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Commons Chamber

Volume 530: debated on Monday 19 July 1954

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House Of Commons

Monday, 19th July. 1954

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Death Of A Member

I regret to have to inform the House of the death of the Right Honourable Robert John Taylor. C.B.E., Member for Morpeth, and I desire on behalf of the House to express our sense of the loss we have sustained, and our sympathy with the relatives of the right honourable Member.

Private Business

Mersey Docks And Harbour Board Bill Lords

Stroudwater Navigation Bill Lords

Birmingham Corporation Bill Lords

Kent Water Bill

Orpington Urban District Council Bill Lords

As amended, considered to be read the Third time.

Kent Water Bill

I beg to move,

That the Promoters of the Kent Water Bill shall have leave to suspend any further proceeding thereon in order to proceed with the same in the next Session of Parliament, provided that notice of their intention to do so be given in the Private Bill Office not later than Five o'clock on the day before the day on which the House adjourns for the Summer Adjournment and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that period be paid.
That not later than Five o'clock on the third day on which the House sits in the next Session of Parliament the Bill shall be presented to the House.
That there shall be deposited with the Bill a Declaration signed by the Agent for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceeding in this House in the present Session.
That the Bill when laid upon the Table shall be deemed to have been read the first and second time: and shall be recorded in the Journal of the House as having been so read, and shall be ordered to be read the third time.
That no new Fees be charged in respect of any stage of the Bill upon which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session.
That the said Orders be Standing Orders of the House.
This Motion enables the promoters of Kent Water Bill to resume proceedings in the next Session of Parliament at the point which they have reached today. The Bill has been considered by a Committee of this House for 23 days, and great expense has been incurred by the parties. Without the Motion, this expenditure of time and money would be wasted, for the Bill would be lost when the present Session ends.

The effect of moving the Motion today rather than later in the Session is that the time for lodging petitions in another place will not begin to run until the new Session has begun. The petitioners against the Bill will, therefore, have more time to prepare their cases against the Bill in another place.

Question put, and agreed to.

Message to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.

Oral Answers To Questions

Ministry Of Supply

Low-Flying Aircraft, Rugby


asked the Minister of Supply what knowledge he possesses of low-flying jet aircraft over Rugby; and what action he is taking in this matter.

The only aircraft operating in that area for which I have any responsibility are those manufactured at the Armstrong-Whitworth Works. These have to be flight-tested before delivery to the Services.

The pilots are expressly forbidden to fly below 1,000 feet, except when taking off or landing; and I have received no evidence to show that any of these aircraft have contravened the regulations.

Is the Minister aware that his colleague the Under-Secretary of State for Air, disclaims all knowledge of R.A.F. planes in this connection and that I believe him, because in my division there are many ex-pilots who think that these planes are from the right hon. Gentleman's establishment at Bitteswell? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is an intolerable nuisance to teachers in schools and to parents who have small children? Would he look at it again, please?

Looking at it is not so easy. The areoplane, presumably, is no longer there. We have consulted Rugby police, who tell us that they have not observed or had reports of low-flying aircraft for a long time. Nevertheless, I have brought the hon. Member's complaint to the attention of the firm concerned, though I have no evidence whatsoever that anyone there has transgressed at all.

Victor Aircraft (Accident)


asked the Minister of Supply if he will make a statement about the accident to the Victor aircraft.

I have little to add to the full accounts which appeared in the Press. The accident occurred while the aircraft was carrying out instrument tests at low altitude over the airfield of the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield. The circumstances are being investigated by the Accidents Investigation Board, and the wreckage will be sent to Farnborough for examination.

The House will wish to join with me in expressing its sympathy with the relatives of the test pilot and three observers who lost their lives.

While appreciating that expression of sympathy and wishing to associate my hon. Friends with it, may I ask whether this unfortunate tragedy will have the effect of greatly delaying the production of this aircraft?

It is too soon to say until we have a report on the results of the inquiry. This was the first and only prototype, but a second prototype is due to be completed very shortly.

Vertical Take-Off Aircraft (Research)


asked the Minister of Supply what research is being conducted in this country into methods of vertical, or near-vertical, take-off of aircraft, other than by rotating wings; and how far this research has proceeded.

The Ministry of Supply has given contracts to a number of firms to undertake research into various methods of vertical or near-vertical takeoff. Engines and airframes suitable for this purpose are being developed.

As the right hon. Gentleman no doubt is aware, elsewhere in the world development is fairly far advanced. Will he see that there is no question of money shortage to delay the development of what may well be one of the most important types of machine?

I realise the importance of this work. Quite a lot of money has already been spent on it and the amounts being spent are going up fairly steeply. All this research into vertical and near-vertical take-off has very important military applications, and, therefore, I do not want to go into details of exactly what we are doing and how far we have got.

Princess Flying Boats (Use)


asked the Minister of Supply if he has yet made a decision about the future use of the Princess flying boats.

No. Sir. The discussions with airline operators, who are interested in acquiring the Princess flying boats, are not yet concluded.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that it would be quite intolerable if these machines were not used, and that if they are to be used the sooner the decision is made the better? Is there nothing he can do, with his personal charm and by other methods, to see that someone makes up his mind on this matter?

Can the Minister say what is holding up a decision about these aircraft? Is it difficulty about delivery of the right type of engine, or is it an absence of decision in the discussions with the Corporation?

Only a limited number of concerns are prepared to take on a novel enterprise of this kind and there is the problem of facilities at overseas bases. There is also the problem, about which I have spoken before to the House, that engines of sufficient power to run these flying boats economically on a commercial basis are not yet available. There are, therefore, elements of uncertainty in the whole proposition and that is why the discussions are, perhaps, taking longer than some of us would like.

Is it not a fact that the engines have not been available hitherto because of the decision of the right hon. Gentleman's Department? Although there may be better ones in the future, will he see that priority is given to these flying boats?

I cannot agree to give priority to these machines—for which there is as yet no definite user—over machines which are urgently required for the Services and for the civil airlines. I am not at all anxious to authorise the expenditure of large sums of public money on the development of special engines exclusively for use in those three flying boats. However, I am glad to say that among the range of new engines being developed by the aircraft industry for aircraft of various types there is one which appears to offer every prospect that it will be suitable for use in the Princesses.

Bacteriological Warfare (Anglo-Us Discussions)


asked the Minister of Supply to what extent he discussed the question of bacteriological warfare with United States defence authorities during his recent visit.

Is there any arrangement for interchange of information between the United States Government and ourselves on the question of bacteriological warfare?



asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, whether, as the result of his further discussions with representatives of the newspapers, he will announce when newsprint rationing will end.

My noble Friend has nothing at present to add to the reply which I gave on his behalf to the Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) on 31st May. His discussions with the representatives of the newspapers are still going on.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the prospects of decontrol in 1955 are much less favourable by reason of the fact that producers are unable to produce the extra 50,000 tons required? In those circumstances, will the right hon. Gentleman now sanction the purchase of additional newsprint from Canadian or Scandinavian sources instead of hanging on to the control like grim death?

I assure the hon. and gallant Member that we are not hanging on like grim death, but are looking forward to the day when we can get rid of these last controls. Unfortunately, one of the new machines which we reckoned on being started in this country in the very near future will be delayed a little. I cannot add anything to what my noble Friend said the other day, that in existing circumstances, and bearing in mind balance of payments and supply difficulties, he did not see much chance of authorising more than the 100,000 additional tons authorised for next year.

As there is so much rubbish in the newspapers these days, especially Sunday papers, will the hon. Gentleman be careful about spending dollars in this way?

Legal Aid And Advice Act (Implementation)


asked the Attorney-General whether he will now make a statement with regard to proposals for implementing the provisions of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, in order to avoid injustice being done to persons who through lack of means are unable to obtain professional advice when necessary so as to be adequately represented in county courts and magistrates' courts when necessary.

Does the Attorney-General feel that he is entitled to be so complacent about this matter in view of the fact that 6 million houses will be affected by the new Housing Repairs and Rents Bill? Does he realise that it is impossible for laymen to understand the complications involved in that Measure and similar Measures? Does he not think that something ought to be done to help the laymen to conduct his case in the county court in a proper manner?

I am not in any way complacent about the matter. I fully appreciate the paint of view of the hon. Member, and I hope that the time may come when we shall be able to do something.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman familiar with the procedure adopted by the Assistance Board in assessing the needs of applicants for legal aid and advice certificates? Is he aware that a constituent of mine was recently granted a certificate and commenced a serious legal action in the High Court on the strength of the certificate, but later had the certificate withdrawn on a reassessment of means, which intervened while the action was pending? Will the Attorney-General look into the procedure, which seems to me to be highly contentious?

I think that is a slightly different question from the one I was asked, but if the hon. Member will give me particulars of the case he mentioned. I shall be glad to look into it.

