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Labour Conditions

Volume 521: debated on Wednesday 9 December 1953

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will have reprinted Command Paper No. 6070, Labour Conditions in the West Indies; and state what action has been taken and what are the present conditions under each heading and paragraph


:No, Sir. Information on current labour conditions in the West Indies is already available in existing publications.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the time of the publication of these Command Papers they were looked upon by the whole trade union movement as being a black indictment of our colonial administration? Is he further aware that Sir Walter Citrine, who was a member of the Commission, and Ernest Bevin came to this House and addressed a few of us and asked us to watch out and take action on these lines? Has not that time arrived?

:I think that a great advance has been made in the matter since the original Report was published. The information on current labour conditions in the West Indies is very massive, but, if the hon. Gentleman is short of some particular information, I shall be only too happy to help him where I can.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission, with powers to visit any Colony it desires, to investigate and report on labour conditions and other allied subjects


:No, Sir. Labour administration is the responsibility of Colonial Governments and a general Commission of the sort suggested is neither called for nor compatible with the trend of colonial constitutional development.

In view of the increasing interest in this among organised workers throughout the world, if the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept this constructive suggestion, will he consider his reply with a view to taking other action?

I should like to give the hon. Member as sympathetic an answer as I can, but my present view on these matters is that where help is necessary over any of these labour matters in the Colonies, we should deal with each case as it arises. I take this opportunity of saying that the T.U.C. has given us the greatest help in these matters.

Will the Minister give consideration to the appointment of a committee for each Colony representing all sides of this House to go into conditions in each of them so that they can give consideration to the circumstances and the problems of each Colony? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a committee of this calibre would help him, this House, and the Colonies?

No, Sir. I am afraid I cannot accept the suggestion of setting up 36 committees of this House. I should regard that as an entirely unjustified abrogation of my responsibilities.