Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 520: debated on Wednesday 18 November 1953

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

House Of Commons

Wednesday, 18th November, 1953

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

Glasgow Corporation (Water &C) Order Confirmation Bill

Considered; to be read the Third time Tomorrow.

Oral Answers To Questions

Usa Weather Ships (Withdrawal)

1.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when the Government of the United States of America informed Her Majesty's Government of their intention to withdraw their ships from the International North Atlantic Weather Service; and what representations were made to the United States Government, in view of the effect this will have on the accuracy of the Meteorological Office's weather forecasts.

The United States' decision not to subscribe to any Ocean Weather Ship Agreement after 30th June, 1954, when the present Agreement expires, was communicated to International Civil Aviation Organisation on 21st October, 1953. The United Kingdom representative at I.C.A.O., in common with the representatives of other interested Governments, was given a copy of the American Note on the same day. Our representative has already expressed to the Council our concern that the United States' decision may affect the regularity and economy of North Atlantic civil operations.

Is it not really very serious that we were given no prior notice that this withdrawal would take place? Is it not a fact that the Government have not made sufficiently strong representations, when we consider the disastrous effect that this may have on weather forecasting and the great blow that it is to the whole principle of international co-operation in science?

The United States, of course, had no obligation to consult us in this matter. She did in fact notify her decision informally to the British Civil Air Attaché in Washington on the day before she handed her Note to our representative. I agree that the United States' action may well have a serious effect.

In view of the undoubted importance of this weather ships information, both as regards civil aviation and shipping in the North Atlantic, is the hon. Gentleman's Department considering having this matter raised and discussed at Ministerial level? Has the hon. Gentleman considered the suggestion made the other day that, if necessary, the Prime Minister himself should seek an opportunity to discuss this very important problem with President Eisenhower direct?

Yes, Sir. This matter is already being discussed at Ministerial level and we have all these considerations very much in mind. We shall, of course, shortly be putting forward through the United Kingdom representative at I.C.A.O., and in consultation with other European Governments concerned, proposals about the continuance of the Ocean Weather Ships Scheme, but, as I told my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey) the other day, we cannot do that until we have made an intensive study of the implications and have had discussions with other Governments concerned.

Would my hon. Friend agree that the withdrawal of these ships will have an adverse effect on weather forecasting and will affect our fishing fleets round our coasts very much?

The information that we can put out to shipping generally is liable to be less accurate, but we must bear in mind that the main gap will be on the farther side of the Atlantic and not on this side.

Royal Air Force

Airborne Units (Aircraft)

2.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how far airborne units are provided with the number of aircraft they require; and to what extent these aircraft are of sufficiently modern design to ensure that these units are potentially effective.

There is no permanent allocation of aircraft for airborne units; aircraft are provided from within the resources of Transport Command. Current types of aircraft cannot drop all types of heavy equipment, but more extensive training will be possible when the Beverley comes into service.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is grave concern among those involved in airborne operations that they have inadequate equipment? As it is most important that this arm should be developed in full, will he give this matter close attention?

We shall certainly do our best to fulfil our obligations to the Army in this matter.

Nerve Gases (Airman's Death)

5.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what recognition has been made of the service rendered to the security of this country by Ronald Madison, who lost his life while taking part in experiments to discover an antidote to nerve gases.

I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance has authorised the grant of a pension to the dependants of this airman.

Would the Under-Secretary agree that this might be a convenient opportunity to pay tribute to the services of this young man and his comrades who have taken part in this dangerous experimental work?

I agree entirely and should very much like to associate myself with that tribute.

Land Occupation

7.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many acres are occupied by the Royal Air Force; and how much additional land has been taken over in each of the last three years.

199,500 acres in the United Kingdom are occupied by the Royal Air Force. 2,263 acres of new land were acquired in 1951; 1,534 acres in 1952, and 1,890 acres in 1953 so far. However, these acquisitions have been more than offset by the release, during the same period, of nearly 7,000 acres previously held on requisition.

Could my hon. Friend give an assurance that agricultural land is not being taken unnecessarily? Can he say how much of the 190,000 acres that are occupied are being cultivated?

I willingly give the assurance for which my hon. Friend asks. We take agricultural land very reluctantly and only when we really must. As regards the second part of my hon. Friend's question, 79,000 acres of airfields in active use are being cultivated. It is not easy to give the exact figures, for other places, such as bombing ranges, although even at these some land is cultivated outside the danger limits.

Airmen's Sons, Finningley (Corporal Punishment)

8.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he has investigated the circumstances in which an officer of the Royal Air Force recently authorised the infliction of corporal punishment upon civilian juveniles at the Royal Air Force station, Finningley, near Doncaster.

I have studied the very full report on this case which has been submitted. These two boys were airmen's sons, and had broken into Royal Air Force property. The station commander acted with the parents' consent in what they thought to be the best interests of all concerned.

Will the Under-Secretary make it quite clear that it is not within the normal course of R.A.F. duties to administer a system of private justice in competition with magistrates and duly authorised officers? Is it not quite undesirable that this practice should continue, even with the parents' consent?

The action was certainly unorthodox, but no offence seems to have been committed, because the station commander acted with the parents' consent. He was anxious in the boys' own interest that they should not start with a police record so early in life.

Can the hon. Gentleman say what steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence of such an unjustifiable assault?

Records Office, Ruislip (Discharges)

10.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many temporary clerks have been discharged in the past two years from the Records Office, Ruislip.

Eighty-two, all of whom were discharged before the office closed down on 16th of May, 1952.

As the Under-Secretary has been short of clerical officers, would it not have been possible to promote some of these temporary clerks and employ them elsewhere?

At that time there were no vacancies for temporary clerks at the Air Ministry. Therefore, we could not employ them there, but we did everything we could for them at the Employment Exchanges. I understand that at the time no dissatisfaction was expressed.

Possibly there were no vacancies for temporary clerks, but on the Minister's own showing there were vacancies for clerical officers; I am asking if it would not have been possible to promote some of these men and given them other jobs?

We had no vacancies for established clerical officers that were not filled by the established clerical officers we had.

Clerical Posts, London

11.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what steps have been taken to fill with suitable civilian personnel the 30 clerical posts in the London area, which were held in August of this year by National Service men.

The recruitment of staff through the Civil Service Commission continues, but civilian staff are not yet available to fill these 30 posts.

Is not the hon. Gentleman contradicting himself? The fact is that he was dismissing suitable clerical staff at the same time as we are now discussing. Why was it not possible to fill these jobs, held by National Service men, with the civilian staff he was discharging?

I was talking in the first place of when the Records Office moved from Ruislip to Gloucester in May, 1952. The second Question refers to the present day.

Is this what the hon. Gentleman, the Government and the Royal Air Force want National Service men for? If civilian labour is available, why not use it and use National Service men for purely military purposes?

