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Commons Chamber

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1954

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 7th April, 1954

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions

Anglo-Soviet Relations


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the friendly reception given in Moscow to the British trade delegation, he will now consider the desirability of inviting a parliamentary delegation from Moscow to visit this country, and for a similar delegation from the United Kingdom to visit Moscow.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) on 15th March.

In view of the immense issues at stake, does not my hon. Friend agree that no possibility should be neglected to bridge the gap between East and West? Will he therefore see that, if the opportunity arises, he will take it?

Certainly, Sir. The Government agree that no opportunity should be missed, and I can assure my hon. Friend that Her Majesty's Government are missing no opportunity to this end.

Is it not a fact that the last parliamentary delegation was from the Soviet Union to this country and that it is now up to the Soviet Union to invite a parliamentary delegation from this country if they so wish?

Hydrogen Bomb


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will seek consultations with the Government of the United States of America concerning the forthcoming hydrogen bomb tests in tine Pacific with a view to ensuring that British shipping will be adequately protected.

As the Prime Minister informed the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) on 5th April, warnings to shipping have been issued covering the danger area surrounding the place where the tests are held. Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that adequate measures are being taken for the protection of British shipping.

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the official American Government statements on the hydrogen bomb tests showed that, despite precautions, shipping was still found within the danger area? In view of our activities as a maritime nation, does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that further safeguards are necessary? Furthermore, would he not agree that the hydrogen bomb test has proved to know no national boundaries, and will he therefore reconsider the question of submitting representations to the United States Government to see whether we can hold up the tests pending the kind of effort that the right hon. Gentleman is at present undertaking?

We have already discussed fairly fully whether or not representations should be made as such. So far as precautions are concerned, I am satisfied that these are very fully taken. The legal position is, of course, that the United States deals with territorial waters, and that, so far as wider areas are concerned, warnings to shipping are given.

East-West Trade


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, at the forthcoming Geneva Conference, the question of East-West trade will be discussed in conjunction with Indo-China and Korea.

Why not? Seeing that peace-loving peoples in China and the Soviet Union want trade and that the trading nations of the West want peace, would it not be mutually advantageous to link these two things together?

I did not say they would not in any circumstances be linked. Before I go into a conference I do not want to say exactly what I want to do about all these matters, but I would agree with the hon. Gentleman if he put it this way: it would certainly help us at Geneva if a start were made by the Chinese Communist Government treating British trading interests in China rather differently from the way in which they have treated them before.

European Coal And Steel Community (British Association)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the proposed closer association of the United Kingdom with the European Coal and Steel Community.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals for closer association with the European Coal and Steel Community have been made to him by the High Authority; and what reply he has made.

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) on 3rd March.

As it is now several months since these proposals were forwarded by M. Monnet, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the House is entitled to know what the proposals were, even if the Government cannot give the text of the reply?

I think it would be for the convenience of the House if the publication of the proposals were made at the same time as Her Majesty's Government's reply. As to the delay, I hope the hon. Lady will appreciate that M. Monnet served notice upon the British delegation at Luxembourg as long ago as June that he would be presenting proposals, and that it took the High Authority until December to formulate and present the proposals. I do not think there has been undue delay on the part of Her Majesty's Government, in view of the many interests concerned, in formulating their reply to M. Monnet.

Am I to understand that we have not sent our reply to the proposals? Is it not a fact that we have sent some reply while awaiting the counter-proposals of the Schuman Authority?

Would it not ease the situation if the proposals of M. Monnet were to be published in order that the matter might be discussed in public by the various interests concerned? Would that not assist the Government and ourselves in making up our minds on the merits of the proposals? Why should these proposals be kept so secret until the Government have made up their minds?

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we are following the normal practice in this matter. What is more, I can assure him that all the interests concerned, industrial, trade union and so on, are being very fully consulted on this matter, at this very moment. It is because all these consultations are necessary that there has perhaps been a rather longer interval than would otherwise have been the case.

May we then presume that the interests concerned have been consulted about M. Monnet's proposals, but that the Government decline to inform the House of Commons?

No, Sir. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is being quite fair. The interests concerned have been informed and consulted, and the House of Commons will be fully and properly informed and consulted when the Government have decided what reply to make.

In the event of E.D.C. for some reason not coming into being, is it not as well that the proposals should not be published?

Is the Minister aware that while this delay is going on decisions are being made within the Schuman Plan to the tremendous disadvantage of our steel industry?

Is that not a very good reason why all the interested parties should be fully and properly consulted?

Persian Oil Discussions


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the negotiations over Persian oil.

Good progress is being made with the discussions in London and I expect that a delegation from the Consortium of die oil companies will leave for Teheran very shortly.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether these concessions cover the refinery, and, if not, what the position is with regard to it?

There have been no negotiations as yet with the Persian Government. There have been arrangements between the companies concerned, and preliminary arrangements must be made, but all the negotiations themselves take place in Teheran.

European Defence Community (British Association)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals for closer association with the European Defence Community have been made to the French Government.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now state the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding British association with the European Defence Community.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the latest proposals put forward by Her Majesty's Government for British association with the European Defence Community.

I have nothing to add to the reply which my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State gave on 5th April.

Does that mean that we have to await the decision of the French Parliament on the future of E.D.C. before we can be told what are proposals are?

No, Sir, it does not mean anything of the kind. It means that we have to consult the French Government and the other E.D.C. Governments before we announce anything to the House of Commons. I am very conscious of the patience that the House has exercised in this matter, and I am very hopeful that my right hon. Friend will be able to make an announcement before the Easter Recess.

Can the Foreign Secretary assure us that the House will be informed as soon as the French Parliament are informed? Of course, they must be informed when the matter comes up for discussion.

My right hon. Friend has given an undertaking, which has been repeated on several occasions, that the House will be fully informed directly an agreement has been reached with the E.D.C. countries.

In view of the delays, will not the Minister consider that it might be in the public interest, both of France and this country, that these things should be published sooner?

I do not think it unreasonable that we should wait until agreement has been published before the House is informed. That is the normal practice in these matters, and it would be an extremely untidy arrangement to depart from it in this case.

Will the Minister give an assurance that we shall have an opportunity of debating the matter before any agreement is ratified?

No, Sir. The normal constitutional processes will, of course, be observed in this matter, as in every other.

