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Commons Chamber

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 1 July 1954

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 1st July, 1954

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions


Rabbit Traps (Committee)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether during the interim period before he makes the gin trap illegal, he will give wide publicity to the Caldra system of rabbit netting, and other humane systems of trapping; and when he expects to receive the first report of the committee set up to speed up the adoption of humane traps.

My Department is already bringing this and other humane methods of catching rabbits to the notice of farmers. As regards the second part of the Question, the work of the proposed committee will largely depend on trials of new and improved traps in the field, which cannot begin until the autumn. An early report cannot therefore be expected.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these interminable delays in adopting a humane trap and banning the gin trap are causing widespread distress throughout the country?

Would the Minister say whether it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to try to eliminate rabbits, and, if so, whether he will agree that no policy of trapping is likely to achieve that end, and that the only hope is to have an all-out drive on a national scale, with gassing and all other suitable means, during the period of grace which myxomatosis may give us, when the rabbit population will be down to a minimum?

It is very much the intention of Her Majesty's Government to do all they can to eliminate rabbits, but every method must be tried and used. I do not think that the matter can be dealt with by Question and answer, but trapping, gassing and every other means must be tried to reduce the menace.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in this case at least those who have been in close touch with him regarding his efforts to abolish the gin trap are greatly encouraged by the drive which he is showing in the matter?

Is the Minister aware that there are places in which it is difficult or impossible to use other methods than the gin trap, such as rocky country and country where gas cannot be used owing to the lightness of the soil? In such places there is just no other way.


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will give the membership of the committee to advise him on speeding up the development of suitable humane traps so that the use of gin traps may be prohibited; and whether the committee has yet begun its work.

I am glad to be able to inform the House that Mr. Roland Dudley has agreed to accept the Chairmanship of the Committee, and I hope to announce the names of the other members before very long.

Has not the Minister been made aware of the widespread feeling that to set a date four years ahead for this prohibition, with power to postpone the date still further, suggests that there is no drive behind the attempt to prohibit the use of these traps?

I think the House will realise that there is here a great problem, as was indicated by the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) and other hon. Members. I have done my best to meet all the views on the subject, and, as I hope the House will realise, I am determined to make progress with it.

Requisitioned Land (Disposal)


asked the Minister of Agriculture how many properties or estates of any description are still held under requisition by his Department; if he will order a new investigation into the circumstances of all these cases; and if he will direct that the interests of the original owner, or owners, shall receive prior consideration whenever a sale is contemplated.

Some 23,900 acres of land are still held under requisition by my Department, most of it either common land or plot land held in a multiplicity of ownerships, many of the owners being unknown. About 10,000 acres of this land are being bought under Section 85 of the Agriculture Act, 1947, in order to maintain the land in efficient agricultural use. The remaining 13,900 acres are under continual review and a large part of the acreage will be released to the owners this autumn. I have no powers to sell land held on requisition, and the latter part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.

Will the Minister kindly address himself to the second part of the Question, about the possibility of a new investigation into the circumstances of all these cases? Will he bear in mind that, while most of us in this country still believe that we have the finest Civil Service in the world, nevertheless people have been deeply shocked by the recent case? Will my right hon. Friend, therefore, seriously consider this suggestion? Can he tell the House whether any progress has been made in derequisitioning?

There is so much misunderstanding about derequisitioning that it may interest the House to know that the requisitioned area has been reduced from 61,030 acres in April, 1951, to the figure I have given of 23,900 acres at the present time.

When every kind of inquiry is being held under the 1947 Act, will my right hon. Friend not have them in an open court, where the public can be admitted, under the chairmanship of an independent Q.C., and with evidence taken on oath. That is what we want—to get rid of all this dictatorship of the Civil Service.

Service Department Land (Transfers)


asked the Minister of Agriculture how many acres of land acquired by purchase or rented for war purposes by Service Departments have since been transferred to the Land Commission or Commissioners of Crown Lands.

At 31st March, this year, about 26,300 acres of such land were under the control of the Agricultural Land Commission and 964 acres have been acquired by the Commissioners of Crown Lands.

Does my right hon. Friend contemplate any increase in the amount of land to be purchased by the Commissioners of Crown Lands?

The Commissioners of Crown Lands are ready buyers and ready sellers. There is no question at all of any influence one way or the other upon them by this House or anybody else.


asked the Minister of Agriculture what circumstances are necessary to decide that land held by Service Departments should be transferred to the Land Commissioner or Commissioners of Crown Lands instead of being sold to previous owners or submitted to public auction.

My hon. Friend may be under a misapprehension about the Commissioners of Crown Lands. The Commissioners are willing to consider the purchase of suitable properties, but there is no question of the transfer without purchase to them of land held by Service Departments. On the matter of policy I would ask my hon. Friend to await the statement I shall be making in the forthcoming debate.

Agricultural Land Commission (Functions)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what progress, in accord with Government policy, the Agricultural Land Commission is making in selling or letting properties acquired for the purpose of putting them in order for a proper standard of farming.

The functions of the Agricultural Land Commission do not include the buying and selling of land. Except for five properties which are being farmed by the Commission them selves, all the properties placed under their management by me or my predecessor are let either on annual tenancies or on licences.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Agricultural Land Commission is now well aware of the Government's policy that, as soon as a property has been put in good order for a high standard of farming, the Commission should let it rather than continue to farm it itself?

Perhaps my hon. Friend means "sell it." The Commission has no power to sell. I am myself looking into that aspect of the matter very carefully.

Has it not always been the case that when the Government have taken over an area of land to restore it to cultivation, after it has been restored to real cultivable possibilities it has been rented at once?

Flavour Of Potatoes (Fertilisers And Insecticides)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what research has been made into the effect of chemical fertilisers and insecticides on the flavour of potatoes.

Tests have been carried out at the Rothamsted Experimental Station into the effect of chemical fertilisers on the cooking quality and flavour of potatoes. Research has also been carried out by leading firms into the effect of certain soil insecticides on the flavour of potatoes, and the need for additional work is being considered.

Is not evidence piling up that, with the increasing use of chemicals for all kinds of agricultural purposes, vegetables do not taste as good as they used to taste? Does the Minister agree with the National Federation of Fish Fryers who pointed out at a recent conference that fried fish and mothballs are a most unpalatable combination?