These established posts are for established clerical officers. At the moment we are not recruiting temporary civil servants because we expect that very shortly there will be redundancies in other Government Departments in established clerical staffs. We do not want to take on a lot of temporary clerks and make them redundant again.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we are not asking him to take on anyone, but to cease dismissing people who could be employed in positions now held by uniformed Service men?

The hon. Member knows well that the only reason these men became redundant was because we moved the Records Office from Ruislip to Gloucester.

12.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many other ranks are employed at Air Ministry offices in the London area; and how many of this number so employed are in service trades other than clerks, general duties, organisation, personnel and accounts.

Could not some of these positions held by clerical airmen be filled by the civilian employees who are being dismissed from the Air Ministry and other Departments?

I have just explained that at present we are not taking on temporary clerks.

May we take it that the people who are being discharged from other Government Departments and the Air Ministry will now be given a chance of filling these positions held at the moment by uniformed airmen?

Yes, certainly. If established clerical civil servants become available from other Departments they will certainly be given a chance of employment at the Air Ministry.

Will the hon. Gentleman say quite categorically that it is not the policy of the Air Ministry to employ National Service men on non-regimental and non-military tasks which might be performed by civilians?

We are talking about 30 people, as I am answering the third Question. I can give the assurance that as soon as we can fill these 30 posts for established clerks we shall do so.

Will the hon. Gentleman be good enough to reply to my question? It is quite a simple one. I want to know whether it is the policy of the Air Ministry to employ National Service men on tasks of this kind when civilian labour is available?

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Shipping (Oil Pollution)

14.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he can now give a report on the result of the international consultations on the subject of eliminating the pollution of the sea by oil.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation
(Mr. Hugh Molson)

The international consultations that have taken place on this subject since the war have amounted to little more than an interchange of information. As my right hon. Friend indicated on 11th November in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), following the issue of the recent Report of the Committee on the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, which underlines the urgent need to seek the cooperation of other countries in preventing pollution of the seas, we have decided to invite the principal maritime powers to attend a special conference as early as possible next year.

Will my hon. Friend recall that it is now some months ago since the former and popular Under-Secretary for Air—whom I am glad to see sitting beside him—assured me that this matter was being taken up urgently with the United Nations with a view to having separators established in order to save the thousands of sea birds which are killed every year?

The recommendation of the Committee was that Her Majesty's Government should seek the agreement of other maritime countries to the fixing of a date after which discharge of oil into the sea would be prohibited. It is in order to obtain that agreement as soon as possible that my right hon. Friend is convening this conference early next year.

Would the Minister give instructions to our own shipping that they should not eject oil within 10 miles of our own coast?

That is obviously a matter that will arise as soon as an agreement has been reached.

Does not my hon. Friend think that Her Majesty's Government might take some steps, even before some international action, to give a lead to other nations and show them how we think the problem can best be dealt with?

Would the Parliamentary Secretary consider a very vexed question that is worrying many seaside local authorities who have spent vast sums of money in keeping their own beaches clear by putting in plant so that sewage will not be distributed along the beaches in their areas? Their whole work is becoming nullified because the discharge of oil on these beaches is destroying bathing facilities and everything else. We should try to set some example so far as our own shipping is concerned that will give a lead to other nations.

I shall certainly take note of the point which has been raised, but it is obvious that the evil to which the hon. Gentleman is referring cannot be rectified merely by British ships taking action. It is essential that we should get international agreement on the subject.

Civil Aviation

Foreign Aircraft (Third Party Insurance)

15.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when it is intended to introduce legislation to implement the provisions of the Convention on Damage caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties, thus making it compulsory for aircraft owners to insure against such liability.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation
(Mr. John Profumo)

This is under consideration, but legislation is not likely to be practicable this Session.

Will my hon. Friend note that that information will be received with some disappointment, at any rate by the local authorities surrounding London Airport, who are very worried about what might happen if a disaster occurred? Will he please do his best to try to get the legislation brought into this Session?

I can assure my hon. Friend that the United Kingdom intends to make insurance compulsory for all aircraft flying over United Kingdom territory.

Helicopter Station, London

16.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress has been made since July in arriving at a decision on the best site for a helicopter passenger station in London.

I have nothing to add at present to the answer my right hon. Friend gave the hon. Gentleman on 21st October, 1953.

In view of the urgency and importance of this matter and the need for some enterprise, will the hon. Gentleman say that his Department is not over-cautious and will be able to take advantage of this development in the very near future?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that there is no lethargy here whatever. There is purely caution as airstop requirements in terms of movement area and obstruction clearances may be greatly affected by the development of such features as stub wings and rotors propelled by tip-jet units. These developments are at an early stage and a good deal of trial and error must be studied before the performance of commercial-sized helicopters can be assessed with reasonable accuracy. The results would affect not only the suitability of a particular site but also the cost.

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that the effects of helicopter noise on any houses or offices near the proposed station will be considered?

Air Safety Regulations

21.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what action he is taking to enforce and strengthen the air safety regulations following the Hermes air crash off Sicily in August, 1952.

In addition to the improvements in the life saving equipment and modifications to the aircraft mentioned in reply to the Question by the hon. Gentleman on 22nd July last, amendments to the regulations will make further provision for practice of emergency drills and for emergency lighting systems in aircraft.

Would the hon. Gentleman explain why it is that the safety regulations on non-schedule airline flights are different from those required by schedule airlines?

Hermes Aircraft (Accident)

22.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will institute a full inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the crash of the Hermes aircraft off Sicily in August, 1952.

No, Sir. A thorough investigation was made by the Italian authorities and my right hon. Friend does not consider any further light would be thrown on the cause of the accident by a separate United Kingdom inquiry.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that four very young children were drowned in this crash; that the dinghies for children could not be found; that no safety instructions were given to the passengers on this aircraft and that the equipment itself was defective? Is he further aware that the Italian report was very critical of the company and the crew, and is it not appropriate that the report should be either published or duplicated in England?

I have nothing to add to my answer. I have already acquainted the hon. Gentleman with everything I was able to tell him about the report, and there is another Question on the Order Paper about the matter.

Are we to understand that the report has not been published in England?

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall endeavour to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Valley Airfield, Anglesey (Diversionary Landings)

39.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many diversionary landings have been made by civil aircraft at Valley Airfield, Anglesey, during the last three years.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is a most unsatisfactory reply? Is he aware that Valley is scheduled as the reserve airport for Prestwick? Can he say where aircraft diverted from Prestwick go if they do not go to Valley?

Some go to Shannon, but we have, of course, no means of compelling operators to use a certain airport if they find that another suits them better.

Roads

Staffordshire

17.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will reconsider the amount of the road grant to Staffordshire, in view of the increasing weight of traffic on the county's roads, the number of danger spots, and the chronic congestion of traffic in principal towns.

I regret that no further grant funds can be made available to Staffordshire in the current financial year, but the considerations which the hon. Member mentions will be given full weight in allocating funds for next year.

