Labour Officer, Fernando Po
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reply has been given by the Government of Nigeria to the suggestion of Mr. M. E. Ogon that a Nigerian labour officer should be posted at the Nigeria office in Fernando Po and should be assisted by a team of labour inspectors stationed at different parts of the island.
A Nigerian labour officer has been stationed in Fernando Po since September, 1956. There is also an assistant labour inspector there. The Governor-General has recently visited the island and so has a combined Federal and Eastern Region Parliamentary delegation. The Delegation's report will no doubt touch on the question of labour staff.
Are Her Majesty's Government satisfied that conditions are now adequate to allow Nigerian labour to come into the small territory? Is not in the case that even in a small territory like this one it is possible to have tucked away pockets of bad conditions which would be intolerable to anyone in this House?
I think that would be possible, but the hon. and learned Member might like to know that of the 25,000 to 30,000 Nigerians employed there a large number return for a second or even a third contract.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will accelerate the process of granting pass ports to Nigerians by arranging that the Federal Commissioner in London may give the necessary authorisation, instead of reference being made to Lagos.
The primary responsibility for authorising passport facilities to Nigerians rests with the Federal Government, and it is for that Government to decide to what extent authority should be devolved on their Commissioner in London.
Eastern Region Development Corporation
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Eastern Region of Nigeria Development Corporation will be published.
I am asking the Regional Government, which is self-governing in this sphere, for this information and will write to the hon. Member when I receive it.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how far the matter of slave dealing and child stealing into Fernando Po from Nigeria was discussed at the London Nigerian Conference; whether the matter has been reconsidered; what further action has been taken; if he is aware that thirty children aged between four and ten years have been recovered in a campaign against slavery in the Abakaliki district; and if he will make a statement.
This was not discussed at the Conference itself but my hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State, discussed it at length at that time with the Governor-General, who is satisfied that all possible steps are being taken by the Nigerian authorities to combat this evil. The recent cases in the Abakaliki district are sub judice, so that I cannot comment on them.
Does not that seem to indicate that there is a great deal of slave raiding and child stealing in that area and, under those circumstances, how does that fit in with the assertion that conditions are improving in this respect?
This is indeed a revolting traffic, but I am confident that the Government are anxious to stamp it out. Any apparent increase in numbers may really be due to the increasing efficiency of counter-measures.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the progress being made for providing a deep-water port in Cyprus.
The plans and specifications for extension of Famagusta harbour are now well advanced, but substantial details have still to be settled before tenders can be invited.
In view of the increased strategic importance to Britain in the Eastern Mediterranean of both the island of Cyprus and the port facilities which are to be developed, is my hon. Friend able to say now whether the facilities will be capable of taking both civil and military traffic?
As has already been explained in the House, the project is of prime importance for the trade and tourist traffic of the island, and that is what it is really for. However, the new facilities, when completed, will be a very considerable advance on what there is at present.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now permit the return of Archbishop Makarios to Cyprus.
As part of the welcome given to the new Governor of Cyprus, Sir Hugh Foot, upon his arrival in Cyprus a few hours ago, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would help him to open a new chapter in this unhappy story of relations in the island of Cyprus if a gesture such as this were made, in view of the fact that sooner or later the Archbishop will have to be allowed to return to the island? Why should not it be sooner rather than later?
I think that a new chapter could well be opened if the Archbishop himself would take the lead in calling for an end of the terrorism for which, in the past, his utterances have been largely responsible.
Is not the Minister aware that for seven months there was no violence whatsoever in the island, and that Her Majesty's Government did nothing whatsoever to start negotiations with representatives of the Cypriot people?
The hon. Member must not count upon the credulity of some people outside and be allowed to get away with any such statement. During these seven months the most active attempts have been made to get together the parties concerned in the international field—the Greek, Turkish and British Governments—to discuss this matter, which everybody who has followed it carefully knows is a highly desirable prerequisite to a settlement. It is in no part the fault of Her Majesty's Government that those talks have not taken place, nor has the task been made easier by the irresponsible statements which were made at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a very large number of people in Cyprus would not consider the return of the Archbishop as opening a new chapter but as reopening an old one, and a bad one at that?
If that is the right hon. Gentleman's view, can he tell us in what circumstances he proposes to start negotiating with the people of Cyprus? Is he saying that in no circumstances will the Archbishop be permitted to take part? If not, will he tell us in what circumstances the Archbishop—who is clearly the chosen representative of 75 per cent. of the people of Cyprus—will be able to take part in these discussions?
As the hon. Member should well know, I have made it clear that the prior need for the restoration of tranquillity is the unequivocal denouncement by the Archbishop of the violence in Cyprus. As to the way in which the talks with representative Cypriots, or international talks, may take place, I naturally feel that in this matter I should be influenced by the views which the Governor may put forward.
Can the Minister make himself quite clear about this? Is he saying that, despite the existence of a period of tranquillity which has lasted since last March, he is still not ready to enter into discussions which would include the Archbishop until the Archbishop has denounced violence which ceased eight months ago? If so, does he think that that is the basis of a realistic policy?
I am afraid that the hon. Member is very mistaken. Violence has not ceased. There is every indication that the intervening period of so-called truce has been used by E.O.K.A. to try to consolidate its position.
New Mental Hospital
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when construction of the new mental hospital in Cyprus, plans for which have existed for many years, is likely to start.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the prospects for a new mental hospital in Cyprus.
Detailed plans were drawn up in 1956, but other more urgent building work has hitherto prevented a start being made. The Cyprus Government have not yet made final decisions on the development projects to be undertaken next year.
Is the hon. Member aware that the existing mental hospital in Cyprus is a disgrace to the Commonwealth? Is he aware that the patients are living there in physical conditions which are quite intolerable anywhere in the world in the twentieth century? Further, is he aware that the island has been promised a new mental hospital for very many years? As an earnest of Her Majesty's Government's desire to promote social development in the island, will the hon. Member see that an early start is made?