That is not answering my Question, because the House knows that according to the normal constitutional practice ratification can be made by the Government without debate. Why cannot we have a debate—

Nazi Prisoners, Spandau


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, at the forthcoming quadripartite discussions on the question of the Spandau prisoners, he will suggest that on the question of the disposal of bodies of the prisoners the same procedure should be adopted as was the case with Herman Goering and others, in view of the similarity of the crimes committed in each case.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us why, if in the case of the other criminals there was a joint understanding that it would be dangerous to allow them to be buried because the Germans might worship at their shrine and declare them to be martyrs, it is not proposed to carry out the same procedure in regard to these criminals?

Any agreement depends upon the attitude of the four Powers. Our attitude is that the bodies should be handed to the relatives for private burial.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that a great many of us who cannot be suspected of any sympathy with these crimes or criminals are not really very disturbed about what happens to the bodies, provided that they are not made the occasion for political demonstrations?

The hon. Gentleman has admirably expressed what I think is the feeling of the House and the policy that we are trying to pursue.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on what date in 1951 he received a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning the conditions in Spandau Gaol, and enclosing a letter from the wife of prisoner Grand Admiral Karl Von Doenitz; and what was the nature of his reply.

A letter from Frau Doenitz to the Archbishop of Canterbury was forwarded to the Foreign Office on behalf of the Archbishop in November, 1951. As I informed the hon. Member on 31st March, I am not prepared to disclose details of personal communications. I can say, however, that the whole correspondence was concerned exclusively with the question of improving prison conditions. No question of releasing any prisoner was mentioned.

Can the Foreign Secretary say whether, in this photostatic copy of the reply sent by the Archbishop, the following words were in fact remitted to the Archbishop by the Foreign Office:

"Your husband is one of the victims of the present unfortunate political situation."
Is that, in fact, a reflection upon the Nuremberg trial and on the sentences imposed, and did the right hon. Gentleman and the Foreign Office send that reply to the Archbishop?

I have not a copy of the reply with me, but I have made it quite plain that what the reply had to deal with were the conditions, particularly the conditions of sick prisoners, and I think it quite possible that this relates to the fact that so far there has been no four-Power agreement about the treatment of sick prisoners. I hope there will be, and that a little bit of human misery will be mitigated.

While agreeing that these men ought to serve their sentences, is not this petty vindictiveness rather nauseating?

What about my constituents who were murdered? Is there no sympathy for them?

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Soviet Note)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement on the progress of his consultations with the Governments of other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in respect of the intimation by the Soviet Government of its desire to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what answer he proposes to send to Mr. Molotov's Note of 1st April; and if he will set out clearly in that answer the matters on which he deems an immediate agreement essential as steps towards European security.

An answer to the Soviet Note is being prepared, in consultation with the United States and French Governments and with other directly interested Governments. The North Atlantic Council is considering the question, and will, of course, be fully consulted before any reply is sent to Moscow.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in fact, this House will know the conclusions reached by the drafting committee?

Yes, certainly. We shall follow the same procedure as we have with all these Soviet Notes, and I expect that in due course another White Paper will be laid.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will propose to the United States, French and Soviet Governments that the recent Soviet Note on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the proposed European Security Organisation shall be discussed by the Foreign Ministers of the four Powers when they meet at Geneva in April.

No, Sir. It was agreed between the four Foreign Ministers in Berlin that the Geneva Conference is to discuss the problems of Korea and Indo-China.

As the Soviet Note mainly stresses European security and carries on discussions which were started at the Berlin Conference on that subject, will the right hon. Gentleman not be content with sending Notes in reply but suggest arranging a meeting at which these matters can be further discussed between the four Powers, either at Geneva or elsewhere?

The hon. Gentleman asked me about Geneva. I told him that the agenda had been agreed between the four Powers. The agenda cannot be varied except by another agreement between the four Powers. I do not think that it will be very wise to try to get that in the next week or two before we go to Geneva.

I fully agree with what the Foreign Secretary says about Geneva, but may I urge him to make it perfectly plain that we are prepared to talk to the Russians about a new system of all-in collective security, combined with armament reduction and international control?

Passport Applications (False Particulars)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether improved arrangements have now been made to prevent the issue of British passports to persons giving false particulars on their application forms.

Is the Joint Under-Secretary aware of such abuses as were revealed in the case of the late Mr. Chesney who held several passports in different names and other cases where faked names were used, even for clergymen and others authorised to recommend applicants? Would he give an assurance that the new precautions will eradicate such abuses?

We shall certainly take every step open to us to eradicate all abuses. A proper sense of proportion must be maintained in this matter, and I would point out that the number of passports obtained by means of false declarations is only a small fraction of 1 per cent. Our passport system is the envy of many foreign countries, and I would not wish to impair that reputation by adding unnecessarily to the formalities involved.

Anglo-Soviet Treaty


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is prepared to invoke Article V of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of May, 1942, as the basis of talks with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, for our friendly collaboration in the interests of peace and economic prosperity in Europe.

As the House is aware, I twice offered an extension of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty at Berlin, but Mr. Molotov replied that he was unable to understand how we could give such an assurance while we remain a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In view of this attitude, there seems no useful purpose in my attempting to do what the hon. Member suggests.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there might have been some justification in the query of the U.S.S.R. because Article VI of the Treaty of 26th May, 1942, said that we would not enter into any collaboration against the U.S.S.R.? Further, as both Molotov and Eisenhower have said that there was no question which could not be solved by peaceful means, could not the right hon. Gentleman use this Treaty bilaterally as an approach?

We have not joined in any combination against the U.S.S.R. As the whole House feels—this was many times discussed—the North Atlantic Treaty was a defensive arrangement forced upon the late Government by the policies which were being pursued by Soviet Russia.

It says that there are two principles which we must both observe. One is, not seeking territorial aggrandisement, and the other is, not interfering with the internal affairs of other States.

Korea (Geneva Conference)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which countries are to be represented at the Geneva Conference on 26th April on the Korean and Indo-Chinese problems, respectively.

The following countries will be represented at the Geneva Conference for the discussion on Korea: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Republic of Korea has not yet accepted the invitation to be present. As regards the discussion of Indo-China, there is nothing at present to add to the terms of the relevant paragraph of the Berlin communiqué.