Could the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what would be the cost of implementing the Act? Could he say, also, when he is likely to bring forward proposals to implement the Act?

I cannot give any figure for the cost. The matter has been considered, but it is extraordinarily difficult to arrive at a figure. As for when the Act may be implemented, hon. Members will appreciate that I am not in control of a matter of that kind. I cannot give any undertaking about what may be done in a future Session.

Would the Attorney-General reconsider this matter? With the greatest respect, is he not aware that he himself would find it considerably difficult to understand many of the provisions of many of the new Acts now coming into force? Is it not a very serious thing to expect a layman to know when he ought to take a case to the county court and when he ought not to do so? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman not realise that the new Act will enable agreements to be entered into between the parties and, in consequence, people will be compelled to enter into them not knowing their legal position?

I certainly appreciate that legal aid is a very valuable social service, but, as the hon. Member will know, there is a great demand for the extension of social services of all kinds and the matter has to be dealt with as one of priority.

Pensions And National Insurance

Insurance Board Doctors (Sessions)


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware that there is dissatisfaction among some members of the medical profession employed on Ministry of National Insurance Boards with regard to the allocation of sessions; and on what grounds some doctors are given a much larger number of sessions regularly than others.

I am not aware of any dissatisfaction on this point. If the hon. Member has any information suggesting that there is, perhaps he will forward it to me. As far as possible the work is spread fairly among the doctors concerned.

I am much obliged to the Minister for his answer, but would he be good enough to inquire into the position and to see that practitioners are given an equal opportunity of attendances at these sessions? I think he will find that his information will lead him to the conclusion that they are not being given such an opportunity at present.

I have already said I have no information on the point. Perhaps the hon. Member will send me any information which is in his possession.

Old-Age Pensions


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance to give an estimate of the amount by which old-age pensions could be increased, on the assumption that on 1st July, 1954, a further £335 million per annum were allocated by the Treasury for the purpose of increasing old-age pensions.

As a matter of arithmetic, retirement pensions could, for the time being, be increased by about 30s. a week. If the increase were permanent the prospective annual deficit of the fund would be more than doubled.

Is the Minister aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed me last week that £335 million has been the value of the reliefs in Income Tax and Surtax which he has made to the rich since he has been in power? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it would have been better not to have reduced those taxes so much, and to have given old-age pensioners if not another 30s at least 15s. more a week?

As the hon. Gentleman is no doubt also aware, more than two-thirds of these Income Tax concessions went to people of comparatively small incomes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, that is so, to people with less than £1,000 a year. Moreover, a suggestion of the kind which the hon. Member has made would completely destroy the insurance basis of the scheme.


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the extent whereby the present old-age pension is sufficient to maintain a pensioner under present-day conditions of higher fares, rents, food and cost of living, generally.

I rather anticipated that reply. Is it because the right hon. Gentleman and everyone else in the country knows that the old-age pensioners are suffering so much that there is really no need for any inquiry; and, particularly in view of the facts as given in this morning's leading article in the "Daily Herald," will the right hon. Gentleman see whether the Chancellor can give back some of this money to the old-age pensioners instead of relieving the rich?

The reason why I am not anxious to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into these points is that it would waste a lot of time and could only show that the National Insurance pension is not now, and never has been at any time, sufficient for a person to exist on, unless that person had some other resources as well.

Is it not common knowledge that many of the problems of old age and of the National Insurance Fund are being now carefully investigated both by the Phillips Committee and in the quinquennial review? And, further, is it not common knowledge that the Government intend to do all they can to perform an act of justice to the pensioners for the second time in the lifetime of this Parliament?

Special Needs (Voluntary Assistance)


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance to what extent the National Assistance Board invites voluntary organisations to help recipients of National Assistance meet needs such as clothing and bedding.

The National Assistance Board tells me that its general policy, which has not changed since the matter was reviewed in its report for 1949, is to welcome the co-operation of the voluntary organisations in cases presenting special problems. It has no record of the number of cases involved.

While not wishing in any way to denigrate the splendid work of the voluntary organisations, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, to the extent to which they are being asked to co-operate, it is not a reflection either on the inadequacy of the Assistance Board's scales or the inadequacy of the discretionary powers given to the Board's officers?

No. I do not think so. I think that if the hon. Member will refer to the 1949 report of the Assistance Board, he will see that, by enlisting the aid of voluntary bodies, the Board is able to confer substantial benefits in certain types of cases in which it would not be justified in increasing any grant itself.

Umpires' Decisions


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will appoint an expert committee to overhaul umpires' decisions, in the light of modern industrial conditions

No, Sir. It is for the independent statutory authorities to apply past decisions given by umpires under the repealed Unemployment Insurance Acts where they consider them to be appropriate, and it would be improper for me to interfere in the manner suggested.

Is the Minister not aware that chairmen of insurance tribunals frequently feel themselves legally bound by previous decisions which are no longer in accord with contemporary industrial conditions?

These are independent statutory authorities, and it would be quite wrong for me to interfere with them in any way. If the law requries changing, that is another matter altogether, and one which, of course, the Government would be prepared to consider.

Allowances (Scale)


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what representations he has received in the past 12 months from the National Assistance Board on the inadequacy of the present scale of allowances for those in need; and what action he will take.

Is the Minister aware that many people will regard this as a dereliction of duty on the part of the Board? Is it not the Board's statutory duty to advise the Minister about these things? Will he, therefore, now ask the Board to give immediate consideration to the scale of allowances in relation to the expenses of those who are applying to the Board, and the knowledge which the Board has in its possession?

No, Sir. It is not for me to give insructions to the National Assistance Board. The Board is an independent authority and it is for the Board to take the initiative in a matter of this kind. I would remind the hon. Member that the new scales brought into force in 1952 give recipients of National Assistance a more generous standard than at any time hitherto.

Is the Minister aware that we do not need representations from the National Assistance Board, the report of the quinquennial revaluation or a Royal Commission to let us know that the old-age pensioner is now in a bad position and that the right hon. Gentleman ought to do something about the matter forthwith?

This question is concerned with National Assistance, not insurance benefits.

Does the Minister say that the National Assistance Board can increase the scales of allowances to recipients each week as the cost of living goes up, as we know has been the case with all foodstuffs in the last 12 months—especially meat and butter?

I must refer the hon. Member to Section 6 of the National Assistance Act, passed by the Government which he supported in 1948.

Fuel And Power

Sea Coal (Distribution)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give an assurance that every assistance will be given to reputable persons applying for a licence to distribute sea coal.

Yes, Sir, wherever adequate arrangements do not already exist for the distribution of sea coal.

As any contribution towards solving the coal shortage, especially in view of the high prices of domestic coal, must be welcome, could my right hon. Friend not do something to encourage people to distribute this sea coal?

Mining Subsidence


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will consult the Minister of Housing and Local Government on the representations made by local authority associations on the problems arising from mining subsidence, with a view to the preparation of legislation to extend the scope of compensation for subsidence damage.

I am in consultation with my right hon. Friend on this subject, but on the question of possible legislation I cannot add anything to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 30th November last.

Is the Minister aware of the very wide welcome given to the fact that the Minister of Housing and Local Government has received a deputation on this subject from the local authorities, and that very many take this as an indication that the Government are now considering legislation to implement the Turner Report? Will he confirm whether that impression among the local authorities is correct; and, if so, whether he can indicate that legislative action will come in the next Session?

I cannot confirm any impression which the hon. Member may believe exists. I think he had better await the result of the deputation.

Will the Minister also consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer and see whether the Turner Report could not be carried out without any considerable addition to the burden on the national Exchequer?

Power Cuts


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give an assurance that the coal situation will not involve any serious electricity power cuts affecting domestic and industrial premises during the ensuing autumn and winter.

It would be absurd to give an absolute assurance because this must largely depend upon the level of coal production. The Government, however, are watching the position closely and are determined to take all necessary steps in good time.

Could the Minister at least give an estimate of what he thinks is the prospect in the coming months, for the benefit of those who use coal, both domestically and industrially, because such an estimate would be of help?

My hope is that the level of coal production and such other measures as the Government may take will be successful.

Spanish-Soviet Trade


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the trade agreement recently concluded between Spain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, he will forbid the export of strategic material to Spain that might find its way to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

I am informed that no such agreement exists. The second part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is contrary to the information which I have received? Is he keeping an eye on the extensive trading going on between Fascist Spain and the Iron Curtain countries, while, on the one hand, they are trading extensively and, on the other hand, are trying to placate American opinion by denouncing such East-West trade?

The hon. Member must have his ear closer to Radio Moscow rather than to the information available from Spain, where Her Majesty's Ambassador has been informed by the Spanish authorities that the Moscow radio report which has been reproduced in the foreign Press is quite untrue.