Certainly. It is intended to make as early a start as possible. I agree that it is disappointing that it has not been possible to get ahead earlier with improvements, but the hon. Member may care to know that the Cyprus Government intend to spend £5,000 early in 1958 to improve conditions in the existing hospital.
Is not that a retrograde step? Surely it would be much better to use this money in building a new hospital. Secondly, can the hon. Member tell the House anything about the report of a distinguished specialist who visited this hospital at the request of the World Health Organisation and inform us what were his views about the state of affairs that he found?
I agree with the hon. Lady that a start on the new hospital must be made as soon as possible. I was merely letting the hon. Member know what might be done in the interim. Preliminary plans have been prepared for Phase One of the new project, which will cost £100,000, and it is hoped to provide for Phase One in 1958.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of his statement on 31st October that he would consider placing in the Library documents C604/R/54 and 12014/56 circulated by the Government of Cyprus, when he now proposes to do so.
After careful consideration, I have concluded that it would not be appropriate to do so.
Can the Minister, in the first place, tell the House why he is making this extraordinary decision? Secondly, is he aware that the extracts which have already been published from these documents indicate that a civil servant in Cyprus has used his position to disseminate what can only be regarded as party propaganda among Government servants? Is he aware that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South, among others, is referred to in this document as having her head buried in the sand? Is it now the Government's policy that self-determination can never apply in Cyprus?
My reason—and I think that on reflection most hon. Members would agree with me—is that civil servants in Cyprus and elsewhere should be able to express themselves quite freely and frankly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in minutes and confidential documents without fearing repercussions outside the public service. As for the suggestion that these documents—every word of which I have read very carefully—reflected only upon the party opposite, I would remind the hon. Lady that they could be held to have reflected upon me, for not having made the best possible reply to some of the arguments put forward from the other side.
Is not this rather an unusual circumstance? Part of these documents have been published, I understand, and part of them at any rate in some way reflect upon my hon. Friends. If these partial documents are allowed to pass in this way, does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that this colonial civil servant will be regarded as having made it difficult for himself to serve both parties in the State? In fairness to him, ought not the documents to be published, so that we can see whether in fact they were an impartial summary of events?
No, Sir. I am here the custodian of a very important tradition, namely, that documents of this kind must be regarded as privileged. The fact that through some improper means part of these documents reached the outside public is no reason why the whole of the documents should be published. I am confident that if the hon. Member were in my position he would take exactly the same line. As to Mr. Reddaway himself, he has never spared himself in working fearlessly and in the best interests of the people of Cyprus over the last few years, despite the vilification by Athens Radio and the Press, and I am glad to have this opportunity of affirming my confidence in him, which confidence was wholly shared by Sir John Harding.
Since the documents have been published in part in Cyprus, they are known to other people and therefore have ceased to be private documents. In those circumstances, should not they be published in full?
No, Sir. If I said that they should I should be putting a premium upon parts of documents finding their way into the public Press and then there being a demand for publication of the whole documents. I must stand by my statement that these documents should not be given wider publicity than they have already received.
On a point of order. May I ask your guidance on this point, Mr. Speaker? A civil servant has issued documents which contained derogatory comments upon Members of this House. Are Members to be denied the opportunity to see documents of that character?
I am afraid that that is not a point for me. It is a matter entirely between the House and the Minister.
If perchance the documents are referred to at all in this House cannot we claim to have the whole of them laid upon the Table? This civil servant of Her Majesty's Government, serving in an overseas territory, has circulated documents which have gone outside official circles. In those circumstances, are not we entitled to ask that the documents should be laid upon the Table of the House?
I had not heard anything about these documents until this moment. I do not know what is in them. I accept what the right hon. Gentleman tells me about the matter. Even so, I have not heard them quoted so as to bring the matter within the ordinary custom of laying a document that has been quoted in the House. I do not think that, in general, the same rule applies to inter-Departmental documents as applies to other documents.
May I ask, with respect, whether you would consider giving further thought to this matter in the light of information which may be revealed, and giving us your considered judgment in due time? I should be obliged, Sir, if you would consider doing that.
I will certainly consider anything which the right hon. Gentleman asks me to consider. I am merely acting on the rule. It is really a question of procuring the best evidence. If a document has been quoted or cited, the idea is that the original should be made available to hon. Members so that they may see whether the citation or quotation was right or gave the truth of the document. I have not heard a word about the document up to the moment.
May I ask whether this is a Cabinet document? Has it at any time been submitted to the Cabinet? If so, by the rules of this House Cabinet documents, if mentioned and quoted, ought to be laid on the Table.
The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) has asked me, on a point of order, a question of fact which I cannot answer. I have no idea what the document is. I have never seen it or heard of it before.
Did I understand you to say, Mi. Speaker, that, as you are not certain what was actually in the document, you will consider the matter further and will be in a position to make a statement tomorrow or the next day?
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) asked me to consider the matter and, naturally, I shall do so in the response to his request.
Further to that point of order—
We must get on with Questions. I hope that the hon. Lady will be brief.
I understood you to say, Mr. Speaker, that you had riot heard a quotation from the document. May I repeat the quotation which I made earlier, that this document stated that hon. Members on the Labour benches were
I asked the Minister whether he wished to take this opportunity of informing the House that self-determination at any time was now no part of Her Majesty's Government's policy in Cyprus. I submit to you that that has not been answered."guilty of burying their heads in the sand of self-determination."
On the rules of procedure. I quote again from the Manual of Procedure:
That is the rule. From the citation which the hon. Lady quotes, it does not seem to be like a dispatch or State paper, although of course I have no knowledge about that. I have not heard it quoted from."If a Minister of the Crown quotes in the House a despatch or other state paper which has not been presented to the House, he ought to lay it on the Table."