In view of recent statements in some Russian official newspapers, will the Foreign Secretary make clear that the proposed Geneva Conference is neither a four- nor a five-Power conference, but a conference of possibly 18 or 19 Governments, as provided in the Berlin Agreement, all of whom will be on an equal footing?

There is no doubt in our minds that every Power attending the Conference will be on an equal footing.

Would the Foreign Secretary agree that this is not to be regarded as either a four- or a five-Power conference, but a conference of those specified member Governments?

I think that the terms of our communiqué were about right. I am afraid that I do not carry them in my head.

Ministry Of Food

Wheat Crop, North-East Area (Disposal)


asked the Minister of Food what action he has taken in view of the complaints of Durham County farmers that they are unable to get last year's wheat moved from the farms.

I have received no complaints from Durham County farmers. If the hon. Member has any specific case in mind I should be glad to look into it.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware of the statement made by the National Farmers' Union complaining of the difficulty? If he is not, perhaps I ought to send him a copy of the statement, which was made publicly.

I do not think that the hon. Member need worry about sending me the statement. As far as the North-Eastern area, which includes Durham, is concerned, the regional manager of Recommissioned Mills Limited says that no contract for purchase by the company is out of date, and that the average time taken before intake is three weeks against the 28 days allowed.



asked the Minister of Food what action he proposes to take on the decontrol of meat regarding the slaughterhouses recently built by the Government.

In accordance with the undertaking given when these places were built, the local authorities concerned have been given an option to acquire the premises for use as public slaughterhouses.

In view of the difficulties which may arise about the use of these slaughterhouses, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman endeavour to clarify the position in each case so that there can be no question of their not being fully used when the time comes later in the year?

The local authorities have been consulted on this matter and are now looking into the proposals.

Will the Minister of Food say on what terms and conditions these slaughterhouses will be subject To the local authorities?

That is under consideration now. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that when the slaughterhouses were originally built the local authorities were given the first option. It is those terms, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, which we are now discussing.

Has my right hon. and gallant Friend set any date by which the local authorities shall exercise the option? It is most important that if they are not to take up the option some other body of farmers, butchers and others should have the facilities.

I am fully alive to what is in the mind of my hon. Friend, and I am hopeful that after these meetings we shall be able to come to a decision.

Citrus Fruits (Thiourea)


asked the Minister of Food if he has considered the letter sent to his Department by the town clerk of West Ham, dated 26th March, concerning the use of thiourea on citrus fruits; and what action he has taken in connection with this letter.


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that, following his circular of 25th January, in respect of the possibility of citrus fruits being contaminated by thiourea, the Leyton Corporation has discovered that oranges sold in Leyton are so contaminated; what evidence he has of similar contamination elsewhere; and what action he proposes to take to prevent the importation of fruit affected by this toxic fungicide originally used as a preservative.

23 and 24.

asked the Minister of Food (1) what action he has taken with regard to the letter sent to his Department by the Town Clerk of West Ham, dated 26th March, 1954, suggesting the prohibition of importation of citrus fruit treated with thiourea:

(2) whether he is aware that an analysis of samples of oranges imported from Spain and on sale to the public in the borough of West Ham has revealed traces of thiourea; and what steps he proposes to take to protect the public from the toxic effects of consumption of citrus fruits treated with thiourea.

I have seen the letter to which hon. Members refer. I am advised that the sale and importation of any article of food containing thiourea contravenes the Preservatives in Food Regulations or the Imported Food Regulations, respectively, and that such sale and importation are therefore prohibited. Food and drugs authorities and port health authorities were so informed last January. The matter has also been brought to the attention of the Governments of the exporting countries.

I am obliged to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. Will he consult his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade with a view to taking some action? In the East End of London, and particularly in West Ham, these oranges are being sold at the moment and children are sucking the orange skins, which he will agree is very dangerous. I am informed that, unless he and his right hon. Friend implement the banning of these articles, the local authorities have not the powers to take action. Will he implement the banning?

I am naturally most concerned about this, because it is a matter of some seriousness. At the moment the local authorities and the health authorities have full powers to deal with this because thiourea is a preservative which is not allowed. Therefore it is a matter for the courts to decide whether an offence has been committed. The prohibition on imports is an important matter, and I am looking into it urgently to see what can be done if these regulations are not sufficient.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that oranges are being sold in the streets of my constituency and in West Ham and that therefore the danger is spreading and requires urgent action? Can he not do something more than giving the information and prohibit any further importation together with issuing strict instructions regarding the consumption of this important and valuable fruit?

I am very much concerned with this. I am looking at the matter to see whether the regulations regarding importing are sufficient. I am bound to say that I circularised all local and health authorities on 25th January, pointing out the danger of this particular spray. They have full powers to deal with it. All the information which I have received from various parts of the country has come from local authorities.

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman see that General Franco gets a pound of these valuable oranges?

May I ask whether any cases have occurred from thiourea, and what the approximate fatal dose is?

I am afraid that I could not tell the hon. Gentleman that. As far as I can remember thiourea is the result of the action of hydrogen sulphide on cyanamide, which is not a very pleasant mixture, I should think. I am very much alive to the seriousness of this and assure the House that I shall take every action I can.

Australian And New Zealand Meat Agreements


asked the Minister of Food what were the terms of agreement reached with Australia and New Zealand for the future marketing of their meat in the United Kingdom; and to what extent future prices have been guaranteed.

Trading in Australian meat will revert to private hands as from 1st July for mutton and lamb, and from 1st October for beef, veal and pork. The Australian Government are now considering proposals by the United Kingdom Government under the terms of the 15-year Agreement for deficiency payments in certain circumstances when the trade reverts to private hands.

New Zealand has agreed to terminate the bulk meat contract on 30th September, 1954. After that date, the quantities, prices and other conditions of sale to the United Kingdom market will, in the words of the joint declaration of the two Governments in 1952, be determined in the ordinary course of trade.

May we take it from what the Minister has told the House that there will continue to be a completely open door for the imports of meat from both Australia and New Zealand, and that as far as the guarantee of price given to Australian producers is concerned, the British Treasury will, if necessary, play its part in seeing that they get the price as arranged?

On the question of quantities, there is no restriction of any kind. I would rather say nothing about the question of price yet, because discussions are going on with the Australian Government.