That is why inquiries are being initiated under the auspices of the Agricultural Improvement Council into the tainting of vegetables generally. It may interest the House to know that there is no evidence of any danger to human health resulting from the normal application of fertilisers

Will my hon. Friend inquire into the possibility that the smell of mothballs, which is complained of may come from the fish rather than the potatoes? If it prove to be the case that both Fisheries and Agriculture are implicated, may not there then be a strong presumption that there are moths in the Ministry?


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the inconvenience caused to the suppliers and consumers of fish and chips by reason of the fact that chips made from potatoes from land treated with chemicals for pest destruction tend to taste and smell of mothballs; and to what extent remedial action by means of research or otherwise is contemplated by his Department.

I am aware of complaints of taint in potatoes. The Agricultural Improvement Council has recently appointed a sub-committee to consider the question of tainting in vegetables, generally from the use of chemicals applied to the soil.

In view of the fact that a large number of people complained and that the National Federation of Fish Fryers considered this matter in consequence, would the Minister see that the matter is dealt with fairly speedily, especially as there are so many people who consume this kind of food?

Yes, Sir, that is the reason why this sub-committee has been set up. It will advise me on the nature and extent of the problem and what action I can take by way of further research or in other ways.

Will my right hon. Friend say if any research has been carried out so far into the effects of the use of various fertilisers on unregistered "pairs"?

Could not the right hon. Gentleman have given a more suitable reply in the monosyllable which will be found at the end of the two syllable word in the eighth line of the Question?

Could not the public help in this matter by returning the smelly potatoes to their greengrocer for replacement?

Crichel Down Inquiry


asked the Minister of Agriculture what sum of rent has been paid by the tenant for the first six months at Crichel Down.

£510 has been paid. This is half of £1,020 which is, under the agreement with the tenant, the rent for the first year.

How long will this arrangement go on, and was this arrangement made with the tenant by Mr. Thompson? Was my right hon. Friend personally made aware of the fact that £2,000 rent was bid for the bare land, which was £100 less than the present tenant has agreed to pay after £34,000 has been spent on the property?

I have answered the Question on the Order Paper. Under the terms of the tenancy the tenant is to pay £1,020 for the first year and £2,150 thereafter. There is to be an abatement of the full rent to an amount to be agreed if the land is not equipped by Michaelmas, 1954, which it can now hardly be.


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will publish the evidence given at Sir Andrew Clark's inquiry into the disposal of land at Crichel Down.

The transcript of evidence and the accompanying bundles of correspondence are bulky and I do not feel that publication of them would be justified. I am, however, arranging for sets of the documents to be placed in the Library.

Does not my right hon. Friend think that, in view of the possible controversy which may arise between the evidence which was taken and the nature of the Report and between the Report and his own conclusions, it would be a good thing if the evidence were made more widely available?

I will certainly consider that. The evidence was taken in public. There are 425 foolscap sheets of it, and the correspondence takes another 500 sheets, making about 1,000 in all. For the convenience of hon. Members, I propose to make three sets of the papers available in the Library. Perhaps that will be sufficient for the present.

Apprenticeship Scheme


asked the Minister of Agriculture how many entries for the agricultural apprenticeship scheme have been notified.

There are 148 apprentices at work, and 295 young people are waiting to be interviewed or placed.

Does not this extremely disappointing figure indicate the reluctance of agricultural workers to put their children into an industry which is so badly paid and which lacks opportunities for advancement?

No, Sir, I do not think so. This scheme has been running for only six months. I had the privilege of starting this scheme which, I hope, will be successful. It has been running for only six months, but a start has been made. Incidentally, Kent is one of the counties very interested in this scheme.

Wages Arrears (Prosecutions)


asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of cases of underpayment of farm workers investigated by his inspectors during the 12 months ended 31st May this year; the amount recovered; and the number of prosecutions involved.

During the 12 months ended 31st May last, 1,082 investigations into alleged infringements of the Agricultural Wages Act were carried out by my inspectors. £7,382 was recovered by way of arrears of wages. Prosecution was undertaken in 14 cases. In addition, 5,750 test inspections were made during this period resulting in the recovery of nearly £2,700. In three of these cases prosecution was instituted. All prosecutions were successful.

Is the Minister satisfied that he has a sufficient number of inspectors to undertake this work?

Yes, Sir. It may interest the House to know that underpayment is found in about 27 per cent. of the cases investigated as a result of complaints, whereas a very much larger number of test cases revealed about 2 per cent., which proves that the whole thing is working satisfactorily.

Will the Minister explain the small number of prosecutions initiated in relation to the presumably large number of cases revealed?

Yes, Sir. It is because in other cases when attention was drawn to them it was found that many were quite unintentional and that there was a settlement with the employers negotiated by the Ministry.

Is not the proportion of prosecutions in the cases discovered much the same as under the Factory Acts and similar Acts?

I could not answer that in replying to the Question on the Order Paper.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say if there would have been more prosecutions had there been more inspectors and if his inspectors are working overtime?

I feel that the matter is working very well. The large number of test inspections reveal that in only 2 per cent. were the workers found to be underpaid, whereas 27 per cent. of the cases investigated following complaints were found to require attention.

Would not the Minister agree that if the workers joined their appropriate trade organisations the work of his inspectors would be considerably lessened?

Milk Production (Licences)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what principles govern the tightening up now taking place of conditions under which licences are granted for milk production on farms; and what appeal his Regulations provide for farmers and smallholders who may be faced with heavy outlays or whose licences may be withdrawn.

There has been no change in the regulations made in 1949, nor any tightening up. These regulations prohibited the use of the designation "accredited" after 30th September, 1954, and also provided that after that date no licence could be granted or renewed for the sale of T.T. milk except from an attested herd. The regulations provide for an appeal to an independent tribunal against refusal or cancellation of registration or, where the farmers' retail business is in a specified area, the refusal, suspension or revocation of a T.T. licence.

Pig Breeding


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can now state what further steps are being taken by his Department for the progeny testing of boars and generally for the improvement of the type of pig most required for the bacon factories and the pork market.

