Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 28 July 1954

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

House Of Commons

Wednesday, 28th July, 1954

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

British Transport Commission Bill

Lords Amendments considered, pursuant to Order [26th July], and agreed to.

Coventry Corporation Bill Lords

Read the Third time, and passed, with Amendment.

Standing Orders (Private Business)

I beg to move,

That the several Amendments to Standing Orders relating to Private Business hereinafter stated in Schedule (A) be made, that the Standing Order hereinafter stated in Schedule (B) be repealed, and that the new Standing Order relating to Private Business hereinafter stated in Schedule (C) be made:

Schedule (A)—Amendments To Standing Orders

Standing Order 4, line 1, leave out from beginning, to "a," and insert "Whenever an application is intended to be made to bring in."

Standing Order 39, line 27, leave out "Southern Rhodesia," and insert "the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland."

Standing Order 64, line 24, after "acquisition," insert "by."

Line 25, leave out "by or."

Standing Order 67, line 38, after "acquisition," insert "by."

Line 38, leave out "by or."

Standing Order 99, line 1, leave out "conservancy," and insert "river board."

Standing Order 162, line 2, leave out "gas or."

Standing Order 190, line 4, after first "the," insert "short."

Standing Order 220, line 69, at end, insert—

(h) notice of the day proposed for the second reading of the bill shall not be given for a day later than the seventh day after that on which the bill has been ordered to be read a second time; provided that when the House has resolved to adjourn to a day beyond the seventh day, notice may be given for the day to which the House has adjourned or the following day.

Standing Order 224, line 6, leave out from "shall," to "whether," in line 9, and insert "decide whether or not the Bill is of such a nature that Standing Orders 4 to 68 should apply to it and if he decides that those Standing Orders should so apply he shall report to the House."

Standing Order 237, line 28, leave out from "person," to second "on," in line 29.

Standing Order 238, line 9, leave out "ten," and insert "eleven."

Standing Order 239, line 21, leave out paragraph (2), and add—

(2) The name and address of the applicant, if any, shall be endorsed on any order so laid and on all copies of the order so deposited and made available.

Standing Order 240, line 26, leave out "specified on the face of," and insert "endorsed on."

Standing Order 243, line 29, leave out "specified on the face of," and insert "endorsed on."

Standing Order 244, line 54, leave out "specified on the face of," and insert "endorsed on."

Schedule (B)—Repeal Of A Standing Order

Standing Order 239A (Deposit of duplicate plans, &c., in the Private Bill Office).

Schedule (C)—New Standing Order

Deposit of duplicate plans, &c., in Private Bill Office

239A. If under a special procedure order it is proposed to authorise the compulsory acquisition or use of land, or if the order relates to any works or to any area of land or water, and the said works or area are described by reference to a map or plan, a copy of a map or plan of the said land or works or area shall be deposited in the Private Bill Office on the day on which the order is laid before this House.

The object of these Amendments is to clarify the Standing Orders relating to Private Business, and in some cases to bring them up to date. In particular, the new Standing Order 239A improves upon the repealed Standing Order 239A in that it ensures that, wherever necessary, maps or plans illustrating Special Procedure Orders shall be available for the use of Members from the day on which such an Order is laid before the House.

Question put, and agreed to.

Oral Answers To Questions

Suez Canal Zone Base (Anglo-Egyptian Agreement)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a further statement on the resumption of negotiations between Her Majesty's Government and the Egyptian Government over the Canal Zone.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is in a position to make a further statement about the negotiations with Egypt over the future of the Suez Canal Base, with particular reference to the use of civilian contractors.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is now in the position to make a statement on the progress of the talks between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the Republic of Egypt on the evacuation of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone.

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I will reply to these Questions at the end of Questions.

Pending the statement which the right hon. Gentleman is going to make in answering these Questions, and while I have no desire to prevent either my right hon. and learned Friend or my hon. Friend from putting any questions themselves, this point has occurred to me. Will the right hon. Gentleman, in making his statement to the House this afternoon, refer to the possibility of the resumption of the export of arms to Egypt in the meantime; and, secondly, will he say anything about the negotiations on the subject of Egyptian intervention with shipping in the Suez Canal?

My statement will deal with the actual agreement, and I think the House will be willing to wait for that announcement. It is a quite normal and courteous way of replying to Questions by such an announcement.

That is all very well, but the right hon. Gentleman has indicated that he is not going to say anything about these two matters, although they are indicated in the Questions on the Order Paper.

I have only told the House that I will make a statement at the end of Questions. It seems to me the normal and courteous way of proceeding to answer hon. Members' Questions.

Germany (Re-Armament)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what official discussions he had with the Soviet Foreign Minister at Geneva regarding Germany and European security.

As peaceful co-existence is now the policy of the Government, and as this new policy was so successful at Geneva, would not the right hon. Gentleman apply it to the next problem—Germany—and take advantage of the tentative suggestions put forward in the new Soviet Note to propose a four-Power conference on Germany?

I think that if the hon. Gentleman reads the Soviet Note he will find out that that is what they suggest.

I was not suggesting that. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I was suggesting that he should follow up these tentative suggestions and might himself suggest a four-Power conference?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in a position to make a detailed statement on the Government's proposals for according sovereignty to Western Germany.

I have nothing to add to the Prime Minister's reply to the hon. Gentleman.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Prime Minister left this matter in complete obscurity? Can he now answer at least one question and say how the Bonn Conventions are to be brought into effect and separated from E.D.C. without legalising the uncontrolled rearmament of Western Germany?

There are methods by which that can be done, but I do not know that I should enter into them at this moment.

Does not the whole House desire to know exactly how this matter can be dealt with?