Do I understand that the 15-year contract only now applies to quantity, and that the Government from now on will accept no responsibility for the price of the guaranteed quantity?

As far as New Zealand is concerned that is so, but in the case of Australia the agreement is different, and that is a matter for discussion now.

Do I understand that the Government will make themselves responsible for deficiency payments to the Dominions in the event of private trade not giving the prices which are guaranteed at the moment?

As I said just now, the agreement with New Zealand is different from that with Australia. The position as regards New Zealand is as I have stated in answer to the Question. There is a different position in the case of Australia with regard to price, and that is what is being negotiated at the moment.

African Territories

Banned Publication


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies which Colonial Territories, other than Kenya, have banned the importation of the "African and Colonial World."

I am informed that the import of this publication has also been banned in Northern Rhodesia and in Uganda.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this paper is now amalgamated with "The Indian at Home and Abroad" which has got the same publishing office, the same telephone number and the same staff as heretofore? In view of the continuous anti-British and anti-Commonwealth attitude of this paper, will the Secretary of State make make representations to the High Commissioner on this matter?

Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been drawn to the increase in population of the Indians and Syrians in West Africa, and does he consider that this is a good thing for the Africans?

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen copies of this journal. If not, will he do so and then reconsider the Governor's prohibition of this journal?

Non-Europeans (Salaries)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many non- Europeans in Colonial Territories in Central Africa are receiving three-fifths of the salary of Europeans in equivalent posts; and what steps he will take to end this discrimination.

In Northern Rhodesia 30, and in Nyasaland 15. Both Govenments intend to consider this matter further, but are awaiting the report of the East African Salaries Commission.

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that he is aware of the adverse effect that this continued discrimination has on the morale of Africans, many of whom have professional qualifications, and are working hard in order to take a growing share in the government of their own countries?

As the hon. Lady probably knows, the reasons for the three-fifths rule were stated in the Holmes Report on East, and not Central, Africa in 1948. I will supply the hon. Lady with a copy if she wishes. Circumstances have altered since 1948, and I hope that we shall be able to improve on this result. The East African Salaries Commission Report is awaited in two or three weeks time.

Development And Welfare, Tanganyika


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what expenditure has been made from colonial development and welfare funds and on what projects in the Sukumaland area of Tanganyika.

Since the war approximately £147,000 from colonial development and welfare funds has been spent in Sukumaland on tsetse clearance, water, education, technical training, roads and housing. Sukumaland has also benefited from development and welfare expenditure in other areas of Tanganyika and in East Africa generally, on geological surveys, stock routes, rinderpest control, medical surveys and medical research.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the people themselves in Tanganyika know what is being spent and how it is being spent? Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that it is important that he should publicise amongst the people the benefits that they are getting?

I will certainly look into that matter. I might also mention that the Sukumaland development scheme financed schemes to the extent of about £350,000 by the end of 1953.

Gold Coast (Constitution)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now make a statement on constitutional development in the Gold Coast.

I hope to be able to make a statement shortly after the Easter recess.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see whether the statement that he is going to make will cover all the points which were raised by Dr. Nkrumah last year?

I do not want to commit myself to that, but I think the statement will give satisfaction.

Tanganyika (Limitation Of Livestock)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what grounds the Governor of Tanganyika refused recently to meet a delegation from the Lake Province branch of the Tanganyika African Association on the subject of the limitation of livestock; and on what grounds tear gas was used to disperse a meeting held by the Bukoba branch of the association on 2nd December, 1953.

In reply to a letter from the hon. Member I wrote to him just over a week ago giving him full information on these matters.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have received that letter, and that it is because I am not satisfied with that letter that I have asked this Question, and will the right hon. Gentleman exert the greatest influence to see that representative bodies of Africans are received and that tear gas it not used for the dispersal of gatherings in that Protectorate?

I am afraid I can give the hon. Member no such assurance. I have given him full details of the circumstances in which tear gas was used, and I am afraid I can add nothing to that information.

West Indies

Housing, Trinidad


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what the policy of the Trinidad Colonial Government is in regard to the provision of housing for the working classes; what loans are available for persons to build their own houses; and how far subsidies from State or local funds are available for government-built houses.

A Housing Policy Committee was set up last year by the Trinidad Government and its report, due shortly, is expected to include recommendations regarding the provision of housing for the working classes. Housing loans are made to sugar workers from the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund up to a maximum of 1,000 dollars per person and by the Government Housing Loans Board to civil servants; loans may also be obtained through the Building and Loans Association. Government funds are used to subsidise the slum clearance and rehousing schemes carried out by the Planning and Housing Commission.

American Tourist Trade


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now give figures showing by how much the territories of Bermuda, Bahamas and Jamaica benefited from the American tourist trade in the last year for which figures are available.

It is difficult to be exact, but estimates in respect of 1953 amount to about £4 million for the Bahamas, £4 million for Jamaica and £8 million for Bermuda. These estimates do not take account of expenditure by the territories on dollar imports for tourist trade purposes.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the Bahamas there is a colour bar in the hotels just as there is in Jamaica? Is it not possible that if the colour bar were removed from Bermuda and the Bahamas, there would be a greater influx of tourists into those countries?

I am afraid that I cannot indulge in hypothetical conjectures on this matter.

Rice And Sugar Industry, British Guiana


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the total value at the latest available date of the British Guiana rice and sugar stabilisation funds; and what part of these funds is available or used for welfare work and housing of the plantation employees.

The Sugar Price Stabilisation Fund totalled 5,569,067 dollars at 31st December. There is no Rice Price Stabilisation Fund. As my right hon. Friend stated on 7th December, 2,500,000 dollars have been diverted from the Stabilisation Fund to the Labour Welfare Fund, which exists specifically for the purposes mentioned in the Question. This sum will speed up the rehousing of sugar estate workers.

Colonial Territories

Development And Welfare


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has yet considered his future policy regarding colonial development and welfare arrangements after 31st March, 1956, when the 10-year development period is due to end.

Until I have received and examined, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the plans for future development which all the Colonial Territories have been asked to submit, I cannot add to the information about further colonial development and welfare assistance which I gave the House on 24th June last. I still hope that it will be found possible to introduce new legislation on this subject early in the next Session.

Can the Secretary of State tell the House how much of the money that was originally devoted to this purpose in 1946 has been spent and how much is still committed?