Cyprus (Future)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action Her Majesty's Government proposes inview of the official pronouncement of the Prime Minister of Greece on 16th June that the Greek Government propose to bring the question of the future of Cyprus before the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Under Article 2 (7) of the Charter, the United Nations have no powers to discuss a question which lies entirely within the domestic jurisdiction of a member Government. Her Majesty's Government hold that the status of Cyprus is such a question.

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that it would be desirable to settle this matter as between friends even before it is allowed to come—and even if without proper legal status—before an international body? Would not he further agree that it would be hard to find a more staunch friend to this country than Greece; and could he say in what way it could be advantageous to this country to retain a sovereignty over an island which the majority of its people do not wish to have recognised, when Greece has already stated that she will give us any reasonable military or other facilities on the island should the island eventually become part of Greece?

I would agree with what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said about the staunch friendship of Greece, particularly in the last war, but we cannot agree that any Government, however friendly, can claim the right to be consulted about what is to be the future situation of one of Her Majesty's present possessions.

Guatemala (Fact-Finding Committee's Report)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is now in a position to make a statement on the report of the Fact-Finding Committee on Guatemala; and what instructions he will give thereon to the British representative on the Security Council.

The Spanish text of the Inter-American Peace Committee's Report reached the Secretariat of the United Nations on 13th July. I am informed that in view of its length it will take a few days for it to be translated and circulated as a Security Council document. We shall, of course, consider the Report carefully and decide what further action is required.

Can the Minister say when he will be able to make a statement to the House on this Report and on the policy instructions being given to Her Majesty's representatives?

It is not customary to give information ahead of time about instructions given to Her Majesty's representatives at the Security Council. My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State made the position of Her Majesty's Government quite clear last Wednesday. He said that we shall make this document available as soon as we can.

Will the representatives of Her Majesty's Government be instructed to urge upon the Security Council that under Article 39 it is the duty of the Council to determine from what territory the invasion of Guatemala was arranged and who sold the arms and aircraft with which the rebels conducted it?

I cannot add anything to what was said by my right hon. and learned Friend in the debate last Wednesday, when he made the position perfectly clear.

European Collective Security (Note To Ussr)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has received from the Soviet Government to his Note of 8th May, 1954, regarding collective security in Europe.

As the question of German rearmament and the future of Germany is again in the melting pot, would not this be a suitable occasion on which to try to get a four-Power meeting on Germany? Will the hon. Gentleman remind the Soviet Government of the latter part of Her Majesty's Government's Note, in which they invited the Soviet Government to join with France and the United States and Britain in seeking a lasting and acceptable solution of the German problem?

I do not think that any reminder is necessary. I hope that the Soviet Government agree, as we do, that the reply of Her Majesty's Government is conclusive.

Saudi Arabia (Shipping Agreement)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now make a statement on the agreement reached between Saudi Arabia and Mr. Socrates Onassis; and what action he has taken to protect British interests.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement on the agreement between Saudi-Arabia and Mr. Onassis.

Her Majesty's Government have now studied the agreement between the Saudi Arabian Government and Mr. Onassis. There is no doubt, in their view, that this agreement constitutes flag discrimination by seeking to force buyers of oil to use tankers of one particular flag. It is, therefore, contrary to accepted maritime practice.

Her Majesty's Government deplore such interference by a Government with the shipper's freedom of choice of vessel, and it is clear that British interests will be adversely affected by this agreement. We have been in the closest touch with the United States Government and with other Governments and commercial interests, whose objections to this agreement are as strong as our own.

My right hon. Friend has expressed to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador his grave concern at this agreement and his hope that the Saudi Arabian Government will think very carefully before pursuing a course which seems calculated to lead them into difficulties with friendly Powers.

Has a reply been received to the Government's representations to the Saudi Arabian Government?

Can the Minister confirm that this agreement has finally been settled, or is it still in draft form?

I should like notice of that question. It is not quite clear, but I think it has been finally settled.

Is it the intention to take this matter to some international organisation to see whether an amicable settlement can be reached, or do the Government propose to leave it where it is?

We hope to reach agreement with the Saudi Arabian Government, with whom we have friendly relations.

Forced Labour (Ilo Report)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of the report by the United Nations International Labour Organisation Committee on Forced Labour, what proposals Her Majesty's Government intend to make to the United Nations in respect of these disclosures.

The Report of the ad hoc Committee on Forced Labour, appointed jointly by the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation, has been considered by the governing body of the International Labour Organisation, which supported the Committee's recommendation that an appeal be made to Governments to abolish forced labour practices.

The governing body also urged Governments which had not already ratified the relevant international labour conventions to give prompt consideration to doing so, and will consider at its autumn meeting proposals with a view to the possible formulation of fresh international standards.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council, in April, adopted, on the initiative of the United Kingdom delegation, a resolution welcoming the action of the International Labour Organisation and inviting them to pursue the problem. This resolution also appeals to Governments to reconsider their laws and practice, and calls for a joint progress report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation.

The General Assembly will, at its session this autumn, consider the action already taken on the ad hoc Committee's Report. This action has Her Majesty's Government's support.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Can he say what countries have not so ratified this convention?

Germany (Gehlen Staff Organisation)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the so-called Gehlen staff organisation, with headquarters at Pullach, near Munich, which is under the supervision of Brigadier General Reinhardt Gehlen, in view of the fact that this organisation is an embryonic general staff and its existence is inimical to the armistice conditions.

The hon. Gentleman is misinformed. This organisation is not an embryonic German general staff and it is not incompatible with the revised Occupation Statute.

Is it not a fact that this organisation lies within the American zone? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, whatever he may say, quite a few people believe that this organisation is the intelligence wing of an embryonic German general staff?

So far as I know, the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is correct, but I refute what he has said in the second part.

Ministry Of Food

Food Consumption Statistics (Publication)


asked the Minister of Food in what publication he intends to make available the figures of food consumption in this country formerly published in his Department's bulletin.

The Board of Trade Journal.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House how frequently these figures will be published and whether they will be as comprehensive as those at present available in the Ministry of Food Bulletin?

It is intended that they will be of the same character as have hitherto been published. Hitherto, the full figures have been published annually. They were last published in the Ministry of Food Bulletin for 29th May and it is proposed to publish this year's figures about the same time next year in the Board of Trade Journal.

Does not this information indicate that the hon. Gentleman's Department is to be absorbed by the Board of Trade?



asked the Minister of Food when he expects to have disposed of all his stocks of coffee; and what action he proposes to take to prevent the price of coffee rising again when it is completely restored to the free market.

By next October: my right hon. and gallant Friend has no power to control the world price of coffee.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Coffee Buyers' Association has recently issued a circular entitled, "What's happening to coffee?" in which they state that contracts made by the Government as bulk purchase long-term contracts have helped to keep down the price of coffee in this country? Is it not deplorable that the Government should have given up bulk purchase long-term contracts, which would have been helpful so far as coffee is concerned?

The hon. Gentleman should realise that had it been intended to continue or to renew these bulk purchase contracts it would have been at a price in the region of the present world price, and we hope that the world price will fall.

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the same leaflet it states that had there not been a severe frost in Brazil last season there would have been much more coffee available at a lower world price?

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say why the Government are quite incapable of doing what he constantly blamed the Labour Government for not doing?

In this case, the contracts have come to an end. To renew them would mean to continue the contracts at a high world price, and we hope that the world price will fall.

Ceylon Tea


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the decision of the Ceylon Government to reduce tea shipments to Britain; and what steps he is taking to safeguard an ample supply of tea next year.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware of the statement, issued under the authority of the Ceylon Government, that they will export only 30 million lb. next year as against 65 million lb. this year and 116 million lb. last year? Is there no planning or preparation at all in the Ministry of Food to safeguard the food of the people?

The hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. The report refers to a limitation of tea coming to the London auctions. There is no limit on the amount of tea which may be imported into this country from Ceylon via the Colombo market.

Does that answer mean that no preparations are being made to safeguard ample supplies at reasonable prices and that it is being left to the free market which, as with coffee, will send prices up?

No. It means that Ceylon proposes, according to the report, to do what it is entitled to do and that is to limit the amount of high grade and medium grade tea coming to the London auctions so that more shall go through the Colombo auctions.

Danish Bacon


asked the Minister of Food whether he will now make a statement on the procurement of bacon from Denmark.

Negotiations have not yet been completed, but I hope that talks will be resumed in the near future.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that while there may be a very good case for reducing prices there is no case for reducing the amount, and that if, in fact, the amount is reduced it will result only in higher prices for the housewife because this is bacon which is at a good price from the point of view of the domestic consumer?

As negotiations are still proceeding I think it better that I make no comment.

Eggs (Retail Price)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will now make provision for a maximum retail price for eggs.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary declare a policy about eggs? We are now approaching the old controlled price. Will he say whether or not he intends to hold the price? We support the Government so far because they intervened to hold the price and all I ask is whether they will determine the figure at which to hold egg prices during the coming months?