Will not the new Parliamentary Secretary put aside his brief and study the problem with a fresh mind? Is he aware that Staffordshire is receiving a smaller grant than neighbouring counties because its roads happen to be narrower although they are far more used and much more dangerous and, therefore, are in far greater need of repair? Will the hon. Gentleman reconsider the whole basis of allocations, which is grossly inefficient?

I have already had occasion to study the grievances of Staffordshire. Although we hope to allocate more money next year, as I have said, I cannot admit that Staffordshire has so far suffered any injustice. Whereas the average reduction in grant for all the counties in the Kingdom this year was 3·5 per cent., the reduction in the case of Staffordshire was only 1·8 per cent. and, although Staffordshire has not the greatest mileage in the Midland division, the maintenance allocation was the highest. I therefore feel that Staffordshire has not been harshly treated.

Is my hon. Friend aware that those figures mean absolutely nothing unless one takes into consideration the original grants over the years? Secondly, would he call for a report on that section of A5 from Fazeley to Rugeley, which is a perfectly appalling section of a national road that is a direct responsibility of the Government?

My right hon. Friend received in the summer a deputation of hon. Members representing the county of Staffordshire, and as a result of what was said to him then he has given orders that there should be a special investigation of Staffordshire's requirements.

29.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how often the Class I and Class II roads in Staffordshire are re-surfaced; and how this figure compares with the national figure of complete re-surfacing every 42 years.

I am informed that since the war the Class I and Class II roads in Staffordshire have been re-surfaced at an average rate of once every 33 years, which is considerably better than the national average.

Is the Minister aware that if the re-surfacing rate is better than the national average some of us are sorry for the national average? Is he also aware that, after considerable search, the hon. Member for Leek has discovered that the Romans re-surfaced Watling Street, which is a part of the A5 road, at a faster rate than this at the time of the Augustine Empire?

It may be that the quality of the Roman roads was not as high as the quality of the roads today.

30.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the tonnage per mile per week of traffic passing over Class I roads in Staffordshire, as compared with Cheshire and Shropshire.

No comprehensive census in these counties has been carried out since 1938, when the average weekly tonnage of traffic per census point was 31,799 tons in Staffordshire, 29,848 tons in Cheshire and 17,005 tons in Shropshire. The census was based on traffic counted at particular points and no figure can be given indicating tonnage per mile.

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for those figures, may I ask him whether he is aware that they demonstrate the paramount importance of Staffordshire roads to the British economy? Is not he aware that in the industrial axis from Liverpool to London, where about five-sixths of the population of Britain live, access to East and West ports is bound to be taken over the roads of Staffordshire and that, consequently, without just pushing the case for Staffordshire, it is of paramount importance to the British economy to get a further grant for these roads?

If I had ever been in doubt about the importance of Staffordshire to the British economy, I should have been informed upon the subject in the course of the last seven days.

31.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is aware of the dangerous condition of most of the Class I and Class II roads in the county of Stafford; and when he will allocate an extra grant to the county for road maintenance and repairs.

My right hon. Friend cannot endorse the suggestion that these roads are dangerous through lack of maintenance, but he will give full weight to Staffordshire's claims to receive more money for road maintenance when allocating funds for next year.

Is the Minister aware that, while we are voting millions of pounds for the defence of this country, it is one of the most foolish acts from a strategic point of view to undermine the standard of our roads? Does he realise that if we had to evacuate London there would be chaos on the ancient roads of Britain?

I can hardly imagine any development of the roads of Britain which would not result in chaos if London had to be evacuated.

Pedestrian Crossings (Flashing Beacons)

20.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he has now been able to assess the value of the flashing crossing light; and what alteration is proposed.

33.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what evidence he has to support the extended provision of blinking beacons at pedestrian crossings in heavily built-up areas.

46.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether, in view of the objections by local authorities and motoring organisations to the use of flashing beacons at zebra crossings, he will now abandon this experiment.

This method of indicating pedestrian crossings was decided on after thorough trials of various alternatives. There have been no objections from the motoring organisations, and the local authority associations agreed with the flashing beacon. Road users generally seem to find it an effective warning and, as my right hon. Friend has already announced, he proposes to make flashing beacons compulsory as soon as all local authorities have had time to install the mechanism.

Will my hon. Friend take great care, before he makes them compulsory, to consult opinion generally? Many of us feel that these traffic light indicators are very dangerous indeed on dark, badly-lit roads and that on well-lighted roads they add to the confusion of lights.

Did investigations dealing with this type of light include the use of these flashing beacons where a large number of these pedestrian crossings are close to one another, as in centres of large urban areas, where the confusion is such as to increase the danger to the pedestrian rather than reduce it?

The purpose of having flashing beacons instead of steady lights was that it was thought that in illuminated streets motorists would find it easier to see the beacons if they were flashing. If the lamps were steady there would be danger of confusing them with illuminations in shop windows.

As regards the second question, in the original circular issued by the Ministry of Transport it was said to be undesirable that where these crossings were close to each other the light should synchronise. We have changed our view about that as a result of experience, and we now think that it will be less confusing to motorists where the crossings are close together that lights should synchronise. It is my right hon. Friend's intention to alter the circular in that respect.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is a growing volume of opposition to the continuance of what has proved to be a "blinking flop" rather than anything else? Will he give serious consideration to the increasingly powerful arguments being advanced against the extension of this scheme?

We are certainly willing to learn by experience. This is an experiment in an attempt to make the crossing of roads safer. There are all kinds of arguments for and against, and if as a result of experience and further discussion something better can be devised, we should be willing to adopt it. We are willing to listen to representations on the subject.

In that case, will the Parliamentary Secretary keep in mind that one way of solving this problem is to have clear illumination of the crossings from overhead?

Would my hon. Friend look at Sloane Square where there are about 20 of these signs, which are very confusing, particularly on wet nights, and also illuminated advertisements, which make the place look exactly like Battersea Park on festival night?

Street Works (Traffic Control)

23.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if, in order to minimise the risk of accidents and also delays in traffic where street works are in progress, he will now make Regulations under Section 8 of the Public Utilities Street Works Act, 1950, prescribing uniform methods of traffic control during the progress of street works.

Regulations are in force under the London Traffic Act, 1924, relating to the lighting and marking of street works in the London traffic area and my right hon. Friend is ready to consider whether further measures are necessary either inside or outside London. Perhaps my hon. Friend would indicate rather more precisely the scope of the regulations that he has in mind.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there are many different systems of control in use, ranging from traffic lights automatically controlled to those controlled by hand and also the old fashioned method of flags? Does he not think that all these different controls make for a great deal of confusion?

My right hon. Friend has not in fact made Regulations under Section 8 (2) of the 1950 Act, which applies to other parts of the country than London. The reason is that he is not convinced that they are necessary in view of the obligations imposed upon the statutory undertakers, and he is not at present convinced that it is desirable because of the variation in local conditions. But this matter is under consideration and we shall bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said.

