlock at Panmunjom is to hit the enemy with all the force at our command."
As this action has a declared political intention, is it not, therefore, a complete departure from the traditional policy of the Government, and ought not the Government to consider seriously the conseqences to world peace of irresponsible action of this sort?
"May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that there is general agreement on this side of the House with what he calls the traditional view that the constitutional and civil authorities should control the actions of military commanders?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th April, 1951; Vol. 486; c. 1028–29.]
The United Nations have delegated to the United States the duty and the burden of appointing the Supreme Commander in Korea. Discussions on various points have taken place from time to time between the Governments. In the time of the late Administration, these discussions authorised bombing, in certain circumstances, beyond the line of the Yalu River. There also have been occasions when this area of North Korea has been bombed by the United States forces, for example, in July, 1951, after the armistice negotiations had begun.These power stations contribute, of course, to the Communist war effort in Korea. Among other things, they supply power to aerodromes in Manchuria from which Communist aircraft operate in Korea. Therefore, it seems that the matters are those which primarily fall within the purview of the Supreme Commander of the United Nations. Of course, when these matters occur, careful consideration is given to them by all the Governments who are concerned—[HON. MEMBERS: "Afterwards."]—and who are responsible in the matter. I am advised that there is no obligation on the United Nations Command to consult us, as regards operations conducted within Korea, but it does not at all follow that we cannot discuss our affairs in an intimate and friendly manner with the United States or with other nations. I really do not think there should be any belief in the House that any change or alteration has taken place in the broad limits of policy pursued by this Government and the one which preceded it.
The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of differences in policy pursued by the Government. This is an action taken which, in the opinion of many of us, runs contrary to the general line which has been pursued. While there is no obligation laid down for consultation there has, in fact, in my experience, been consultation on every point at which there was a political consideration impinging on the military. Surely this is one of those occasions when there should have been a full consultation.
No consultation with Her Majesty's Government has taken place, but we naturally will inform ourselves upon the whole matter.
While we all recognise that the arrangements made for the command in Korea were imposed by the circumstances of the attack in June, 1950, and while we all feel that the nations owe a great debt of gratitude to the United States for what they have done, is it not now becoming clear—this is just one more event which makes it clear—that we need new military and political arrangements for the conduct of operations in Korea?
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that all past experience shows that the best way of dealing with flagrant aggression is to hit the aggressors hard? Will he not also agree that such a policy is much more likely to lead to the conclusion of a quick armistice?
My hon. and gallant Friend does not carry me wholly with him in his general statement. We are in an extremely difficult and delicate position certainly, in that the whole of this Korean war is being carried forward during armistice negotiations, through which we have suffered serious disadvantage. We are in great difficulty. We also must remember that operations have been entrusted by the United Nations to a Supreme Commander of the United States. I am not going to be drawn into saying anything which will in any way be taken as a reflection upon the Commander or will embarrass him in the action which he may think it necessary to take. We naturally reserve all our rights, as a friendly ally, for making representations which may be thought desirable.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can recall the suggestions, which were made two or three weeks ago during the armistice negotiations when it was thought that prospects were not too rosy for a successful conclusion of those negotiations, that he might take measures to bring about a conference of the United Nations organisation, or at any rate of those nations associated with it who are participating in the Korean struggle? He then thought it would be unwise. Would it not be wise in these very dangerous circumstances, when there is a prospect of this affair merging into a full-scale offensive, or a full-scale war, to suggest to the United Nations and the other nations concerned that a conference might be convened now to reconsider the whole position?
This is a grave and far-reaching question, which should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
It is the wish of the British people.
The Prime Minister has suggested that this is a far-reaching question which might be addressed to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. As that right hon. Gentleman is not present, and if the Prime Minister cannot give an answer at this stage, will he address himself to the subject and furnish an answer to the House at a very early stage?
The facts are not known at all with any definiteness. The facts are no doubt disputed and conflicting. It would be a great pity for us to commit ourselves to statements of a far-reaching character while we are only informed as we are at the present moment.
This is a very serious matter. I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9, to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely,
"the air attack on power plants of the Yalu River which took place yesterday, during the period of the negotiations for an armistice."
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Attlee) has moved the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9, to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the air attack on the power plants of the Yalu River which took place in Korea yesterday during the period of negotiations for an armistice.There is no doubt about its importance, but my difficulty with this Motion is that it seems to me that an authority other than Her Majesty's Government is responsible for the decision that has been made. The Prime Minister has said that there has been no change of policy on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and it is clear from what I have heard of the facts that this action was taken under the United Nations Command—as I read the Press, which is all the information I have—entirely by United States Forces.
May I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that we have our responsibilities as members of the United Nations and as taking part in these operations in Korea? Therefore, this House is entitled to take into account any action here which would have its repercussions on the position of our troops. Although one cannot say that it strictly comes under a particular Minister, I think the point has not been considered before that we are participating with the United Nations under our obligations under the Charter, and therefore a responsibility does lie on our Government in this respect.
May I submit also to you upon that point, Mr. Speaker, that an Adjournment is not customarily given when the facts are in dispute or before they are available?
Order. The House will keep order. I want to hear this matter discussed.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the agreement which he gave to the statement of my right hon. Friend who was then the Secretary of State for War included these words:
this is, the Commander of the United Nations Forces in Korea—"He was told that operations"—
"should not be undertaken which extended the conflict beyond Korean territory, and that it was the intention of the United Nations to localise hostilities in Korea, and therefore that it was not their intention to become involved in general hostilities with China. And he was told that the powers of the Commander of the United Nations forces to conduct operations"——
On a point of order——
Order. We are on a point of order at the moment.
Is it not also a fact that the spokesman of the United Nations in the meantime has taken pride in the fact that, as a consequence of the destruction of these stations, thousands of square miles of territory inside Manchuria—[An HON. MEMBER: "What is the point of order?"] If you want to go to war, why not say so? [Interruption.]—"on behalf of the United Nations were limited to Korea and were to be executed within the framework of declared United Nations Policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th April, 1951; Vol. 486, c. 1027.]
Order. Really, this is becoming quite disorderly.
Does the Prime Minister rise to a point of order?
I am on a point of order.