The policy of the Government is revealed by the fact that today eggs are cheaper than they were at this time last year, and also even the year before under control and subsidy.

Why are fewer eggs being consumed if the prices and everything else are as satisfactory as the hon. Gentleman says?

No statistics are available to the hon. and gallant Gentleman at the moment by which to determine the number of eggs consumed.

Clerical Officers, West Hartlepool (Employment)


asked the Minister of Food what efforts are being made either to provide or find alternative employment, within travelling distances of their homes, for the clerical officers being displaced from his Department at West Hartlepool.

I have been asked to reply. For West Hartlepool, as for the rest of the country, all Departments were asked nearly six months ago to declare their clerical officer vacancies so that they might be used for the Ministry of Food staff. I understand that as a result local vacancies have been found for five out of 11 clerical officers from the Ministry of Food's office at West Hartlepool.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, of the five established officers with 15 years' service or more who have been ordered to remove more than 100 miles from West Hartlepool, at least four have domestic difficulties? Further, is he aware that in the Inland Revenue Department considerable overtime is being worked—indeed, some work is being taken home by some of the officers—and in other Government Departments in the neighbourhood a large number of temporary staff are employed while these permanent officers are being ordered 100 miles away?

We have endeavoured to give such vacancies as are available as a result of the changes in the Ministry of Food system, of which the hon. Member is aware, to the cases in which it seems that the greatest hardship would be involved by posting away.

The second part of the hon. Gentleman's question referred to the Inland Revenue, and he has a Question on the Order Paper to my right hon. Friend tomorrow which specifically raises that point.

Catering Establishments (First-Aid Equipment)


asked the Minister of Food why the revised proposals for food hygiene regulations contain no provision that first-aid equipment shall be readily accessible in premises to which the Factories Act, 1937, does not apply.

Because the circumstances are not similar. This is one of the subjects which my right hon. and gallant Friend will review in the light of the comments received.

Will the hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. and gallant Friend to look at this again? Does he appreciate that there is a good case for extending these provisions to all premises where food is handled?

The difficulty is that of finding a requirement which can be applied to the many and varied circumstances of the premises to be covered.

Shipbuilding (Ussr Orders)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps he is taking to encourage British shipbuilders to seek orders in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Eastern Europe.

I have been in constant touch both with the shipbuilding conference and with individual shipbuilders on this subject. Certain shipbuilders have visited Moscow and are now negotiating with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for contracts for merchant shipping. Discussions on Russian requirements as a whole have recently taken place in London between the shipbuilding industry and the Russian trade delegation.

While thanking the Civil Lord for that rather more encouraging reply than some we have had recently, may I ask him whether he has also been in consultation with the President of the Board of Trade in relation to the strategic regulations about the export of shipping to the Soviet Union? Can he now make a statement on that subject?

Yes—I have certainly been in touch with my right hon. Friend. I am not in a position to make any further statement.

Can the Civil Lord now say whether it would be possible for British shipbuilders to accept orders and build vessels of a type similar to those provided for under the Russian-Netherlands Treaty?

That is a different question. First, we have to obtain a firm inquiry before the question of licensing arises.

Royal Fine Art Commission (Advice)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer under what statutory powers the Royal Fine Art Commission ensures that its advice is obtained before building works are undertaken.

The powers of the Royal Fine Art Commission are granted under Royal Warrants and not by statute. These powers enable them to call for information on building works. So far as I am aware there are no statutory obligations on developers or planning authorities to consult the Commission.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in its last Report the Commission say that too often it is either not consulted at all or consulted at such a late stage that serious improvements cannot be considered? Is not it time that statutory powers were given to the Commission to enable the advice to be tendered before it is too late?

I am aware of the passage in the 12th Report to which the hon. Member refers, but I am not at all sure that it is not better for the authority of the Royal Fine Art Commission to rest on its very high standing and reputation rather than on compulsion.

Army Training (Constructional Work)


asked the Secretary of State for War the cost of the road which the Army is building on the Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.

I assume that the hon. Gentleman is referring to a report which appeared recently in the "Daily Express." The 117 Field Engineer Regiment, Territorial Army, is in camp near Ballater for its fortnight's training. It is common practice for Royal Engineer units doing field training to seek local permission to carry out work such as bridge building and road making.

In this particular case, the unit is carrying out some demolitions and building about two miles of new track and a bridge on an estate near Balmoral; building four small bridges at yet another estate: and repairing about three miles of existing track and erecting two small bridges on the Balmoral estate.

All these exercises provide good training value and local resources are used. The extra cost to the public is nil.

Does not the Under-Secretary think it quite wrong that men's time and public money should be spent on building private roads and private bridges which will be used only for a few weeks in the year in the deer forests, when, as a further Question on the Order Paper shows, there is a desperate need in the Highlands of Scotland for public bridge, road and pier construction?

These small tasks are all part of a general military training programme which includes demolitions, water supply, track repairing, bridge building, and so on. I think that the hon. Member is engaged on the military engineering task of trying to make a mountain of a molehill, and if he joins the Territorial Army we will help him.

While the training may be very valuable in the military sphere, is there any special reason why this road development and construction should take place on this particular estate: and. at the end of the day, who will benefit from this? Apart from the training experience for the men concerned, will it be the owner of the estate, the county council, a local authority or the public generally? Will the hon. Gentleman be good enough to furnish an answer to those questions?

Before any of these activities are undertaken, for the prime purpose of military training, applications are made to those in the neighbourhood of the camp who would like to have work done. If their request conforms with military requirements it is undertaken. As the right hon. Gentleman will have heard, there were three separate estates on which minor tracks were converted into slightly better tracks, and not only the one.

Will the hon. Gentleman be good enough to furnish an answer to this question: who benefits from this in the long run? If a benefit is conferred on a member or some members of the public in the area, will they compensate the Army for the expenditure incurred?

As I said earlier, the benefit is primarily for the Army, for the unit gets training in road making. There are no suitable local authority roads in the neighbourhood. This is in hilly country close to the Army camp. I suppose that to a minor degree it might be said that at the end of the day the track is slightly better than it was at the beginning.

I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that many other tasks are undertaken for local authorities all over the country.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a similar Army camp in the South-East of Scotland, and if I submit a scheme to him for building a road to the isolated Clapperton Railway Junction, will he consider that as a military exercise?

Certainly, Sir; if there is a suitable unit in the area we shall be only too glad to consider the suggestion.

Will the Under-Secretary use his influence with the military authorities to try to get them to repair some of the roads at Nottingham which have been torn up by military tanks?

The answer is the same as before. If there is a suitable unit in an area where there is a suitable task, we shall certainly consider it.

Is it not much better for the men to undertake useful work in their training rather than to dig holes and fill them up again?


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will allow the Army to undertake, as an exercise, public works in the Highlands and Islands, such as bridge, road and pier construction, which otherwise would not be undertaken at all.

Royal Engineer units are encouraged, subject to certain conditions, to undertake civilian tasks which provide good military training not otherwise available, but it is rare for units to undertake their training in these areas.

Is the Minister aware that my constituency is full of camps of all sizes and shapes and, also, that there is in the area a great need for the carrying out of public works which are unlikely to be undertaken in the near future at any rate? Is he aware that we should be very grateful to see the Royal Engineers, to entertain them in camp and to give them some work to do? I hope that the Under-Secretary will feel encouraged to go forward with these schemes and so do a great public service.

I am sure that the Royal Engineers will be indebted to the hon. Member for his offer. My answer is the same as before. If there is a suitable task and a suitable unit is stationed in the neighbourhood, we shall be only too glad to look into such suggestions.

On what special basis does the War Office decide to go to one district or another? If there is a case for minor development and road construction as apparently the hon. Gentleman asserts there was on the Ballater Estate, why cannot such work be done in the area to which the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) belongs? Why should the War Office proceed in one case and not in another?

The first factor to be considered is where a unit is to camp. It goes to a place not because there is work to be done there, but because it is suitable from the general training standpoint, with amenities, and so on. Once the location of the training camp has been fixed, if the unit is a Royal Engineers' unit, and if there is a suitable task to be carried out in the locality, we proceed to carry it out.

As it is very often the case that Army units are not welcomed at all, is it not a very good thing to see them being welcomed for a change?

Bomber Pilot (Training Cost)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how the approximate costs of training a bomber pilot today compares with the costs of training a bomber pilot in 1945.

It cost about £10,000 in 1945 and it costs about £25,000 today.

There are several factors, including the increased performance and complexity of the aircraft, the additional cost of the aircraft spares and fuel, and pay increases.

Is the last figure which the hon. Gentleman gives the figure for the V-bomber or an earlier type?