The Colonial Secretary says that he wishes to defend this colonial civil servant, extracts from whose dispatches I may say have left a very bad taste in the mouths of hon. Members on this side of the House. Would not it be the best defence of this colonial civil servant if the whole of the dispatch were put in the Library where it would not get publication, and hon. Members could see what in fact has been said? Otherwise the impression will be left in the minds of hon. Members on this side of the House that the Colonial Secretary—as usual—is playing party politics with this problem.
That has nothing to do with the point of order.
May I say in reply to that—
On a point of order.
Order. Does the hon. Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams) rise on a point of order?
Yes, Sir. In view of the fact that the Colonial Secretary himself introduced the issue and said that he would place a copy of the document in the Library, does not that make a difference to your Ruling?
Further to that point of order. May I say that the hon. Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams) is mistaken? The Under-Secretary said, in reply to a Question, that he would consider placing it in the Library. It was considered and the decision was taken not to place it in the Library.
Order. We are getting behind with Questions, which is unfair to those hon. Members who have put down Questions to be answered.
Town Areas (Land)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the acquisition of land in the town areas of the Protectorate of Zanzibar.
No, Sir. I have no evidence of any need for the appointment of such a Commission.
Has not the Afro-Shirazi Party, which won the last elections led by Sheik Karume, alleged that there has been forcible acquisition, there being no sale deeds, by foreigners? Was the matter raised with the Minister on 30th October, and, if so, what was his answer?
Yes, it certainly was raised at the meeting. I found no evidence whatever that there had been any forcible acquisitions. Discussions with the party revealed that the reference in the memorandum to "foreigners" meant Arabs and Indians in Zanzibar, the suggestion being that those people, being latecomers to Zanzibar in comparison with the Africans, could properly be called foreigners. I made it clear, to put it mildly, that I did not accept that view.
Is not the accusation about forcible acquisition without sale deeds, and not so much about foreigners?
I took great exception to the word "foreigner" being employed in Zanzibar, and this was taken in good part, but I had no evidence whatever of any forcible acquisition.
Secretary Of State's Visit
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement regarding his visit to Zanzibar and particularly with reference to his meeting with the delegation of the Afro-Shirazi Party on Wednesday, 30th October.
I spent one day in Zanzibar and was delighted to meet again His Highness the Sultan; I received eight delegations from various organisations including the Afro-Shirazi Party.This party submitted a memorandum containing twelve points, but in the time available it was possible to discuss only four of them briefly. Representatives of the party are to discuss the memorandum with the British Resident as soon as the present session of Legislative Council is over. I was also able to see something of the excellent work being carried on at the Kizimbani Agricultural Experimental Station, and at the East African Marine Fisheries Research Organisation which operates under the. East Africa High Commission and has its headquarters in the island.
Is not it a fact that the Minister could give the Afro-Shirazi Party, which won the last elections, only 20 minutes, from, I think, 10.20 a.m. to 10.40 a.m. on 30th October? Was not that shabby in the light of the fact that the memorandum dealt with the common roll, secondary education, the economic development of Pemba and other important matters?
When all but about one hour of my day was spent indoors seeing delegations, I think "shabby" is hardly an accurate description.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has concluded his discussions with a delegation from British Honduras; and whether he will make a statement.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a further statement in regard to the breakdown of negotiations with the representatives from British Honduras.
I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Beresford Craddock) on 27th November. The actions of Mr. George Price which caused the breakdown of the discussions with the British Honduras delegation were taken on his own responsibility, and not in furtherance of the programme of the People's United Party. Neither the Governor nor I has any quarrel with that party which, although strongly opposed to British Honduras entering the West Indian Federation, looks to developing self-government and in due course to British Honduras controlling its own destiny. While anxious to foster economic contacts with Central American States it has never advocated any form of joint association in government with Guatemala, still less subordination to that country. Her Majesty's Government regard the Guatemala claim to sovereignty over British Honduras as completely without foundation but as Mr. Price was informed some months ago we have told the Guatemalan Government that we are very ready to discuss with them and the British Honduras Government any other questions concerning their relations with British Honduras. The principles underlying the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards dependent territories have been made clear on many occasions and, as my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State explained to the delegation at his first meeting with it, those principles are, in fact, reflected in Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations. Our aim is, in British Honduras as elsewhere, to build up, is rapidly as possible economic and social foundations on which political development can proceed as far and as fast as its circumstances permit.As regards British Honduras joining the West Indies Federation, it is for the people themselves, through their representatives in their Legislature, to decide this. Her Majesty's Government have given many assurances, which I now repeat, that we have no intention of dictating to them on the matter.
While welcoming that very full Answer to my Question, particularly the right hon. Gentleman's reiteration of the position of this country and that there is no intention of forcing British Honduras into a West Indian federation, and the distinction which the right hon. Gentleman draws between the action of Mr. Price and the policy of his party, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is taking any special steps to acquaint the people of British Honduras with his feeling that the People's United Party has a perfectly legitimate right to express its views to him and that he has no objection whatever to receiving those views, although he makes the distinction between that and the improper action which Mr. Price undoubtedly took in London? Further, is it still the policy of Her Majesty's Government to give British Honduras all the economic aid which they can possibly provide?
I am very glad of the opportunity to assure them, through the House and through my Answer to the right hon. Gentleman's Question, that that is so and that I am always glad to receive the points of view of the party. Neither I nor the Governor has any quarrel with that. It is the Government's intention to do all we can, within the obvious limits imposed by current economic difficulties, to give economic aid to British Honduras.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what proposals for closer association between Guatemala and British Honduras were put forward by the delegation from British Honduras which recently visited London.
The delegation put forward no such proposals. When the unofficial members of the delegation saw the Guatemalan Minister in London the proposals he explained are understood to have been, chiefly:
That British Honduras should sever its connection with the British Commonwealth.
The Government should be carried on "in association with Guatemala".
After a period of years there should be a plebiscite to determine whether the people of British Honduras wished to continue with this arrangement.
Meanwhile Guatemala would assist British Honduras by some form of financial subvention.