The Question is about the sovereignty of Western Germany, but it is clear that arrangements can be made covering rearmament if it was so agreed and desired.

South-East Asia


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs his proposals, following the successful conclusion of the Geneva Conference, for economic aid to the countries of South-East Asia.

The existing arrangements for economic aid to the countries of South-East Asia will continue. No decision has yet been taken as to what additional measures will be necessary or possible.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the additional measures are under discussion, because the present paltry assistance under the Colombo Plan is quite inadequate to provide an effective counter to the Communist challenge in South-East Asia? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the Burma Prime Minister said recently that he is not afraid of the Communists because he has a better programme than the Communists?

I am very conscious of the economic aspects of this problem, and certain discussions are going on, but I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's description of the Colombo Plan.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the new countries of South-East Asia, such as Indonesia, which are trying to build up their own independence, such economic aid is welcomed?

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the Government can support with an ample contribution the work in Southern Viet-Nam, similar to that which has been done in Korea by the United Nations?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the improved situation in South-East Asia, he will communicate with the relevant authorities at the United Nations revising Her Majesty's Government's attitude to the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development and announcing Britain's willingness to participate financially without waiting for the realisation of an agreed scheme of internationally supervised disarmament.

No, Sir. The position is still as indicated by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State in his reply to the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. George Craddock) on 2nd June.

Do not the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary feel that we might have obtained even better terms in South-East Asia if this fund had been in operation four years ago and we now had behind us the enthusiasm in the people there for the sort of work it would have been doing? Is it not rather foolish to deny ourselves the advantages which this fund can give by allowing the Russians the power to veto it?

Would the hon. Gentleman consider the rather valuable suggestion of the United Nations Association on this matter, that even if we can get the full support of America we should start it on a more limited basis?

Will the Under-Secretary of State undertake to ensure that the Government will consider again before September whether, in view of the changes in the course of events in South-East Asia and elsewhere, it is not very urgent to keep this fund on its feet?

If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the original reply of the Minister of State to which I have referred, he will see that it is clear that Her Majesty's Government did not envisage being in a position to contribute to such a fund until resources became available, and I cannot see that happening before September.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will not enter into any commitments or make any expressions of intention which might lead to military action in South-East Asia without first making a thorough examination of the proposals for a general settlement which are now being put forward by the Chinese Foreign Secretary.

I am not aware of any such proposals. The policy of Her Majesty's Government in respect of South-East Asian security has been clearly stated to this House.

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that we shall not enter into expressions of intention or other informal arrangements, very similar to those which we had with France in 1913–14, which are quite capable of leading to military operations, without first exploring alternative possibilities?

I have fully explained our policy to the House, and I think it is well known.

Tourist Travel (Passports)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the present position with regard to the official proposals from France and Belgium that Great Britain should join with them in abolishing passports for day and weekend visitors; and whether, in view of the desirability of further developing tourist travel, he will agree to this relaxation.

Her Majesty's Government have received no such proposals from the Belgian Government. The French Government have made several approaches with a view to a resumption of the pre-war practice. Their proposals have been carefully considered, but on 31st December, 1953, the French Ambassador was informed that Her Majesty's Government had with great regret come to the conclusion that they could not agree to the re-establishment of the pre-war facilities.

United Nations (Refugees)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why Her Majesty's Government refused to support the plan recently submitted to the United Nations Economic and Social Council by Dr. van Heuven Goedhart, the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Because Dr. Goedhart's proposal assumes international responsibility for the economic integration of refugees. This, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, is essentially a matter for the Governments of their country of residence.

Will not Her Majesty's Government reconsider this matter? Does not the Minister realise that this is one of the most human problems left as a result of the recent war, and does he not feel that there is a moral obligation to these people?

This country has been second only to the United States in helping refugees since the war. This is not a new policy. It dates from the handing over of the care-and-maintenance responsibility of the Refugee Organisation in 1950 to the Governments of the countries responsible.

Trade With China


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the agreements reached at Geneva on 20th July, he will make a statement about the relaxation of restrictions on trade between the United Kingdom and China.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now, following the truce settlement in Indo-China, propose in the United Nations that the special embargo imposed on trade with China in May, 1951, be rescinded, and that exports to China be subject only to the same strategic restrictions as are in force in respect of shipments to Eastern Europe.

As the right hon. Gentlemen are aware, a Chinese trade mission recently visited the United Kingdom and a British trade mission is to visit China. These talks cover all trade outside the strategic embargo. As for goods falling within the embargo, these are a matter for international decision, and I have no statement to make on that at the moment.

As this embargo was originally imposed on account of the Korean War, and as the cease-fire has been achieved both in Korea and Indonesia, thanks partly to the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman, will the United Kingdom Government not now take some initiative in the United Nations to get relaxation?

These are questions which range far beyond the view of Her Majesty's Government. They are connected with the possibility of a Korean settlement. I would not be able to add anything to what I have said this afternoon.

Is it not a fact that the Chinese trade mission over here seems to be wishing to acquire large quantities of steel and other strategic materials? So long as we have no evidence of peaceful co-existence with that country will my right hon. Friend watch the situation very carefully?

It is natural that countries should wish to acquire things on the embargo list. I was dealing with our position which, as my hon. Friend will be aware, is covered by what I have said.

In view of the fact that the somewhat comparable problem of the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc in Europe has been the subject of fairly successful international consultation resulting in an easing of, at any rate, some of the restrictions, would not the right hon. Gentleman think the time is now opportune for negotiating international discussions of the same kind to lead to something like the same result?

Saudi Arabian Frontier Dispute (Arbitration)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is able to make a statement about the negotiations with the Saudi Arabian Government regarding the frontier dispute on the Trucial Coast.