Tay Road Bridge

24.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will consult with the local authorities concerned with a view to initiating preliminary steps in connection with a Tay road bridge similar to those already undertaken in connection with a Forth road bridge.

38.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will arrange for the preparation of estimates for the construction of a new road bridge over the Tay at Dundee and of a dual carriageway trunk road from Forth to Tay in order that the project of an East Coast route can be viewed as a whole.

I do not think that estimates or preliminary steps would serve any useful purpose at the present time. The construction of such a bridge and trunk road would be very expensive and in my opinion would not be justified in the foreseeable future by the volume of traffic likely to benefit.

On what strange concept of justice is the Minister refusing in the case of the Tay road bridge to take the very modest step taken in the case of the Forth road bridge?

It is quite obvious that if steps are taken in the case of one bridge, that is the reason why there is less money available for taking similar steps in the case of another bridge at the same time. In point of fact there is nothing like the same amount of traffic likely to cross the Tay as there is crossing the Forth, and therefore in terms of priority the Tay bridge comes a long way behind the Forth bridge.

May I ask the Minister to have another look at this question with special regard to the road north from where the new Forth road bridge may be built? The exit from North Queens-ferry is very bad. May I also ask if he is aware of the position of the bridge further up the Forth which was recently opened, and where the south approach is only now being made?

Would the Minister agree that it would help enormously in deciding the importance of projects if we could have a list of priorities?

So far as the road is concerned, we have approved in county development plans the provision of a double carriageway trunk road from the proposed Forth bridge to cross the Tay. That matter is approved in principle for the future. Regarding the publication of priorities, they are indicated each year when the Estimates have been approved and the programme is made known.

As the Parliamentary Secretary has said that the priority of the Tay bridge is a long way behind that of the Forth bridge, will he say what is the priority of the Forth bridge?

May I ask my hon. Friend, as he has said that a double carriageway is planned between the Forth and the Tay, if it is not urgent to have some plan, at any rate at the blue-print stage, for carrying out what obviously is the intention?

I will gladly consider the possibility of that, but it is a matter of making plans for the unforeseeable future.

Junction, Cardiff

27.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware of the danger existing at the junction of Sanatorium Road, Grosvenor Street and Lansdowne Road, Cardiff; and what action he proposes to take.

I have no information that this junction is specially dangerous. The initiative for any improvement rests with the Cardiff City Council as the highway authority.

Surely the Minister is not unaware of the accidents that have taken place at this spot and, at least, has made some inquiries since this Question was put on the Order Paper? Am I to assume that he knows nothing at all?

That would be a mistaken assumption. The accident record for the junction in question, as supplied by the City Police for the last three years, covers six accidents of which four involved only slight personal injury. The junction compares favourably with many similar junctions in Cardiff as regards the number of accidents. That perhaps is the reason why the Cardiff City Council has not made any representation to the Ministry on the subject.

Unadopted Road, Newcastle-Under-Lyme (Repairs)

28.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if, in view of the action taken by his Department 11 years ago to repair the road between Silverdale and Crackley Gates in Newcastle-under-Lyme, he will now determine the responsibility for the maintenance of this road and take steps to put it in a reasonable condition.

Though repairs to this road were done at Government expense as a war-time measure, it is an unadopted road and my right hon. Friend has no power to determine the responsibility for its maintenance. However, if it is repaired and the two councils concerned adopt it, we would favourably consider an application for its classification.

Does that mean that the Minister can do nothing to see that this road is made up? Does he know of the absolutely shocking state of the road on which the bus men have to do voluntary maintenance to fill in the worst potholes because nobody will take responsibility for it? Cannot the Minister say who is responsible for the road?

It is a private road connecting two mining villages. It would be open to the two councils concerned to adopt it. In that case, as I have said, the Ministry of Transport would do what it could to help in a financial way.

A6 (Shap To Hucks Brow)

32.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when he anticipates that the stretch of A6 from the top of Shap to Hucks Brown will be widened to allow three lines of traffic.

In view of the proposal to construct a new road through the Lune Valley, it is not at present proposed to widen the existing road.

Will my hon. Friend see whether he cannot arrange for the widening of the existing road at least at the most difficult points, because this road—which is much more important than any in Staffordshire or the road between the Forth and the Tay—carries very heavy traffic and in winter one heavy vehicle in difficulties is sufficient to block the traffic both ways? Is not he aware that a small amount of work would make a large amount of difference?

If my hon. Friend can show how it would be possible without undue expenditure to relieve the pressure, with which I am familiar, on the Shap Road, we should certainly be very glad indeed to consider his suggestion. Perhaps my hon. Friend will have a word with me about it.

In view of the delay which unfortunately must elapse before the Lune Road is dealt with, will not my hon. Friend give very serious consideration to what was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane), because the position is most desperate?

I have already said that if my hon. Friend will raise the matter with me, I will go into the position most carefully.

Slough

34.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what reply he has given to the Association of British Chambers of Commerce regarding the need for a national plan of road improvement; to proposals by the Slough Chamber of Commerce for a northern by-pass to relieve the congestion in Slough High Street; for bridge improvements at Uxbridge Road, Wexham Road, Dover Road and Leigh Road; and for junction improvements where service roads meet the main road.

My right hon. Friend has discussed fully and sympathetically with a deputation from the Association of British Chambers of Commerce their case for an expanded programme and has undertaken to consider their representations. As the reply to the other points in the hon. Member's Question is rather detailed, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will the hon. Gentleman pay special attention to the need for a by-pass to relieve Slough on three grounds: first, the need for an outlet from West London to the West; secondly, the danger of accidents in the congested area; and, thirdly, the fact that £183,000 has already been tied up in this scheme and that ever since 1939 there have been bridge foundations at Bray which cost £63,000 and which are still lying waste there?

Following are the details:

I have no knowledge of proposals having been made to me by the Slough Chamber of Commerce about a northern by-pass or about bridge improvements in Uxbridge Road and Wexham Road. I have replied to representations from them about bridges in Dover Road and Leigh Road that, as these are on unclassified roads, the cost of reconstructing them would not be eligible for grant, but that any application from the highway authority for authorisation under Defence Regulation 56A or for loan sanction would receive consideration. A meeting has been held with the Slough Chamber of Commerce to discuss conditions at the junction of a service road with Bath Road and experiments are now being carried out to ascertain whether the provision of a refuge as suggested at the meeting would be a satisfactory solution.

Transport

Traffic Indicators (Flashing Lights)

19.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will state the technical considerations which led him initially to condemn the flashing light indicator.

We never, in fact, condemned flashing light indicators but as, in all questions of this kind, there are arguments on both sides and it is necessary to weigh arguments on both sides before a final decision is taken.

Does not my hon. Friend think it strange to find his Department changing its mind about the flashing light indicator because, firstly, it was condemned by his predecessor in the House; and secondly, two motorists in Stockport were fined for using it? Does he not think the failure of his experts to appreciate the value of the flashing light indicator is a serious reflection on their competence?