These proposals, which were completely unacceptable to at least two of the four delegates—but which Mr. Price was still considering ten days later—bear, as Mr. Price well knew, no relation to the matters which Her Majesty's Government have offered to discuss with the Guatemalan Government.There is some dispute as to whether part of the plan was that British Honduras should be administered, in some manner, under the auspices of the United Nations.
Will the right hon. Gentleman accept my personal assurance—and I believe that hon. Members on this side of the House share my view—that we have no sympathy whatever with the improper approaches in England to the Guatemalan Government? Will he reiterate that he himself feels that there can be no objection to the People's United Party putting forward proposals to him in a proper manner?
Certainly, Sir, the proper manner being through the Governor. I am glad to hear what the right hon. Gentleman says, because no hon. Member on either side of the House personally knows more about British Honduras than he does.
East African Territories
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what decisions were taken during his recent conference with the Governors of East African territories concerning the development of a common market in that area and the readjustments which such a development would render necessary.
None, Sir. The East African territories already enjoy a common tariff. No duties are levied on inter-territorial trade.
Proposed Council Of State
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the powers, functions and composition of the proposed Council of State in Kenya.
I cannot add at present to the replies which I gave on 14th November.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his proposal for a Council of State has caused widespread alarm among the African community in Kenya and among liberal European opinion and that there is grave fear that such a Council of State, with powers of reference, revision and delay, could act as a stumbling block to the development of multi-racialism? Will he make a statement very quickly to allay those fears?
Far from acting as a stumbling block, I hope that the Council will assist the development of multiracialism. I ask the hon. Lady to wait until we formulate the proposals which I shall then be very glad to discuss.
Employment, Kiambu District
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many men are estimated to be unemployed in the Kiambu district in Kenya; and what proportion they are of the estimated adult male population.
About 5,000 which is 8 per cent. of the estimated adult male population of the district.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have had most disturbing reports of malnutrition and other social difficulties in the Kiambu district? Will he place in the Library a fuller statement than he has now given about the position there, because we are very worried by some reports from the Kiambu district?
I had a number of discussions with the Governor about the situation in Kiambu when I was in Kenya recently, and I will be very ready to do what the hon. Lady asks.
Legislative Council Elections (Loyalty Certificates)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent it is proposed to dispense with loyalty tests in the forthcoming elections for additional African members of the Legislative Council in Kenya.
The question of loyalty certificates in relation to the forthcoming elections is at present being examined by the Kenya Government.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there was very much dissatisfaction in Kenya, not only among Africans but among religious bodies and other organisations, about the operation of the loyalty tests in the previous election? Is he aware that it would give general satisfaction if the loyalty tests were now dropped, as they are liable to abuse and misrepresentation?
I cannot anticipate the decision and recommendations of the Government of Kenya, but in this regard we must also remember the very strong representations about the need for some such security made by loyalist Africans to Mr. Coutts during his wide tour of Kenya. As I said, the matter is now under examination.
Achieng Oneko (Detention)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why Achieng Oneko, who was acquitted by the Kenya Supreme Court in 1953 of all charges brought against him and has since been detained at the Takwa Special Detention Camp without a fresh trial, has been refused permission to receive a visit from his wife, whom he has not seen for several years.
The authorities have so far found it impracticable to allow all the detainees at Takwa to be visited by their wives, and are not prepared to grant special facilities to Oneko.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this reply will be widely regarded as a very depressing commentary indeed on the administration of these detention camps? When is it proposed that this administration shall be improved to enable a man who was acquitted by the highest court in Kenya of all charges brought against him to receive a visit from his wife?
As the hon. Gentleman knows. Takwa is a very remote place and in Takwa are many of the real leaders of the Mau Mau movement. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that visits are now allowed in all but four of the camps and that these four are either particularly remote or contain the hard core of Mau Mau. The Governor has this matter under constant review.
Why is a man who was acquitted of all charges kept in a very remote place?
That is altogether another question. There was an Adjournment debate on this matter. I must remind the House that this case was considered by the Appeal Court, which recommended that the man should not be released.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what agreement has now been reached by the racial groups in the Legislative Council of Kenya regarding the constitutional changes he has announced.
I understand that a large section of European opinion, and Asian opinion generally, have expressed satisfaction at the proposals in Cmnd. 309. I am sorry that the African Elected Members have not felt able to give them their support. As the hon. Member will know, since the termination of the arrangements made by my predecessor, constitutional change no longer depends on the agreement of all groups in the Legislature, though I should of course much prefer it if this agreement existed.
In view of the fact that the African representatives represented the view of 6 million people against 200,000 of the other races, will not the right hon. Gentleman make a new effort, by a conference of the groups, to reach not an imposition but a settlement to which they can all agree?
The solution arrived at, as announced by me when I was in Kenya, is in the best interests of all sections of the community, and I hope that the hon. Member's influence will be brought to bear to that end.
Table Of Precedence
12 and 13.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he is aware of the resentment felt by Gibraltarians that, despite the representations made by the city council, the Table of Precedence still requires that city councillors rank lower than the heads of Her Majesty's Government Departments; and, in view of the importance of this to the people of Gibraltar, and the relative unimportance to Government employees, if he will explain the reason for the undue delay in dealing with the matter;(2) on what date representations were first made to His Excellency the Governor of Gibraltar and to himself by the city council that councillors should have precedence before the heads of Government Departments in the Table of Precedence and on suitable occasions in the life of the community.
Representations were first made to the Governor by the city council on 20th May, 1950, and further representations have been made from time to time since then. Each was carefully considered, without undue delay The mayor and city council were accorded positions in the Table of Precedence which was approved by Her Majesty in August, 1954. During the Governor's visit to London this summer, the matter was discussed with him, and my right hon. Friend has concurred in his proposal that the mayor should accorded courtesy precedence in his discretion.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am asking about city councillors? I ask the hon. Member and his right hon. Friend, who on so many occasions in the past have shown deep interest in the welfare of the people of Gibraltar, not to under-estimate the deep feeling of these extremely loyal and intelligent people. Does not this savour very much of the days of the conqueror and the conquered? Will not the Government use some common sense in 1957 and please these people by doing something which will not cost us any money, but which will show that we respect them much more than seems to be the case from these circumstances?