I am still unable to add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member on 25th February and to paragraph 26 of the 1954 Annual Review White Paper on the subject of progeny testing. I expect, however, a start to be made in September with a scheme for the recording of pigs in England and Wales. Details will be announced very shortly.

Will the Minister bear in mind that this is a very important matter if we are to reduce the cost of bacon imported into this country?

Hessary Tor Site (Television Station)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what objections to the use of the Hessary Tor site for a television station serving the Plymouth area have been lodged by persons claiming legal rights in the common land.

So far no objections have been lodged to the application for my consent under Section 194 of the Law of Property Act, 1925. The statutory period for the lodging of objections does not expire until 24th July.

If the objection is lodged, would my right hon. Friend consider trying to speed up the lengthy procedure for considering such objection?

Atrophic Rhinitis


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether there has been any fresh outbreak of atrophic rhinitis among pigs during the last fortnight.

No outbreak of atrophic rhinitis has been confirmed during the last fortnight.

Has the right hon. Gentleman yet decided whether he is in favour of the spread of the disease or against it?



asked the Minister of Agriculture whether there has been any further spread of the rabbit disease of myxomatosis during the last fortnight; and what is the most northerly outbreak reported up to date.

During the past fortnight there has been some spread of the disease in the areas already affected and isolated outbreaks have been confirmed in wild rabbits in Devonshire, Cardiganshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Lincolnshire (Lindsey). The most northerly outbreaks reported to date are in Anglesey and Lincolnshire (Lindsey).

Will the Minister be good enough now to answer the supplementary question which I put on Question No. 20?

I stand exactly where I stood originally after I got the Report of the Committee which investigated the problem. We are against the artificial spread of the disease. What we have decided is that, where the disease is in existence, we cannot take measures to stamp it out. We are quite convinced of that at the present time. We have no positive evidence whatever of outbreaks having been started deliberately by individuals, as has been written in the Press.

We understand that the Minister is against the spread of the disease. Would he tell the House whether he would wish to have the rabbit population completely exterminated if that were possible?

That is going a very long way. I do not think we shall see the rabbit population of this country exterminated in our lifetime.


asked the Minister of Agriculture to what extent the myxomatosis virus is proving effective in making a complete clearance of rabbits in districts where the disease has taken hold; and what evidence he has to show that this is a comparatively painless death as the rabbits quickly become comatose.

In some areas where myxomatosis has taken hold the first wave of the disease appears to have eliminated over 90 per cent. of the wild rabbit population, but it is too early to say whether this high rate of mortality will continue. I have no way of estimating the degree of pain suffered by wild rabbits which are affected with myxomatosis but such rabbits are plainly in distress for a varying period before death.

Has my right hon. Friend consulted the scientific authorities in Australia who seem, on the evidence available to them, to have made up their minds that this is quite a happy death for rabbits because the animals go completely comatose very quickly?

That must be a matter of opinion. The only ones who could give us the answer are the rabbits, and they cannot tell us.

Is it not a fact that after a while a proportion of the rabbits become immune to the disease? Is not that what has happened in France?

Again, that is the opinion of some people. In Australia, after the disease became rampant a certain proportion of the rabbits became immune, and they are starting up again. We are studying the whole problem all the time.

Is it not a fact that the disease involves the swelling of the eyes until they burst and the swelling of the genital organs until the orifice is closed? Is it seriously suggested that this is not infinitely more cruel than any gin trap ever invented?

Again, that is a matter of opinion. I have no doubt at all that the disease must be painful

Calf Subsidies


asked the Minister of Agriculture how many calves have been approved for the £5 grant during the past six months; and how many were rejected as being unlikely to make good beef beasts.

During the six months ended 31st May this year, subsidy was paid in England and Wales on 496,322 calves, and 28,102 calves were rejected as not being likely to yield a carcase of reasonably good quality beef.

Potato Crop


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is satisfied that the potato crop for the coming season will meet the requirements of the market.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think there is every prospect of supplies being adequate, and, if so, can he say anything about the 20,000 tons of potatoes coming from the Argentine in exchange for motor lorries which we are to send there? Can he say who bought these potatoes, and when they are coming to this country?

That is an entirely different question. Perhaps my hon. Friend will put it down on the Order Pa per?

Foreign Trawlers (Nets)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps he takes to inspect the nets of foreign vessels fishing in British waters to ensure that they comply with the international convention as to size of mesh.

Fishing by foreign vessels in British territorial waters is prohibited irrespective of the size of mesh used, but I presume my hon. Friend's concern is with the nets used by foreign vessels on the high seas. Under the International Fisheries Convention of 1946, each contracting Government is responsible for ensuring that the nets used by its own vessels are of a mesh of the prescribed minimum size. My Department's powers to inspect nets for the purposes of the Convention are limited to British ships.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, on 3rd May, certain foreign trawlers took refuge in our ports and not only were they seen to have the wrong size of mesh on board, but it was openly admitted by some Belgian skippers at Brixham that they were using a 60 mm. mesh and intended doing so because the new size of mesh was no good? As our own fishermen have co-operated wholeheartedly in altering the size of their mesh, at considerable loss to themselves, would it not be a good thing if we did something to ensure that foreigners coming to our ports do the same?

I would accept the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question at once, so far as our own fishermen are concerned. I had not heard of the instance about which he has informed the House. At the present time, the permanent commission set up under the Convention is ascertaining the views of the constituent governments on whether enforcement of the mesh provisions should be on an international basis. I should prefer to await the result of that inquiry before making a further statement.

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the present Government would be willing for an international body, the Commission or some other body, to investigate our fishing vessels?

It would depend on how it was done. I should first like to see what the permanent commission recommends.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bring to the notice of the Government concerned the statement which has been made by his hon. Friend?

Civil Defence

Hydrogen Bomb


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish a new manual of Civil Defence for the guidance of Civil Defence workers, taking into account the necessary precautions against atomic and hydrogen bomb attack.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish a volume of training for Civil Defence dealing with precautionary schemes of defence against the use of the hydrogen bomb.