My predecessor said in reply to a Question on 23rd June that there were a large number of technical objections—that was in fact the case—and that there were also a large number of arguments in favour of legalising this particular indicator. That is what is now being done.

Lyneham—London Bus Service (Licence)

26.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation why he decided not to allow the appeal by G. & K. Barnes to operate an omnibus service from Lyneham to London in view of the fact that they had previously run this service for a considerable time and that a satisfactory alternative service is not now being provided.

As my right hon. Friend said in his letter of 31st August to the parties, all the facts and circumstances of the case were carefully considered, together with all the representations made by the parties at the inquiry into the appeal, before he decided to accept the Inspector's recommendation. His conclusion was that it was not necessary or desirable in the public interest to grant the licence having regard to the alternative facilities already available to meet the needs of the airmen.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a suggestion in this decision that the interests of a nationalised industry were placed before that of the user, and will he in future bring an element of Tory reform to bear on his Department's policy in these matters?

Highland Transport

35.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what action he has taken, or proposes taking, on the Inverness Chamber of Commerce Report on Highland Transport problems sent to him on the 1st May, 1953.

The Report covers a wide range of subjects, and I cannot deal with all of them in this answer. As regards railway charges, this is a matter for the interests concerned to take up in the first instance with the British Transport Commission, and if necessary with the Transport Tribunal. Delegation of regional authority is similarly a question primarily for the Commission in connection with their plans for re-organisation under Section 16 of the Transport Act, 1953. As has already been announced, special financial provision has been made for the improvement of Highland roads. Any increase in the existing subsidy for steamer services in the Western Highlands would require the approval of the House.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Inverness Chamber of Commerce had not up to the end of last month received even an acknowledgment of the report? Does he realise that the apparent continued indifference of the Government to Highland transport problems is causing exasperation in the North? Is there not a precedent for intervention by the Minister when transport charges injure a community, as in the case of the London area?

I am extremely sorry if by inadvertence the report was not acknowledged. It has certainly been received and is being given careful consideration. I agree that in certain circumstances there may be occasion for intervention, but not when machinery for the consideration of rates has been provided by Statute.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether his right hon. Friends have yet produced any plan to deal with the situation arising from the disorganisation of road transport in the Highlands?

I am not aware of any "disorganisation" of road transport in the Highlands. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the whole question of road transport is being dealt with at the present time.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Government recently passed an Act disorganising road transport in the Highlands?

Foreign Service Men (Third Party Insurance)

37.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether his regulations in respect of insurance of the car, road tax and holding a British driving licence are imposed on foreign service men in Britain who own a private car, in the same way as they are imposed on British subjects who own a private car.

Members of Visiting Forces are subject to the same legal obligations as British subjects in respect of the insurance and licensing of their private cars, with the one minor exception that no licence duty is payable for the first 90 days for a car which such a person brings into this country with him. They are also required to hold British driving licences, but these are granted without a driving test to members of a Visiting Force, in common with other temporary visitors to Great Britain, if they hold driving permits issued by the authorities of their own country.

Can the hon. Gentleman say who is responsible for ensuring that a foreign service man who drives a car in this country complies with British regulations? Is he aware that there have been instances where British civilians have been killed by foreign service men who have been driving their own cars and that the relatives of the British civilians have no recourse to British law for compensation? Will he take some steps to deal with the matter or at least tell the House who is responsible and what steps can be taken to ensure that there is compliance with British regulations?

It is the duty of the British police to see that the ordinary regulations are complied with. With regard to the second point, I think the hon. Lady is referring to a case which she took up with the Foreign Office. I understand that she has not responded to the invitation of my hon. Friend, one of the Joint Under-Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, to convey to him the further details upon the subject for which he asked.

That case is an entirely different matter. What I want to know now is, if the British police authorities are responsible for dealing with these matters, how is it that they cannot take any action at all against a visiting foreign service man who commits a crime in this country by killing someone when using a car which is not insured? What are the responsibilities of the British police in this matter?

If a breach of the regulations was committed, the police would make representations to the military authorities or whoever was responsible for the Visiting Forces

Will the hon. Gentleman look up the debate we had in the House when this matter was dealt with by legislation and see if the promise then given by the Ministry that the law of this country could and would be enforced can be carried out in the case of uninsured cars being on the road?

A civil action would lie. I will certainly look up the matter and see if any undertaking which was given has been carried out.

Surely the hon. Gentleman knows that to drive an uninsured private car on the roads of this country is a criminal and not a civil matter?

Does the hon. Gentleman really mean to tell the House that under the existing arrangements between this country and the United States a service man belonging to the United States forces who drives a private car without insurance and without a driving licence can be prosecuted in the British courts?

I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would put that Question on the Order Paper. I was asked what the regulations on the subject were, and I have answered that. I should like to see a Question on the Order Paper before I state exactly what the correct procedure would be in the event of a breach of the regulations.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Road Haulage Disposal Board (Report)

40.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he has yet received the report for the first six months of the Road Haulage Disposal Board; and when he expects to make it available to hon. Members.

My right hon. Friend has not yet received this report. When he does he will lay a copy before each House as required by Section 2 (9) of the Transport Act, 1953.

Why has the report been delayed in view of the fact that during the period no invitation was issued for tenders for the purchase of vehicles? In view of the statement issued yesterday concerning tenders, is it not clear that the vehicles will not be sold this year, which was the hope originally expressed by the Minister, or next year, and perhaps many of them never?

No, Sir, none of those things is at present obvious. There has inevitably been delay in holding the first auction. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the auction was advertised in the newspapers yesterday. We have no reason to suppose that the report will not be presented to the House within the very near future.

Will my hon. Friend accept the congratulations of this side of the House upon the expedition with which the sales of these units are now being organised?

C Licences

41.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the latest available figures of the number of C licences current and the number of operators relative thereto: and what increase this represents over the figure at 31st October, 1951, or for the nearest date for which figures are available.

At 31st October, 1953, "C" Carriers' licences covering 430,756 operators and 861,953 vehicles were in force. This represents an increase of 30,618 operators and 74,546 vehicles over the figures at 31st October, 1951.

Since the number of C licences continues to increase despite the Government's transport policy, will the Government now argue that the increase is due to their denationalisation policy in the same way as they formerly argued that the increase was due to the nationalisation policy of the Labour Government?

The hon. Gentleman is not fully aware of the figures relating to the matter. It was in October, 1951, that denationalisation of road transport became a practical political issue.

The rate of increase of C licences in 1950–51 was 8 per cent. It fell to 5 per cent. in 1952. The increase for the first 10 months of 1953 is only 3 per cent., which represents an annual rate of rather less than 4 per cent. The figures point to exactly the opposite conclusion to that which the hon. Gentleman has drawn.

Is it not a fact, first, that C licences have continued to increase, and, secondly, that the percentage increase was already declining steadily under nationalisation, with the number of new C licences taken out being less month by month as the success of British Road Services was appreciated.