Pending legislation, can arrangements be made to ensure that long-term research is not handicapped by the inability to vote sums for long-term research work?

The right hon. Gentleman knows that, as I said on 24th June, the Colonial Governments can commit themselves to certain sums in advance of the legislation, and if there is any shortage of money such as the right hon. Gentleman appears to fear, I should not hesitate to come to the House again.

Rights Of Entry (Conditions)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what conditions British citizens domiciled in the United Kingdom may enter islands in the British West Indies and British West African Colonies, respectively.

As the reply is long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the undertakings, both financial and otherwise, which these territories require of United Kingdom citizens desiring to go to them are far greater than any undertakings required of peoples of those territories desiring to come here? Secondly, is he aware that the undertakings required of United Kingdom citizens going to West Indian territories are far greater than those required of United States citizens? Should not these matters be brought into line?

What my hon. Friend says is undoubtedly so. In many of these territories the requirements asked of British subjects greatly exceed those which are required by our authorities in respect of immigrants from the West Indies.

Following is the reply:

The matter is in each case one for the Colonial Government concerned. According to my latest information the position is that British subjects domiciled in the United Kingdom who are not prohibited immigrants as defined in the immigration legislation of the territories concerned may enter the islands in the British West Indies and British West African Colonies respectively subject to compliance with the following formalities: —


Passports must be carried except by those entering as tourists on visits of up to six months, but they must have some other document establishing their identity which should bear their photograph. Anyone entering the Colony may be required to make a deposit or furnish a security bond. For those from the United Kingdom the sum is $1,500 (B.W.I.).


Passports are required except for those holding return tickets and not staying longer than six months, and cruise passengers departing by the vessel on which they arrive. Visitors, other than those in the categories above, and immigrants may be required to deposit sufficient money to provide for their repatriation, or to furnish a bond in lieu by some property owner in the Colony.

Leeward Islands

Passports are required except for those visiting the Colony for a period not exceeding six months and holding a valid ticket for their return to the country from which they embarked. Any person wishing to enter for permanent residence and/or employment should obtain prior permission. Any visitor not in possession of a return ticket, and any immigrant, may be required to deposit on arrival a sum of money sufficient to provide for his repatriation, or to provide security in lieu of such deposit.

Trinidad and Tobago

Passports are necessary except for those holding return tickets and not staying longer than six months. Visitors should be in possession of a return ticket or be prepared to furnish security either by bond or cash deposit of an amount sufficient to cover the cost of return fare to their country of origin. They must also have in their possession funds sufficient for the period of their proposed visit. Prior application should be made to the Chief Immigration Officer by those wishing to enter for permanent residence or employment. Employees must hold firm contracts, stating the nature and period of employment, the proposed wage, and including an undertaking by the employer to repatriate the immigrant, if necessary, within three years. In such cases the employee will not be required to make a deposit.

Windward Islands

Passports are required except for those holding return or round-trip tickets and not staying longer than six months. None may enter the islands to seek employment. Visitors not in possession of a return ticket, or a ticket to some other destination for which they are properly documented, may be required to deposit enough money to defray the cost of repatriation, plus subsistence, or to give a bond in lieu. Intending residents and employees must seek prior permission to enter, and the latter must hold a firm contract with a locally established employer who must guarantee the immigrant for at least two years.

West Africa

Passports must be carried and entry permits are required by all persons visiting Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone or the Gambia. In all four territories visitors may be required to make a deposit sufficient to cover the cost of their repatriation plus 25 per cent, of that sum, or a bond with one or more sureties may be accepted at the discretion of the Immigration Officer.
None may enter the Gold Coast, Nigeria or Sierra Leone to seek employment. Persons entering the Gold Coast to take up employment must be vouched for by their local employers who should apply for the necessary permits. Anyone entering Nigeria for the first time must obtain prior permission. In the case of an employee the local employer is required to guarantee repatriation and to make all arrangements for entry.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what authority financial undertakings are required of persons domiciled in the United Kingdom who desire to visit islands in the British West Indies.

Power to require these undertakings is conferred by the immigration laws of the territories concerned.

Will the Minister indicate whether his Department has any responsibility for these regulations? If it has, will he take steps to vary them?

No. I can make representations from time to time, but most of these matters are within the competence of the local governments.

Surely this is a much more important matter than appears at first sight? Surely British-domiciled citizens, when visiting colonial possessions, ought not to be asked to give undertakings in excess of those given by persons who are not domiciled in Britain?

I have this matter under consideration at the moment. I should have framed the Question in a slightly different way from that in which my hon. Friend has framed it. What has to be asked is whether some reciprocity should not be established in this matter. Naturally, the amount of money required in respect of an immigrant to a very overcrowded Colony may be different from that which would apply in this country. I think that my hon. Friend was really asking for some sort of reciprocity, and that is what I am looking into.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why a visitor to the East African territories has to declare his race on the application form for a visitor's visa.

I assume the hon. Member is referring to the declaration form which every visitor or immigrant must complete on arrival in the territory. The particulars of race asked for in that declaration are needed for statistical purposes.

Is the Secretary of State not aware that this application form is filled in at East Africa House in London? Does not he agree that this is a most pernicious practice? Would not it be sufficient to ask merely for a declaration of nationality? Can he tell the House how a South African subject of the Queen would answer a question of this nature?

I think the hon. Member is making rather more of this matter than is necessary. The form asks for the usual particulars regarding sex, age, marital status and nationality, and specifies five categories of race, i.e., European, Indian, Goan, Arab and "others." This information is required for statistical purposes. If the hon. Member has any other points to raise, I shall be glad to look into them.

For what precise purpose is this statistical information being collected, in view of the fact that we do not seem to require it of visitors to this country? Can he say whether it would be a sufficient answer to the question to write in the word "human"?

If the hon. Member were present more often during Colonial Office Questions—

—he would know that I am frequently asked about statistics of immigrants to various territories. They cannot be given unless this information is obtained.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this question should be dropped altogether? Can he tell us how a South African subject of the Queen would answer a question of this nature?

I cannot be asked to say what a South African would say to a series of hypothetical questions. It seems to me desirable to know what immigrants there are between these territories, and that information cannot be obtained except by asking questions of this kind.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether other Colonies ask similar questions and have a similar need to collect statistical information?

Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, and Zanzibar all have similar legislation about immigration.

Crown Agents (Title)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why he approved the language used in the new title of the Crown Agents for the Colonies.

A change was required because the Crown Agents act for a number of principals who are not Colonial Governments. The new title was decided upon after various shorter alternatives had been found open to objection on legal or constitutional grounds.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this Question was originally put down for answer by the Prime Minister, as he is the master of the English language? It is the language about which I am complaining. Is my right hon. Friend further aware that the new name is "Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations" —a most cumbersome title? Will my right hon. Friend make another attempt, with the Prime Minister, to see if better English can be used, instead of Civil Service jargon.

I agree that this name is perhaps not so elegant as my hon. and gallant Friend would like, but to all people who are aware of Government terminology, it exactly describes the fields over which these crown agents now operate.

South Georgia (Sealers' Licences)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether arrangements have now been made for a clause to be included in the sealers' annual licence requiring the use of humane instruments for the killing of elephant seals in South Georgia.

Yes, Sir. A clause to this effect has been included in all new licences.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am very much obliged to him for his answer, and I have no doubt that the elephant seals will be, too?


Elections (African Members)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action he is taking regarding the implementation of direct elections for Africans at the next general election in Kenya.

I would refer the hon. Member to my proposals published as Cmd. 9103. All unofficials accepting appointment as Ministers will be invited to subscribe to the statement of policy which promises a study by Government of the best method of choosing African Members of the Legislative Council before 1956.

Does the Minister not agree that it would be an enormous and vital psychological gesture if it were implemented? So far, Asians and Europeans have direct elections, but the Africans have not.

The hon. Member must be careful about using the word "direct." All that is promised is a study of how to broaden the basis upon which African members are elected. It may be by what are usually called direct methods, or by a system of electoral colleges, but the method will not be determined until a study has been made.

Has it yet been decided, in any of the steps taken to arrive at a decision in this matter, what precise organisation will consider this problem? I think the right hon. Gentleman said that it would be considered by the Government, but can we be told at an early date what arrangements have been made for setting up a body to consider this matter?

The promise I gave in Kenya was that the membership would be predominantly African, but they would require to obtain the services of an expert in matters of franchise and constitutional practice to assist with this. I am still in communication with the Governor on the subject.

Arrested Kikuyu, Nairobi


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many members of the Kikuyu tribe have been arrested in, and deported from, Nairobi; and under what conditions they are being detained.

Since the emergency began detention orders have been issued in respect of 1,781 Kikuyu in Nairobi. The conditions of their detention accord with the provisions of the appropriate Emergency Regulations. In addition, some 5,000 Kikuyu have been repatriated from Nairobi to their reserves, but they are not subject to any special restrictions there.

Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been drawn to the recent report that it was intended to deport 50,000 Kikuyu from Nairobi? Can he make any statement on that.

That is quite a different matter from the subject of the hon. Member's Question.

Mau Mau Terrorists (Surrenders)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many leaders and members of the Mau Mau gangs in Kenya have surrendered; and under what conditions.

Up to 23rd March, two leaders and 167 others. Of these, 94 surrendered in response to the Kenya Government's offer of August, 1953, the details and conditions of which are available in the Library.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what proportion of the Mau Mau forces is represented by this surrender of leaders and men?


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made in the efforts to induce Mau Mau leaders to surrender in Kenya.

I have at present nothing to add to the announcement made by the Kenya Government on 30th March. A meeting was held that day between Government representatives and six terrorist leaders, who afterwards returned to their gangs to discuss surrender arrangements. It was agreed that a further meeting would be held later, but this has not yet taken place.

Ministry Of Food (Future)


asked the Prime Minister whether, in considering the rearrangements of the functions of the Ministry of Food, steps will be taken to ensure that the responsibilities to the consumer of foodstuffs and those to the producers of foodstuffs will not be vested in the same Ministry.

I have been asked to reply.

I can assure my hon. Friend that all aspects of this matter are being carefully considered.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that where there is a conflict between consumer and producer, it is desirable that that conflict should be resolved by separate Departments rather than by the same Department?

On the question of producers of foodstuffs, the right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Government give official recognition to the Farmers' Union. What recognition do they intend to give to the new "splinter" Farmers' Union, which is being organised by the "Daily Express"?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government are now having second thoughts on this matter and may decide not to abolish the Ministry of Food as a result of their consideration of all the aspects to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred?

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider transferring to the Board of Trade most of those functions that affect consumers, and see to it that they are not handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture?

British Honduras Inquiry (Government Decision)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now make a statement on the situation in British Honduras.

56, 57 and 58.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he will make a statement on the report of Sir Reginald Sharpe, Q.C., following his investigations in British Honduras;

(2) how it is intended to operate the new constitution in British Honduras if the People's United Party win the election or, alternatively, if the election is won by some other party or coalition;

(3) if the elections in British Honduras will take place as arranged on 23rd April.

As the House will be aware, an inquiry has been carried out in British Honduras by Sir Reginald Sharpe, Q.C., into allegations of contacts between the People's United Party in that Colony and the Government of Guatemala. Sir Reginald Sharpe's findings have been published. He finds that certain specified persons, who are leaders of the P.U.P., have on various occasions sought, and on one occasion received, financial assistance from the Guatemalan Government, and that they communicated with that Government on party policy. I propose to publish his report as a White Paper.

The constitutional changes which have been planned for British Honduras for some time fall into two stages, one affecting the Legislative Assembly and the other the Executive Council. The latter is the instrument of policy and under the new plan would be composed of the Governor, three officials and six members, two of whom would be nominated members, elected by the Legislative Assembly.

After careful consideration Her Majesty's Government have decided to proceed with the first stage of the scheme. Accordingly elections on the basis of universal adult suffrage for the Legislative Assembly will take place on 28th April. Her Majesty's Government will thereafter have to consider in consultation with the Governor whether to proceed to the second stage.

We shall study the document that the Secretary of State has promised to publish. I think we all welcome the decision he has arrived at. Can he say how long it is since Guatemala raised the question about the boundaries? Has Guatemala raised it recently?

In case this matter becomes one of comment or controversy, will the right hon. Gentleman reaffirm the policy that has been the policy of successive British Governments, that we are prepared to refer the matter to the International Court if Guatemala desires?