I would refer the hon. Members to paragraph 5 (v) of the statement which I made in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow. East (Mr. Ian Harvey) on 27th May.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Home Office memorandum to the Select Committee on Civil Defence stated that 20 inches of concrete are required to prevent the lethal effects of gamma radiation following an atomic explosion? Is he aware that that is not stated in the existing Civil Defence manuals, and will he not endeavour to put an end to the present sham of Civil Defence?

I do not accept for a moment the implication of the hon. Gentleman's last sentence, and I am sorry he mentioned it. The manuals are being revised and the syllabuses adjusted to meet present conditions.

Would not the Minister agree that the most up-to-date information and instructions are necessary in order that information should be afforded on protection to help in Civil Defence?

I entirely agree, and I am pushing on as hard as I can to get the manuals revised and the syllabuses adjusted.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say when the new manual will be ready?

No, I cannot say that. A full-scale review is going on, and it is difficult to give a date when it will be finished.

Will the Minister deal with certain contradictions in the statement put out by the Home Office? For instance, on the question of gamma radiation, he himself made one statement in this controversy with the Coventry City Council. It was stated that, had the fishermen remained below deck, they would have escaped the effects of gamma radiation, whereas, in this particular memorandum, it is said that 20 inches of concrete were necessary as a safeguard against such radiation. Is not that an absolute contradiction, and will not the right hon. and learned Gentleman do something to try to harmonise these various statements?

I do not accept that there is a contradiction, because the circumstances are so entirely different. On the other hand, I will certainly with great pleasure go into any points which the hon. Member likes to bring to my attention.

Training Pamphlets


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what volumes of the Manual of Basic Training for Civil Defence have been published; what was the date of the last volume published; and how many volumes he proposes to publish.

Two volumes of the Manual of Basic Training for Civil Defence have been published. Volume I, which deals with the organisation, general training and war duties of the Civil Defence Corps comprises nine pamphlets, and Volume II, which includes technical information, comprises seven pamphlets. The date of the last pamphlet published is 22nd April, 1954. No new pamphlets are at present contemplated in this series, but the existing ones will be revised as necessary.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman treat this problem in the same light as the other one, because we all realise the vital importance of the Civil Defence service and the importance of keeping absolutely up to date in methods of protection?



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent he issues directives to Civil Defence organisations in Scotland.

Is there no co-ordination between Civil Defence in England and in Scotland? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that, if there is no co-ordination, he himself wants some?

I think the hon. Gentleman will know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is, in Scotland, the designated Minister for all Civil Defence purposes, apart from those for which my colleagues the Ministers of Food, Fuel and Power and Transport are the designated Ministers. My own responsibility in my native land is that I am responsible for three Civil Defence training schools, one of which, Taymouth Castle, is in Scotland, but I hasten to assure the hon. Gentleman that Scottish students are given first call on places at that school.

Home Department

Affiliation Orders


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of affiliation orders issued during the last three years for which figures are available.

The number of affiliation orders made at magistrates' courts in England and Wales in the years 1951, 1952 and 1953 was as follows:—1951–3,944; 1952–4,072; 1953–3,979.

Dr Joseph Cort (United Kingdom Residence)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will grant political asylum to Dr. Joseph Cort.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will grant political asylum to Dr. Joseph Cort, a United States citizen, who is threatened with punishment and loss of citizenship for political opinions if he returns to the United States of America.

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) and other hon. Members on 24th June.

Is the Minister aware that that answer bitterly disappointed all those who believe that political asylum is one of the precious traditions of British life? Is he aware that no criticism of a foreign Power, or no support of a man's political opinions, is involved in political asylum when asylum is granted; and is he also aware that, if his interpretation of political asylum had prevailed at the time, neither Victor Hugo nor Emile Zola would have been allowed to come to Britain? Will he not reconsider the whole position?

I would point out, with regard to political asylum, that what I stated to be the principle has not only been the principle acted upon in this country throughout the past years, but is enshrined in the latest Convention that deals with the subject; namely, that political asylum is given where the national of a country is in danger in regard to his life and liberty from political persecution, among other forms of persecution, in that country. That is the principle that has been applied and is applied and what I pointed out was that I have no grounds for believing that it was not applied in this case.

Why has the right hon. and learned Gentleman altered the phrase he used last week from "life or liberty" to "life and liberty"?

I am sonny, I should have said that; I intended to say "life or liberty," I beg the right hark. Gentleman's pardon.

In view of the Minister's very unhappy answer, may I ask him if he will not admit that this is a vital question of principle? Rightly or wrongly, Dr. Cort believes that, if he returns to the United States, he will be in danger of punishment and persecution for his political opinions. Is it not in accordance with the long tradition of political asylum in this country that asylum should be granted, that it should not be restricted to refugees from Iron Curtain countries but should be universal in its application? Is he not aware that there is an overwhelming feeling throughout the country that his decision was wrong and that—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to ask a question, but it should be a question and not a speech.

Would not the Minister agree that, if there is any doubt in his mind at all, as there obviously is, his discretion should be exercised in favour of the individual?

On the first point which the hon. Gentleman posed in his question, the danger of imprisonment in which Dr. Cort is placed, as far as I know, is the danger of a sentence for an alleged delinquency, of which I am not the judge, under the Selective Service Acts of the United States. With regard to the second part of the question, there is no distinction between people from the Iron Curtain countries and anyone else. The law of asylum applies and is applied to every country, and every case is examined on its merits. With regard to my own decision, I am aware that people disagree with it, but, in administering what I think everyone will agree is a difficult matter, all I can do is to come to the decision which I think is right.

Are we to understand from the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he repudiates his Under-Secretary, who, in a letter to me on 28th May, said that:

"Except in the case of refugees whose homes are behind the Iron Curtain, the Home Secretary is not prepared to allow foreigners to settle here."

[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] Further, would it not be better to be quite honest about this? [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]

The hon. Member is not entitled to suggest that another hon. Member is being dishonest.

I maintain that I was referring to the point that it would be better if we were all honest about the matter. Would it not be better if we were more honest about it and recognised that men who are Communists or ex-Communists are persecuted in the United States, and that in his message to Congress in January, President Eisenhower asked for legislation to deprive Communists of citizenship?