I have already pointed out that the rate at which C licences are now increasing is declining rapidly.

On a point of order. We have only reached Question No. 41, and the reason is the interminable length of many supplementaries. I wonder whether it would be possible, Mr. Speaker, to have a class of instruction in a Grand Committee Room in order to teach Members how to ask snappy questions?

We should have reached an even lower figure on Questions if I had taken all the supplementary questions which hon. Members desired to ask. I hope that hon. Members will try to keep their supplementary questions short and to the point.

Can it be noted that Scottish Questions are not on the Order Paper today?

There were some Scottish Questions on transport matters, and they have taken their normal time.

Prohibited Areas, Kenya (Bombing)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make about the decision to use heavy bombers in Kenya.

As I informed the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) on 6th May last, Harvard aircraft have been used to drop bombs on known hiding places of terrorist gangs in the prohibited areas in Kenya. They are also used for reconnaissance. These prohibited areas, mainly the forest ranges of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya, are known to everyone, and there is no risk to law-abiding persons. Harvard aircraft are single-engined machines, have a limited range and can only drop small bombs.

General Erskine has asked for the use of a small detachment of Lincoln aircraft from the Middle East. He hopes that their long range and endurance will enable them to carry out more effective reconnaissance, and where targets present themselves to drop heavier bombs. There has been no change in policy concerning the use of aircraft. No bombing or other armed action by aircraft is permitted outside the prohibited areas.

May I ask the Secretary of State whether his attention has been called to reports that we are now to engage in what is called "pattern bombing," as distinct from target bombing, and whether he will now say exactly what that means? Does it not perhaps involve the loss of innocent lives as well? Secondly, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention was called to the statement made by General Erskine on 21st October and reported in the Press on 22nd October, from which I quote:

"Though the situation was now much better, there was no military answer to Kenya's problems."
General Erskine further stated:
"The problem is now purely political—how Europeans, Africans and Asians can live in harmony on a long-term basis. If the people of Kenya could address themselves to this problem and find a solution, they would have achieved far more than I could do with security forces."
In view of this statement, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman two further questions? First, will he consider the political repercussions of this statement; and will he reconsider his decision? Further, will he consult the Governor in order to make the Emergency Council in Kenya representative of all communities, so that their views on the political repercussions of military action may be considered? Secondly, in view of the recent statement by Mr. Blundell and Mr. Mathu will he consider reconvening the 1951 conference on further political action in Kenya.

On the first point, I think the definition of "pattern bombing" applies to a large number of aircraft when they all release their bombs at once over a wide area. I think that is so. We are only talking now about four Lincoln aircraft.

With regard to the other question, which frankly appears to me to go very much wider indeed than the original Private Notice Question, of course, when General Erskine referred to these matters he was speaking generally. There is no doubt whatever that political advancement is now the subject of discussion, and consideration of the proposals put forward by Mr. Blundell is being retarded by the presence of these armed gangs in the forest areas. They have to be dealt with if we are to expect any great advance on the other fronts, but I assure the right hon. Gentleman that both the Governor and Her Majesty's Government are well aware of the need for an advance on the political and social fronts and that there is no reason whatever to cancel the instructions to try to comb out these gangs from the forest.

Do I gather from the answer which the Minister has now given that the term "pattern bombing" used here is not a reference to indiscriminate bombing over a wide region, because that impression was given by the report? Secondly, in view of the proposals of Mr. Mathu, as well as those of Mr. Blundell, will the Secretary of State now make an early statement on when this conference can be reconvened?

I am not prepared to do that at the moment, because informal discussions are taking place. With regard to "pattern bombing," I do not think that is a phrase that has been used from any official source; I would not be sure, but I do not think so. Moreover, it is completely inapplicable to the number of aircraft involved, and also to the fact that the bombing takes place in prohibited areas where it is unlawful for anybody to be at all.

Will my right hon. Friend make a statement in regard to the report which has just been received that three Europeans were killed this morning by Mau Mau in Kenya, and that other Europeans and Africans were injured?

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is the case that the penalty for being in a prohibited area is death; and if the penalty is not death, whether it is not savage to use "pattern bombing" on anybody who might find himself in a prohibited area?

I do not say that the term "pattern bombing" is the correct one, and if anybody endangers his life by being in a prohibited area, there is a very simple remedy, and that is to come out.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman assure the House a few weeks ago that Kikuyu tribesmen were being compelled to join Mau Mau or to go to Mau Mau and were being taken by force into these prohibited areas? Does not this represent a policy of extermination of innocent people? Is it justified by any law of any kind, and what defence will the right hon. Gentleman have against an indictment for murder brought against him and all other persons carrying out this policy?

I really think the hon. Gentleman is very wide of the mark. All that we are dealing with here are gangs, and he should have addressed his question to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), because the policy we are now pursuing is precisely similar to that pursued in Malaya, where Lincoln bombers were used in 1950.

The right hon. Gentleman again raises this question. The term "pattern bombing" does not come from official sources, and I have already said that I regard it as inaccurate. I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the reply which he himself made on this subject when he was asked on 25th October, 1950, by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) to reconsider the whole policy of using bombers in Malaya. He replied:

"This is a matter which I would prefer to leave to the Director of Operations in Malaya."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 2772.]
We are not so leaving it in this case of Kenya.

Are not the jungle conditions in Kenya precisely the same as existed in Malaya? Were not these areas used for training in jungle operations in Malaya during the last war, and, therefore, the circumstances are exactly parallel to the conditions in Malaya itself?

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 decision of Her Majesty's Government to utilise in Kenya Lincoln bombers in a new policy of large-scale bombing of British citizens of African birth."
May I say, in support of this Motion, as I am entitled to do—

The hon. Gentleman should bring his Motion up to me. The hon. Gentleman asks permission to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, on a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely,

"The decision of Her Majesty's Government to utilise in Kenya Lincoln bombers in a new policy of large-scale bombing of British citizens of African birth."
I cannot find that that is at all within the Standing Order.

The hon. Member can rise to his point of order when I have sat down. The hon. Member who asked leave to move this Motion must place it as a definite matter of urgent public importance. The statement I have heard today from the Minister really means that, though the use of aircraft has been going on in Kenya—so the use of aircraft as such is not urgent or new—a new aircraft is being used, one of longer range. I cannot see that that is an urgent matter of public importance such as to justify me in interrupting the Orders of the Day for this Motion.

The point I was seeking to make is rather serious, and is almost irrelevant now. It is that my hon. Friend should be allowed to make his submissions to you before you come to any decision. It is difficult for the occupant of the Chair to change his mind when he has come to a decision. In future, I suggest that you should hear submissions from hon. Members who raise points in this House before any prima facie Ruling is given. This is not making any criticism of your decision. I remember the Leader of the Opposition—[Interruption.] We are now allowed to make submissions to you, I assume, Sir?—in 1936 successfully moved the Adjournment of the House during the middle of the Spanish civil war as a definite matter of urgent public importance, in spite of the fact that the war had been going on for some time. I would ask you to have regard to that decision given by your predecessor, Mr. Speaker FitzRoy.