Yes, Sir. I am glad to be able to report to the House that we have now reached agreement in principle with the Saudi Government regarding the terms on which the frontier dispute on the Trucial Coast shall be put to arbitration. The Arbitral Tribunal will consist of five members, of whom one will be nominated by Her Majesty's Government acting on behalf of the Sultan of Muscat and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and one by the Saudi Government: these two will then choose three neutrals. This Tribunal will be asked to determine the common frontier between Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, and sovereignty over the Buraimi zone.

The Saudi official, Turki, and his party is to be withdrawn to Saudi Arabia, and we on our side shall withdraw the posts which we put out after his appearance in the oasis. Each side will then contribute 15 men to a police group which will be stationed in the oasis to maintain law and order during arbitration.

As for oil operations, the disputed areas are to be divided into two parts, separated by a neutral zone. In the northern part our companies will continue their operations, and in the southern the Arabian American Oil Company will be free to prospect. This, of course, will be without prejudice to the claims of the parties at arbitration.

The arbitration proceedings will take time. But I am sure that the House will share my satisfaction that it is now possible to go forward to a solution of this long dispute, and to the full restoration of our traditionally friendly relations with Saudi Arabia.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during the war those who, like myself, represented the British Government in the Persian Gulf, received the most generous co-operation from His late Majesty Ibn Saud? Is he further aware of the gratification which all of us who are interested in the restoration of good will between ourselves and the Saudi Arabian Government feel at the announcement that my right hon. Friend has made?

In arriving at these arrangements have steps been taken definitely to see to it that the cost of the oil which will be under British influence will be so adjusted as to conform to the cost of production instead of conforming to the American wish to keep the price up according to the cost of production in their own country?

The agreement provides for our oil companies to continue their operations. It also safeguards the interests of the rulers. I do not think we have got beyond that stage at the moment.

Austria (Occupying Powers)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has sent to the request made by the Austrian Government for a meeting with occupying Powers to discuss ways of alleviating the burdens of occupation.

No reply has yet been sent, but the Austrian proposal is being sympathetically considered.

While thanking the Foreign Secretary for that reply, may I ask him whether, if this meeting takes place, he will draw once more the attention of the Soviet Union to the fact that no obstacles stand in the way of the Austrian Treaty being concluded, and that in that way the burden of occupation can be finally concluded?

Anglo-Persian Oil Company (Negotiations)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements have been made for compensation to British nationals of the overseas staff of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Limited formerly employed in Persia.

Negotiations in Teheran are concerned with compensation to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Any compensation to members of the staff is a separate issue for which my right hon. Friend has no responsibility.

Can the hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend use his influence to see that members of the staff who lost very good jobs when the oil company withdrew from Persia, and who now have very badly paid jobs, get some share of this compensation which is to be given to the company?

I think that the hon. Gentleman should address his inquiries to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer who is responsible for that aspect of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

Could not the hon. Gentleman give the House some idea of how many of the employees are really the employees of the Government?

Anglo-Argentine Tramways (British Shareholders)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance that in the present negotiations with the Argentine it will continue to be made clear to them that Her Majesty's Government views with displeasure the manner in which British shareholders of the Anglo-Argentine Tramways have been treated over the years and that they still look to the Argentine Government for eventual compensation.

Leipzig Kirchentag (British Representatives)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the reasons why a number of representatives of British churches were unable, through the action of British officials in Germany, to attend the recent Kirchentag in Leipzig.

The hon. Member is misinformed. The only applications to British officials in Germany of which I am aware were those of 11 persons who applied quite correctly through the British member of the Interzonal Facilities Bureau. All these applications were transmitted to the Soviet Visa Office in Berlin within two days of their receipt, and daily reminders were also sent. On 1st July the Soviet Visa Office approved two of them and the two successful applicants were so informed. As the Soviet authorities still gave no answer about the other applicants, it was not possible to inform them whether their applications had been successful.

Has the hon. Gentleman studied the comment and report from a responsible Free Church newspaper which I sent to him, and will he say what factual errors, if any, there are in that comment?

I cannot go into detail at the moment, but the comment was based on misinformation, and I have given the House the correct information.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the persons who applied through the British authorities were not able to get there in time, whereas those who applied direct were?

That is not the fault of the British authorities, as I have made clear in my answer.

Will my hon. Friend take note of the fact that it is rather typical of certain sections of the Opposition to try to blame British Government officials when usually it is the Communists who are at fault?

Ministry Of Food

Flour Improvers (Agene)


asked the Minister of Food if he can yet make a statement in respect of the banning of agene in flour for human consumption.

Not yet, Sir.

Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that an undertaking was given by a Government spokesman on 2nd December, 1953, that a statement was likely to be made within two or three months, and is he not aware that for some considerable period a baker in the West Country has been selling large quantities of bread free from agene and chemicals? What is the Ministry doing about that?

I am aware of the need for an early decision. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are in the hands of an expert committee which is seeking an absolutely safe alternative. My right hon. and gallant Friend will make an announcement as soon as that expert advice is ready.

Why does not the Minister's Department encourage the millers to give people decent bread instead of the poison which they now supply?

Because he prefers an expert examination of the facts before making loose assertions.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that in the new process, which has been going on as a commercial proposition, no chemicals at all are used? Is it not a good bread in itself, and why does not the Ministry do something about it? If it is not a good bread, why does not the Ministry warn people about it?

I am aware of the aeration process to which the hon. Gentleman refers. It is one of the methods being studied, but, until the study is complete, it cannot be authoritatively stated what the new method will be.