I am not sure that I can go as far as the hon. Member. I went to Gibraltar earlier this year and I am bound to tell the hon. Member that, although we had very close and frank consultations on every subject which appeared of interest, this matter was not raised. I also saw the Mayor of Gibraltar in London the other day. The Governor does not consider that there has been any change in the functions of the council, since the existing Table was agreed in 1954, sufficient to justify alterations in it.
Is the hon. Member saying that, because it has not been mentioned in correspondence with his Department recently and because it was not mentioned when he was in Gibraltar, this matter has not been raised very many times? If he is not aware of the deep feeling, the Answer he has given will bring a reaction which will show that this is deeply resented.
I was saying only that I thought that through inadvertence the hon. Member was overstating the position and I was acquainting him with the fact that this matter was not raised when I was in Gibraltar. I have said that the problem has been carefully considered and there is no question of the people in Gibraltar feeling that my right hon. Friend and all of us concerned do not give very close consideration to problems which affect them.
Electoral Boundaries Commission (Report)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the anxieties of the Muslim minorities in Mauritius; and whether he will now say when the report of the Trustram Eve Boundary Commission will be published.
My right hon. Friend is aware of the views which have been expressed by the representatives of the Muslim community in Mauritius. I am afraid that I cannot yet say when the report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission will be published.
Does the Under-Secretary confirm the Muslim view that their only hope of a fair deal lies in having single-member geographical constituencies—40 as the Commissioner said? Is he aware that the Labour Party of Mauritius has backed that, but that the Parti Mauritien is opposing it, and can he tell the House whether there is an unofficial delegation here from the Parti Mauritien who are lobbying against that recommendation?
No, Sir. It would be wholly wrong for the hon. Member or anyone else to draw that conclusion. The report is not yet even submitted to my right hon. Friend. I ask hon. Members to await the report of Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve on an extremely difficult matter which my right hon. Friend will consider the moment he gets it.
Fiscal System (Report)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he expects to receive a report from the special commissioner appointed to examine the fiscal system in the Seychelles.
Probably some time in February.
May I ask the Under-Secretary of State whether this report will be published? Is he aware that it is eagerly awaited by those hon. Members who take an interest in the affairs of the Seychelles? While we welcome the improvements which have been made, we are aware from recent official documents that there are many grave deficiencies still in existence. Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the report will be immediately published?
It will be published as soon as possible after it has been completed.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is now in a position to announce the appointment of a new Chief Justice for the Seychelles.
No, Sir. Careful consideration is being given to the selection of a suitable candidate and an announcement will be made as soon as possible.
Can the right hon. Gentleman speed up this matter? Is not it months since the last Chief Justice departed? While we welcome an opportunity of appointing a Chief Justice who may have the confidence of the people, are not cases piling up in the courts?
It is true that some cases are being held up, but I understand that only one has been described as a case of urgency, and a judge has been appointed by the Acting Governor to deal with it. There are other cases which, so far as I know, have not been described as urgent, where it is not possible for the acting Chief Justice to sit, either because he was formerly a member of the Executive Council, or because he acted as a lawyer in the case. I am very conscious of the need to hurry up this appointment.
Colonial Development Corporation Loans
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the nature of representations he has received from the West Indies Standing Federation Committee regarding the rate of interest charged on loans by the Colonial Development Corporation and what reply has been given.
The Standing Federation Committee has asked that the rates of interest charged on Exchequer advances to the Colonial Development Corporation should be reduced so as to enable the Corporation to provide finance for development projects at rates of interest not greater than those prevailing before the recent increase in the Bank Rate. The Committee's request has only recently been forwarded to my right hon. Friend and he has not as yet given a reply.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. May I ask him and his right hon. Friend to bear in mind that many worth-while long-term projects in the Caribbean and elsewhere will be held up if the Colonial Development Corporation is not enabled to make loans at a reasonable rate of interest?
I can assure the hon. Member that there is little direct evidence that colonial development as a whole has been seriously prejudiced by high rates of interest.
Can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the work of colonial development will not be confined in future by an excessively high Bank Rate in this country? Is it possible to carry on colonial development on the basis of charging extremely high rates of interest which may be justified in the London money market but have no justification whatever in relation to colonial development?
I think it would he better if my right hon. Friend were permitted to examine this application and make a reply before I say any more.
Bahamas (Racial Discrimination)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken by the Government of the Bahamas to end racial discrimination in hotels, clubs, and places of entertainment.
There is no discrimination in hotels and public places of entertainment in the Bahamas. What is done in private clubs is a matter for the members.
Could not the proprietors of these private clubs be encouraged to behave in a more civilised way, as, for example, in the highly successful tourist industry in Jamaica, and, in particular, could not this be undertaken by the Rock Sound, the Half Sound and Cotton Bay Clubs now, pending extensions?
I think that is really a matter for the gradual education of public opinion, perhaps by members of the clubs themselves.
Antigua (Guided-Missile Range)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the cost of constructing the guided-missile range in Antigua; and to what extent the people of Antigua were consulted.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the stage of completion of the guided-missile range and test centre at the deactivated United States Army base in Antigua; and what arrangements have been made with the United States authorities for its operation.
With the agreement of the Government of Antigua, who were consulted by Her Majesty's Government throughout the negotiations, the United States Government were granted permission to establish tracking facilities for guided missiles in Antigua on the understanding that they would enter into a formal agreement similar to those already signed in respect of tracking stations along other sections of the Long Range Proving Ground. I understand that construction is well advanced and that the United States, who are meeting the entire cost of the station, expect to spend some $400,000 during the construction period.
Does effective control of the range lie solely in the hands of the American Army? Were the people of Antigua informed in advance?