With regard to the first point, naturally I will consider what the hon. Member says. I am acting in accordance with the practice, and I do not propose to alter it without deep consideration. With regard to the second matter, the ground of my decision is not that the emergency is still in progress in Kenya, but that I see no definite matter of urgent public importance in the use of one aircraft instead of another. There has been no Question put and no evidence given of any use of these aircraft in any exceptional way which might raise another matter. Clearly it is not within the Standing Order.

May I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to a literary authority on the matter, Lewis Carroll, who pointed out the difficulty in which applicants are placed if the verdict is given before the evidence is heard? I would also respectfully call your attention to the fact that you quoted a statement made by the Colonial Secretary today without giving me an opportunity of quoting my side of the facts, so as to have the facts put from both sides of the House. The facts I wished to submit to you are these: the Colonial Secretary has said more than once that there are more people than the Mau Mau in the Aberdare forest, people who are being compulsorily recruited, being taken there by force, and being kept there as prisoners; therefore there are innocent people in the Aberdare forest who will be liable to suffer from this bombing.

On the question of degree, it may very well be argued that there is no material difference in nature between the stink bomb and the atom bomb, but I venture to say that there is a difference in the moral sense of this country in regard to the use of the atom bomb even in time of war.

There is this additional matter. The right hon. Gentleman has said that Harvard aircraft take off from land quite near and do not have to pass over any populous area. The Harvards are short-distance aircraft, easily manœuverable. They can take off from any short space. There is the important fact that I wish to put to you as a matter of common knowledge of which you can take judicial notice that throughout the war towns in Holland and Belgium were being destroyed by accident as bombers passed over them. It is not therefore accurate to say that the introduction of new, modern bombers in a place like Kenya can be done without risk to the civilian population.

This is a grave decision and a matter of great importance. It means that British citizens who are innocent may be killed tomorrow. There can be no greater urgency than that and no greater reason for moving the Adjournment.

These arguments are really out of order. I gave careful consideration to this matter. I anticipated that such a Motion might arise when I saw the Private Notice Question. I have given my decision after the deepest consideration. There is nothing new in what the hon. Gentleman has said that was not before my mind when I came to the decision. There is no question here of atom bombs or stink bombs, and there is nothing before the House of that nature. There has been no change at all in the policy which has been pursued of using aircraft in this emergency. I do not see that the substitution of one aircraft for another alters the matter at all.

On this question whether or not there has been new development in policy, according to reports in the Press, confirmed, I believe, by what the Colonial Secretary said today, this matter was referred by the Director of Operations on the spot to the Cabinet, and the decision embarked upon, this new development of bombing, was taken at Cabinet level. Do not that fact and the fact that the matter should be referred to the Cabinet in themselves indicate a new development?

There would be difficulties if every matter decided by the Cabinet became the subject of a Motion under Standing Order No. 9. Lots of matters are decided by the Cabinet. I have no knowledge, anyhow, of that except what the hon. Member tells me.

May I put two short points to you? If this development involves nothing which is either new or urgent, how came it to be allowed—as it did not come from the Leader of the Opposition—as a Private Notice Question? Secondly, if the change is one from a small aircraft flying locally and using minor armaments to the use of much larger aircraft flying larger distances with immensely more powerful and more destructive armaments, does that not amount to a change, in view of the increased destruction and the wider area of destruction that are obviously involved?

As regards the first point, there is no necessary connection at all between my allowing a Private Notice Question and allowing a Motion for the Adjournment of the House. I frequently allow a Private Notice Question on a matter which I think is of interest to the House. When the right hon. Gentleman asked leave to put this Question, I thought it was a proper Question for him to ask and I allowed it. That does not by any means settle the question whether I shall accept the Motion of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale).

As regards the second part of the point put by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I have covered that entirely in what I have said. I do not think there is anything new here solely because another type of aircraft has been used. No evidence of the use of bombs from these aircraft is yet before the House.

I assure the House that this is not a decision I have come to for any other reason than a desire to save the House from undue interruption of its business on matters which do not comply with the Standing Order. I further assure the House that I have given the matter careful consideration, and I hope that the House will accept my decision.

In view of your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, may I ask you whether, if this bombing does take place on a large scale over a wide area involving great loss of life, you will then be prepared to accept such a Motion, despite the Ruling you have given today?

It is always a very unwise thing to answer hypothetical questions. The events themselves must be clearly established and a proper shape given to them before I could give a useful opinion to the House upon them.

Arising out of your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, can you indicate what size the bombers used will have to reach before the matter becomes one of urgent public importance?

Would I be in order, Mr. Speaker, in appealing to the Government Chief Whip on this occasion to move the Adjournment of the House, in view of the fact that the matter has necessitated a special Cabinet meeting and that the change of policy involved is of such vital importance to Her Majesty's subjects to whom the party opposite wishes to be loyal?

I am afraid that the hon. Member's question is another one in the hypothetical range. I could not possibly give an answer on that matter. As far as the present position is concerned, we have no evidence that any bombs have been dropped from these aircraft, and that is the position before us.

British Guiana Constitution (Order In Council)

I gave notice, Mr. Speaker, that I proposed to seek your guidance on a different subject, but may I first of all sincerely apologise to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies for not giving him notice on the matter? I had intended to do so, but I was preoccupied this morning, and I knew that in any event he was going to be here.

I want to raise the question of the British Guiana Constitution Order which was down on the Order Paper on 5th November as being laid, a copy of which is known to have been placed in the Library of the House of Commons and that of the House of Lords on 5th November.

This is no normal Statutory Instrument. It is, in fact, a draft of an Order in Council designed to alter the whole Constitution of a British Colony, to substitute government by the Governor for the time being, and then to substitute vicarious government by the Governor by a Council of 24.

That Order is still not available in the Vote Office, 14 days after we were told that it had been laid. Under the British Guiana Act, 1928, this is an Order which has to be prayed against within 21 sitting days of the House, subject, of course, to the Amendment of Statutory Instruments Act, 1946, which extends the period to 40 days.

The matter on which I am seeking your guidance, Mr. Speaker, is not merely the grave lapse of time. The Colonial Secretary, in answer to a Question by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) as far back as last Thursday, promised that it would be available within two or three days. Apart from the grave lapse of time so far as this House is concerned, and the fact that it is not available for discussion, it is the fact that during all this time no one in the British Colony knows what is the law. People who want to bring actions have no way of finding out what the facts are. The document is only available in the Library of the House of Commons and cannot be seen by them at all, and we are again told that it may be a day or two before it is available.