Bacon Pigs (Guaranteed Prices)


asked the Minister of Food if he will withdraw the guaranteed prices for bacon pigs until a free market is restored between the farmer and the bacon curers.

No, Sir. The guaranteed prices are paid to implement an undertaking to producers. The method of sale does not affect their purpose or necessity.

May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he and his right hon. and gallant Friend are really very happy about the present arrangements which have been in force since 1st July? Will he say to what extent there is a monopoly as a result of the agreement between the Fat Stock Marketing Corporation and the bacon curers, and how many bacon curers are now outside that agreement?

My right hon. Friend's responsibility is to implement the guarantee, whether to the individual producer or to producers formed together in a voluntary organisation like the Fat Stock Marketing Corporation. The issue which the hon. Gentleman has in mind is not the concern of my right hon. Friend, and it might appropriately be put to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that, in the matter of the production of bacon pigs, in which quality and uniformity are all important, it is very desirable that these pigs should be sold through a marketing organisation rather than by the method of auction sales?

Canadian Apples


asked the Minister of Food what arrangements are being made to allow imports of Canadian apples during the forthcoming season to meet the consumers' needs after the home-grown crop has been disposed of; to what extent this trade may be resumed; and what consultations he has had with Canadian interests to ensure that the domestic market may depend upon an adequate and varied supply of fresh fruit from North America.

I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the reply I gave on 26th July to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk (Commander Donaldson).

Cannot the Minister be a little more explicit, and cannot he give the housewives a little more variety in the matter of food supplies?

I suggest that the hon. and learned Gentleman reads the answer to which I referred, which makes this, as it essentially is, a question of dollars.



asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that eggs have increased in price from 2s. 6d. to 4s. 9d. per dozen; what evidence he has to indicate the future price trends; and what his policy is in regard to egg production and price.

The price of eggs always rises at this time of the year, and no doubt this annual pattern will continue. But the price is appreciably lower than a year ago and lower than under control and subsidy the year before.

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why his right hon. and gallant Friend made a statement in the House a week ago saying that eggs had fallen in price when, in point of fact, they have nearly doubled in price from 2s. 6d. to 4s. 9d.? Is the latter part of my Question too difficult for the hon. Gentleman to answer?

The price always rises between the flush period and midsummer. The point of comparison is between that time this year and the same time last year, and the comparison shows a reduction in price.

On the more general question, will the Ministry make it clear to the public that controls are the cause of shortages, that the restriction of consumption restricts production, and that it must take time for the application of sound principles to show results after the inefficiency and incompetence of the Socialist regime?

Fatstock (Grading And Deadweight Scheme)


asked the Minister of Food if he will make a statement on the operation of his Department's fatstock grade and deadweight scheme during the first three weeks of meat decontrol; if he is satisfied that generally the supply of home-killed meat and the demand are settling on a basis that is fair to producers and consumers; and if he can give a current estimate of the subsidy payments on account of the collective guaranteed payments and the guaranteed individual prices.

There are now official graders at 166 centres and some 160 wholesalers are registered under the scheme. The answer to the second part of the Question within the limits of experience to date is, "Yes, Sir." As regards the third part, I would refer my hon. Friend to the Departmental Estimates which included £34·7 million for the nine months ending next March.

Will my hon. Friend tell us whether an increasing number of farmers are making use of the Ministry's grading and deadweight scheme as an alternative to the auctions or the Fat Stock Marketing Corporation?

It is a little early, after only three weeks, to measure trends of that kind.

Bacon And Ham


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that Belfast bacon has been increased to 6s. per lb., and cooked gammon from 7s. 4d. to 9s. per lb., while alternatives to these, such as sausages, meat and fish, are correspondingly increased; and if he will reimpose controls.

I am not so informed. The average price of bacon is about the same as before decontrol, and from this weekend there will be bacon in some districts at much lower prices. The reply to the last part of the Question is: No, Sir.

I am not at all surprised that the hon. Gentleman is not informed. As a matter of fact, is he aware that when he asks housewives to take action by avoiding high prices the alternatives to which they have to resort are also all correspondingly increased?

But the statements in the hon. Lady's Question are inaccurate. For example, she refers to cooked gammon, where the range of price is between 7s. 4d. and 8s. per lb. as compared with between 11s. and 12s. under the Administration of the party opposite. Secondly, the Index of Retail Food Prices shows that the figure for June is no higher than it was a year ago.

In view of the high cost of living, will the hon. Gentleman admit that the time has come when the British people should be sold Danish bacon at the price which the Government pays for it, and not be exploited by the Government to the tune of £30 million a year as they are at the present time?

If the hon. Gentleman would put down a Question on Danish bacon I shall be glad to answer it.

Is it not a fact that, unfortunately, some people are grossly exaggerating increases in the cost of living?

Some people are denying, for political purposes, the validity of the figures which they themselves used.



asked the Minister of Food the price of butter in June, 1951, and June, 1954.

We have just had a reply that butter was 2s. 6d. a lb. in 1951, and that it is now costing from 3s. 8d. to 4s. 2d. a lb. Surely that gives the lie to all that hon. Members opposite have been saying about there being no increases. Are we to take it that when butter goes from 2s. 6d. a lb. to 4s. 2d. it is a reduction?


Port Development


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the policy of Her Majesty's Government about creating a new port in Cyprus; and where this is likely to be situated.

My right hon. Friend fully appreciates the importance of port development in Cyprus and, at the request of the Government of Cyprus, advisers from the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation are undertaking a survey of the flow of trade through the ports in the island. They will advise the Cyprus Government what developments, if any, are desirable. It is therefore too early to reply to the second part of the Question.

When conducting the survey, will the Government pay special attention to the fact that there are in Cyprus a large number of historic buildings of unexampled beauty and interest, and will they take care to see that so far as possible nothing is done to spoil these ancient buildings?