The Government were informed in advance and the Government represent the people. Arrangements in regard to the use of this range are satisfactory to the Government of Antigua and Her Majesty's Government.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what agreement has been reached on the Singapore Citizens' Bill; what are now the chief qualifications for inclusion in the new electorate; and to what extent the present register will be increased.
The Singapore Citizenship Ordinance became law on 21st October, 1957. I am sending the hon. Member a copy and will have copies placed in the Library. The chief qualifications for the franchise are that a person should be a Singapore citizen and over 21. If all those eligible apply for citizenship the register of voters will be increased from about 350,000 to about 600,000.
Can the Minister inform us whether Chinese who are born in Singapore and the Malays and Indians are put on the same basis?
Yes, Sir. It is very complicated. I advise the hon. Gentleman to read the Ordinance carefully. The Singapore Government cannot refuse citizenship to anyone born in Singapore or whose father was born there. These people become Singapore citizens by the operation of law.
Naval Dockyard (Redundant Employees)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what proposals have been made by the Government of Honk Kong to provide alternative employment for the 40 electricians declared redundant in the Royal Naval dockyard.
The Hong Kong Government has offered to help put these electricians in touch with possible employers. Several weeks ago the dockyard management made a similar offer, but only five of the men availed themselves of it. Another ten found new jobs before they were due for discharge.
Is the Colonial Secretary aware that since this Question was tabled a most serious position has grown up? In view of the fact that the 40 has become 4,700 and that unemployment is already widespread in Hong Kong, can the right hon. Gentleman say what planned attempt is being made by the Government of Hong Kong, in association with Her Majesty's Government, to deal with this very serious position? Can the right hon. Gentleman also say whether or not consultations are being held, or have been held, with the trade unions concerned, and whether these organisations have been asked to cooperate in the matter?
I am fully conscious of the very grave effect that this closure is bound to have on Hong Kong and we are anxious to do all we can to alleviate it. It will, of course, be spread over two years and every effort will be made by the Hong Kong Government and by Her Majesty's Government to help in this matter. Although we cannot accept any obligation to find alternative employment, we are arranging for the appointment of an employment advisory committee. Consideration is being given to the matter by the Employment Liaison Office and an officer has been seconded for full-time duty in the dockyard to give what help is possible. I am personally interested in this matter, which is the result of a decision for which I share full responsibility and which, as Colonial Secretary, I deeply regret.
If, as I gather from the right hon. Gentleman, the Governments will not accept any responsibility for providing alternative employment, is not the situation in Hong Kong very serious? I understand that the Government themselves will not give aid and help?
It certainly does not follow very much the reverse. It is very much more frank to say that we cannot accept responsibility, but that does not mean that we shall not do everything we possibly can to supplement the efforts of individuals to obtain alternative employment.
Special Branch (African Informers)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many African informers are employed by the Special Branch in Uganda; at what rate they are paid for their services; and what use is made of the reports they provide.
It would not be in the public interest to reveal such information.
Is the Colonial Secretary aware that the activities of some of these African informers are purely to stir up trouble between political organisations in Uganda and the Administration, and that in view of the great improvement in the political situation in Uganda it would be beneficial if the activities of these informers were curbed?
I could not accept the hon. Gentleman's description of the work of the African members of the Special Branch. If the hon. Gentleman has any particular complaint, I hope that he will let roe know.
Is not this a rather wretched Question, which can do nothing but harm to Uganda and is completely unjustified?
Contracts Of Employment (Penal Sanctions)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to have abolished penal sanctions for breach of contracts of employment in those dependent territories where such sanctions still exist.
The few remaining sanctions are being kept under review.
Will the right hon. Gentleman expedite the ending of penal sanctions throughout the whole of our dependencies? Are not these workers completely defenceless economically, and does not the responsibility lie directly with the Secretary of State? if we could ratify the Convention it would do a power of good.
I would certainly be glad to see such restrictions go, but it is essential if that is done that civil sanctions should be effective. It could not be said that civil sanctions alone would be effective in Northern Rhodesia and the South African High Commission Territories, where the penal sanctions still remain. I have this matter under observation all the time.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Convention 105 concerning the abolition of forced labour adopted in the 1957 International Labour Conference has been brought to the attention of the Governments of all dependent Territories; and whether they have been urged to base their law and practice on the principles and terms of the Convention.
I propose to address overseas Governments on the subject of Convention No. 105 as soon as ratification by Her Majesty's Government has been completed. I should prefer not to anticipate the outcome of these consultations.
Will the right hon. Gentleman publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT or in some other form a list of the Territories in which forced labour is still operating?
I will consider that suggestion, but I would ask the hon. Gentleman to wait until I have had discussions with the Governors concerned, when I hope I may be able to make a rather more profitable statement than before.
African Foremen And Supervisors (Training)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent the Governments of Colonial Territories in Africa are taking steps to provide training facilities for potential African foremen and supervisors in industry, as recommended by the Inter-African Labour Conference recently held in Lusaka.
I have not yet received the Governments' comments on this recommendation, but I have no doubt that they will give it sympathetic consideration.
May we take it that the last phrase in the reply of the hon. Gentleman represents the attitude of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom?
The hon. Member had better take it in any way he feels. I cannot change my Answer.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a further statement on the present position of the negotiations with the Prime Minister of Malta regarding the integration of the Colony with the United Kingdom.
I have nothing to add at this moment to my reply to my hon. Friend, the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Teeling) on 14th November.
Could not the right hon. Gentleman clarify the position? Is he aware that the Prime Minister of Malta has made statements which suggest that the progress of integration will depend largely upon the decision about the use of the dockyard and that the Government have now said that there will be provision of work at the dockyard for three years? Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House whether that is the case?
These are separate issues. Very good progress is being made with the proposals for closer union and integration with Malta on the political plane. I have made the statement, and I repeat it, that there is no question of the dockyard being closed overnight. That statement was repeated by Mr. Mintoff a day or two ago.
As we have not had that information in the House, would the right hon. Gentleman confirm the statement that there is to be at least three years' work in the dockyard at the present level?