The figure of £25,000 seems an enormous sum to spend on training one bomber pilot. Will the hon. Gentleman be so good as to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT, or otherwise, details as to how the figure is made up? The House would be interested, because, after all, we are the guardians of public expenditure, and we ought to know.

Does it not seem as if prices are going up since the Conservative Government came into office?

Commonwealth Territories (Racial Discrimination)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in which territories, in respect of which he has reserved powers regarding natives, there exists statutory race discrimination affecting membership of trade unions or professional associations.

Southern Rhodesia is the only territory in which the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has reserved powers within the sphere mentioned by the hon. Member. There is no statutory discrimination on racial grounds in that territory as regards membership of trade unions or professional bodies.

In view of that reply, can my hon. and learned Friend confirm that the recent Press reports that a coloured Southern Rhodesian journalist would have to leave his professional association on its registration as a trade union have since, happily, proved to be incorrect?

Transport (Waiting Regulations, Wembley)


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will now give the date on which unilateral waiting regulations are to be introduced in certain streets in Wembley.

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

My right hon. Friend cannot name a date until he has considered any comments or objections to the draft regulations, which he is due to receive by the end of this month.

Can my hon. Friend say why this has taken so long? Has there not been ample time for the comments to have been received already?

There have been a number of applications for waiting restrictions throughout a great part of London, and these have been submitted to the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee with a view to there being a general revision of the regulations. We have now reached the point where the draft regulations have been prepared and circulated, and it is hoped that a decision can be taken in the very near future.

Has the hon. Gentleman any reason to believe that unilateral waiting regulations are unpopular where the Department seeks to introduce them? Do not they serve as useful a purpose as zebra crossings—if not a more useful purpose—in reducing road accidents?

Both unilateral waiting regulations and zebra crossings make a valuable contribution to the solution of the traffic problem.

Aden (Frontier Incidents)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a further statement on the present situation on the frontiers of Aden.

Since the account which my right hon. Friend gave on 14th July in reply to the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine), the Governor has reported that the raids continue. In the first fortnight of this month 28 incidents have occurred in areas of the Protectorate where subversive Yemeni influence is known to be concentrated, and in at least four cases Yemeni regulars and irregulars have raided or fired on the Protectorate from Yemen territory.

Searching inquiry has shown the Yemeni allegation that R.A.F. planes have been flying low over Beidha to be completely unfounded. No R.A.F. planes have flown over Yemen territory; civil aircraft sometimes fly close to Beidha in circling to land at Mukeiras, but they have been doing this for years and never practise low flying. If this is what the Yemen Government refer to, their description is a travesty of the facts.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what action the Government are taking to deal with these alleged acts of aggression?

As my right hon. Friend informed the House on 14th July, we are hoping that talks will take place between the Yemeni official concerned, the Amil of Beidha, and our own frontier authorities on the subject, but the Amil has been ill and the talks have, therefore, had to be postponed. We now hope that the Amil will shortly be able to initiate the talks. Meanwhile, my right hon. Friend is considering what else can be done to restore tranquillity.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the frontier is properly demarcated?

It is demarcated except for three areas. It was last demarcated in 1951, but those areas were left over for further demarcation. Her Majesty's Government have repeatedly asked the Yemeni Government to agree to negotiations on those areas, but so far they have refused to do so.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that if a Labour Government had been faced with this problem they would have been undergoing severe pressure from the opposite side of the House to take more drastic action?

Orders Of The Day



Considered in Committee.

[Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Civil Estimates And Navy Estimates, 1954–55

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a further sum, not exceeding £160, be granted to Her Majesty, towards defraying the charges for the following services, connected with Industry and Employment in Scotland for the year ending on 31st March, 1955, namely:

Civil Estimates and Navy Estimates, 1954–55
Class I, Vote 25, Scottish Home Department10
Class V, Vote 12, Housing, Scotland 10
Class VI, Vote 1, Board of Trade 10
Class VI, Vote 7, Ministry of Labour and National Service10
Class VI, Vote 8, Ministry of Materials10
Class VI, Vote 11, Ministry of Supply10
Class VII, Vote 1, Ministry of Works10
Class VIII, Vote 4, Fishery Grants and Services10
Class VIII, Vote 9, Forestry Commission10
Class VIII, Vote 12, Department of Agriculture for Scotland10
Class VIII, Vote 13, Fisheries (Scotland) and Herring Industry10
Class IX, Vote 1, Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation10
Class IX, Vote 5, Ministry of Fuel and Power10
Class IX, Vote 7, Atomic Energy (Revised Estimate)10
Class IX, Vote 8, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research 10
Navy Estimates, Vote 12, Admiralty Office10

Scotland (Industry And Employment)

3.31 p.m.

This is the second day given to our discussions on the well-being, or otherwise, of Scotland. I am sure that my colleagues on this side of the Committee, and no doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite who are fortunate enough to catch your eye, Sir Charles, will try to maintain the high standard reached on Thursday. It was clear to me that very considerable thought had gone into the preparation of the speeches made, and there was no attempt to score party points. In fact, thoughts were expressed and counsel given which, if hon. Members on the other side cared, could be used for that purpose.

The most bitter criticism of the Government came from the Government benches, and particularly from the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Duthie). I am sure we were all impressed with the contribution which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot). I shall refer later to these speeches, as I also hope to refer to those of other hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, whom I am glad to welcome, showed on Thursday that he had an intimate knowledge of Scottish affairs, which I am certain is helpful. I have no doubt that the fact of his taking part in our debate last year and again this year has given him an incentive to make a closer study of what is happening. I have some knowledge of the work of his local managers, and if any Department has its finger on what is happening in industry throughout the country, I think it is the hon. Gentleman's Department. If employers consulted his Department about the filling of vacancies. I am sure that there would be less trouble in some of our industries.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service
(Mr. Harold Watkinson)

indicated assent.

When the hon. Gentleman referred to a certain upsetting experience which he had on visiting Loch Lomond, he was, quite unconsciously, supplying me with important evidence for something which I have always contended—that we ought to have a better road round Loch Lomond. I hope that the Minister of Transport will do something about that. The information which we got from the War Office was not contained in the White Paper on Highland Development, because if we look at paragraph 226 on page 48 of the White Paper, we learn that, despite the Coronation in the South last year, the tourist industry in Scotland had a better year than it had in 1952, and it is estimated that it brought about £7 million to Scotland.

What I cannot understand is that, when we are doing so much and spending so much time and energy in order to attract the tourist, we still continue to hide from the tourist our greatest scenic gem—Loch Lomond. In putting forward this case, I am not asking for any changes which would jeopardise the natural beauties of the district at all. All I am asking is that they should be allowed to be seen.

I developed this argument last year, and therefore I do not want to develop it now, but may I say that it is no longer a constituency matter? Last Wednesday, something took place of which we ought to take some note, because this type of thing has been happening with large estates all over the country. Last Wednesday, on the shores of Loch Lomond, a quarter of the Colquhoun Estate was sold in lots, and almost one-third of the shores of Loch Lomond was invoked. It is perhaps as well that we should recognise and consider why it is that this area has so far remained unspoiled. In my view, it is due entirely to the determination and resolute action of the Colquhouns. Let us pay tribute to them. Even the local authority have found some difficulty in negotiating with them.

Let us take the case of the lovely village of Luss on the shore of Loch Lomond. That village has the benefit of both telephonic communication and electricity supply, yet not a pole is to be seen. "Certainly," Colquhoun said, "the village should have these amenities, but they must put the cables underground"—and the cables went underground. When I go into many of our villages and see these overhead cables, I wish that such a determination to preserve natural beauty in Scotland were much more in evidence.

Another point comes to my mind. At a time when the Postmaster-General, in the interests of efficiency, is finding it more economical to take down so many telegraph poles and put the cables underground, the British Electricity Authority are busy stabbing the country with their unsightly pylons. It may be impossible to put the electric cables underground—I do not know; but I ask any Minister with any responsibility in the matter to ask the scientists to give more attention to this problem.

Loch Lomond and the area around it must be preserved for the future, and we must be ever watchful about changes that take place to make sure that nothing is lost. We have already lost the Gareloch, and perhaps Hitler was to blame for that; but if we lose Loch Lomond, we can blame only ourselves.

After that important introduction, let me now take the opportunity of welcoming the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. I am sure that he has taken note of what was said on Thursday, and will have seen that examination of our trade and industry centred round the basic industries of coal and steel, and those that naturally flow from them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman has also noted that many hon. Members felt that the time has come to re-examine our distribution of industry policy.