Will the Minister bear in mind that the decision to proceed with the deep water port at Cyprus will not only bring great benefit to the Colony, but will also be a clear indication to our friends there that our interest in the Colony is an abiding one and not merely a passing one?

Yes. At the same time I think that we must await the report of the committee of inquiry.

Enosis Movement


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what he estimates to be the volume of support in Cyprus for the Enosis Movement; and what measurable opposition there is to it among the people of the island.

I understand that there are many shades of opinion. The movement is certainly widely supported in the Press and from the pulpit, but there is strong opposition from a not inconsiderable part of the population of the island.

Would the Minister not agree that it might be possible to get a definite answer to this question if the Government would consider holding a referendum of their own?

The holding of a referendum or a plebiscite is not a piece of political machinery which fits in very well with British ideas, but in any case I would ask the hon. Lady to await the statement which I propose to make at the end of Questions.

Would the Minister say whether the Government, if they are going to return to the Front Bench, are going to give some attention to the problem of Cyprus and not wait until it explodes in their hands like the Suez Canal base and then have to go out of the Chamber again?

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to the very last answer which I gave, he would have heard me say I was going to make a statement at the end of Questions.

Hong Kong (Healthy Village)

40 and 41.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) what rents will be charged by the Hong Kong Housing Society for the flats they are proposing to build on the site of the Healthy Village; what are the qualifications necessary for renting these flats; and what compensation will be paid to the present inhabitants of the Healthy Village who have to demolish their houses;

(2) how many of the occupants of the Healthy Village who will not be rehoused by the Hong Kong Housing Society will be allowed to remain on that part of the site which is not needed by the Society.

I am consulting the Acting Governor, and will write to the hon. Member when I have his reply.

In the meantime, would not the Minister do something to try to get another site secured for the Hong Kong Housing Society? Would he not agree that it is a bad thing to interfere with this excellent little community?

I can only refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given on a previous occasion which, I think, made the position perfectly clear.

Makerere College, Uganda (Extra-Mural Studies)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Director of Extra-Mural Studies for the University College of East Africa has not been appointed; and what the University College authorities are doing with the money.

As my right hon. Friend informed the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) in reply to a Question on 23rd June, the University College of East Africa at Makerere is an autonomous body. This is therefore a matter for the college authorities.

I quite appreciate that fact, but surely the Minister can do something in this matter, because he is aware, I think, that this post was advertised over a year ago. As this extra-mural work is proceeding quite satisfactorily at Entebbe, is there any reason why it should not proceed now in Kenya and Tanganyika?

I think that my right hon. Friend in his reply to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) on 23rd June, made quite clear what his interest was in this matter of extra-mural work. He made his interest perfectly clear, but it would not be proper for him to intervene in a matter of this sort.

Would the Minister agree that one of our big difficulties in colonial society is a lack of what we may call cultural activity, particularly in East Africa of all places? Would he therefore do his best to indicate to the university in the territory that it ought to begin, and should begin as early as possible, some extra-mural classes in Nairobi?

With respect, I think that the answers given on this subject will help in that direction.

Will the Minister make it clear that this extra-mural work has his complete support, and say so to both the Governments concerned?

Nigeria (Mokwa Agricultural Scheme)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will hold an inquiry into the methods of working of the Mokwa agricultural scheme in Nigeria, and the factors which led to its failure.

This scheme has been taken over by the Government of the Northern Region of Nigeria on 1st June for further experimental work. My right hon. Friend sees no grounds for an inquiry at this stage.

Can the Minister confirm or deny that much of the difficulty in the past has been caused by the attitude of the local Emir who almost seems to wish to discourage these settlers coming into this scheme? Would he endeavour to convey to the Northern Territory Government that this sort of thing has not been helpful in the past and will not be helpful in the future?

I have not the information to confirm what the hon. Gentleman says, but certainly the scheme has been taken over by the Northern Regional Government. They have asked for a C.D. and W. grant to help to carry it out, and it is certainly their intention to make a success of it.




asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how he proposes to review the Malayan Federation agreement in view of his refusal of a Commission to consider it from outside Malaya but inside the British Commonwealth; and if he will ask the Sultans to suggest how their powers should be reduced in the interest of democratic government.

My right hon. Friend has not refused such a commission. The first part of the Question therefore does not arise. The answer to the second part of the Question is "No." I would, however, refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) on 21st July.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his answer. Can he say whether in the near future some approach will be made to the Sultans to see whether or not they, as a body, would be prepared to limit some of their powers so as to get more democratic representation inside Malaya?

I do not think that question arises at all. We are concerned with the working of the new constitution, and the Commission which it is suggested should sit would be going into that particular aspect of the matter.

Is the Minister aware that any extension of political power in Malaya will mean taking powers from Sultans? Does he think that the Sultans will agree to that? Would it not be wiser if he consulted some body such as a committee composed of those representing the Commonwealth rather than the Sultans in regard to this?

The position is that the Sultans have said that at their next meeting with the High Commissioner they will give further thought to the matter, but at this stage I do not think I can say any more as to the precise way in which an inquiry can be carried out.

Teaching Posts (Graduates)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that only a small number of Malayan graduates accept teaching posts; what is the reason for this; to what extent teaching appointments are reserved for non-Malayan teachers; and what steps he proposes to take to induce more Malayan graduates to take up such posts in Singapore and the Federation.

Malayan graduates are still comparatively few, and most of them prefer to enter the Civil Service rather than become teachers. No teachers' appointments are reserved for non-Malayans. No special steps are thought necessary to attract Malayan graduates to the teaching profession since the position is expected to right itself naturally as their numbers increase.