The statement which Mr. Mintoff attributed to me he was entitled to do. The statement was made by me.
Did he interpret it correctly?
There were a number of other phrases in it. It is better that the statement should be read as a whole.
Will the right hon. Gentleman publish the statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT so that the House can see it?
Police And Agriculture (Expenditure)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the amounts to be spent from recurrent revenue by the Government of Nyasaland for the year 1957–58 on police and agriculture, respectively.
The amount for police is £447,757. The amount for agriculture in its narrowest sense, excluding animal husbandry, forestry, and conservation and improvement of water supplies, is £414,245.
Does not the Under-Secretary consider these expenditure figures totally out of balance, having regard to the extreme poverty in Nyasaland and the urgent need for agricultural improvement? if we can afford to spend this amount of money on the police, why cannot we afford to spend more on agriculture?
It is not unreasonable, having regard to the size of the population and the size of the territory.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many children between the ages of five and 12 years, in Sierra Leone, are now attending school.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on 19th July, to which I cannot add.
The hon. Gentleman will realise that that reply referred to last Session. Can he give some assurance that the proportion of children attending school is now more than it was then, namely, one child in nine of the children under five years of age?
The figures which were given to the hon. Member were, of course, for 1956 and we have not yet reached the end of 1957.
Northern Rhodesia And Nyasaland
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many African doctors are in the public service in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, respectively; and to what extent their salaries differ from those of similarly qualified European doctors.
None, Sir. The second part of the Question does not therefore arise.
Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been called to the statement of the Minister for Public Services in the Federation to the effect that doctors and other public servants in some circumstances would be raised to equal status with Europeans in the higher branches of the service? Does not a statement of that sort rather make nonsense of the statement made by the Minister?
I am not responsible for the Federal Government nor for statements made by Ministers there.
National Health Service Employees
asked the Prime Minister if he is aware of the resentment felt by the trade union movement at the action taken by the Minister of Health with regard to the three per cent. award unanimously agreed by the Administrative and Clerical Workers (Hospital Staffs) Whitley Council; and what action he proposes to take to ensure that the good will of the trade unions is maintained in future negotiations on the various Whitley councils.
As was said last Tuesday, good will can best be secured by a real understanding by all concerned of the purposes of the measures which the Government have had to take.
That is no answer. Surely the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the Whitley Council machinery, which has been in existence for 50 years, is now in very great danger, and that means the whole position of the country is in great danger? This is not a matter to be pushed back to the Minister of Health, who started it anyway, but for the Prime Minister, who should use his initiative to repair some of the damage that has been done.
On the general question, I think my Answer is correct and the more the whole problem with which the Government are trying to deal is understood, the better it will be. In regard to this particular Question, there is to be a meeting tomorrow between the Minister of Health and some of the representatives of this Council.
May I repeat to the Prime Minister the question I put to the Minister of Health about the meeting tomorrow and ask whether the Prime Minister and the Government will be open to reconsider their previous decision after that meeting?
I think I could do no better than to answer in the same terms as my right hon. and learned Friend, which are that those who come to see him will put forward their point of view and whatever points they wish to make. My right hon. and learned Friend will, no doubt, consider them in conjunction with his colleagues after he has received the deputation.
The deputation asked first to see the Prime Minister and he referred them to the Minister of Health. If they are not satisfied after the meeting on Wednesday with the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Health, will the Prime Minister be willing to see them after that?
Perhaps I had better read what I wrote to them, and which was published. I said that I would prefer them to see the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Health and that it would be right if in the first instance the staff side would address its requests to them. I said:
They accepted that and I think it was a proper decision."I am, therefore, bringing your letter to their notice. I shall be prepared to reconsider your request that I should receive a deputation if, after any meetings you may have had with the Ministers concerned, there remain further considerations which you would wish to put to me."
Does not the Prime Minister realise that this action of the Minister of Health has raised a first-class issue of industrial relationships of the greatest importance, and that the recommendation about salaries and wages was quite modest in relation to recent developments? In the circumstances, in view of the very big issue involved, could not the Prime Minister respond to the request of my hon. Friend and receive a deputation himself, recognising that this is a really first-class issue for the Government in industrial policy?
No. I think the Whitley Council representatives concerned were quite satisfied with the decision which I took. On this matter of the deputation, this is a Council which deals particularly with the employees who come under the Secretary of State and the Minister of Health. I think it, therefore right in the first instance, at any rate, that it should have its meeting with them If, after that, it is thought wise and helpful, as I made perfectly clear in my letter. I should be very willing to receive it.
Minister Of State, Scottish Office (Duties)
asked the Prime Minister what are the duties of the Minister of State, Scottish Office.
The Minister of State in general acts as the Secretary of State's deputy, operating mainly in Scotland, and as such has oversight of all the Secretary of State's Departments. The Minister of State is also generally responsible for Scottish business in another place.
Can the Prime Minister say if one of the duties of the Minister of State is to explain Government policy in Scotland? Is he aware that recently the Minister of State said that housing subsidies were not only wrong but immoral? Does not he think the word "immoral" gives great offence to a number of people in Scotland, including farmers and landlords who benefit from the subsidy and also the Minister himself?
The hon. Member, not for the first time, has pursued his well-known practice of putting down a Question to which I try to give the correct Answer, in order to cover a supplementary question of which he has not given notice. If the hon. Member will send me any quotation of the speech of the noble Lord to which he objects, I shall try to deal with it.