First, however, let me say something about coal. The general picture that is painted is one of decline in coal production in Lanarkshire, with an increase taking place in the other areas. There is also a general assumption that a large migration of miners from Lanarkshire into those areas will continue to take place. It will be recalled that a committee was set up and later reported on the coal resources and housing needs, in order to enable local authorities to prepare their housing programmes after the war. Some mistakes have now been discovered in that direction.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power was good enough to supply me with the comparative figures, for which I had asked him, of coal production in Scotland in the years 1923, 1938, 1951, 1952 and 1953. May I say that the most disturbing fact which emerges, taking the year 1953 for a comparison, is that every area in Scotland without exception is down in coal production as compared with 1923. Every area is also down in production compared with 1938, and all are down in comparison with 1951, with the solitary exception of East Ayr, which is up by 48,000 tons.

Taking West and East Fife together, production in 1923 was 8½ million tons; last year it was 6¼ million tons. In the Lothians area, production in 1923 was 4¼ million tons, and it was 3¾ million tons last year. Taking West and East Ayr together, production in 1923 was 5½million tons and last year it was 4 million tons. In Lanarkshire in 1923, taking the Central East, Central West, and Alloa areas together, production was 20¼ million tons, and last year it was 8¼ million tons. It is clear from these figures that Lanarkshire is down in production, and up to the moment there is no compensatory increase in any other area. Quite the reverse; which lays further emphasis on the speech made by the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove about the value of this commodity and how it has been, and still is being, used wastefully.

A point which requires consideration here is that it raises the whole question whether there will be a great transfer of labour to some of these areas for work in the mines. In 1923, the production of coal in what are now termed the "developing areas" was 18¼ million tons. Last year it was 14 million tons. Clearly all the new sinkings, and extensions of existing workings, which are taking place will have the benefit of the most modern methods, but can we be sure that these will not just mean a transfer of labour within the areas, rather than a migration of miners from Lanarkshire into other areas? This question requires a great deal more consideration, and I hope that it will be given.

There is no doubt that the biggest single factor which has caused so much concern is the decline in coal production in Lanarkshire. Production was 21 million tons in 1900 and it declined to 6 million tons in 1953. With the large deposits of ironstone and coal in Lanarkshire it was understandable that the iron and steel industry should grow up in that area. It was from this combination of raw materials that our heavy industries sprang, and it was because of this that there is such a heavy concentration of population in the Clyde Valley. The ironstone is, of course, exhausted, and the coal resources are diminishing. The industries, however, remain, and in fact expand.

We all welcome the decision to go ahead with the new major development by Messrs. Colville at Motherwell. Otherwise, let us not under-estimate the task which has been set our people. It is indeed a challenge to our native skill and ingenuity. There is no longer cheap coal or cheap transport, and less scrap will be required, so we are faced with the necessity to import ore and to bring coking coal from England and to face competition, which gets keener with each year that passes.

My hon. Friend and colleague the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) speaks as an engineer, but it is clear to me, as a layman in these matters, that one of our tasks is to put all that skill and craft into the fashioning of raw materials and so to get what my hon. Friend so aptly describes as the "maximum conversion value." While we welcome the American firms to this country, let us bear in mind exactly what the American firms are doing. For many years this country led the world in developing and exploiting other countries. Now the New World comes to give us employment.

Let me now turn to what has been the central theme of this debate so far, the distribution of industry. Whether the Minister can say if any changes are contemplated, I do not know. He can be in no doubt of our intense interest in the matter. There is evidence that there are changes contemplated. In the "Glasgow Herald" of 29th June, I read with interest the speech of the Minister of State, Scottish Office, at East Kilbride. He was talking about the factories and shops that would go up in the new town. He said:
"The returns so far available in respect of land disposed for these purposes give an encouraging indication of the values which public development is creating here."
I rather like that phrase. He went on:
"In fact, the stage has begun to be reached when, instead of having to give firms financial inducements to come here, as we have had to do elsewhere in the Scottish Development Area, industries are prepared to come themselves and pay very good prices for the sites which the corporation have to offer."
The special correspondent of the "Glasgow Herald," writing in that paper on 16th June, and discussing the two conferences to be held by the Area Development Committee of the Scottish Council for the Development of Industry, said:
"The central proposal of the Cairncross Report was that the Government should have power to contribute the whole or part of the cost of the erection of factories in any part of the country where conditions warrant this step. Though it was rejected by the Secretary of State, he and the President of the Board of Trade have since ordered that their Departments make a careful review of the operation of the Distribution of Industry Act. The results of this inquiry are not yet known."
May I ask whether it is too early to have the results of the inquiry? We have no desire to hasten or harass what must be a very comprehensive inquiry.

Many tributes have been paid to the success of the Distribution of Industry Act. I am not so sure that, left to the Act itself, Scotland would now have all these new industries. The Act sets out incentives to industrialists to set up in certain areas. It contains no power of direction nor any power to prohibit an industrialist setting up somewhere else. The few teeth it did possess when it was introduced to give some effect to the labours of the Barlow Committee were duly taken out in Committee by the Government. All the planning for the location of industry was done by the Board of Trade with their powers to issue or withhold licences to go ahead.

What in fact was happening was something like this: A firm from America would go to the Board of Trade and make inquiries about the setting up of a factory, perhaps in the London area. Their representatives would be taken into the famous Planning Room of the Board of Trade and they would be shown all the sites in the development areas. They would then be informed of all the great financial advantages that would take place in going there. They would be told: "If you are prepared to go to a Development Area we will give you a licence within 24 hours," or something to that effect; but if they were not prepared to go to any of those areas, then they did not get any licence at all. In my view, one of the main reasons they are in the Development Area is because of that power held by the Board of Trade. Now, with the easing of controls—and soon their total abolition—no negative powers will be held by the Government at all. Of course, there is the Town and Country Planning Act, but that has no central direction.

I was reading the other day that there is likely to be a special meeting of the Town and Country Planning Committee of the Motherwell and Wishaw Town Council to speed forward the planning permission for this new development by Colville's. I wonder what would happen if this Committee refused to give planning permission for this project. It is an indication of what may happen, and indeed has happened, that the whole of this project can be publicised and plans published in the newspapers as to its location without, as yet, the permission of the local Town and Country Planning Committee having been received. Of course, it is all right stopping Mrs. Smith putting up a sign to advertise her shop, but when it comes to saying to Messrs. Colville's "You cannot do that there here," then, of course, that is rank heresy.

In my view, we are really in the position outlined by Professor Abercrombie in his minority report to the Barlow Report of 1940. He said:
"In an examination of what has been happening, it is clear that, despite the great efforts of planning officers and committees, groups of houses and industrial zones are scattered broadcast over the face of the land."
The purpose of the Distribution of Industry Act was to bring new industries and new life to the distressed areas. In Scotland, that meant the Clyde Valley and Dundee. Some question the wisdom as to whether this was the right and desirable thing to do, believing that a better approach might be to build up small towns outside the Development Area, thus reducing the population density of Clydeside.

Should we do that now? Let us look at the Clyde area. In Glasgow alone 300,000 people have to be rehoused outside the city, but, even at the moment, one-third of the total population of Scotland is living within 20 miles of the centre of that city. It is also true that half the factories in Scotland are located in the Glasgow area. If, therefore, we are to have a redistribution of population, where are they to go, and must they go alone? If it is only a question of finding living accommodation for people, there immediately arises the problem of transport. Here I disagree with the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. J. N. Browne) about the reluctance of the Scots to travel some distance to their work. It may apply to some of his constituents—

who are now being asked to move into a new housing area, but, in my view, this principle does not apply very much outside of that, and certainly not in any other parts of Scotland.

Before coming to the House, I served in the transport industry. One of the features of our day are the longer and ever longer journeys that people are prepared to have inflicted upon them. I use the word "inflicted" deliberately. It seems to be the last thing that builders of new housing sites and planners of new developments appear to take into consideration. What seems to be forgotten about transport is the simple fact that it is not the distance that a person has to travel which is so important, but the speed and comfort of the journey. Let me quote an example.

Two men whom I know work together in an office near Victoria Station. One of them lives in Brighton, 50 miles away, and the other in London. Both leave home at about the same time, and both arrive in the office at about the same time. But note the difference. On the one hand, one has had a comfortable journey in a fast electric train, has digested and discussed with his friends the morning's news, and arrives in the office fresh and without fatigue. On the other hand, the person who lives in London has, first of all, a five minutes' walk to the bus station, where he has to queue for a bus. He then travels in the Underground, in which conversation is impossible. He has to make one change, and does so, pushing and being pushed in the morning rush which is usual on London Transport, and he seldom gets a seat for the latter part of his journey. He does not arrive in the office in the comfortable state in which he should.

It is this latter type of transport which we are creating for everybody in the central belt of Scotland. Glasgow's new housing development is taking place along Great Western Road, on the one side, and Edinburgh Road on the other. Both of those roads were built and planned by the transport authorities as bypasses in order to avoid the main stream of Glasgow traffic. When I travel this road at night, as I often do, I see large queues of people waiting for transport, and every motorist being thumbed for a lift.