Is the Minister quite satisfied that the salaries and other conditions for Malayan graduates are on an absolute equality with other people?

While there is no doubt that the remuneration prospects for teachers both in Singapore and in Malaya are very good indeed, we have no reason to think that the pay is in any sense a deterrent to their job.

Is the Minister aware that since the establishment of the university at Singapore five years ago only 14 graduates have taken up appointments as teachers? Would he examine the position and find out why it is that such a small number of graduates are going into the teaching profession in Singapore and in Malaya?

I gave the answer in reply to the Question, but I would point out that of some 435 graduates from the university of Malaya, no less than 42 in the past five years have obtained Diplomas of Education and are believed to have joined either Government or aided schools in the Federation or Singapore.


Mr Pinto


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what decision has been reached by the Advisory Committee on Detainees in the case of Mr. Pinto.

Mr. Pinto's appeal was due to be heard on 26th July. The Advisory Committee's decision is not yet available.

Will the Minister give this matter very careful consideration indeed? Is he aware that Mr. Pinto, while he has expressed the grievances of Africans, has taken a leading part in denouncing the violence and activities of Mau Mau, and will the Minister consider this issue very carefully?

I think I should be very unwise to comment on this matter pending the decision of the committee of inquiry.

If I will send the right hon. Gentleman information on the lines of my supplementary question will he forward it to the Governor?

I am always glad to receive information from the hon. Member, but, as I have said, it would be very unwise if I were to comment to the extent that he has done on this particular matter.

Parliamentary Delegation Report (Appendix)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what organisations he has supplied copies, for the information of their members, of the unpublished appendix to the recent Report by the Parliamentary Delegation to Kenya.

Copies have been sent to a number of organisations and societies whose names I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT. They have also been placed in many libraries where they are available to responsible persons on application.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the political parties, and it is not the Labour Party, is widely distributing this document among its members? Is he also aware that the "Voice of Kenya" is supplying it to any person who applies for it, and that this document, which is supposed to be kept in our Library, is being widely distributed?

—been sent to a number of societies, and we believe that it should be given maximum publicity consistent with public decency and so on.

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Government. Where are the Government? There are only two Whips and a junior Minister on the Government Front Bench. Surely the Government should be here?

I want to ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on this matter. A Parliamentary Delegation went to Kenya and presented a Report to this House. It had an appendix which is a private document and is restricted to the Library of this House. I have evidence that the Colonial Office sent this document to certain political parties for the information of their members and it is being widely distributed. I would ask for your ruling as to whether a document of this private character should be used in that way.

Further to that point of order. Is the House not aware that that particular document is not a secret document but was, in fact, produced by the information office of the Kenya Government and was distributed long before it was included in the proposed appendix to the Report?

May I ask the Minister whether this is not a breach of the undertaking given to the House? When the Parliamentary Delegation was compiling its Report it included this appendix as part of the Report. We were then informed by the Secretary of State that the Government had decided, for reasons which I can understand, that this part of the Report should not be published but that a copy should be available in the Library. Are we to understand now that, without any notification or without consulting anyone, that decision has been changed and copies have been given to certain individuals and private organisations? Is not that a breach of the undertaking given to the House?

I do not think any undertaking was given to the House at all. The Secretary of State merely announced that he did not propose to publish this document as part of the White Paper, and the reason for that was that the White Paper was available for purchase at railway stations and other places where young people of all sexes could have seen it and it was thought undesirable that they should read some of those facts.

But perfectly correctly, in the interests of prosecuting the campaign against Mau Mau, it was decided to send a number of copies of the document to such bodies as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the Trades Union Congress, the Conservative Commonwealth Council, the Royal Empire Society and others. I understand that it has been supplied as well to a number of Members of Parliament who asked for a personal copy. That is perfectly consistent with everything that has been said.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, when those copies were supplied to these organisations, it was intimated to them that it was the view of the Government after due consideration that it should not be published, and has the Minister secured an undertaking from these organisations that they would not publish it?

It was not the decision of the Government that it should not be published. It was their decision that it should not fall into improper hands or be delivered to undesirable quarters. We were concerned solely with the interests of the young people.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one copy of this document was sent to the Labour Party and has been placed in the Library of Transport House? In the case of other political parties, the document has been sent for the information of their members, and is being distributed by those parties to their members.

Is the Minister aware that the details contained in that report were actually included in an article written by Sir Philip Mitchell and published in the "Manchester Guardian" about eight weeks ago.

Is not the explanation of the apparent discrimination clearly that there are no young people in the Conservative Party and, therefore, it would not fall into wrong hands or the hands of juveniles if circulated by that party to their members.

The following are the organisations:

To the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association for its branches overseas, the Conservative Commonwealth Council, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party. Trades Union Congress, Royal Empire Society, Royal African Society, the Imperial Institute, International African Institute, Royal Anthropological Institute, Fabian Society, Over-Seas League, African Bureau, Church Missionary Society, International Missionary Council, Conference of Missionary Societies of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Universities Mission to Central Africa. In addition, I have arranged for libraries in this country to receive copies which will be available to responsible persons on application.

Detained Persons


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many persons are now detained without trial in Kenya; and in what places and conditions they are detained.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Africans are held in concentration camps, or villages behind barbed wire, in Kenya; and how many of them are used as labour for public and private employers.

About 40,000 persons are at present detained under Emergency Regulations. Of these, 10,000 are in Works Camps in the Central Province, Rift Valley and Narok, 7,000 are in detention camps at Mackinnon Road, Athi River and Manda Island, and 23,000 are in Anvil reception centres at Mackinnon Road, Manyani and Langata.