In reply to the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary, let me say that the Under-Secretary of State was referring to what are the vast majority of cases—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Let me give my explanation. The vast majority of these cases are from behind the Iron Curtain, and the great majority of these were people who came in when the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) held my office. He, very rightly and with the approval of the whole country, let in a large number, many thousands, of people in order that we should do our share in helping with the refugee problem in Europe. A number of these people, whose national status was in great doubt, were allowed in, but I think that decision was generally approved at that time.

Since then the position has stabilised somewhat, and now it is the practice to apply it in each case. That is what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary had in mind. I assure the House that it is applied perfectly generally and is open to the nationals of all countries.

With regard to the other point, the matter which I had to consider was that, through the alleged breach of the Selective Service Laws this gentleman might, in the case of conviction, have lost his nationality and therefore would not have been returnable under the administration of our aliens laws.

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman no information that would lead him to believe that if this man returns to the United States he will not be dealt with for selective training but will be brought before Senator McCarthy's Committee?

My information is that what is desired is that he should go before the authority dealing with the Service Acts.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply—[Interruption.] I understood, Mr. Speaker, that you had called the next Question.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what cases other than that of Dr. Joseph Cort he has refused to renew the permit of a resident alien on the ground that the country of his origin had threatened to deprive the alien of his citizenship.

The hon. Member's Question is based on two misapprehensions. In the first place, Dr. Cort has been here on a purely temporary footing and not as a resident alien; in the second place, the risk of his losing his citizenship derives from his own refusal to comply with the law of his country and not from any threat of executive action on the part of the United States Government. It is not possible to identify from the records the particular class of case which the hon. Member appears to have in mind, as it is the normal practice to require aliens who apply for an extension of their permission to remain in the United Kingdom to produce evidence that they have return facilities to another country. Whenever it appears that there is a risk of such applicants losing their citizenship or re-entry facilities, permission to remain is refused.

Is it not a fact that the Home Secretary's decision is made on the ground of returnability, which depends on the threat of the United States to withdraw this man's citizenship under the McCarran Act? Secondly, can the Home Secretary point to any other case in which any foreign Power has made a similar threat to withdraw citizenship as that upon which he has acted? Thirdly, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman not creating a dangerous precedent in this case by acting in response to something that a foreign Power does, which means in substance that if the foreign Power desires the return of one of its citizens all it has to do is to threaten to withdraw his citizenship?

May I answer the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary first, because there has been a great deal of misapprehension on that point? The question rather suggested that in this case the man is returned by some action of mine to a foreign Power. The man in question can go where he likes. The only thing that my action does is to see that he does not stay in this country.

On the first point, of returnability, the hon. Gentleman correctly stated the practice. On the second point, I have not initiated any precedent in this case, and, if I had come to any other decision, I should have been acting contrary to precedent. With regard to the remaining part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary, I do not think it would be right to give names of specific countries, but I am informed by my Department that the action has had to be taken in numerous cases.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what circumstances the British police can act as agent for the United States authorities or any other foreign Power for the purpose of questioning an alien resident in this country.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what authority the Birmingham police acted for the United States Government in questioning Dr. Cort.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it was with his authority that the Birmingham Criminal Investigation Department interviewed Dr. Cort last December on behalf of the United States authorities; what notice his Department had that they were to do this; and under what authority foreign Governments are permitted to use British police officers to question their nationals resident in Britain.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that the connection of the police forces of this country with Interpol has resulted in the interrogation by police officers of persons resident in Great Britain who have not committed any action which would render them liable to prosecution in a British court or to extradition proceedings; and what action he proposes to prevent this happening.

It was not with my knowledge that the Birmingham police interviewed Dr. Cort last December. They were acting in accordance with the normal procedure whereby police forces in this country make inquiries on behalf of foreign police forces, on a reciprocal basis, in matters in which offences against the law are involved. I am considering in consultation with the Commissioner of Police, to whom inquiries from foreign police forces are sent in the first instance, whether it is necessary or desirable that advice should be given to the police as to the scope of investigations undertaken on behalf of police forces elsewhere.

Can the Minister say whether questioning like this normally takes place on non-extraditable offences, and, in particular, offences which are offences in the other country and not against the law of this country? I should also like to know whether, in the case of Dr. Cort, the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that the practice carried out in these circumstances was desirable, because he seems to have adopted it in the statement he made in reply to the Questions submitted last Thursday?

I think there are two points. Really the sort of case in which, if I may use the colloquial expression, Interpol work between forces should operate, should not be limited to extraditable offences. But the point I had in mind in the last few lines of my original answer to the hon. Gentleman—and I think it is worth considering—was whether, in any offence of a novel kind and not one which has been constantly used by this procedure, the procedure ought to apply. I do not want to be more specific, because I should like to consider that fully. That, I think, covers the other point which the hon. Gentleman had in mind as to procedure in this case.

I would just like to point out to the hon. Member—and I say this entirely objectively—that I think it is very undesirable that embassies or agencies of other foreign Governments should communicate direct with their nationals in this country. I think that anyone who considers it from any point of view would see that there has to be some channel. As I say, the ordinary channel was followed here, and I think that what I have said should reassure the House that I am going to look into the machinery and see that it will operate in the best way.

While I appreciate the Home Secretary's reply, especially that part of it in which he states that he was not aware that this occurred, may I ask him to bear in mind when considering it that a very considerable volume of opinion in Birmingham is shocked that this should have happened, because this way of calling a person and reading over a statement in this manner to a visitor from another country is quite obnoxious.

Is the Home Secretary aware that one of the charges made by the police, acting as agents for another Power, was that this man had left his own country to evade military service, and that he was asked to give an answer to that? Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman know then, or does he know now, that this man was rejected for military service owing to active pulmonary tuberculosis as well as three other conditions? Had the Minister known these matters then, as he knows them now, would he not have agreed that the charge put to this man was not put in good faith at all?

I am afraid that I cannot agree with the hon. Member. With regard to the first part of his supplementary, it is the same point as that covered by Question No. 43 in the name of his hon. Friend, and perhaps he will wait until I answer that.

Will the Minister explain to the House how it was that in his statement last week on this matter he said that Dr. Cort

"had refused to make a statement"
to the Birmingham police, in view of the fact that this morning I obtained from the Chief Constable of Birmingham, through the courtesy of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own Department, a signed statement by Dr. Cort in which he had denied the charges made by the American Embassy and expressed readiness to make any statement required to the Home Office? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman further aware that the Home Office never made any communication with Dr. Cort following that?