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two supplementary questions as I have asked three Questions? First of all, will he say why it is that observations have been able to be made about Sir Reginald Sharpe's report by the Press when that report has not been made available to hon. Members of this House? I made inquiries only yesterday and found it was not available, and yet we can see remarks about it in the Press.

One is very happy, after having visited the Colony, to find that the report the right hon. Gentleman now gives is so very satisfactory in comparison with the suspicions that he seemed to hold. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the People's United Party is not in any sense Communist, though it may be to some extent irresponsible? Is the right hon. Gentleman not agreeing that it is a good thing that the elections shall go on? What I am concerned about—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] It is difficult to put all this into the form of questions.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman's attitude on this matter up to now been one calculated to drive the people of British Honduras away from the Commonwealth rather than one to encourage British Honduras to remain in it?

It is a little difficult to deal with such a battery of questions. The answer to the last one is, "Certainly not." The answer to the first question is that Sir Reginald Sharpe, if I remember aright, read out a summary of his report from the steps of the building in which he conducted the inquiry, and, consequently, there were Press comments. The document I have referred to is the full report, that runs to 70 pages of typescript, and is now being printed. I am afraid I forget the other three or four questions.

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that in circumstances such as these it is desirable that the commissioner, or whoever it may be, who is asked to make an inquiry should give a summary of his report to the public before the full report is published?

I think it was only a question of giving some information, and in the circumstances Sir Reginald Sharpe acted in a perfectly proper way, and one that we should support.


Anti-Terrorist Operations


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the progress of operations in Malaya.

The operations against the terrorists are proceeding satisfactorily. The general policy is to deny them supplies and maintain steady pressure on them everywhere, bringing special concentrations of troops to areas where the danger is most.

One good indication of the progress made by the Security Forces is the large proportion of party leaders among the terrorists killed or captured in the past year. Another is the admission in captured documents of the effectiveness of the blockade of supplies. As a result of this progress it was found possible last Sunday to declare a new white area in north Kelantan, with a population of 360,000. This brings the combined population of the white areas to 1,120,000, or one-fifth of the total population of the Federation.

Will my right hon. Friend take comfort from the thought that in all the three countries mentioned in my three Questions he has won confidence by his wisdom and firmness?

Batu Arang (Dismissed Coalminers)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the township of Batu Arang, Malaya, depends entirely upon one coal pit; that 800 men from this pit have been dismissed since October; that 300 more have now been given notice, and that this township is likely to become a depressed area; and what steps are being taken to find alternative employment for these men and to supply them with unemployment pay while they are without work.

I am aware that Batu Arang depends mainly on one coal pit, but some inhabitants also earn money by growing vegetables for sale. My information is that only 450 men have been paid off since October, and that most of these have found other work. The company is now paying off 300 more men in batches, and efforts to find work for them are being made, through the employment exchange and by other means. Some are reluctant to take work elsewhere and are expanding their market gardening; and the company is at present allowing them to remain in occupation of their quarters and land. There is no unemployment insurance scheme, but there is a public assistance scheme. The question of giving relief work, should this become necessary, is under consideration.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is the only colliery in Malaya, that its two chief customers are now turning to means of obtaining power other than coal, and that the result will be that this colliery area will become distressed unless something is done to help? Will he keep his eye on this matter to see that these men do not fall into distressed conditions and that assistance is given to them if they should become unemployed?

If the hon. Member will consider my answer he will see that we have the matter in hand and are quite prepared to give relief if it should be necessary.

School Children (Meals)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the Institute of Medical Research in Malaya has reported that many children from the rural areas travel long distances to school without a meal and get nothing until they return home in the afternoon; that this is retarding both their physical and mental progress; and if he will take steps to provide a midday meal at the schools for these children.

Yes, Sir. The Federation Government are at present considering the report of a committee set up last year to examine the problem.

Will the Minister bear in mind that these children have a long way to go and have nothing to eat from the time they leave their homes until late in the afternoon? Will he press the local people to take some steps to provide these children with meals during the morning or early in the afternoon?

The nature of this problem is well known to the Federation Government, but the need for pushing on with primary education is probably even more urgent than that of providing the amenities to which the hon. Member refers.

Bill Presented

Supreme Court Officers (Pensions) Bill

"to improve the pension rights of official referees, to confer pension rights on certain officers attached to Judges of the Supreme Court in England, or of the Supreme Court in Northern Ireland, and on persons employed in the lunacy office in Northern Ireland, to amend the law with respect to the appointment and conditions of employment of the said officers and to modify certain enactments making the salary and pension rights of officers of those courts depend on their appointment with a certificate from the Civil Service Commissioners," presented by the Attorney General; supported by Mr. Boyd-Carpenter; read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed. [Bill 96.]

Orders Of The Day

Ways And Means

Considered in Committee. [ Progress, 6th April.]

[Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Question again proposed,

Amendment Of Law

That it is expedient to amend the law with respect to the National Debt and the public revenue, and to make further provision in connection with finance, so, however, that this resolution shall not extend to giving any relief from purchase tax otherwise than by making the same provision for chargeable goods of whatever description or by reducing any of the several rates of the tax generally for all goods to which that rate applies.

Budget Proposals

3.32 p.m.

On a point of order. May we have an explanation of why the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not present?

I have no doubt that the Chancellor will be here in a moment or two, and I shall speak very slowly to start with so that he does not miss any of the gems which will be falling from my lips.

In commenting on the Budget yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said,
"I do not think that this Budget can be considered to be a very exciting Budget"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th April, 1954; Vol. 526, c. 233.]
My right hon. Friend is a master of understatement, but the Chancellor himself in his broadcast last night described it as a
"less exciting Budget with fewer thrills."
I must say that I am not quite sure whether the word "thrills" should be applied to any Budget or any Budget speech, but certainly thrills were conspicuous by their absence yesterday.

The plain fact, of course, is that the Budget was a very dull one. No change of any significance was made. I am not saying for one moment that this is necessarily a bad thing. Obviously there may be conditions in which it is right and proper to make no changes. Sir Stafford Cripps' Budget of 1950, for example, was one in which, on balance, practically no change was made. There were some increases in certain directions and some reductions in others.