Conditions in the camps are governed by the Emergency (Detained Persons) Regulations, 1953. Accommodation is in huts or tents, piped water is laid on and hospital accommodation is provided. Those held in works camps are voluntarily employed at local market rates on public projects such as irrigation, bush clearing and agricultural betterment.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his very full reply, but I am shocked to learn that so many people are under detention. Will he be good enough to look into the third part of my Question—which concerns the conditions under which so many people are detained, and which I have learned are very unsatisfactory?

Our information regarding these conditions does not tally with that of the hon. Member. As a matter of fact, as my right hon. Friend said in his speech in the Kenya debate last week, a great deal of money has been spent on these camps and great care has been taken to ensure that they are well run. We have a good testimonial from the Church Missionary Society in regard to these conditions.

Can the Minister say how many of those 40,000 people have been detained without trial for a long period, or is he not aware that it is very disturbing and certainly not in harmony with what he called British ideas in the last Question?

There is another Question which is down to be asked on that point, and which I shall answer if it is reached. Briefly, the position is that these persons are held either under detention orders, in which case they have the right of appeal to an advisory committee which is, in effect, a trial—

At any rate, they have access to an appeal committee or, alternatively, they are in process of being screened and will subsequently either be released or detained.

Will the right hon. Gentleman state how long it is intended to keep these men in detention before bringing them to trial? Have the Government set any time limit in this question?

The work of screening is going forward extremely quickly, as the House was informed during the debate on Kenya.

Does not the Minister remember that not many weeks ago I was told—I think by him—that the whole screening process would be through in about four months? I did not believe it; I told him that at the rate it was going when I was there it would take about nine years. What does he really mean now? It is no use saying that the process is going on; we know it is. How quickly is it proceeding?

It is going on faster than was expected, and a great deal faster than the right hon. Gentleman suggested.

Will it be finished in three months? A few weeks ago the Minister told us that it would be completed in four months. He now says that it is going to be finished quicker than he expected. Are we to understand, therefore, that the screening is to be finished in three months? Surely I am entitled to an answer to that question?

If the right hon. Gentleman cares to put down a Question on that point—[HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] This Question deals with the conditions in the camps, which is quite a different question from that raised by the right hon. Gentleman. If he cares to put down a Question on the subject, I shall be prepared to answer it.

Owing to the unsatisfactory answers which have been given, I beg to give notice that I shall take the earliest opportunity of raising the matter on the Adjournment.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what form of legal aid is given in Kenya to parties charged with serious offences which carry a penalty less than the death penalty.

There is no established practice in this matter, which is dealt with administratively, but in difficult or complex cases the trial judge may require counsel to be assigned to the accused.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this should be put upon a satisfactory basis, so that these indigenous people can have representation, which at least gives them justice?

We must remember that a large number of persons are involved. When I said that it is dealt with administratively, I meant that it is done with the help of district officers or district commissioners, who in many cases are men whom the accused persons know and trust and who are able to help them.

Am I to understand from the Minister's reply that the Charter of Human Rights does not apply to these people? Are we to understand that coloured people can be treated in any fashion? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Did hon. Members listen to the Minister's reply?

It the hon. Member will read my original reply, together with the supplementary. I think that he will see that that is not so.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Europeans, Asians, Africans and persons of other races, respectively, have died in Kenya while under arrest in Her Majesty's prisons or in places of detention during the last two years.

In the period 1952, 1953 and the first half of 1954: 402 Africans; no Europeans or Asians.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that conditions under which so many people die ought to be improved? Will he kindly give further attention to this matter?

I do not think there is any reason to believe that the number of deaths is in any way out of proportion to the number of persons detained.

Can the Minister state the principal cause of death? Can he say whether a great many died from tuberculosis contracted while they were under arrest?

We have asked the Governor by telegram to let us have that information. Certainly a number of cases are due to tuberculosis and malaria.

Will the right hon. Gentleman pursue this investigation quickly, as there is evidence that the incidence of tuberculosis is growing? Will he look at that matter in relation to the conditions existing in these camps?

We are watching the position very carefully, and we shall continue to do so.

Income Tax


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will ask the Kenya Government to increase the rate of Income Tax to the level of the United Kingdom, in view of the recent further grant of £4 million from this country.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that by having a differential rate of Income Tax between Kenya and this country we are, in effect, providing an economic subsidy for the higher ranges of Income Tax payers in Kenya? Does not he agree that that is not the best way in which the money of British taxpayers can be spent upon colonial development?

The Government of Kenya have already raised taxes this year by £2½ million, which represents 10 per cent. of their total revenue. Although the rates of tax upon the lower incomes are relatively lower than those in the United Kingdom, the persons with the highest incomes pay a rate which is three-quarters that of this country. People here are getting a great deal inure for their money in the way of old-age security, free education, and many other things which are not available in Kenya.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the standard of living and the educational progress of the Africans are to be maintained it is essential that people in this young and growing country should not have a penal rate of taxation?

Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the Government regard this as the best way of helping to raise African standards of living?

Will the Minister state whether, if the Government intend to continue with this policy, they will consider making Kenya a grant-aided territory?

No. I think everybody understands the position. The economy of Kenya was perfectly sound and prosperous until the emergency. The emergency brought special charges and difficulties, but once it is at an end Kenya will be in a position to pay her way as she was doing before.

Is not what my hon. Friend said quite accurate, that these are subsidies by the United Kingdom taxpayers? Why should the wealthy taxpayers of Kenya pay a lesser rate of taxation than those here?

I made the matter quite clear. [HON. MEMBERS "No."] What the right hon. Gentleman said is not the case, having regard to the different circumstances of the two countries.