With regard to the first point, the facts are that there were two interviews. As I understand it, at the first interview Dr. Cort did not make a reply. He then took advice—I am not criticising his doing this—and at the second interview he made the reply of which I have provided the hon. Gentleman with a copy. That is what happened. With regard to the question of his denial, the position is that if Dr. Cort had either gone to face the charges or had indicated, which he did not, at the earlier stage that he had an answer to the charges which the American authorities could consider, it would then have been for them to consider whether the charges could still be maintained.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, at the time he was informed by the United States authorities of the presumption that Dr. J. Cort was evading national service, what information he was given of the medical condition of Dr. Cort at the time he was rejected, on medical grounds, for army service.

The hon. Member's Question is based on a misapprehension of the facts. The American authorities did not inform me, as suggested in the Question. I received a report on 18th December, 1953, made by the Birmingham police of two interviews which they had had with Dr. Cort. No mention of Dr. Cort's medical condition was made in the report, and I have since ascertained that it was not referred to at the interviews.

Is not the Home Secretary aware—and, surely, it was recorded on his medical card—that Dr. Cort was showing signs of active tuberculosis as well as muscular defects resulting from infantile paralysis? In these circumstances, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman really accept the view that Dr. Cort was being recalled for military service? In such a case as that, would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman make representations to the American Embassy?

Is not the Home Secretary aware that this man gave his address to the authorities before he left America? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that a man wanting to evade military service would give his address in this country? Is it not a fact that this is an excuse to get the man back to America to grill him about his early days?

If I had thought that it was an excuse I should have come to a different decision. I do not think it is an excuse. That is one of the reasons, as I have tried to state as fully as I can, why I came to the decision I reached.

Is the Home Secretary aware that the man's medical sheet, which I hold in my hand, shows that he suffers from a residual poliomyelitis, residual tuberculosis, dangerous allergy and marked myopia? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say in what army in the world a man suffering from those complaints would be of any use?

I submit—although it is most unusual in the case of the right hon. Gentleman—that that is an irrelevant consideration. If the man were in bad health he would be rejected, but the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that many people, especially those who are to do specialised duties, are called up for medical examination and are then rejected.

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman look back into the Home Office records of previous applications made by Governments for the return of refugees and see just what kind of points were put up? Because if there does happen to be in a country a certain wave of persecution hysteria it is very essential that this country should stand by its own principles.

I can answer both points. The law of asylum in this country remains as it has always been. It is, as I stated earlier, that asylum will be granted to those whose life or liberty is in danger owing to political or racial persecutions. That still remains. The second point is that no request was made to me by the Government of the United States. I have made that perfectly clear. Any suggestion—I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman meant to make it, but even if he did not it should still be dealt with—that I was acting at the request or under the influence of any other Government is entirely untrue.

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be prepared to be guided by the report of an eminent medical specialist in this country, chosen by himself, who would examine this man with a view to ascertaining whether he would be fit for military service?

That is not the point. The point is that this man has chosen to take such a course as leaves him open to the accusation that he is avoiding the military service Acts of the country concerned. While he is open to that charge he may lose his nationality and therefore will no longer be within the returnability rule. While he is in that position I cannot change my decision.

Fire Brigade Calls (Level-Crossing Gates)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will circularise the authorities concerned, drawing their attention to the necessity for local liaison between signal boxes controlling level crossings and individual fire stations, so as to prevent level crossing gates being closed against a fire engine when answering a call.

I do not think that a circular is needed. I am advised that the local fire authorities are fully seized of this problem and make whatever arrangements are practicable.

Cannot the Home Secretary assist fire brigades to make more progress in these matters so that a property will not burn down while the fire brigade is waiting while a shunting engine passes leisurely over the crossing?

My hon. Friend knows that I shall be glad to look into any particular difficulty.

Crimes Of Violence (Youth Gangs)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent violent and other offences committed by youths have increased during the past year five years and 20 years, respectively; what percentage of those offences have been committed by those known as "Edwardian" gangs; and whether he will carry out a Departmental inquiry into the origin and nature of these gangs of youths.

The information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available for the whole country. In the Metropolitan police district, 406 persons under 21 years of age were dealt with for crimes of violence in 1953 and 9,002 for other indictable crimes; the comparable figures for 1952 were 310 and 10,287, and for 1948, 336 and 11,320. The information asked for in the second part of the Question is not available. As regards the last part of the Question, I cannot find on present information that an inquiry of the kind suggested is necessary, and there is little I can add to the reply which I gave to the Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Kemptown (Mr. H. Johnson) on 6th May last.

Do not the figures which the Home Secretary has given show that, contrary to public assumption, there has not been a very great increase in crimes of violence among these young people? In those circumstances, would it not be well to make it clear that these so-called "Edwardian" youths in exotic clothing are not necessarily more prone to violence than were their predecessors years ago?

I liked the approach which was made to me by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) and someone else on the last occasion. I shall be very glad to see the boys' clubs and young persons' interest aspect of the matter developed as much as possible.

Is it not desirable to make some inquiry so as to give these youths a measure of exoneration for what has been a slander?

We have the information in the figures. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the figures are probably smaller than were expected, but they are much too large for any complacency. This is a matter to which we must direct all the attention and power we can.

Wandsworth Prison (Overcrowding)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will transfer the female prisoners at Holloway to another prison and use Holloway to reduce overcrowding at Wandsworth.

I regret that there is no suitable alternative accommodation available to which the prisoners and staff at Holloway prison could be transferred.

If this suggestion is not practical, can the Home Secretary say what action he has already taken or proposes to take to reduce the overcrowding, in view of the tendency to demoralisation which we know about at Wandsworth Prison?

We are trying to get every prisoner who is suitable for such treatment into an open prison. That is going on all the time. The original Question was about Holloway Prison. The prisoners there are for the most part unsuitable for open establishment. Those who are suitable for open prisons are removed there.

Independent Schools (Unsuitable Teachers)

The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Minister of Education, whether she will now indicate when she will be able to implement the provisions of Part III of the Education Act, 1944.