The south of England is well served by fast, clean electric trains. In my view, nothing would be more helpful or more desirable in order to assist overpopulated Glasgow and the redistribution of population in the Glasgow area than the development of new electric train transport. And, may I say, keep the trains above ground. The London Underground may be speedy, safe and clean, but all its advantages are destroyed by its awful noise.

I should also say to the Secretary of State at this stage that there is nothing in the White Paper on the reorganisation of railways which stirs the imagination or gives any hope of men of vision and drive joining the new area authorities. First of all, the British Transport Commission explains the scheme in an explanatory statement to the Minister, and then, in a foreword, it has to explain the explanatory statement to the right hon. Gentleman. That is rather involved, but in fact that is what is happening.

In, my view, all that it is attempting to do is to add a fifth wheel to a coach and trying to explain in the White Paper how important is that fifth wheel, though indicating at the same time that it will not be allowed to interfere with the smooth running of the coach. The House will have an opportunity to discuss the White Paper in detail, but I would say this to the Secretary of State about his area authority and about the Scottish Transport Council which he will afterwards appoint.

I have always believed that bodies set up by Government Departments or nationalised industries should have a clear indication of the functions which they are to perform. For my sins, as a Minister, I made many appointments to advisory bodies. I took a keen interest in them, but, quite frankly, I now feel that we have far too many of these bodies with far too little to do.

The civil servants responsible for many of these committees are sometimes at their wit's end to know what subjects to concoct for the agenda. What is the result? It is that the efficient, able and intelligent person, who is usually a busy person, soon sees through the facade and just stops coming. Reading the White Paper on transport, I am afraid that the area authority, and no doubt the Scottish Transport Council, is to be just another such committee.

Not that it would be difficult to put things on the agenda, some people might say—but that is just the problem. The point is that if a matter goes on an agenda for discussion by any body of competent people, they will naturally feel that they have a right to make a decision on it—not to advise but to decide. It is just this matter of finding something which is of sufficient importance to put on the agenda without its interfering with the rights of the British Transport Commission, on the one hand, and the authority of the regional area manager, on the other, that will provide the difficulty. I am convinced that these authorities will merely be glorified advisory committees. The right kind of pushing, progressive individual will soon be wrapped up in a mass of red tape thicker and more tangled than ever came out of a Government Department, and he will soon get out.

The only bright jewel about transport appearing in the White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland is to be found on page 51. It is this simple sentence:
"The organisation of British Road Services in Scotland…remained unchanged."
My toast to the Secretary of State is, "Long may that remain the case."

The hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Patrick Maitland) quoted a letter in the "Glasgow Herald," written by Mr. John Anderson, managing director of James Templeton and Co., Ltd., of Glasgow. I propose to quote a small part of it. He says:
"U.S. industrialists have recently been invited to come over here with the offer of subsidised factories, which Scottish Industrial Estates, Ltd., provide at 1s. 6d. per square foot. We understand that earlier applicants got in at 1s. 1d. per square foot. The economic rent (as offered to us) is 4s per square foot."
I think that we should be told something about that and about what the policy is. Are these favourable terms being offered only to new industries—new in the sense that the are starting from scratch?

What is the position of the industries in Glasgow which perhaps want to go to East Kilbride? I have already quoted from a speech made by the Minister of State in which he also said that it was the intention that 35,000 people now living in Glasgow should find homes in East Kilbride. If the 35,000 people from Glasgow have to go, or desire to go, to East Kilbride, have they all to find work in the new industries there? If we are to move 35,000 people from Glasgow to East Kilbride, we should at least enable some of the slum factories to move as well.

The new town corporation is not a charitable institution. The developments for which it is responsible are financed with money borrowed at market rates of interest. In the speech to which I have referred, the Minister of State tells us that at the rents charged the Corporation is making a profit. Why, then, is there this differential? I am certain that many of those small industries in which the men and managements are working in dirty. out-of-date and insanitary buildings would take a new lease of life if transported to new surroundings. I should be grateful to the President of the Board of Trade if he could throw some light on that matter.

It is also true that we have the regional plan for the Clyde Valley, but here I would again refer to what Professor Abercrombie had to say about regional plans. He said:
"However enlightened and farseeing regional plans may be, there must be some national guidance in the background."
I want to know whether the Government are prepared to face up to that implication. Without it, and without the intention to carry out such a plan, I agree with the hon. Member for Banff that it is little short of an outrage to hold out hope to any individual area.

The hon. Member has been referring to the Minister of State. I take it that he means the Minister of State, Scottish Office?

Yes. It was the Minister of State, Scottish Office, who was making the speech at East Kilbride on the opening of the 2,000th house.

I should like to put a pertinent question to the President of the Board of Trade about this matter. Last year my hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) put to the President of the Board of Trade a Question about Section 5 of the Distribution of Industry Act. His contention was that that Section of the Act was now a dead letter. This was denied, but when my hon. Friend pressed for some information, he got none at all. Is it true that the Lanarkshire County Council got a very substantial grant under the Distribution of Industry Act for their very large water undertaking, which it is hoped will be completed next year? Was this under Section 5?

Without this Government assistance, this water undertaking could never have been carried out and East Kilbride could never have been planned. Why do the Government refuse such assistance to Buckie? What is the point of all these visits and all the promises made when, the first time a request is made for something effective to be done, it is turned down? I therefore think that a review of the whole policy is called for.

The private individual is subject to all kinds of planning. The small private business is in the same category. Large private concerns have more freedom, but when it comes to Government Departments one gets the impression of careless abandon—although I may be entirely wrong in this. I would say to the President of the Board of Trade that if he wants to have some conception of what the lack of a plan really means, he should take a run out to Helensburgh, go right round to the Gareloch and look at what has been done to that beautiful district in the last 15 years. It was not the industrial revolution that did this. Government Departments have been responsible over the last 15 years. I see that the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. BroomanWhite) had to move his residence because of the ingrowth of industrialism, and he will agree that at least the President of the Board of Trade ought to go there to see what exactly is happening.

I am afraid that it was the Chancellor who was responsible, but I also agree with everything that the hon. Gentleman says about amenities.

That may be for the record and I have no doubt that it will be helpful, but there are other reasons, as the hon. Gentleman will agree. This has been only over the last 15 years.

A great deal of capital expenditure is still being spent in this area but still there is no overall planning. I am certain that this area could be made to provide even greater facilities which would be more helpful for the future, but I hope and trust that this piecemeal approach will be stopped. This, of course, is leading up to my contention that, with the removal of controls and the Distribution of Industry Act being left with all its duties but without any powers, the Government should at least tell us what they intend to do and whether they have any other plan in mind.

Turning to another matter, it has been said that in Scotland we provide all the facilities for the education of our young men in many professions, but that, having done so, there is no outlet for their talents at home. I rather differ from some of my hon. Friends about that. In my journeys I have been very warmly welcomed by colleagues in all parts of the world, and I do not believe that our friends from Scotland left its shores unless they were driven. Irrespective of whatever prosperity comes to Scotland, I do not think that we can keep them at home.

Whatever view one might have, I think we all warmly welcome the announcement of the Chancellor on Tuesday of the plans for the further development of higher technological education in Glasgow. But, as I understand it, the main problem in the past has been to get Scottish industrialists to take advantage of modern methods and techniques. Their indifference to advances in technology, new equipment and new knowledge has often been the subject of many complaints.

Not so long ago, when the Secretary of State for Scotland announced the payment of a sum of £2 million to assist local authorities, one of my right hon. Friends pictured him riding on a charger down Whitehall ready and all set for an attack on the Treasury. Let me assure him at once that we on this side of the Committee will give him every assistance if he wishes to lead a crusade among his own friends in Scotland for the modernisation of Scottish industry.

We will help him even if he leads by jet propulsion. Instead of assisting the employment of young scientists and technical experts in Scotland, it seems to me that the Secretary of State is losing ground and, what is worse, I think he is misleading the Committee.

Let us turn to paragraph 293 on page 61 of the White Paper. Dealing with the mechanical research station at East Kilbride, it says that out of the seven laboratories that have been planned, one has been completed and occupied; and another, for research in hydraulic machinery, was started and will be completed this year. It then informs us that two other laboratories will be started this year, and further gives us the information that under a five-year plan all the others will be completed by 1959. This is all very encouraging, and I would draw the attention of the Committee to the date of the White Paper, which is March, 1954.

Let me refer to another document, which was published in December, 1953, some three months earlier—and the information contained in this document about East Kilbride research station must have been known to the Departments. This is the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Civil Appropriation Accounts for 1952–53. In paragraphs 112 to 115 we learn, first of all, that the work here was planned in two stages. The first stage comprised site works, a general purpose building, workshops and a canteen; the second a wind tunnel and seven laboratories. As far as I can see, the wind tunnel has disappeared, and it has probably gone with the wind by this time. Work on the first stage was begun in 1949, and is obviously completed. It is the second stage which reveals an interesting story.