Business Of The House

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he has a statement to make on an alteration of business?

Yes, Sir. It has been arranged through the usual channels for a debate to take place on Egypt tomorrow. It will arise on a Government Motion, and it is hoped to conclude the debate by about 7 p.m. Afterwards we shall proceed with the Committee and remaining stages of the Appropriation Bill. I understand that representations will be made to Mr. Speaker for time to be earmarked on Friday for a debate on disarmament. If, Mr. Speaker, you are able to fall in with this suggestion, then the Government would propose, with the agreement of the House, to suspend the rule for two hours, which would mean that the House would sit until 6.30 p.m. on Friday instead of 4.30 p.m.

Is not this another example of how the Government are taking away the time of back benchers? Would not the right hon. Gentleman think it far more dignified if we were to meet on Saturday or next week and thus provide more time for debate and so preserve the rights of back benchers? Mr. Speaker, I would ask you this question. Have you fallen in with the Government's plans in this matter?

Having regard to the fact that we have been 72 years in Egypt, and whatever view may be taken of the agreement that has been arrived at, is it not rather a pity that only half a day should be allotted to the discussion of this extremely important departure? I do not know whether the responsibility for the allocation of time in this instance lies with the Leader of the House or with the party opposite. It is a matter for the usual channels, I think, but I ask the Leader of the House to consider making the debate a full day's debate.

I think it is very good of the Opposition to make it possible for us to have this important debate tomorrow. With regard to the question of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), this proposal does not interfere with private Members' rights because, unlike today's Motion, the Motion will come before the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

Would the right hon. Gentleman make it plain to his hon. Friends that a day on Appropriation is always a matter for the Opposition, and that we have, in fact, departed from custom in order to give the Government an opportunity of making a statement on Egypt and the House an opportunity of considering it? The reason it is proposed that the debate should be terminated at about seven o'clock is that it is right to preserve the rights of private Members who have constituency points which they wish to raise. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to make it plain that, when we return after the Recess, the Government will make up for the time which the Opposition have so graciously conceded to them?

It is because I appreciated the right hon. Gentleman's solicitude in this matter that I expressed my thanks to him for his co-operation in helping us to have a debate which all the House wants as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, you will remember that a few days ago I raised with you as a matter of order discussions between the usual channels and agreements reached whereby the time and the rights of private Members were sacrificed. The point I raised with you had regard to the very Bill that the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned, which is down for Second Reading today, the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill. Since then a large number of my right hon. and hon. Friends have pursued the point further with you.

I think that it would be right to say that a great deal of anxiety has been disclosed about the limitation of the rights of private Members on an occasion which is traditionally and by custom of this House theirs. What we are told today is that, in order to enable part of the Conservative Party to pursue peaceful coexistence with the other part, the rest of us who are private Members in the House are to sacrifice still another large portion of these two days which are by custom ours.

I do suggest to you that, whatever the practice may be about agreements being reached between the usual channels for the convenience of official groups and official Members, it ought not to be operated in such a way as to take away from the ordinary private back-bench Member probably the only opportunity that he has throughout the year of raising questions that cannot otherwise be raised. I suggest to you, therefore, that it is quite wrong that this practice should come to be abused, and that private Members are entitled to your protection.

It is my recollection of the last 25 years as a Member of this House that very frequently the Consolidated Fund Bill has been chosen by the Opposition as an occasion to raise a major topic. I think that has been the practice during all my time. We remember debates on foreign affairs and various other things taking place on this very Bill. I see nothing new or revolutionary in the idea that the Opposition should use the debate on this Bill as an occasion for raising some major topic which they wish to raise. That is in accordance with the practice of the House.

As regards what I have just heard about tomorrow's business, the arrangement of business on the Order Paper is a prerogative of the Government, a1nd if they put down a Motion on Egypt as the first Order and the Bill next, that is quite in order, and no point arises for me to rule upon.

I do not know, Mr. Speaker, whether you have observed the consequential loss of private Members' time resultant from these arrangements. My right hon. Friends had a subject for discussion for the first part of tomorrow to which they attached, and in my opinion correctly attached, very considerable importance. The result of the rearrangement is to transfer that debate to Friday. Friday is the very last opportunity this Session for private Members to deal with matters which they wish to raise and of which they have given notice. By the custom of the last three or four years the allocation of time on an Adjournment day has been left to you. As I understand it the time for that day has already been allotted. The result of these arrangements was first that we would lose half of today, but now, in addition, we shall lose half of tomorrow and then half of Friday, the Adjournment day. I should say that if you take all the facts together, they will show that this is becoming an absolute abuse and invasion of the rights of private Members.

If I understand correctly what has just been suggested by the right bon. Gentleman, all that will happen is that, instead of having a debate from 3.30 —or whenever we are allowed to get on with business—until 7 o'clock tomorrow, we are to have a two-hour debate on Friday. That debate, if I understand the matter correctly, is to take place after the private Members who have subjects on the Adjournment have had their say. So the total loss is an hour or an hour and a half of the time that had been allotted for the debate on disarmament.

There is one further point, Mr. Speaker. It must be a matter of very great importance that of the short time allocated, from about 3.30 until 7, probably two-thirds will be occupied by Privy Councillors. May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the debate on Egypt should continue so as to provide back benchers with some opportunity to take part in it? Then if there are matters to be debated of less general importance, although of great importance to the individual Members concerned, they can be debated on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, and the debate on that Bill can continue until 11 o'clock on Friday morning.

That plea is quite correctly made to me but the power of satisfying it does not rest with me.

Further to the question of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), would it be possible for the Leader of the House to give us an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will make no effort to move the Closure on what is obviously one of the most important debates of this Session?