To ask the Minister of Education, whether she will now state what measures she is proposing in order to prevent men previously convicted of sexual offences against children from setting up or teaching in private schools.


To ask the Minister of Education, whether she is now in a position to state the result of her consultations with the Secretary of State for the Home Department about the exclusion from schools of teachers convicted of serious offences against young persons.


To ask the Minister of Education, if she can yet state what action she proposes to take to ensure that teachers in private schools are suitable persons to be in charge of children.

At the end of Questions

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to answer these Questions.

The Government have considered the best action to take to exclude from teaching persons convicted of offences against young people, and also the more general question of bringing into operation Part III of the Education Act, 1944. In doing so they have borne in mind that the great majority of independent schools exercise the utmost care in appointing teachers, and play a valuable part in the education of the nation's children.

As the House knows, Part III was devised for the general object of safeguarding educational standards in independent schools. It is my view that if Part III were introduced now, when the pressure on schools is at its heaviest, the standards which could be required of independent schools for registration under the Act would be too low, and I think that it would do more harm than good to bring this part of the Act into operation in these circumstances. As the pressure on the schools becomes less, the prospect of operating Part III satisfactorily will improve. With this in mind I propose to put in hand the necessary preparations to enable Part III to come into force in about 1957.

When Part III of the Act is in operation it will be necessary, for the specific purpose of excluding unsuitable teachers, to ensure that my Department has adequate information about teachers employed in schools of all types. I propose, therefore, to introduce at once certain changes in the procedure which will be needed when Part III is in operation and which will in the meantime help me and the school authorities to see that unsuitable teachers are excluded from employment.

First, I propose to invite the proprietors of independent schools to let me have from now on particulars of their staffs, and of changes from time to time, and I have very little doubt that they will be willing to do so. Secondly, I propose to make my information more complete by extending to schools which are recognised as efficient the requirements already imposed on grant-aided schools to report the facts to me if a teachers' engagement is terminated on account of misconduct, grave professional default, or conviction of a criminal offence. Finally, I have made arrangements with my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to be supplied with particulars of convictions for serious offences against young people committed by persons engaged, or likely to be engaged, in the teaching profession.

Where I find in any of these ways that a person who appears to be unsuitable is being employed as a teacher, I shall proceed as I already do in grant-aided schools. I shall first communicate with the teacher, and after considering what he has to say I shall then, if necessary, make the facts known to the authorities of the school. School authorities, I am sure, will not wish to retain in their service persons who are known to be unsuitable.

With the help I am confident of receiving from the schools, the measures which I have announced today will, I believe, prove a valuable safeguard during the relatively short period before Part III is put in force, My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has asked me to say that corresponding arrangements will be made for Scotland.

Is the Minister aware that the teaching profession will welcome her proposal to take action, but 1957 seems a long way ahead? What steps does she propose to take if private school authorities turn down her invitation to supply her with details about the members of their staffs? Will she make this a requirement, and will she now give an assurance that in no circumstances will the Ministry of Education be indifferent when people with bad records are put in authority over children in private schools?

I think the hon. Gentleman knows that the Ministry of Education is certainly not indifferent, but this is a very difficult problem. I have already had discussions with the major associations of independent schools who have assured me of their willing cooperation. The short-term measure which I have outlined depends for its effectiveness on the co-operation of the schools, and I am confident that it will be forthcoming. If there were exceptional delay or refusal to act as is thought necessary for the pupils' protection, the local authority concerned would be asked to consider taking action under the Children and Young Persons Act, and this might lead to court proceedings.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for her statement, may I ask whether she is satisfied that the measures which she has announced will be sufficient to cope with the proprietors of such schools, as well as with the teachers?

Yes, I have considered that. The same procedure will be followed in the case of a proprietor. We would write to the proprietors, and again if there were delay or refusal to act as we should like them to act, the local authority would be informed and would be asked to consider taking action under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Is the Minister aware that the whole House is pleased with what she is doing to prevent children from being in danger of being taught in schools by convicted homosexuals? Is she also aware that we do not accept her argument that the fixing of minimum standards for private schools under Part III of the Act would tie her hand in the future and prevent her from raising those standards, and that all the arguments that we have used in the more dramatic case of preventing our children from being taught by convicted homosexuals apply equally to bad conditions and the employment of unqualified teachers in the private sector of British education?

The reason I think it would not be satisfactory to bring in Part III earlier is that I believe that we should not be able to insist on a sufficiently high standard because the condition of many of our schools is such that we should not approve of them in the future. Once a school is registered, even though it is of a low standard and is in bad premises, it would not be possible to de-register it.

The Minister has undoubtedly taken a very important step forward in a very important matter, but if her proposal proves to be ineffective, will she then try to bring in Part III before 1957? What is the good of a high standard of education if the children are taught in conditions which are evil?

I shall certainly watch the situation very carefully, but I want to make it clear that I believe it would not be to the advantage of education generally to bring in Part III too early, because we can only make a change in the registration of a school if it falls below the standard at which it was originally registered.

If a person is condemned by the Minister and feels that he is unjustly condemned, will he have recourse to a court of law?

This will not be a case of condemning. If the Minister of Education is informed that a person has been convicted, as I have said, that person will be communicated with in order that I may hear what he has to say. I have pointed out that the arrangement depends on co-operation, and it is a voluntary arrangement. Apart from that, of course, if there were proceedings under the Children and Young Persons Act, naturally the court would be a tribunal.

Business Of The House

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 5TH JULY—Supply [19th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Civil Defence.

Motions to approve: Draft Civil Defence (Casualty Collection) Regulations.

Draft National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) (Mariners) Amendment Regulations.

TUESDAY, 6TH JULY—Supply [20th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on the Sale of Road Haulage Assets until 7 o'clock.

Afterwards, debate on the Overseas Information Service.

WEDNESDAY, 7TH JULY—Report stage: Finance Bill.

THURSDAY, 8TH JULY—It is hoped to conclude the Report stage of the Finance Bill about dinner time; and then consider the Lords Amendments to the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill.

FRIDAY, 9TH JULY—Motion for an humble Address relating to the Gift of a Mace to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in Committee.

Second Reading: Gas and Electricity (Borrowing Powers) Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

If there is time, Second Reading: Pests Bill [ Lords].