Here we read, first of all, about correspondence between the Ministry and the Treasury, who appear to be alarmed at the growing cost of the scheme. In fact, at one point after April, 1952, they asked what the total cost was likely to be and whether the amount shown in the Estimate for 1952–53 would bring the work to a point at which it could, if necessary, be stopped and still provide some useful buildings of some practical use. On a reply from the Department in September, 1952, the Treasury decided that the whole project must be reviewed.

Now comes the important announcement which I quote from paragraph 114:
"In October. 1952, the Department told the Treasury that they had regarded £2 million as an absolute maximum on the total estimate for this scheme. After discussion with the Ministry and the Department, the Treasury accepted this figure as a firm limit for the project, with the implication that this might mean that most of the laboratories previously contemplated would have to be cut out."
As one finds on reading this Report, the site and the administrative buildings, and with the first two laboratories cost in the region of £1½million, there is not much money left for the other laboratories.

I was interested in a report in the "Glasgow Herald" on Friday, in which I find that the Report of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. 1953, has just been published and. according to the "Glasgow Herald,"
"The Government's decision to resume after a two-year interval the programme of expansion planned for D.S.I.R. after the war will mean the completion of the major part of the building programme for the mechanical engineering research laboratories."
That is interesting, but I think we ought to have some explanation of what all this means. Could we be told exactly what is happening, and—much more important—can the Joint Under-Secretary of State give us a clear assurance that the D.S.I.R. have now received full Treasury approval for the projects? In paragraph 115 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General we find:
"At about the same time I had asked the Ministry whether they had yet ascertained and obtained approval for the total commitments under the scheme They admitted that they had not yet done so.…"
The Government spokesmen have been making promises in the House. They made promises to the hon. Member for Banff about Buckie. The Scottish White Paper and now the Report of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research have promised many things for East Kilbride. But what of the Treasury? Could we have some information from the Joint Under-Secretary?

It seems to me that there is little point in either us, as Members of Parliament, or Ministers speaking on behalf of the Government, asking industrialists to modernise, to take advantage of new ideas, without assuring ourselves that undertakings such as those for industrial research at East Kilbride, for which we must hold ourselves responsible, are pressed forward with the utmost speed, so that by our example we can encourage and assist all those on whose skill and enterprise the future of our country depends.

4.18 p.m.

I think it may be convenient to the Committee if I rise at this stage to reply to the very able and well-balanced speech to which we have just listened from the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele). I think it is appropriate that I should say a few words because, although this is a debate on the Scottish Estimates, it is more especially a discussion on Scotland's industry and commerce. That was the form that the debate took on the last occasion and I have no doubt that other hon. Members will be talking over much the same range of subjects today.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave a comprehensive account of Scottish industrial activity, and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour elaborated on certain improvements which have followed in the employment situation. I have no wish to repeat their arguments or to take up in detail all the points which were made, although I shall deal with some of them, and I can assure hon. Members on both sides of the Committee that full note will be taken of every point which was raised in that debate.

My responsibilities are twofold—first of all, in relation to our commercial policy in general, and secondly, in regard to certain aspects of industrial policy which affect Scotland in particular. I think it will be proper if I say a word or two about both those aspects. May I start with the general picture?

Before turning in any way to what Scotland may deserve or may desire, may I mention what Scotland has contributed to the national effort? Not for the first time, we have been dependent not a little on Scots and Scottish assistance in our national recovery. During the past year Britain's industrial strength has shown a steady growth. In the main—and there have been points where this has not been so—the picture has been one of mounting production, of growing productivity, of increasing exports and of strengthening reserves.

I am not here, in this debate at any rate, to discuss the popularity of the Government at home, but I can say this: when we go abroad we do not have party politics, no matter on which side of the Committee we sit, and I think anyone who has been abroad could not fail to be impressed with the growing regard in which the strength of the British economy is held in foreign countries. That is a matter on which we can all share common pride.

In all these achievements Scotland has played a notable part. It is not possible to measure Scotland's export record; I understand that that would be possible only if we established a Customs at Carlisle, which is a course, I am given to understand, which does not command universal assent at present.

It is, however, possible to say that in a wide field of exports, from machinery to whisky and from textiles to electrical equipment, Scotland has contributed notably not only to her own wealth but to the wealth of the United Kingdom as a whole.

May I make the background to Scottish industrial activities: if I may be permitted a truism, what happens in Scotland depends upon what this further comment about Scotsmen and other people wish to do there. There is no magic tap of enterprise which Governments of any political persuasion can turn on or off at will. Scotland's prosperity, her levels of employment and business activity, depend upon the number of men inside or outside that country with capital to invest and on their judgment as to whether that investment is likely to be financially rewarding.

One of the most gratifying features of Scotland's industrial activity since the war has been the number of industrialists, not a few from the United States, who have thought it worth while to establish plant in Scotland. Excluding the war-time factories, factory building since the war totals £43 million in value and 20 million square feet in factory space, which is a very sizeable achievement.

In making a statement about the United States industrialists who have established themselves in Scotland, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that a fair number of them—I could mention several by name—did not want to go to Scotland but wanted to come into the London area? The policy pursued in the immediate post-war years made it necessary for them to go into the Development Areas. We are wondering whether the present Government are as anxious as were their predecessors to discourage such people from coming into the London area and to encourage them to go to Development Areas.

I shall be saying a few words about Development Area policy, but I could not accept that American or any other industrialists do not wish to go to Scotland. The record of American industrialists in Scotland has been very high.

As I was about to say when the hon. Gentleman intervened, what has impressed me, and what impresses most other people who go to these factories and see these men, whether they come from America or elsewhere, is that they all express with equal fervour their appreciation of the co-operation which has been given to them in Scotland and of the vigour and enterprise of the men who are working in those factories.

Scotland has a very high record in this respect and, as far as I can judge, it has attractions of its own towards outside industry without our necessarily having to use any special procedures to attract industry into the area. At the same time, the hon. Member is quite right in this: under this Government and under previous Governments, the Board of Trade has been active in trying to attract industries by every means open to it. I shall be discussing it in detail in a few moments. The Board of Trade has been using various devices to attract industry into those areas, and if we take the field as a whole—and I am not making any party point about this, but referring to the Board of Trade under all Governments—we can say that the Board of Trade had had a large measure of success, not only on its own but in cooperation with its executive agency, Scottish Industrial Estates, and, last but by no means least, in full co-operation with the Scottish Council.

The main contribution, although not the only contribution, which Governments can make to the future prosperity of Scotland is to maintain a sound economic and commercial policy for the United Kingdom as a whole. What matters to Scottish industry and to the men who work in it is that the domestic market should be sustained at a steady but not inflationary level of demand, and what matters further are the openings which exist in foreign markets. Thousands of men and women in Scotland depend for their livelihood on what they can make and sell abroad, and the Government's policy of seeking wider trade and payments, of seeking to keep down the export barriers—and more especially, may I mention, the quota restrictions—is of direct benefit to very large numbers of Scottish workers.

I mention these points not because they conclude the whole matter but because I believe that it is impossible to examine the Scottish problems other than in the context of the highly competitive world in which we live. Prosperity is not determined by juggling with a few limited resources in a narrow area but by giving men the scope and the opportunity to expand their resources and by enabling them to make the maximum contribution to the outer world.

This brings me to the resources which are available in this great country which we are discussing, and they are not inconsiderable. I agree with what the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) said the other day—the prosperity of Scotland depends upon the prosperity of her basic industries. I think that must be the starting point of any study of this matter. A year ago I spent a little time in Scotland discussing these problems with people on the spot and I was impressed with the view which was expressed to me from all quarters in Scotland—that the starting point of every increase in industrial activity was in the basic industries.

We do not bring prosperity to an area which is basically dependent on coal, agriculture, fishing, or heavy industry by making, even if we could make, a few marginal adjustments in the industrial pattern of that area. First and foremost, the need is to tackle the foundations. If the foundations appear sound, industrial production in Scotland will go up. The industrial production of Scotland has been going up and that of 1953 was the highest ever reached.

One of the points mentioned to me a year ago when I was in the Clyde Valley was the need for a broader basis to steel production. I regarded that as one of the suggestions which went to the root of the problem, among the many which were made to me when I was in that country. Certainly the proposed investment of between £20 million and £25 million was a very sizeable step in that direction. That investment, and the £100 million planned for investment in coal between 1950 and 1960·65, as the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West indicated in his remarks, go to the roots of Scotland's problems. If those roots are sound and money is available for new investments and if the rewards are there to match the risks—and they will be big risks which have to be run—I am confident that other industries will follow suit.

I hope we are not to imply from the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman that he and the Government are turning their backs on the developing mining areas and the need there for other industries?