We may perhaps also be thankful for the fact that, possibly because of the dullness of the Budget—I see that the Chancellor has now arrived, and I know that I can rely upon him to read the valuable words which have passed my lips so far—that we missed yesterday some of those similes and metaphors with which the Chancellor usually enlivens his speeches. We were not taken for any mountain rides, there was no question of climbing over humps or clambering up the last steep slope. There were no sea voyages. There was only a reference to last year's Budget and the ship getting under way and we were spared the rather unpleasant business of being on the operating table and going through a serious illness.

But I am bound to say that, for all that it is so dull, the Budget has come as a surprise. Without doubt most people expected something better. They expected something better this year not, in my opinion, because of the wishful thinking in which people naturally indulge, but because they had been led to expect it by Tory propaganda; and nobody has been more assiduous in putting over this propaganda than the Chancellor himself.

Indeed, he went so far as to continue the process during the course of this dull Budget statement. He was at pains to point out how splendidly everything was going, to point out that we were producing at a record level, that we had been able to increase consumption substantially, that the balance of payments had been strengthened, that the sterling area reserves had increased and, in short, that we were in a much stronger position when the financial year closed than when it began. Of course, led up the garden by all these encouraging remarks, the general public naturally expected that there would he something for them at the end of it all. In point of fact, there has been nothing for anybody. Some rather irreverent hon. Members have spoken of the Budget as "chicory feed," and that seems to be a fair description.

What is the explanation of what is, after all, a very curious paradox? Why is it that, despite the excellent way in which our affairs have progressed, according to the Government, there has been such a disappointing Budget? Obviously the Chancellor himself has been worried by this question, because in his broadcast last night he attempted to answer it. He gave one explanation which I thought was curious; he said, in effect, "I have not been able to do anything for you because I am convinced that things are moving pretty well along the right lines." Were they running along the right lines last year when so many concessions were made? What are we to think of the future? Are we to deduce that it is only when things are running on the wrong lines that we may get concessions?

I do not think that explanation is a very convincing one. (Last year the Chancellor made great play with the importance of giving the country incentives, and he described that Budget as an incentives Budget. Has he lost faith in incentives? If they were so effective last year, if he believed in them last year as a method of raising production, why was not the same process pursued this year? These are the questions which the people of this country are asking and to which hon. Members will have to try to find some answer. I propose to help them by giving what I believe is the right answer. I think we may conveniently begin, as the Chancellor did, by looking at what has happened in the past year to our trade balance.

In his speech the Chancellor gave the figure for the United Kingdom balance of payments, including aid, as £225 million. I must once again make a mild protest that, in giving these figures, he has included American aid. In my view, that is totally wrong; it is not something on which we can depend, and if we include it, it is bound to mislead the public and, incidentally, to mislead the Americans as well.

I thought that, in each case when I mentioned these figures I used the expression "taking account of aid." In one case I gave the exact proportion of American aid.

What I would suggest to the Chancellor is that it would be far better, when he is giving the figure of the balance of payments position, that he should give it without American aid. I think that otherwise the figure is swollen by receipts which ought not to be included.

What he also failed to disclose, rather surprisingly, in his speech was that this surplus, with or without aid, was no larger but smaller in 1953 than it was in 1952. It is true that the reduction, apart from aid, was only £11 million—a drop from £134 million to £123 million; but still it was a drop. That, I think, is all the more serious when we bring in to the picture, as, to do him justice, the Chancellor did, the immense benefit we had last year from the improved terms of trade. As the Committee know, import prices fell in 1953 compared with 1952 by 12 per cent, and export prices by only 3 per cent. The Economic Survey estimates a gain of somewhere between £200 million and £250 million. It is a significant thing that not one pound of that gain has been put to strengthening our overseas trade position. On the contrary, it is worse than it was in the previous year.

That is not all. Last year was an exceptionally good year for invisibles. There was an increase of our net invisible exports of £69 million, much of it due apparently to the improved sales or savings, as the case may be, on oil. Here let me say how very much the country owes to the immense progress of oil expansion in the sterling area and the home refineries production programme which was started under the Labour Government.

The figures for the volume of exports is very slightly up on the year, but again, according to the Survey, if we include re-exports, the actual takings from exports and re-exports were down as compared with the previous year. Moreover, this surplus of £123 million is a very long way behind the Chancellor's own target of £300 million to £350 million. Here let me say once again that I think the Chancellor should give us a much clearer idea of what he envisages as the target, apart from any American aid. He seemed to suggest that he included aid in a figure of £300 million, and seemed to put that aid at about £100 million, so what he is aiming at is a figure for the surplus of £200 million. Quite frankly, I do not think that is adequate in the long run.

It is not adequate to do three things: to repay our debts, including the sterling balances; to accumulate gold reserves without an increase in the liabilities; and to contribute our fair share to investment in the Commonwealth and other parts of the world. Let me say, in passing, that I have recently had the benefit of attending a Commonwealth Conference in Pakistan, and one of the things which, I think, impressed all of us immensely was the very great success that has attended the Colombo Plan. My feeling, and I think, irrespective of party, the feeling of all of us there, was how very desirable it was to continue this first Colombo Plan with a second one. If we are to do that, we cannot be content this tune with repayment of balances as our contribution; we should begin to make a positive contribution.

I must say one or two other things about the export position. It is not merely that the increase in the volume of direct exports was very small, but that, as the Survey underlines, a very large part was played last year by the expansion of exports of ammunition, aircraft and petroleum. Again, although for the time being this may continue, I do not think that one can regard these exports of arms, whether through off-shore purchases or in other ways, as something satisfactory from the long-run point of view.

The Chancellor has mentioned one method of stimulating exports by granting in some form or other better and easier credit terms. I welcome that so far as it goes. I must, however, tell him again that in this recent trip I made, and in talking to a good many of our business men in Ceylon, India and Pakistan, I found continued complaints about the handicaps under which they suffered because of credit difficulties; because their competitors, particularly the Germans, seemed to have very much more flexible arrangements and were able, when the customer wanted long credit, to provide it straight away.

I think that hon. Members may have noticed a series of articles in "The Times" in the last few weeks dealing with the problems of export in different countries, and again and again, in one country after another, we come up against this vital problem of insufficient credit. We shall want to know, in due course, a little more about these proposals and how comprehensive they are.

One last thing on exports. I still have the impression that we are suffering from unfair competition in t