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

During the week we hope that the House will give its attention to the Motion relating to the Non-Indigenous Rabbits (Prohibition of Importation and Keeping) Order.

May I make three points? First, on Tuesday we shall ask that Supply be taken formally, for the purpose of discussing Motions on the two subjects of which the right hon. Gentleman has given notice—the sale of road haulage assets and the Overseas Information Service. The right hon. Gentleman said that it is hoped to conclude the Report stage of the Finance Bill on Thursday. That is an expression of hope and not a concluded agreement. Thirdly, can the right hon. Gentleman tell me anything about the forthcoming debate on Crichel Down? The Minister of Agriculture said this afternoon that he proposed to make a statement when the debate is held. We have not had any notice of it.

We have not fixed any time, but I think that last week we said that we hoped to settle a time as soon as possible. Of course, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, it is not a very suitable matter to discuss in the absence of the Prime Minister, and it will not be until after his return.

I wondered whether it would be on the Floor of the House or in the 1922 Committee.

Is the Leader of the House still prepared to maintain that we are going to have the Food and Drugs Bill this Session?

Following the previous question, could the Leader of the House tell me whether his attention has been drawn to the article in the "Municipal Journal" of 25th June with reference to the Food and Drugs Bill, and whether this section of the article is correct:

"The hotel and catering organisations have clearly won their battle with the Minister of Food over the clean food regulations to be made under the Food and Drugs (Amendment) Bill."
It goes on to say that only 22 of the 67 recommendations now remain, and that a Ministry spokesman said:
"We are naturally anxious that the proposals should not receive publicity."

On a point of order. Is this partisan speech in order on the question of Business?

We are on the question of Business now. I hope that the hon. Lady will conclude what she has to say with a question about the Bill to which she has referred.

Yes, Sir. I was asking under what circumstances and when we are to have an opportunity of making comments upon this Bill, because the Session is coming to a close. In view of the fact that the Bill is not to be dealt with next week, can we be told what the situation is?

The answer to the last part of the hon. Lady's question is, "No." The answer to the first part is that I am afraid I do not read the "Municipal Journal" with quite the same attention as the hon. Lady.

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food indicated that it was still the hope of the Government to introduce a Bill on food and drugs? In view of that statement, is it not the right hon. Gentleman's duty to acquaint the House with the intentions of the Government about the bringing forward of the Bill?

I really do not understand what the hon. Member means. It is not the hope of the Government to introduce a Bill; a Bill has been introduced. It has been through the other place and it has received its First Reading here. The question is when it is going to have its Second Reading, and I said, in answer to that question, "All in good time."

The right hon. Gentleman may not read the journal to which my hon. Friend referred, but does he read the Order Paper of the House? If he does, he will see that it discloses the fact that there are many Bills which are still undealt with. Does he realise that he has no chance of getting the Food and Drugs Bill through unless he brings it forward straight away? Can he also tell us when we shall have a debate on capital punishment and hear the decision of the Government? Can he say whether it will be next week? Will he explain what is holding up an important constitutional Measure—the Ministers of the Crown (Fisheries) Bill? This important Bill was referred to a Standing Committee as recently as Friday last. It received a unanimous Second Reading, but all the information we can get at the moment is that it has disappeared somewhere between the Floor of the House and upstairs. There is a suspicion of infanticide here. Can we be given some information?

If the Bill has been sent to a Standing Committee it has passed outside my knowledge, so I cannot answer the hon. Member in regard to that. As regards a debate on capital punishment, I am afraid that no Government time is available at present.

On a point of order. The Ministers of the Crown (Fisheries) Bill was passed last Friday, Mr. Speaker, but the usual notice saying that you have allocated it to a certain Standing Committee has not appeared on the Order Paper. With great respect, as it was committed to a Standing Committee by the House, if the hon. Member in charge of the Bill does not want to proceed further with it, the proper course is for him to move a Motion in Committee. It is an unfortunate situation when a Bill which has received the unanimous approval of the House does not seem to have been allocated to a Standing Committee.

I understand that the Bill has been withdrawn by the hon. Member in charge of it.

With great respect, the hon. Member is surely not in a position to withdraw it. It was committed to a Standing Committee.

So far as I know, the hon. Member who is in charge of the Bill can do what he likes with it.

Whilst the Leader of the House is making up his mind when we may expect the next stage of the Food and Drugs Bill, will he say whether he is prepared to place before the House, or at least put in the Library of the House, a list of trade associations and commercial interests which have made representations to the Government on this matter?

That is not a question on Business. If there are any more questions on Business, let us have them.

With regard to Crichel Down, in view of the repeated statements of the Minister of Agriculture, when he was questioned on the subject, that it would be better dealt with in debate—thereby indicating his clear assumption that there would be a debate—and I take it from the Lord Privy Seal that there is no question whatever about the Government providing time for a debate?

These are matters which are still for consideration. It is quite clear that there should be a debate.

Is there any question about the Government providing time? The Minister of Agriculture, seeking to evade or shorten Parliamentary Questions—for reasons which we quite understand—said that this matter would be debated. I am not asking when it will be debated, but I am saying that when a Minister offers facilities for a debate and assumes it will take place the Government should provide time for it.

I really do not think the right hon. Gentleman need press me at the moment. I have made the position quite clear. As he knows, these are matters which are often dealt with through the usual channels, in order to find what is the most convenient method of handling the matter from the point of view of the House as a whole.

The right hon. Gentleman is not quite seized of the point. When a Minister is asked a Question by a Member of the House and says that he is not prepared to answer it because he is going to make a speech in a debate on the matter, it clearly must mean that he has been to the Leader of the House and has ascertained that the Government will provide time for him to make that speech. He would not have gone to the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman must have been quite clear on the point, otherwise he had no right to make such a reply.

Can we have a definite assurance that whatever decision is arrived at by the Government will be implemented by them, and that they will not run away from it at the request and pressure of the 1922 Committee?

I did not understand your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, on the point of order which was raised regarding a Bill which was passed by this House and in respect of which it refused permission to the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall) to withdraw it. Is it still your Ruling that when permission to withdraw a Bill has been refused, it is still within the rights of the Member concerned to jettison it?