United States Aircraft, United Kingdom (Hydrogen Bombs)
asked the Prime Minister what specific undertaking he has received from the United States Government that Her Majesty's Government would be consulted if the United States Government thought it urgently necessary to signal bombers carrying hydrogen bombs, already in the air, operating from British bases to bomb enemy territory.
asked the Prime Minister what agreement he reached with the President of the United States of America as to the procedure by which British-based United States planes carrying hydrogen bombs on patrol will obtain a joint decision from the two Governments before dropping their bombs in an emergency; and whether he will make a statement.
asked the Prime Minister what specific undertakings the United States Government have given to Her Majesty's Government that they will not signal bombers carrying hydrogen bombs already in the air, operating from British bases, to bomb enemy territory, without first consulting Her Majesty's Government; and whether these undertakings apply to so-called tactical atomic weapons as well as to hydrogen bombs of strategic calibre.
asked the Prime Minister what joint decisions have already been made by the British and the United States Governments regarding the circumstances in which United States bombers, operating from bases in this country, may take instant retaliatory action and what those circumstances are.
I would refer to the Answers I gave on this subject on Thursday, 28th November, to which I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to add.I would only repeat that all these cases are covered by the Attlee-Churchill understandings.
Does the Prime Minister realise that the House and indeed the country is perturbed as to the extent we are already committed by an act of the American Government without any more consultation? Will he assure the House that, no matter what the circumstances, British-based American bombers will not be given a signal to bomb enemy territory without the prior approval of Her Majesty's Government having been sought?
Yes, Sir. The hon. Member has correctly stated the situation. These machines, whether standing upon the runway or actually in the air, are covered by the understanding which was first entered into by Mr. Attlee when he was Prime Minister and afterwards confirmed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). They are covered completely by that understanding.
Does not the Prime Minister agree that these arrangements are subject to errors of judgment or other human frailties by the pilots and that peace hangs on a hair-trigger with these arrangements? Would he explain why it is necessary to have bombers on patrol with nuclear bombs on board and others ready to take off at fifteen minutes' notice, in view of the fact that the Leader of the House explained to me in reply to my Question on 31st October that the Government's civil defence plans are based on the expectation of getting sufficiently advanced notice of the outbreak of hostilities to evacuate 12 million people?
Yes, Sir. It is clearly necessary for all the forces concerned, whether American or British, for patrol and training purposes to operate with their weapons on board. [HON MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because it is the only way to learn to handle them and to use them and to make them effective They have to be loaded. There is a very elaborate arrangement for loading them in and taking them out again. If they are to be use at all they must be carried for training purposes, and I think it is right that they should be carried for patrol purposes, but, as I have explained, there were very careful arrangements by which these weapons were technically called "not armed." The process of arming them is quite an operation and cannot be carried out except upon the direct instructions which, as I have said, under the Attlee-Churchill understandings would be given only by the two Governments in agreement.
Is the Prime Minister aware that he has not answered the specific point raised in my Question, No. 60? Is he aware that his replies so far today and on previous days have related to the question of joint decision at a time when military action was taking place or was imminent? Will he give an assurance that no joint decision ha already been taken under these agreements which will affect the possibility of instant retaliatory action being taken in the event of a possible false report of ballistic missiles heading for this country or for American bases?
Of course the joint decision will be taken by the Governments of the day when the time comes, if ever; and I hope it will never come.
May I make two points which are causing much worry in the House and outside? First of all, the Prime Minister continues to rest on arrangements made by the right hon. Gentleman who was then Mr. Attlee and is now Lord Attlee—arrangements made at a time when the H-bomb as we now understand it did not exist. Can the Prime Minister say whether he has brought that agreement up to de to in the light of the new scientific discoveries which have taken place since that day and since the speeded-up tempo? The additional possibilities inherent in the present-day H-bomb may, for all that we know, make an agreement entered into in those days less relevant now than it was then. Secondly, whatever the danger may be of a crash setting off an explosion—and I am sorry if I am going too fast—can the Prime Minister assure us that the crash cannot cause a fall-out of radioactive material caused by the breaking of the container in which the bomb is kept?
Replying to the first question, it seems to me that if under those conditions it was right to have the agreement as to the use of American bombers placed on British bases in days when, admittedly, the weapons were not so powerful, although very formidable, it is all the more important that that agreement should be maintained in its full strength today; and so it is. I could, of course, answer the second part of the question, but it is perhaps a little wrong for me to do so. There are four Questions on this subject. Although I could give the answer, I think it would be fairer to those hon. Members who have put down this specific question if I were to leave it until Thursday. I am entirely in the hands of the House, but it is rather unusual to answer Questions in this way. If the House wishes, I will answer it.As I explained last week—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was not in the House—there is no danger of an explosion. In the event of a crash in this or in any other country of a machine carrying atomic or hydrogen bombs, or indeed of a machine in transit carrying nuclear material in any form, whether by air or on the land, it is, of course, possible that there may be an oxidisation of any plutonium concerned. Plutonium oxidises fairly easily. The danger would be of a very limited kind and would be dealt with at once under the established precautionary procedures. The hazards of uranium 235 are far less than from plutonium because it neither burns nor oxidises easily. I do not therefore think that the risks referred to—there is none from an explosion—are sufficient to justify any action which would seriously reduce the state of readiness or the training of bomber aircraft, whether British or American.
On a point of order. In view of the fact that, with your permission and the permission of the House, the Prime Minister has answered my Question No. 56, may I please have the usual privilege of asking a supplementary question?
I think the proper procedure, if the hon. Lady is not satisfied with what she has heard, is for her to put down another Question. The Prime Minister did not say that he was replying to the hon. Lady's Question.
Order. We are far behind time.
Will the Prime Minister make it clear whether he did or did not answer the four Questions concerned, or did he just quote from one of the Answers?
No, Sir. I had prepared an Answer and I was asked to give at any rate that part of it which appeared to cover the question asked by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). I hope that in the circumstances, Mr. Speaker, you would be ready to waive whatever rule of privilege is involved. If I did wrong, I did it only to try to satisfy the House. If the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) put the Question down again perhaps you would feel, in the circumstances, that it was not incorrect that it should appear again and be answered in due course either in the same or perhaps in longer terms.
I think that is the best course. I would point out to the hon. Lady that if in fact the Prime Minister purported to answer her Question specifically, he was out of order, because he had not previously asked my permission to do so, and Question Time was over.