The hon. Member gave me notice and asked me a question about it. It really has nothing to do with me at all, but, in order to try to comply with the hon. Member's request, I made some inquiries. It seems that the position is that a small number of copies of this Order will be delivered to the Vote Office within two or three days. There are two copies at present in the Library for the use of hon. Members. That is all I have been able to find out.

May I add something to what you have said, Mr. Speaker? I am sorry if any inconvenience has been caused to hon. Members, but I can inform the House that 100 copies of the Order in Council will be available in the Vote Office after 5 o'clock tonight.

We cannot proceed with this matter any further now. It is most irregular.

Private Members' Bills

Slaughter Of Animals (Amendment) Bill

"to implement certain recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into the Slaughter of Horses, and otherwise to amend the enactments relating to the slaughter of animals," presented by Mr. Moyle; supported by Sir Robert Cary, Mr. T. Williams, Mr. Stokes, Mr. Maclay, Mr. J. Morrison, Mr. Wallace, Mr. Elwyn Jones, Mr. Ross, Miss Burton, Miss Herbison and Colonel Clarke; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 29th January, and to be printed. [Bill 16.]

Protection Of Animals (Anaesthetics) Bill

"to repeal the Animals (Anæsthetics) Act, 1919, and to extend the provisions of the Protection of Animals Acts in relation to the performance of operations on animals," presented by Viscountess Davidson; supported by Miss Bacon, Mr. Finlay, Colonel Gomme-Duncan, Mr. Anthony Greenwood, Sir Arnold Gridley, Mr. Mulley, Mr. Paton, Miss Pitt, Miss Ward, Mr. Willey and Sir Herbert Williams; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 12th February, and to be printed. [Bill 17.]

Safety In Employment (Inspection And Safety Organisation) Bill

"to ensure the representation of employees in the establishment and maintenance of standards and conditions of safety and health in employment; and for the national co-ordination and co-operation of interested parties in matters of occupational safety and health," presented by Mr. William Paling; supported by Mr. Finch, Mr. Elwyn Jones, Dr. Broughton, Dr. Stross, Mr. Hobson, Mr. Monslow, Miss Herbison, Mr. Ellis Smith, Mr. Anthony Greenwood, Mr. Sylvester and Mr. D. Griffiths; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 26th February, and to be printed. [Bill 18.]

Protection Of Birds Bill

"to amend the law relating to the protection of birds," presented by Lady Tweedsmuir; supported by Mr. Alex. Anderson, Major Beamish, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Grimond, Mr. Glenvil Hall, Air Commodore Harvey, Lord John Hope, Mr. Noel-Baker, Mr. Ormsby-Gore and Mr. T. Williams; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 4th December, and to be printed. [Bill 19.]

Marriage Act, 1949 (Amendment) Bill

"to amend the requirements of the Marriage Act, 1949, relating to marriages in registration districts in which neither party to the marriage resides," presented by Mr. Watkins; supported by Rev. L1. Williams, Mr. Cledwyn Hughes, Mr. G. Thomas, Mr. P. Morris, Mr. Grenfell, Mr. West, Mr. C. Davies, Mr. Elwyn Jones, Mr. Goronwy Roberts, Mr. Wade and Mr. Black; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 26th March, and to be printed. [Bill 20.]

Hire Purchase Bill

"to extend the application of the Hire Purchase Act, 1938, and the Hire Purchase and Small Debt (Scotland) Act, 1932, and to make further provision as to postponed orders for specific delivery of goods under the said Act of 1938," presented by Sir Wavell Wakefield; supported by Mr. Arbuthnot, Mr. Bottomley, Mr. Burden, Miss Burton, Colonel Gomme-Duncan, Mr. Grimond, Brigadier Medlicott, Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Shepherd, Mr. Spence and Miss Ward; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 12th March, and to be printed. [Bill 21.]

National Insurance (Small Incomes) Bill

"to amend section five of the National Insurance Act, 1946, so as to permit the crediting of contributions for all purposes to an insured person exempted from liability to pay contributions on the ground of small income," presented by Mr. Alport; supported by Mr. Fletcher-Cooke and Mr. Longden; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 26th March, and to be printed. [Bill 22.]

Law Reform (Limitation Of Actions, &C) Bill

"to assimilate, in certain respects and subject to certain exceptions and special provisions, the law applicable to proceedings against public authorities (including the Crown) and persons acting in pursuance or execution or intended execution of enactments to that applicable in other cases; to amend the law as to the time limited for bringing legal proceedings and as to the survival of causes of action against the estates of deceased persons; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid," presented by Mr. Peyton; supported by Mr. Hylton-Foster, Mr. Maclay, Mr. Paget, Sir Edward Boyle, Mr. Holland-Martin, Mr. N. Macpherson, Mr. Turner-Samuels and Mr. R. Bell; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 4th December, and to be printed. [Bill 23.]

Industrial And Provident Societies (Amendment) Bill

"to amend the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, 1893 to 1952," presented by Mr. W. T. Williams; supported by Mr. H. Wilson, Mr. Robens, Mr. Marquand, Mr. Mitchison, Mr. Coldrick, Mr. Hudson, Mr. Darling, Mrs. Slater and Mr. Forman; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 12th March, and to be printed. [Bill 25.]

Animals (Cruel Poisons) Bill

"to prohibit the killing of animals by strychnine or other cruel poisons; to amend the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, 1933; and for purposes connected therewith," presented by Mr. Spearman; supported by Mr. J. J. Astor, Mr. J. Foster. Mr. Anthony Greenwood, Mr. Maude, Lady Tweedsmuir, Mr. Usborne, Mr. Ian Winterbottom and Mr. Wood; read the First time: to be read a Second time upon Friday, 12th March, and to be printed. [Bill 26.]

Protection Of Animals (Amendment) Bill

"to extend the powers of the courts to disqualify for having custody of animals persons convicted of cruelty to them and to increase the maximum fine for offences of cruelty to animals; and for purposes connected therewith," presented by Mr. Remnant; supported by Mr. Braine, Mr. Anthony Greenwood, Mr. Burden, Major Beamish, Mr. Russell, Mr. Hastings, Viscountess Davidson and Mr. R. Harris; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 12th February, and to be printed. [Bill 27.]

Ministers Of The Crown (Fisheries) Bill

"to provide for the establishment of a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries with special responsibility for fishery; and for purposes connected therewith," presented by Mr. D. Marshall; supported by Mr. Cooper-Key, Mr. Duthie, Mr. Grimond, Mr. Greville Howard. Mr. Leather, Mr. Nabarro, Captain Orr, Sir Harold Roper, Lady Tweedsmuir. Mr. G. Williams and Mr. G. Wilson; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 26th February, and to be printed. [Bill 28.]

Pool Betting Bill

"to regulate the disposal of moneys and to provide for the publication of certain accounts and information in connection with pool betting; to permit ready money bets in certain circumstances by way of pool betting conducted by post and in that connection to repeal the Ready Money Football Betting Act, 1920, and to restrict the application of the Betting Act, 1853